Tuesday, June 16, 2009

what's your favorite cake flavor?

On the subject of cakes, I thought it would be interesting to find out what the most preferred wedding cake flavor is. After numerous online searches, from polls, wedding sites, magazines, and bakeries, the most ordered cake flavor is: vanilla with butter cream! I'll give you a few of my theories in a minute.

French Vanilla Cake with Buttercream; Photo credit: McCormick.com

Back in the day, when everything was super traditional, it was customary to order only white or yellow cake for a wedding. White to signify a bride's purity? Or, maybe it was because of the lack of available ingredients? Even picking chocolate was considered extreme -- imagine that! I even read that the white icing had a more pragmatic basis: refined sugar yielded whiter icing, the wealthy could afford refined sugar, therefore, if you had super white icing on your cake, it gave you social status.* Insane! Good thing our options are now limitless.

I've been to many cake tastings, and to be given up to 30+ samples on one gigantic plate, is simply overwhelming, yet divine. From spiced cakes, nuts, red velvet, fondant, butter cream, ganache, and many color choices, picking a cake is more difficult than it seems! Putting the right ingredients together is already a challenge, but if you're wondering how to streamline the cake decision making, think about your guests. Yes, ultimately, you should like it as well, but you're relying on your 150+ guests to finish this specialty that may cost you $700, $1,000, or even $4,000! Hopefully, a majority of your guests will taste the slice of cake they are served...and finish it!

My theories behind vanilla being a favored cake choice?

  1. It's easy on the palate. Vanilla is a simple flavor, making it easy to complement any reception dinner as well as coffee. Nice way to wind down all the flavors from hors d'oeuvres to a 3-course dinner entrée to a variety of cocktails.
  2. People won't be picky with vanilla. Vanilla is considered a "safe" flavor. It can't be critiqued as being too strong or bitter, like chocolate. (BTW, I do love chocolate!) Your job at the tasting: control the sweetness of the vanilla and frosting, and also the level of moisture. Don't be afraid to talk to your baker. Fine tune these details to make for a "can't-go-wrong" vanilla cake.
  3. You avoid dilemma with allergy-prone guests. Be sensitive to guests with allergies. I wouldn't recommend ordering a cake with nuts, or at least for all tiers. Nuts are a popular allergy-causing food. *Same goes for chocolate.
  4. A baker will tell you this. In all the tastings I've done with clients and for my own wedding, vanilla with a Bavarian cream or butter cream was always an option on the plate. And almost every baker advised us it was a popular cake choice.
  5. Cost. The fancier one gets with ingredients, the higher the price.
Remember, not all tiers of the cake have to be one flavor. It'd be wise to at least have one tier be vanilla. What's your favorite cake flavor?

* Resource: Hudson Valley Weddings

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