How to Choose Your Wedding Cake Baker

photo credit: Sweet Shibui Photography

photo credit: Sweet Shibui Photography

Vanilla? Chocolate? Fondant? Buttercream? Pudding-filled, several different tiers of flavor, or maybe just flan or red velvet?

OK, now I’m really craving cake! These delectable flavors and pairings are just a fraction of the options available to you when considering and ordering your wedding cake. The wedding cake is a major symbol in a wedding, large or small, and its tasting is one of the things most of your guests will be looking very forward to. And of course, it’s one of the major “props” used in any iconic wedding day photo.

Since we know how important the cake is, its maker has got to be up to par and up to the challenge to create your edible masterpiece. So just how do you pick the best wedding cake baker? Well here we’re sharing some information that should help you to get the cake of your dreams designed by the very best!

Set a realistic budget

The average cost of a wedding cake begins at approximately $500.00 (serves approximately 150 guests) and can increase from there depending on the size and style, but particularly, how intricately detailed the design is.

Choose a baker

The best way to do this is through referrals. Unlike most of your vendors like photography, where you can view the photographer’s portfolio, it’s more difficult to tell from a description and a pretty picture if the cake actually tastes good. There’s only two ways that can truly be determined; either a. You’ve eaten cake from the baker before, or b. someone has given the baker high acclaim, although even in that example you’ll have to taste it, because everyone has– well, different tastes (no pun intended). Your coworker may have loved it, but you, maybe not so much, so of course there’s no way around this except to sample it yourself. (I know, life’s sooo hard! 🙂 )

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Decide on a shape

This is completely a personal choice. The most popular shape is round, followed by square, followed by special shape (most common special shape- heart, surprise, surprise). FYI, different shaped cakes yield different number of slices, for example, a 16″ square cake yields 128 slices, while a 16″ round only yields 100. Also decide whether you want tiers or not.

Decide on flavor(s)

Again, a totally personal decision, which of course should primarily be driven by what each of you likes. Perhaps if you like vanilla, but he likes chocolate, you can alternate flavors within each tier. One of the newest trends in cakes is the “naked” cake, which is exactly that – a wedding cake with no frosting, icing, buttercream, fondant, just simply “naked”, with perhaps a garnish of flower petals to give it visual appeal. These cakes are also extremely cost-effective for just this reason– no extra design costs or “toppings” to drive up the costs.

What you and your baker should work on together:

  • Establish the amount of cake needed per guest – Based on size and shape your baker will tell you what is the amount of cake needed to feed your guests.
  • Do a cake tasting – After reviewing different flavors and pairings, your baker will have you come in for a tasting so you can actually taste your cake!
  • Review cake design details – Of course you’ll bring in pictures of wedding cake styles you admire, whether they are from the baker themselves or other places. Just make sure you feel confident the baker is comfortable with your choice, and that they can indeed replicate the style you’d like.

It goes without saying, but still worth repeating, that your baker should know how to:

  • Carefully transport and deliver your wedding cake to your venue without issue or compromise
  • Store and refrigerate your wedding cake at the venue  appropriately
  • Instruct the wait staff to correctly cut and serve your wedding cake (although most wait-staff have been trained in this. Also note sometimes a cutting fee from the venue may apply)

And some final tips before I go and get cake:

Save the top layer – It’s tradition to save the top layer of your wedding cake to be eaten on your one year wedding anniversary. Have the venue box the top layer to give to a relative to keep refrigerated until you return from your honeymoon. Transport it to your freezer, and one year later, enjoy!

Review your reception dinner menu to see if cake is already included – If your reception is at a banquet hall, sometimes the wedding cake is included in your dinner menu package. This is a terrific cost -effective option, but remember, these cakes may be plain, and you’ll be locked into whatever style and flavor options they present. But if customizing your cake is not a big deal, go for it and save yourself some money!

Beware of home-made wedding cakes – Unless your aunt is a professional baker, do not pick a relative, friend, or an amateur to bake your wedding cake unless you really, really, really trust their skill level and talent! If they’re  a novice and really don’t knowing what they’re doing, the end result could be disastrous —  either an inedible cake that your guests will talk about, or even worse, no cake at all!

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