By Hans Baang, Bartleby & Sage Pastry Chef
(Summer Wedding Cake for an elegant mansion wedding – Vanilla Cake with mascar-pone cream, fresh berries and hand-iced with Italian butter cream)

The tradition of wedding cakes started in ancient Rome. They were originally made of bread. As the centuries progressed, the wedding cake also changed in its components and appearance. One of the most elaborate wedding cakes in history was the wedding cake of British Prince Albert .and Princess Helena in 1882, where it was said that all the tiers were real cake and the decorations were made of elaborate sugar sculptures. In our time, wedding cakes have also changed dramatically in shape, form, and com-ponents. Some folks even forego a cake for pies or doughnuts or churros.

The tradition of tiered wedding cake is still de rigeur for many of our couples. The bot-tom tier is said to be for slicing and serving to guests. The second or middle tier is meant to serve as a take-away for the guests after the wedding celebration. The top tier is saved (in the freezer) for the bride and groom to celebrate their one-year anniversary.

The tradition of having a cake makes the wedding celebration come “full circle”, even if it’s a square cake. The wedding cake symbolizes happiness and good fortune, so why not continue the tradition?

With all the customs and cultural differences associated with wedding cakes, there’s a lot of planning involved to personalize the whole experience for the couple. Let’s start with the basics:

  • How to choose a wedding cake design,
  • How to choose the cake flavor/s
  • How to choose the size of the wedding cake

How to choose a wedding cake design:
Social media platforms are a great resource for style and design ideas. However, it is important to note that design also dictates price. From naked-style to full-on ornate em-bellishments, the detailed work we pastry chefs put in to the creation will add on to the cost of your cake.

Other important aspects in choosing a cake design are theme, a significant experience, the seasons and the time and location of the wedding ceremony. For example, we’ve had couples pattern their wedding cake to the design of the bride’s wedding dress or match the ambiance of the venue, or the particular color palate of the florals and lin-ens, and, of course, the seasonality of ingredients.

(This cake was designed like the pattern of the bride’s Japanese Kimono wedding dress)

How to Choose Cake Flavor(s):
The cake itself is as important as your savory food menu for the wedding reception. It should include flavors you both really love ranging from the basics to exotic flavors like pistachio or mango. If you have very different tastes, not a problem, one layer can be the bride’s passion fruit puree filling and another layer can be the groom’s chocolate ganache. Each plate will have a taste of both flavors.

You might also want to consider flavor profiles that remind you of your childhood, like the Filipino cake shown below. Or a funfetti cake! The cake could even reference your first date like the cannoli cake for a couple who went to Veniero’s on a first date. Your pastry chef will assist you in deciding flavors that are significant to both of you.

(The Sans Rival Cake, which means “Unrivaled”, is a popular Filipino dessert made of meringue & crushed cashew nuts and Swiss Buttercream. The wedding cake is frosted with Italian buttercream and strips of edible rice paper. We recently served this at a Brooklyn wedding.)

How to choose the size of the wedding cake:
Along with the design and the flavors, you will then have to decide the actual size of the cake. Normally the size is determined by the number of guests to be served at the reception. Each cake tier is calculated to produce a number of serving portions. Budget also plays a role. It can be all cake, or faux-cake tiers with just the top and/or top and middle being actual cakes, or the bottom tier is the real one. Some couples also choose a small ceremonial cake and back-up sheet cake for slicing, which saves about half the cost of a fully-tiered cake.

In conclusion, it all depends on the aesthetics and the choices considered by the cou-ple. The good thing is that your wedding cake designer will help you navigate through these choices. At Bartleby and Sage, we always do our best to make your dream wed-ding cake come to life and enjoy it, too!

(Classic fluted four-tired cake, vanilla buttercream, lemon curd and marzipan peaches)