Not all wedding cakes are equal. Some aren’t even white and some are shaped like gigantic swans, of course, but before you even get into choosing the shape and color of your cake, you’re faced with the important task of choosing the cake itself. Cake batter comes in many variations, and any baker will tell you that not all types of cakes are equally suited to the task of serving a specific wedding. Sit down with your baker and figure out what type of cake best serves your needs.
Sponge Cakes and Pound Cakes
Want an all-purpose, classic cake that looks like it belongs in the encyclopedia next to “wedding cake?” Sponge cakes and pound cakes are classic choices for weddings because their firm texture lends itself easily to stacked layers and ornate decorations (such as whole fruits, which can be too heavy for other types of batter). If you want something basic that will hold up under heavy decoration, this is it.
Fluffy and light on the tongue, chiffon cake is the perfect finish to a flavorful meal. Since it’s made with vegetable oil instead of butter, it doesn’t dry out as easily as other types of cakes. This is an advantage if you’re planning on ordering your cake well in advance of the wedding for peace of mind and leaving it frozen until the big day. Just don’t let it go through multiple cycles of thawing and re-freezing, or else the flavor will begin to suffer.
Although fruitcake has a bad reputation as an unwanted holiday gift, well-made fruitcake is actually an impressive wedding choice. (Just ask Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, who chose it for their royal wedding.) It’s made by studding sponge cake with candied fruits, nuts, and spices in various combinations; like all other types of cake, fruitcake varies widely by baker. Some favor soaking the finished cake in brandy or rum before serving.
Flourless cake is the delicious answer to gluten-intolerant couples or guests, although anyone with a liking for decadent flavor could easily choose this option just for the taste. Flourless chocolate cake is a favorite among chocolate lovers because it allows for an even higher percentage of chocolate in every bite. Because of their dense texture, flourless cakes aren’t as easy to stack into wide, visually-appealing layers, but it makes them a favorite option for wedding cupcakes–including ones with “molten” chocolate centers!
Fruit and Cream Filled Cakes
Fresh fruit and cream fillings are popular add-ons to sponge cakes and pound cakes because they add a little bit of zest without changing the outer look of the cake. They’re a great way to dress up an otherwise plain cake; strawberry, raspberry, and lemon are popular filling choices. However, adding fresh fruit and cream to a cake does activate a ticking clock if you want your guests to experience the flavor in its full glory, so ask your baker whether elaborate cake decoration will still be possible.
Cheesecake is the perfect “not cake” for couples who want a wedding cake alternative without giving up the idea of cake entirely. Creamy and decadent, cheesecake is often a pleasant surprise for guests expecting “just another wedding cake.” Since cheesecake’s heavy nature doesn’t lend itself well to stackable layers, you’ll probably want to opt for a tiered cake stand if you’re after a classic wedding cake look. Cheesecakes aren’t traditionally iced, but you can still indulge your creative side by garnishing each tier with sugared fruit, three-dimensional chocolate accents, or sugar sculptures.
Don’t Forget to Taste
Of course, however perfect your cake sounds on paper, the only true way to test it is by taste! Schedule a cake tasting with a baker (or several bakers) to let your own mouth make the final decision between your top options. If you fall in love with a particularly tasty cake that doesn’t fit your logistical plans, you may just decide to change other aspects of your wedding to fit. After all, being a delicious treat is the most important part of being a dessert; the rest is all just icing on the cake.