While white-tiered wedding cakes will never go out of style, more and more Aussies are getting hitched their own way – and with an entirely different set of expectations to their parents. This issue, Australian Baking Business takes a look at 2014’s boldest wedding cake trends.
Art deco appeal
Florida-based husband-and-wife team, Marie and Carlos Martinez, are drawn to modern patterns inspired by architecture.
Raised amongst the colourful Spanish colonial architecture of Puerto Rico and residing in Florida’s post-modern city, Tampa, the pair has a strong affinity with robust colours and bold patterns.
Marie says she is also heavily influenced by the fashion industry, which makes it no surprise one of her latest creations tastefully combines structured, geometric patterns with a pink ombre colour scheme.
“Our style is clean, modern, minimalist and elegant, so we were thrilled when our colleagues at Papered Heart Photography, who were rebranding their company, asked us to make them a celebration cake. Of course, it would work particularly well as a wedding cake,” Marie says.
“They requested tones of pinks and gold be incorporated, along with fun geometric hearts they found online. So, we decided to make a pink ombre cake and added the super-delicate paper geometric hearts as a really unique decorative element.”
As in the fashion world, Marie is well-aware wedding cake trends come and go – with many relived years or even decades later. But for now, at least, the modern, art-deco appeal of geometric-cakes is right on-trend.
“We now see mint and peach colours used in fashion, which were popular years back, but they now have now taken on a cleaner, more minimalist appeal. Exactly the same thing is happening in the cake world,” she says.
“In the near future, I see a lot of art deco, retro, bold and structured cakes, rather than traditional cakes decorated with lace, white, ivory and pearls.
“Metallics are big at the moment and, no doubt, we’ll see lots of gold and shine on geometric patterns this year.”
It’s not only the way cakes are decorated that is swinging towards a more modern aesthetic. Marie’s brides are increasingly opting for more neutral flavours, such as vanilla, chocolate or almond.
“More and more we are getting to do pink champagne cakes with fresh strawberries; almond liquor-infused cakes with toasted almonds; carrot cakes; and red velvet with cream cheese icing cakes, rather than traditional fruit cakes. We even sell a lot of our specialty Puertorrican rum, with a cinnamon Italian meringue butter cream,” Marie says.
“Our personal favourites are the lemon cake with lemon curd and fresh raspberries; the cheesecake with guava cream cheese; and our vanilla cake with a dulce de leche made from scratch.
“We truly believe in uniqueness, therefore, we educate our customers to think out of the box and incorporate their personality and liking on to their most special and memorable cake.
“The secret to success in this field is being your own competition and challenging yourself to adapt and evolve.”
One of AK Cake Design’s most easily-recognised creations is the result of a partnership between two artists on opposite sides of the world. Inspired by Melbourne artist Antonia Sellbach, Portland Allison Kelleher – who herself comes from a studio art background – created the Colour Block Cake for a bold bride after something a little different.
“Wedding cakes are much more than a dessert, they are the centerpiece of the celebration! This is why I relish working hand-in-hand with my clients to ensure their cakes truly reflect them and their event,” says the sculptor-turned baker, who resides in Portland, US.
With a distinctly clean and modern approach to cake decorating, Allison plays with shapes, colours and textures to create what she calls an “intricate simplicity”.
“My cakes have a hand-crafted feel. I really want them to look like they have been created by a human, rather than a machine,” says the sculptor-turned baker.
“As with a lot of my cakes, I’ve hand-painted this cake. My muse was a painting, so I really wanted this cake to look like it had been painted. The colours are all custom mixed, before applying the shapes to the cake. I painted each one to intensify the colour and to add brushstrokes.”
“The shapes were then added in a fairly random order – I just went for what felt right!
“My style is clean and modern, but with a hand-crafted feel. Usually I like to soften my designs, with sugar flowers or hand-painting techniques so it has more of a hand made feel to it. I like it to look like it’s made by a person, not a machine,” she says.
“Certainly metallics are still really ‘in’, and watercolour and painting on cakes has become very ‘in’. I do a lot of watercolour, hand painting techniques – using mostly petal dusts, a cake decorating colourants and painting that on to fondant. Usually it’s used for dusting sugar flowers, but I mix it with lemon extract and use it as an edible paint.
“Because of my art background I tend to gravitate towards studio art techniques, and I also tend to be very process orientated, which comes from my background working with mixed media.”
Open for all to see
“Naked” cakes are right on-trend, and they won’t fall out of favour anytime soon. While the idea behind them is the same – slice, serve and eat – there are a few important details that differ from their frosted cousins.
In the US and the UK, naked cakes are being pinned as the perfect touch to a rustic, casual wedding. In Australia, however, they are also a fresh alternative to heavy fruit cakes – making them ideal for balmy spring and summer celebrations.
These cakes ooze a natural and organic feel, which immediately displaces traditional cake decorations, including ornate sugar or gum paste flowers.
“Typically couples who choose a naked cake incorporate natural elements like succulents, rosemary or lavender instead of big romantic peonies and roses,” Molly Lawson of D’lish Discriminating Desserts told Simon Hill from The Knot.
The bakery-inspired dessert branch of David Chang’s Momofuku restaurant group, Momofuku Milk Bar, has spearheaded the naked cake revolution in recent years.The unfrosted sides highlight the delicious fillings, with customers able to choose from 13 flavours, including mint cookies n’ cream cake, pineapple upside down cake, pistachio cake and salted pretzel cake.
Nonetheless, Momofuku Milk Bar head baker Christina Tosi says it’s important to make sure fillings and accompaniments sense when eaten as a whole.
“Every filling should be a sliceable consistency when cold or room temperature. A layer of fondant hides a runny curd or jam jelly layer, but there’s no hiding fillings or underset layers with a naked cake,” she told The Knot.
BREAKING THE RULES
Charm City Cakes is a US bakery and cake shop in a very non-traditional sense. Chef Duff Goldman founded the business in 2002, when demand for his extraordinary cake creations required him to fling off the oppression of his day job and follow his dream to create original pieces of edible art.
With a fearless attitude and passion for pushing the envelope, Duff says he is the first to break the rules when it comes to making, constructing and decorating wedding cakes.
“Our mission is to create the world’s most exquisite cakes – truly one-of-a-kind cakes that become the talking point of a celebration. And, to do this, you have to break the mould, literally.
“We truly believe there are no rules when it comes to designing a cake for someone. Our employees are true artists whose medium happens to be cake, instead of being bakers who try to make art.
With about 50 per cent of the company’s cakes commissioned for weddings, Duff says he’s racked up a lot of time alongside brides and grooms to be; finding out the right details to create a highly-personalised work of art.
“Cakes are the main centerpiece at any event and we know that to have one elaborately decorated or constructed is a very conscious act,” he says.
“We design side-by-side with our clients, using anything and everything that they themselves are excited about. Flowers, her dress, the season and their pets – whatever helps our clients envision what they want to see on that table, what they want pictures of and what they want people posting on social media – and ultimately, what they want for dessert!
The Maryland-based business has even started using a 3D sugar printer to create a level of realism, previously thought impossible in the cake world.
“I think we’ll see this type of thing popping up more and more in a few years’ time. Hopefully, we’ll be making cakes that levitate, using some sort of laser array as special effects by then! Also, we’re investigating making cake holograms, so people can actually have other peoples’ cakes at their wedding… kidding!
“Seriously though, with every cake we make we try to dispel the myth the more beautiful a cake is, the worse it tastes. We’ve been pushing the limits of our medium and leading our industry in change and growth. It’s important to work outside the box.”