Ask the Experts: Cakes

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Ask The Experts:

Local Bakers Inspire Decadent Desserts
By Karen Appold                                                                                                                        cozzee-cakesweb

 Whether you’re looking to follow a new trend, mimic traditional style or create something that’s completely your own, anything goes when it comes to today’s wedding cakes and accompanying desserts. And local bakers are at your service to make your vision a reality.

According to Merry Lininger, owner of Merry’s Custom Cakes in Stroudsburg, cakes inspired by nature are currently very popular as young couples reflect their love of the outdoors. A bold new look within the last few years is the naked cake, which doesn’t have any icing and is only adorned with flowers. Another head turner is the upside down hanging wedding cake. “This always gathers a crowd as people are amazed that it can be done,” Lininger says.

On the opposite end of the spectrum are cakes loaded with diamonds and crystals that sparkle, which are popular for “bling” weddings, Lininger says.

Amy Cozze, owner of Nazareth-based Cozze Cakes, also finds that bling cakes are in demand. “We’re doing a lot of metallic gold tiers and metallic gold accents,” she says.

Hand painting on cakes is gaining popularity as well. “For this technique, we dilute gel or powder food coloring in vodka and then use a fondant cake as a canvas just as a painter would,” she says. “We’ve been able to create some very cool and unique designs.”
Gatsby-Feather-Cake-granny-schmidtweb  In addition, antique broaches have been sought after accessories this year. “I suggest that brides ask their grandmothers for an heirloom      broach to add an extra something special to their cake,” says Michelle Quier, owner, Granny Schmidts in Whitehall.

Angela Malpedo, owner of Sugar Babe Cupcakes in Bethlehem, can vouch for this. “Having a vintage theme is in … something that’s rustic, classic and simple. Less is more.”

Beyond Wedding Cakes

Besides trends in design, a new trend is to only have a small wedding cake (so the married couple still have a cake to cut) or no cake at all and instead offer other desserts—sometimes in the form of a dessert bar. These offer a cornucopia of choices such as cupcakes, truffles, éclairs, brownie bars, cake pops, cookies, muffins, whoopee pies and cream puffs.

“Couples opt for cupcakes because they offer a variety of flavors, are a portable dessert (you don’t need a plate or fork), and there is something for everyone,” Malpedo says. “So you can’t really go wrong.”

Cozze Cakes gets a lot of requests for dessert tables. “I think couples like the aesthetic of having a variety of desserts for their guests to enjoy,” she says. “It really can be quite beautiful.” She’s also seen a surge in mini cupcakes and cake truffles (i.e., balls of cake and buttercream rolled and dipped in chocolate).

Tried and True

Lininger says the traditional tiered wedding cake has been popular for as long as she can remember. “I think they have had such longevity because many brides prefer to do things like their parents or other family members have done,” she says.

One trend that has resurged is to top the cake with buttercream icing. “Brides are choosing taste over everything else,” Quier says.  Cozze agrees. “Buttercream’s random texture gives it an earthy and rustic feel,” she says. “It is classic and elegant while being very

merrys-cakeswebunderstated.” She often adds fresh florals on top, which really pop on these cakes.  In addition to flowers, Quier says ribbon is popular. “I think the ribbon and flowers add natural color instead of coloring the icing,” she says.

Finally, many brides are still surprising their new husband with a groom’s cake that reflects his interests, such as sports themes, occupational themes, hobbies or outdoor themes.

Favorite Flavors

In keeping with tradition, “vanilla is, and probably will always be, the most ordered flavor,” Cozze says. “It’s simple, classic, and delicious and lends itself to a variety of filling flavors.”

However, Cozze finds couples asking for greater variety in the autumn wedding months—when couples seem to look for more seasonal flavors such as pumpkin roll, hot cocoa and s’mores.

 

sugar-babesmallwebWhile Lininger says many couples still prefer traditional vanilla wedding cake, most couples have a lot of fun choosing other flavors. “They can make each layer a different kind if they prefer,” she says. Popular choices are red velvet, salted caramel, pumpkin spice, carrot raisin pineapple, lemon poppy, tiramisu, strawberry shortcake, death by chocolate, hazelnut delight, rum and Kahlua chocolate.

Quier says the number one choice at her bakery is vanilla raspberry followed by cannoli. “Brides are looking for light flavors that complement the meal,” she says.

In addition to vanilla, Malpedo says couples often choose popular flavors such as chocolate, marble, strawberry, carrot or snickerdoodle. Some “out of the box” flavors include maple cinnamon bacon, cannoli, tiramisu, Irish car bomb (chocolate Guinness stout cake, chocolate ganache filling spike with Jameson and Bailey’s frosting), and peanut butter pickle.

Helping Couples Choose

With so many decisions to make, how do bakers help couples narrow down their selections? To begin, most offer complimentary tastings. “I usually ask brides to search the web for ideas before meeting with me,” Lininger says. “When the couple arrives I ask a lot of questions to get a feel for their style, personality and overall wedding plans. Then the fun begins. I can get an overall feel for what they like from the pictures. I can then direct them to design choices that will enhance what they are looking for. I love to see them get excited and inspired as we put ideas together.”

Cozze gets a sense of their theme, as well as their individual likes and dislikes. “From there I am usually able to help them make the perfect selection,” she says.

Malpedo advises couples to pick what they and their guests will like. “Don’t be afraid to get a little crazy with flavors,” she says. “Have basic flavors and throw in some fun ones, too. Just go for it and don’t stress about having too little or too much variety.”