Tackling misconceptions about wedding-day dessert

This story first appeared in the Fall/Winter 2019 issue of Columbus Weddings, published June 2019.

If you’re a fan of reality television, you may be familiar with Discovery’s MythBusters, in which longtime co-hosts Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage pool their knowhow to prove, or disprove, persistent pop-culture myths.

Well, move over, MythBusters—here comes CakeBusters.

Central Ohio wedding-cake makers are eager to debunk the misconceptions that surround their craft. No interest from producers or cable channels? No problem. Area brides and grooms will surely benefit from the bakers’ knowledge just the same.

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It may sound obvious, but don’t assume that bakers can read your mind. Sue Baisden of Capital City Cakes in Grove City says that no baker will know exactly what a couple wants without being told. “Even if we do [have permission to] use our creative license, we like to get inspiration pictures and ideas and find out what the bride is into,” Baisden says. “But to just come up with our own thing, sometimes that’ll bite you.”

To help prevent miscommunication, Capital City Cakes provides couples with a questionnaire. “We ask them about themselves, about their likes and their hobbies,” Baisden says. “We want [the design] to be personal and really showcase who they are as a couple.”

On the other hand, some couples arrive at a bakery with too many conflicting ideas and mistakenly assume that the pros can make sense of it all. “Maybe somebody comes in with a bunch of pictures from Pinterest,” says Jan Kish of La Petite Fleur in Worthington. “Some are really elegant and some are really rustic, and they want to pull it all together, and it’s like: You’ve got to go with one or the other. Merging those two things is not going to look right.”

Another top myth is that a faux, multi-tiered cake made of Styrofoam—supplemented with real sheet cake or “kitchen cake” to be cut for all guests—is more cost-effective than the real thing, says Laura Kick Molter of Our CupCakery in Dublin. “A lot of our cost is in the time it takes to decorate and the preparing of the products,” Kick Molter says. “The time associated with frosting and decorating the cake—and all of the same materials that go into the outside of the cake—is still all the same.”

Then there is the matter of shape. Baisden says that many couples wrongly believe that a wedding cake has to be round. “I think that a wedding cake should reflect the bride and groom,” Baisden says. “They can be any shape or color or size or whatever that you want.” Capital City Cakes has made cakes that resemble everything from hearts to hexagons. “We did one for a bride who wanted a shark as her wedding cake, and the groom wanted a steampunk hat as his groom’s cake,” she says.

Baisden recalls another bride who, in tribute to her training as an engineer, wanted gears on one side of the cake. Her husband-to-be, a cardiologist, wanted something appropriate to his profession on the other side. “The fondant would open up and [reveal] the inside of a human body,” says Baisden, who calls the final result one of her bakery’s most-talked-about cakes.

And speaking of fondant: The icing is sought after for its smooth finish and resulting design possibilities, but it is often dismissed for its taste. Yet Kish advises couples to hold their horses before disregarding fondant.

“I tell them you’ve probably had it already, but you don’t know that,” Kish says. “Opera creams, or chocolate candies that have a creamy center … those centers are fondant. Chocolate strawberries often are dipped in fondant first and then in chocolate, because it helps to keep them fresh.”

Fondant, then, doesn’t have to be stiff or unappetizing—it’s all in how it’s prepared. “A lot of times people come in and they say, ‘Oh, I don’t like it,’ ” Kish says. “Not all fondants are created equal. … It depends on who’s making it or where you’re purchasing it from. They all taste different.” Kish’s fondant, while still firm enough to create fantastic designs, is softer than what you may be used to, and much sweeter.

On the other hand, buttercream icing is frequently chosen for its taste but is assumed to be unpolished—many think that spatula marks will always be visible on the frosted cake. To the contrary, Kick Molter says that Our CupCakery can come close to replicating the smoothness of fondant with buttercream in some instances. “We have a technique where we can go through and just smooth out some of those creases after the frosting has time to sit for a little bit,” Kick Molter says.

The major caveat with buttercream icing isn’t in its presentation, but in its ability to keep. Summertime outdoor weddings and buttercream do not happy bedfellows make. “You can’t ask it to do something it is not capable of doing,” Kish says. “If you put a block of butter on the sidewalk in the summer, it is going to melt. If you put a cake [with buttercream] out there in the summer, it is going to melt.”

Kick Molter says that another common misconception revolves around how much cake is needed for a wedding. “A lot of people talk about how the cake never gets eaten,” she says. “They have a ton of cake left over.” She says the issue is not so much how many servings are ordered, but when they are served. “I often suggest people do their cake-cutting right at the beginning [of the reception], sometime during dinner,” she says. “If you’re doing your cake-cutting after the fourth dance of the night, and then you were trying to serve 150 people cake, it’s not going to happen.”

And what about when the wedding is over? Baisden says that many couples have the notion of preserving their top tier for later use on their first anniversary. The idea is nice, but not necessary—at least not when you order from Capital City Cakes. “We tell our couples that if they want to save their top tier, that’s perfectly up to them,” she says. “But we always offer a free anniversary cake a year later. … All they do is just send a picture of the cake and we match it exactly.”