There are many variations of wedding cakes available to couples tying the knot this wedding season. From sweet and classic to bold and innovative, flavor trends range from simple vanilla to more exotic tastes like passion fruit. Local bakers offer insights into what’s traditional, what’s new, what tips to borrow, and what’s tried and true.
Renata Papadopoulos, cake designer and owner of Lovely Cakes in Norwalk and a past winner of Cake Wars on the Food Network, explains some of the wedding cake and dessert trends she has observed this season. “Textured buttercream cakes made a comeback last year and continue to be popular this year,” she observes.
While the most popular flavor is vanilla cake with salted caramel buttercream, the cake artist has noticed that couples are becoming more daring in their cake choices. “More and more I see couples willing to try more exotic flavors. Coconut buttercream and passion fruit buttercream are growing in popularity,” she reports, adding that “gold and rose gold are the metallic accents for this year, and marble effect is also big right now.”
Her final tip for couples concerns fondant. “So many people shy away from fondant because they think they don’t like the taste of it,” she says. “Fondant is made out of marshmallow and the taste is pretty mild. The problem is that so many bakeries cover their cakes with such a thick layer of fondant. At Lovely Cakes, we roll out our fondant to less than one-eighth-inch. This way it blends with the buttercream coating, and it doesn’t interfere with the taste of the cake.”
Lisa Maronian, cake artist and co-owner of Sweet Lisa’s Exquisite Cakes in Greenwich, also notes some recent wedding cake trends. “Many of our brides are making the wedding cake their only dessert. … Consequently, we have been doing more chocolate cake because it is a little richer and more substantial than vanilla.” One of the shop’s most popular flavors has been chocolate cake with cookies and cream and chocolate ganache filling.
Like Papadopoulos, Maronian has found that textured buttercream has seen a surge in popularity. “It’s a more natural and soft look for a wedding that many brides prefer, as opposed to fondant icing.”
With more than 20 years’ experience baking wedding cakes, Maronian is something of an expert. “When the cake is going to be the only dessert, I have been suggesting that brides do two different flavors, one vanilla and one chocolate, and then ‘butler pass the cake,’” she explains. This means the cake is cut up and placed on small plates with forks, then placed on a large silver tray; on one side are vanilla cake slices and on the other side are chocolate cake slices. Then the waiters go wherever the guests are and offer them cake. “This is a nice alternative to serving the cake at the tables, as most people get up after dinner and are walking around, socializing, and dancing … This way, the cake doesn’t get wasted.”
Once the cake flavors and fillings have been determined, the cake decorations must be chosen. At Palmer’s Bakery in Darien, many couples this wedding season are selecting rustic textured buttercream, according to Yarissa Quinones, lead cake decorator. “The trend can be seen in different styles, whether it’s horizontal, vertical, or spatula (a freehand textured homemade rustic look), and it can fit many wedding styles,” she says. “Many brides also want traditional buttercream piping as their cake decoration — it’s a look that evolves over time but is always classic.”
According to www.squires-shop.com, wedding cake decorating trends for 2017 include cakes that feature feminine ruffles, edible lace, pops of color, appliqué style flowers, and gold leaf, gilding, or even a touch of metallic lustre dust. Other cake trends include watercolor-painted or marbled fondant and 3-D cut-out fondant shapes, monograms, bling, stained glass, naked (with frosting mainly between many layers), the return of chocolate but in a modern way (such as chocolate ombre icing), intricate buttercream flowers that look completely authentic, and cakes that are smaller and/or two-tier (and accompanied by a dessert table on the side), square, or off-set layers.