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When it comes to custom-designed wedding cakes, simple doesn’t mean plain, and over-the-top doesn’t mean gaudy. When a bride sits down with a cake designer and says she wants something with clean lines, she still may want delicately designed sugar flowers, edible pearl trim or lacework that matches her grandmother’s antique veil. In the world of designer cakes, it all makes sense.
The most popular wedding cakes are those with intricate designs, lace and scrollwork and cascades of sugar flowers. Brides also can choose from flavorful icings, luscious fillings, exotic flavors and even all-natural, organic or vegan ingredients. And, if you can’t narrow your choice down to one cake, no problem. How about a bridal shower cake, a groom’s cake or even cupcakes to complement the wedding cake? Colors also are hot on the wedding cake circuit.
“Nobody wants a stark white cake anymore,” said Mona Sokhi of Mona’s Confections in Melville. “They might want ivory, or pale pink or even pale blue, but not white.”
Vibrant accent colors in the sugar work also are popular, Sokhi said.
When the budget allows, a second custom-designed cake for the bridal shower gets the nod. Sokhi said these aren’t as formal as the wedding cake and usually are more colorful, often matching the bride’s wedding colors. Cupcakes are another way the bride can put an edible signature on the festivities — either as part of a dessert plate or as a take-home favor.
Grooms’ cakes also are popular, says Corey Messina, co-owner of La Bonne Boulangerie, which has locations in Port Jefferson, East Norwich and Levittown. The groom’s cake is a secondary, usually more whimsical cake, often themed around the groom’s interests, he adds. In the South, it traditionally was chocolate or red velvet, cake designers say. In the movie “Steel Magnolias,” the red velvet groom’s cake was shaped like an armadillo.
Jay Ellis, owner of Cakes by Jay in Glen Cove, said he is seeing more sugar detailing and fresh flowers topping wedding cakes. Brides also are shelling out $300 to $400 for porcelain figures that sit next to the cake instead of on top of it, he says.
Cakes, which usually are priced per slice, range from an inexpensive $4 a slice to the average, $7 to $10 a slice, Ellis says. Details, such as cascading sugar florals and hand-molded and hand-painted decorations, can add from $1,000 to $5,000 to the price, he says. And, top-name designers easily charge $10,000 or more for an elaborately decorated cake.
Just as brides have likes and dislikes, Ellis and Sokhi have strong feelings about what works and what doesn’t.
“I’m so glad the basket-weave cake is out,” Ellis says. “It was so ’90s. Any sort of plastic topper is out. Shortening in the icing is out. Cakes that look like they’re falling over are out. The tiered cakes where you see through the layers are out, out, out!”
Sokhi, who makes all of her fillings, dislikes plastic columns that go between layers. “They’re ugly; they make the cake unstable,” she says, adding that some cake makers use them to make the cake appear bigger, so they can charge more for it.
Wedding cakes should taste delicious, says Messina. But sometimes they don’t, because cake designers skimp on the quality of their ingredients, apply too much fondant or take several days to create the cake, he says.
“Make sure everything is fresh to order,” says Messina, “and that the cake is made that day.”
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