Have Your Cake and Enjoy It!

Deciding on your wedding cake sounds easy, right? WRONG!  Between the look, the taste and of course – what type of frosting… you will want to pull your hair out!  There are dozens of choices and endless combinations, not to mention that the cake and the frosting you choose will depend on a lot of factors; the location of the wedding, the outdoor temperature, what style of cake you want… and (of course) your taste. Having a great looking cake that tastes bad is  just as much of a disaster as a delicious cake that looks awful.

For me , the most important part of the cake is the frosting so I have broken it down into three main types:

Buttercream frosting is made from butter or margarine combined with powdered sugar, flavorings, and liquid. This is by far the most popular frosting because it is easy to work with and very adaptable, plus it holds up well to humidity and temperature variations. These characteristics are especially important in the case of an outdoor wedding where there is an uncontrolled environment. If you love the look of fondant but can’t live without  buttercream frosting, relax…. a skilled baker can replicate the look of fondant with buttercream.

Whipped Cream frostings are made from powdered sugar, flavorings, and whipped cream – what could be simpler? Unfortunately the whipped cream is sometimes a problem since this type of frosting requires refrigeration and does not hold up well to heat or high humidity. However, this is the sweetest and fluffiest of all frostings and is a real treat  if the conditions are right. As far as the design is concerned, the possibilities are endless with a talented baker.

Fondant creates a very smooth and elegant cake covering but is less sweet and more dense than other frosting types which have lighter whipped textures. The main benefit of fondant is that, unlike buttercream frosting, in a fairly short amount of time you can have a silky, perfect-looking cake. In just a matter of minutes you can roll out your fondant, cover your cake, and smooth. You can also use fondant to create interesting shapes and figures for your cake that you wouldn’t be able to do with plain frosting. Accomplishing the same thing with buttercream frosting can be nearly impossible, even for the most dedicated cake decorator. However, fondant doesn’t always taste as good as buttercream.

There are no clear-cut rules  but, consider the taste and temperature to be the deal breakers. You absolutely cannot have a cake with whipped cream frosting in the middle of July in Louisiana and you will never get the same texture and taste of buttercream frosting using rolled fondant. Figure out what is the most important thing to you and use your baker’s expertise and advice to  accomplish your main goal – having a beautiful cake that holds up at least until it is cut.

Last but certainly not least – arrange to taste cake samples together. Finding a cake you both love will be a lovely memory.  This is definitely the best part of wedding planning!

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago



 Tipsycake, Chicago,IL


Leeson’s Cakes, Tinley Park, IL

Sharon’s Custom Cakes, Crete, IL

Oak Mill Bakery Chicago, IL



Cake Toppers – Creative Trends

Like a gorgeous ribbon tied beautifully around a package, the cake topper is the finishing touch that makes the entire package come together.  Let’s face it, even the most beautiful cake needs a little something on top to complete the look. Wedding cake toppers are traditionally a representation of a bride and groom in formal wedding attire sitting atop the cake.  This custom was dominant in US weddings in the 1950s where it represented the concept of togetherness. It is important to note that cake toppers have advanced a long way since your parents or grandparent’s wedding. Seldom do couples even look for the standard  cake toppers where the only decision is to try to find one of the little plastic couples  that resemble you in hair or skin color. Couples today can use the cake topper to signify the silly, irreverent or romantic spirit of their relationship. Don’t be too worried if your fiance is not jazzed about cake toppers just yet. Wait until he sees the options (now) available, then you can sit back and enjoy as he delves into the wonderful world of wedding details…. and this one can be downright fun! What’s hot in cake toppers for 2012?

Romantic – Choices to express romance include Lladro figurines, doves, or hearts  made of various materials. It isn’t about cost since there are options made for every budget. Although a beautiful Lladro could set you back  hundreds of dollars,  a simple  plastic sculpture of intertwined hearts can cost less than lunch.

Fun- Bobble head likenesses, a cute Lego or cartoon couple, a whimsical wire sculpture. Maybe a  couple doing something you both enjoy like surfing or fishing. Perhaps you want to focus on your profession;  firefighters, police and military cake toppers are very popular and easy to find.

Monograms – Monograms are HOT! You can do the traditional monogram with your first initials on either side and your shared last initial in the middle, you can do just the last initial or  just your first two initials intertwined. Rhine-stoned cake toppers gained so much popularity last year that some companies have begun offering them with colored stones so you can match your wedding colors! WOW!

Same Sex – With a handful of states passing legislation that same sex marriages are legal (and hopefully more to follow), it is now easier than ever to find a variety of cake toppers depicting same sex couples. Bravo.

Ethnic – Cake toppers are also widely available in a variety of traditional ethnic wedding attire so you can mix your Asian, African, Hispanic or Middle Eastern heritage with a traditional American wedding cake.

Today’s couples have limitless styles to choose from since so many companies offer custom cake toppers. My only advice to to future brides and grooms is to get something  you love, something you can afford and something you will want to keep forever, it is a wonderful keepsake  and would look great on top of your future anniversary cake.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago


Grooms Take the Cake!

Growing up in the Midwest, I knew nothing of a Groom’s cake until I watched Steel Magnolias for the first time. In that movie, the groom had a red velvet cake decorated to look like a giant Armadillo. It made no sense to me at the time, I just figured he was odd , like the rest of the  characters in the movie. In reality, it was probably one of the finer points of the movie that was missed on me  because at the time I knew nothing of grooms cakes, Southern Weddings or Armadillos.

The Grooms cake traditionally was a southern custom, the Armadillo is an animal indigenous to the southern part of the United States and  the red velvet cake has always been popular in the south . Add all of this together and you have a ‘bleeding’ Armadillo cake to represent the true southern spirit of the movie.  That only took me 20 years to figure out.
Since that movie came to the  big screen in 1989 there has been a resurgence of Grooms cakes spreading all the way to Buckingham Palace this past spring when Prince William used his groom’s cake to honor the memory of his mother, the late Princess Diana. This long overlooked tradition has made a full comeback! Once seen as an unnecessary expense, it is now a colorful expression of personality and in some cases (such as Prince William) a way to remember a loved one.

The Groom’s Cake is made for the guests to enjoy at either the rehearsal dinner or served alongside the  traditional wedding cake at the reception. With today’s technology and the talents of a great baker, you may have a cake so picturesque and  so artistic that no one will believe it is  a cake, much less want to be the first to cut into it. Since there are no cake cutting customs associated with the groom’s cake you may want to leave it out for the guests to marvel at for as long as possible and then box the cake slices and serve them as edible take-home favors, adding another opportunity to be creative with the packaging. Legend has it that if single women sleep with a slice of it under their pillow they will dream of their future husband.

Although the bride may also have a hand in design and creation of this cake – it is up to each individual couple to decide who handles this cake and how involved each party will be . If the bride is giving the groom this cake as a gift, she may single handedly select and design the cake for him. Realistically it is best not to get too cutesy – if you are going full-out groom’s cake it should be a reflection of his own personal masculine taste. There are no restrictions on style, shape or flavor. Rich dark chocolate, red velvet and cheesecakes are the more popular choices. The groom usually selects something that represents his family, or life or hobbies.  This is the one time when the groom can have complete control of something wedding-related. I say let him have at it but, just in case – you might want to have a private conversation with the groom and your pastry chef or baker  outlining what you both define as unacceptable. My advice is to  stay away from anything questionable. No one wants to eat a cake that looks like a dead fish no matter how much your future husband enjoys fishing, ditto for all animals portrayed as dead on a cake.

Whether he is an avid gamer, Trekkie, Wine connoisseur or Cubs (or Sox) fan,  be sure that your groom has his own cake for everyone to enjoy and keep this lovely tradition alive for future generations!

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago