He asked. You said yes. Now the planning begins. When it comes to a wedding cake, it can be a towering masterpiece — or a towering disaster. Not all wedding cake bakers are created equal, so knowing what to ask can go a long way towards ensuring the cake that is delivered is exactly what you envisioned.
We’ve put together a helpful checklist of questions to get you started with some tips from our very own pastry chef, Eddy Van Damme.
- Does the baker have a specialty? What is his or her signature dessert? Is it something widely known and praised? Ask them what they believe their best cakes contain and why.
- What kind of wedding cake flavors does the baker offer? A wedding is not the time to experiment with food, so stay away from trendy wedding cake flavors like green tea, rhubarb, rum or coffee. We recommend flavors that appeal to a crowd like strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, orange, lemon, passion fruit, apricot, vanilla, cream cheese or hazelnut. Keep in mind that the wow factor should come from the clean, uniform appearance and tenderness of the cake. Pay special attention to the cake’s texture – it should be tender and not dry.
- What kind of cake filling does the baker offer? Fresh fruit-like flavors such as jams, lemon curd and orange marmalade are always good choices for filling, as they provide a sense of lightness after eating a heavy meal. But beware! Depending on the quality, fillings can range from delicious to dreadful. If you like the baker’s skill in decorating, but you are not fond of the fillings they offer, see if you could pay more for them to use a better type of filling.
- Does the baker use fondant or buttercream? Essentially all cakes are first frosted with buttercream to retain its moisture. Even a “naked” cake is lightly frosted. A wedding cake is usually covered with a very smooth fondant covering to protect the cake from drying out. Unfortunately, while fondant is beautiful, a lot of people don’t prefer the thicker texture. Many even remove it before they enjoy their slice of cake.
- Does the baker use flowers made with frosting or real flowers to decorate? Your cake can be decorated with either or both. Be sure to keep the setting and location of the wedding in mind. For certain decorations, temperature is vital. Do not use chocolate decorations for a beach wedding because they may melt from the heat. Use fresh flowers instead.
- When will the baker prepare your cake/what is the schedule? The day before to prepare is best. It allows the cake to become fully firmed and properly “glued” together. If a baker has been in operation for a few years, they will be very busy during the spring and summer months and will likely have several cakes to deliver per week. Ask the baker who will deliver the cake and what will happen if the cake is damaged during delivery.
- Who will make your cake at the bakery? Often one person will bake the cake and depending on the size of the bakery, another person may prepare the filling, The assembly, frosting and decorating is often done by the same person. You aren’t asking too much to meet the people who will be working on your cake and ask them questions as well.
- How does the baker price the cake? Usually wedding cakes are priced per person. Keep in mind that cakes that are more complicated or have hand made sugar flowers are more expensive. Cakes with a paired down “modern” look are often more difficult to do correctly than one where all sides and edges are covered with piped buttercream borders. Cakes that require more hours will cost more.
- Can the baker provide referrals? Be sure the bakery, whether it’s operated out of a home or in a commercial space, has proper credentials for the state you live in. In Texas home bakeries must be certified in food safety but those in a commercial space must also be licensed. Be sure to also obtain referrals from an event that occurred within the last few weeks to months, not from several years back. Ask your baker about the worst wedding cake delivery they ever had. Every baker has one. How did they successfully solve the problem?
- Does the baker have a portfolio? They should have one for you to view upon request. This is so you can view the appearance of the cakes. Does it look clean and professional? Is there a range of styles that you like? If you like certain aspects of cakes you see, be sure to tell the baker. If your baker is helpful, he/she can work with you to find exactly what you want for your cake.
- Does the baker provide samples? This is non-negotiable. You must taste samples, just as you would try on a wedding dress before buying it. During a sampling, ask to taste the fillings separately from the cake. This will reveal much about the quality.
Cutting and eating a wedding cake is one of the high points of any reception. When selecting a baker, make sure you ask the right questions to find the perfect baker for your one-of-a-kind cake.
If you are having a small reception or renewing your vows and want to make your own wedding cake, we have a variety of cake recipes to make your special day delicious.