By Lynette Chilcoat
In 1840, Queen Victoria set a precedence. She had an extravagant four-tiered, nine-foot-tall, 300-pound cake made for her nuptial day, which she and Prince Phillip then cut into with his sword.
This was the precursor to modern day confections served at weddings, although similar—albeit, far more basic—offerings exist throughout history. Up until then, gratuitous refreshments had been rather plain. Barley breads date back to ancient Rome and medieval Englanders were known to share sweet buns with those who celebrated the momentous occasion.
Although a little less flamboyant than the Victorian-era royalty’s choice, contemporary cakes continue to provide plenty of wow factor. Beauty and flavor combine in elegant, traditional white affairs adorned by a splash of floral decor, or more elaborate, truly imaginative gateau. Nowadays, some even take on whimsical airs.
As the special day nears, the big question is which delectable choice best reflects the bride and groom’s distinctive style?
Three local wedding cake bakers offer their input on a variety of creations. Killarney Cakes in Loveland, Cakes by Tiffanie of Fort Collins and Berthoud’s Colorado Rose Cake Co. have seen trends come and go. They share those on the rise this season.
“There’s always the traditional white with a few flowers for people who don’t want to go wild,” says Shannon Archibald, who operates Killarney Cakes with her two sisters, Megan Archibald and Heather Clemmons. “For something more personal, there’s more of a storytelling, re-creating a moment from the time they met.”
Choices are abundant, including half a dozen criteria, from cake, icing and filling flavors to more esoteric things such as the colors, shapes and number of tiers.
“Light green seems to be coming out. We’ve made a tropical lime pina colada cake, with a coconut-pineapple filling, and pistachio nut with a cream pineapple filling,” says Archibald, whose company has started a ‘Love’ fund to help with cake budgets.
Tiffanie Rylat, owner of Cakes by Tiffanie, has found “people are more concerned with price. Most want it simple and pretty. A lot are loving vanilla with fruit filling of any kind. Red Velvet with cream cheese frosting is always popular, as well. We’ve also made lavender cake with blackberry and lemon filling.”
Heidi Wheeler recently took over Colorado Rose Cake Co., which her mother, Marci Perrotto, started in 1997. According to Wheeler, “people are choosing a different flavor in each tier, so they can pick something for everyone’s palette.” She echoes Rylat concerning the herbal twist. “Our newer lavender with honey filling is one of those flavors I believe will stick around.”
White or pink still takes center stage as the most popular backdrop for flowers—either real or consisting of buttercream—whereas black fondant gives a folk-like touch, making a striking statement.
“We’re still seeing a lot of mauve, blush and navies roll over from 2019, plus metallics and really dark, bold colors,” says Wheeler.
Shapes usually run round, with a smattering of contrast, such as a hexagon for the middle tier. An up-and-coming change on the scene is the request of specialty ingredients to avoid gluten, dairy or corn.
Colorado is renowned for natural outdoor splendor. No wonder, then, couples wish to have this reflected on their signature final course.
“We have seen a lot of pine trees and rustic settings, such as aspen trees and cardinals,” continues Archibald. “About five years ago succulents and ferns were really big, they died out but are coming back.”
Twigs, pine bark and mountain scenery continue to be high on the list but aren’t the only unique wish.
One couple requested an old truck with two people inside the cab kissing. In addition, “naked” cakes, thus called because they have a minimum of frosting which evokes a homespun quality, are a return to a nostalgic style.
“It’s almost like clothes,” says Wheeler. “Some touches may have started in the 1920s, such as shell borders or line details, but have more polish now.”
All the Rage Alternatives
Dessert doesn’t necessarily take on conventional contours anymore. Candy and ice cream bars with all the toppings have given receptions a lighter, help-yourself- attitude. Some couples opt for a small single-tier traditional cake for the memories, but then order sheet cake or cupcakes for guests. Donuts stacked to suggest the shape of cake tiers, or a donut board, are quaint ways for attendees to treat themselves.
Selections are really only a matter of individual tastes.
And sometimes it is good to remember the best trend is no trend at all. Sticking with a classic is always in fashion.
“We see a lot of cakes with clean, simplistic designs that last the test of time,” says Wheeler.