Weddings month continues here at Lina's Lookbook with a glance at quite possible the ultimate symbol of the wedding, the cake. Nothing else evokes the sweetness of love and hospitality towards your guests quite like it. In fact, for much of the twentieth century wedding receptions consisted of cake and not much else. Cake and champagne, or champagne punch for the budget-conscious, was the standard fare. Even the over-the-top wedding portrayed in the original Father of the Bride movie (with Elizabeth Taylor and Spencer Tracey) was expensive because of the flowers, trousseau, and (in a memorable scene) the cake. But the reception was still a stand-up cake and champagne affair with dancing, not a sit-down dinner. So why not take a page from their book and have a wedding that centers around one of these?
The traditional wedding cake is white inside and out. Apparently when my aunt cut the first slice of cake at her wedding there was a collective gasp from the guests, because although the icing was bridal white she had asked for a cake in her favorite flavor, chocolate. No matter what flavors you chose inside, there is something lovely about an all-white cake. These keep the monochromatic scheme interesting with some clever decoration. The cake at left uses tiers in a variety of shapes, and softens their edges with a little stylized floral icing. The cake at right is covered by edible sugar flowers in the shape of dogwood blossoms, giving it an interesting texture and romantic feel.
The combination of traditional white with rich chocolate offers a wealth of graphic possibilities. I love the cake on the left, whose elaborate decoration in chocolate icing is inspired by nineteenth-century transferware (like the platter on the wall behind it). On the right some more restrained decoration consists of tiny dots of icing. I also love the petal-shaped tiers used in both cakes.
Martha Stewart Weddings (from which all these pictures are taken) is always doing stories on using ribbons, and while I don't usually go for them myself, on these cakes they strike the right note. On the left white icing forms swags and bows on a pretty blue background. At right the brown moire ribbons pick up on the marbling effect used on the fondant icing, that in turn hints at the chocolate marble cake inside.
How simple can a wedding cake be? At right a basic pale yellow cake gets a little more embellishment at home with a bit of store-bought mini-ivy garland, affixed with extra icing. This would be perfect for a winter wedding with an ivy theme. Ivy has long been considered romantic, especially when paired with the masculine oak, because it clings to the tree the way a wife should cling to her spouse. On the right a far more modern (and more feminist) cake eschews exterior trappings and reveals the clean simple lines of its many layers. Talk about the beauty of materials! The lovely colors keep the minimalism from being boring.
Here are two of my favorite cakes that use the traditional rose in unexpected ways. On the left rose petals have been strung together into a floppy garland that encircles a tier, while a single perfect rose blossom crowns the top. On the right a far less labor-intensive decorating scheme consists of a simple scattering of rose petals. The scale of the cake, far more horizontally grounded than the average, adds to its drama.
Dessert buffets have become more and more popular on the pages of MS Weddings, and perhaps in real life. The buffet at left consists entirely of chocolate treats, while the one at right has a more balanced selection of chocolates and fruity candies. The display on the right also centers around a traditional French wedding cake.
Another popular alternative to the traditional wedding cake is to serve tiny individual cakes to each person. This may derive from the tradition of the groom's cake, which was sliced up and boxed to be taken home as favors. According to legend if an unmarried woman slept with the box of groom's cake under her pillow she would dream of her future husband. On the left little white cakes are topped with sugar flowers. On the right brownies have been cut into circles of various sizes, stacked into wedding-cake like tiers and sprinkled with powdered sugar.
Another alternative to the traditional cake is to have small cakes at each table. Rather than the tiny individual cakes shown above, each one would serve the whole table (e.g. eight people). If suitable decorated, such cakes can stand in for the traditional floral centerpiece. The cakes at left, for example, combine simple square forms with lush toppings of parrot tulips (which are non-toxic). Or serve what we all secretly prefer, cupcakes! This idea has also been catching on lately, and is especially popular when the cupcakes are displayed on tiered cake platters in imitation of a traditional wedding cake. But of course, MS Weddings has taken it to the next level by trimming the cake stands with lace and topping each cupcake with a heart of fondant stamped with a monogram. Sheesh.