The Cake Therapist: The Art of a Wedding Cake Tasting

Does life imitate art or does art imitate life?

Sometimes a little of both.

When I was writing The Cake Therapist

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I wanted to create a wonderful setting in which Neely, the specially-gifted pastry chef, could showcase her flavor magic for wedding cakes.  I imagined her having an artist's palette on which she placed little cups of fillings and frostings. She would then give mothers and brides a taste of what their signature wedding cake would taste like.

So this is what I wrote in The Cake Therapist:

"My front parlor was simple yet sophisticated, with plaster walls painted a soft French gray, the woodwork a subtle ivory, and a few landscape paintings that I loved. Here we could close the painted shutters halfway to block off the sights and sounds of Benson Street. I wanted my potential clients to feel that they were in another world.

A gas fire in the white marble Victorian hearth warmed the room against the chilly afternoon and cast the bookcases into shadow. The round table with its heavy cloth in nubby French linen was set with a coffee service and a French press coffee pot. A wooden tray shaped like an artist’s palette—one I had specially made—held small clear cups of pastel-colored fillings and frostings. Miniature cupcakes in their paper frills filled a tiered stand."


In real life, I found an artist's palette at an art supply store and then colored dabs of buttercream frosting to create a flavor rainbow. I love the idea of flavor energies--represented in color--just waiting to be brought to life to make someone's day, someone's life even more special.

And then my daughter Sarah got engaged and we decided on my friend, Andrea Adams Britt of  Classic Cakes to make the wedding cake. She offers a wonderful variety of cake and buttercream frosting flavors that we could mix and match.

I never had a wedding cake tasting when I got married, back in the proverbial day. You just ordered cake. And it was probably white cake with white frosting. I also had petit fours with almond paste and raspberry fillings, so I was an outside-the-traditional-wedding-cake flavor person even back then.

Today, brides have so much more choice. (Below, you see a selection from a happy bride-to-be Nicole at Bridgette Bartlett-Royall's wonderful site

Here are two other cake tasting techniques.

An individual artist's palette so you can assemble your own signature cake. And a "mis en place" tray.

Lauren and Luke Williams of The Wedding Cafe offer lots of great tips on how and when to book your wedding cake tasting. And suggest you sip a lot of water as a palate cleanser between samples.

Great advice! So, we were prepared.

On a cold day in January, my daughter, her father, aunt and I, went to Classic Cakes for our tasting.

Like I had imagined for Neely's cake tasting in The Cake Therapist, Andrea's place was serene, calm, and pretty.

Andrea had that calm, quiet, orderly work space that pastry chefs have to have in order to concentrate.

And the cakes! Thirteen different combinations. . . .

Soon, it looked like this. . . .

Sarah chose a design.

Sarah liked the stucco finish of the buttercream frosting and the more rustic-looking, sort of architectural succulent plants (like hens and chickens) decorating the cake. 

We thought about using the vintage cake topper from my parents' 1948 wedding, but it was too fragile to sit on top of the cake (and be man-handled by servers later). This cake topper, however, has had a presence at all of our family weddings (just not on top of the cake).

And when it all came together--five different layers and flavors--it told a story of love and commitment, of two people starting a life together.
That's the power of cake.


Unknown said...

Great article Judith. So honored to be chosen for such a once in a life time task!

Judith Fertig said...

You made everything about the wedding cake so special, Andrea!

mackyton said...

Sarah chose a wonderful cake design dear. I am also planning for a rustic wedding and thinking that this cake design will suit my wedding best. Can you also help me with event locations please?

Amy Cooper said...

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Judith Fertig said...

Thanks so much, mackyton and Amy Cooper for posting. It love it when real life overlaps with fiction as in the wedding cake tasting--and equally delicious!

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