15 Years of Wedding Cakes
The icing-like trim on jasperware, developed in England in 1775, translates well to a wedding cake -- piped here in royal icing. This cake and base were covered with fondant; gum-paste leaves adorn the base and top.
The reticulated pattern of this 18th-century English china is emulated in the multi-tiered cake by cutting rolled fondant with aspic and eyelet-embroidery cutters. Sugar paste was used for the "embroidered" flowers on top and base. Creamware, named for its buttery look, was so popular at its advent, Queen Charlotte was said to have owned some 900 pieces, hence its other name, Queen's ware.
Devil's Food Cake
The classic American layer cake is dressed up with geraniums for an informal wedding. The soft frosting is made of semisweet chocolate chips, heavy cream, and corn syrup. It is spread on the cake in broad strokes that require no special decorating skills. The flowers are tucked into trays filled with floral foam. Use flowers with no chemicals or pesticides, and remove them before serving.
This tower of truffles is inspired by the croquembouche, the traditional French wedding cake. The chocolates are rolled in assorted cocoa powders from the United States, France, and Holland. The different qualities of the powders provide nuances of color and flavor. Beneath them are layers of yellow butter cake that are filled and frosted with a dense, dark ganache.
Loose Petal Cake
Swiss meringue buttercream icing, piped through a petal tip with a slight wiggle of the wrist, is the medium for the squiggles enveloping the Loose Petal Cake. Buttercream is soft, free-form, relaxed -- and very delicious. Each buoyant, cushiony tier of this peach-tinted powder puff of a cake is almost imperceptibly elevated above the preceding layer.
This cake was named for a ski resort in Switzerland, the Megeve, and it resembles nothing so much as a mountain -- one, perhaps, of childhood dreams, covered in chocolate curls. Beneath them are disks of vanilla meringue layered with chocolate mousse.
Floating Cherry Blossoms
This cake reflects a dreamy springtime moment amid the cherry trees, when a breeze scatters the dainty blossoms into the air. Here they seem to drift from the top of the cake, where they are densely massed, down to the bottom, where the pink petals break apart as they would in nature. There are enough sugar blossoms to adorn each slice of cake when it is served. Chocolate fondant covers the layers, a striking complement to the shades of pink.
This square buttercream wedding cake is adorned with apples, peaches, pears, plums, and currants to soften its edges and give it a charming appeal.
Dreamy Coconut Cake
The seven-tier coconut cake, frosted with buttercream, candied coconut, and two different types of coconut flakes, will take your guests' breath away. The cake's height and Champagne-colored satin ribbon give it a stately appearance, while the scattered coconut provides a lighter feel, combining both formal and casual elements. With fewer tiers, the same cake would be appropriate for a less formal affair.
Pin tucks and ruffles encircle the layers of this formal cake, which resembles the bib of a classic tuxedo shirt. Tiny sugar-paste pearls, like fabric-covered buttons, punctuate the center of each frilly sugar-paste band. Ivory taffeta ribbon trims the cake board; its picot edging alludes to the black of the suit. The interior is made up of white layers filled and frosted with vanilla Swiss-meringue buttercream and then covered with fondant.
These cakes are sure to recall the joys of summer. Fresh strawberries top stacked pound cakes instead of the traditional biscuits; mascarpone cream is sandwiched between the layers. For an easy-to-slice texture, almond paste and cornmeal were mixed into the batter. Platters piped with royal icing in a basket-weave pattern lend a country feel; they sit on ribbon-wrapped columns that elevate the dessert from its rustic origins and allude to the shape of a conventional tiered wedding cake.
This eyelet "sampler" -- with its cutouts, flowers, and pristine whiteness -- evokes summer as prettily as a billowing cotton dress. Each fondant-covered tier presents a different eyelet. The second layer is inspired by the table runner; the cake's crown by the bottom layer (which has a sugar-paste ribbon "threaded" through it). Styrofoam disks, wrapped in fondant, lift the top layers. Tiny eyelet cutters and small pastry tips were used to make the holes; the embroidered effect comes from piped royal icing. Cake by Wendy Kromer Confections, Sandusky, Ohio.
Rustic Basket-Weave Cake
The top and bottom sections of this grand cake display a classic basket-weave design, while the thick whorls (made with a petal tip) and braided wreaths (a round tip) of the middle tiers copy the artistry of baskets made by Maine's Wabanaki tribes. Mocha buttercream is also unconventional; along with a brown satin ribbon around the stand, it gives the cake an autumn air.
The edible pleats here recall the crinolines beneath a cream puff of a wedding dress. White wafer papers, cut with scallop scissors and folded, were painted with gold luster dust and petal dust in pinks and greens. They were then piped with white royal icing and attached to the mint-green fondant-covered tiers with more royal icing. The fluted pastry cups, filled with pillow mints, complete the pleated theme.
The fondant-covered box "lids" are the actual cake here, and the bottoms, also wrapped in fondant, are cake risers. The whole package is tied together with a taffeta ribbon, while each tier is edged with gold luster dust and matching royal-icing dots. The surrounding gumdrops, mint "lentils," sugar wafers, dragees, and pillow mints are treats you might find inside these packages, were they not made of cake.
Perhaps the most classic of cake finishes, buttercream always looks (and tastes) luscious. Kromer covered each tier of the cake in Swiss-meringue buttercream, then created a repeated flourish with a petal tip. Half-circles traced on each tier provided a guide within which to pipe the fan shapes, done in plain and pink-tinted buttercream. This design relies on a single pastry tip, but because bakers have a large assortment from which to choose, piping can achieve a wide range of effects.
Whimsical and sweet, like strawberries themselves, this cake -- with its gum-paste fruits and flowers atop whitewashed fondant -- is a not to classic Bavarian style. A basket filled with tiny strawberries tops off the countryside-chic creation.
Intricately designed, this chocolate-mint cake comes off as elegant and polished; after all, the fondant molding, cast from architectural reliefs, was inspired by the interiors of neoclassical architect Robert Adam. But cut into it, and decadence awaits. Each rich slice is laced with a minty buttercream filling.
Peak Their Interest
Meringue dates back to the early 1600s, when a sweet tooth named Lady Elinor Fettiplace, of Oxfordshire, England, wrote a recipe for the lighter-than-air confection. Centuries later, it has inspired this incredible frosting. To make your own tufted tower, choose the cake and filling you and your groom like best (raspberry or lemon curd work well) and trim with the easy-to-make whip. Your guests will surely appreciate the break from buttercream.
No wonder King George went mad! He was likely driven to distraction by the opulent jewelry Englishwomen took to wearing during the 18th and early 19th centuries. This cake is an homage to those showstoppers, with four regal tiers of spearmint-hued fondant, royal icing piped to mimic pearl strands, and sparkling edible baubles, each ringed in a "pave setting" of royal-icing pearls.