Selecting the Perfect Wedding Cake: Tips from a Pastry Chef

Aug 24, 2012

The wedding is right around the corner. A deposit is placed on the reception hall, the band is booked and the caterer is selected. But what about the wedding cake? Who will create that unique and delicious symbol of this special milestone?

Whether you are the bride, the groom, a friend or a relative, the process of selecting the right custom pastry chef or pastry arts designer can be as smooth as French silk if you remember to:

Plan ahead. For a custom-designed wedding cake, experts say plan at least three months out. This gives your chosen cake maker time to schedule your project, design it and add creative flair that can't be forced at the last minute.

Budget realistically. Five and ten thousand dollar wedding cake prices are not unusual. But that doesn't mean you can't get a beautiful and tasty wedding cake for much less. Depending on where you live, custom wedding cakes can start at $3.00 per slice and go up to $15.00 and higher. Size, intricacy of decoration and the complexity of the theme are some of the factors that will determine your final wedding cake price.

Shop wisely. Your wedding cake will live forever in photos and memory. For a really special wedding cake, find a pastry chef with a great portfolio of wedding cake designs. Chef Matthew Dyer, chef instructor for Pastry Arts at Culinard, the Culinary Institute of Virginia College, suggests these tips:

  • Ask around and get referrals. Narrow your list to two or three pastry chefs and make appointments to meet them.
  • Bring magazine photos or drawings that represent your dream wedding cake. Ask questions. Don't be shy: if you want a margarita-flavored cake, say it! The right chef will be interested in what will make the bride happy.
  • Look at the chef's portfolio of cakes. Do you love their cake designs? You don't have to have a pastry arts degree to recognize great cake artistry.
  • Talk honestly about pricing. Ask to speak with recent clients—just for extra piece of mind.
  • Ask for a sketch of the cake design the chef imagines for you, as well as a tasting of the cake itself—even if only in a cupcake.

Don't forget the groom. There's really no such thing as a traditional groom's cake. Chef Dyer says one recent trend is sports-related groom's cakes. These might include a giant soccer ball on a field of grass, a billiard table with balls and cue sticks, or a football helmet.

Relax and enjoy. Good pastry chefs will deliver on time and deliver what's promised. If you've followed the tips noted above and selected the pastry chef who meets your requirements, you can have your cake and eat it too!

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