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Let Them Eat Cake: Planning Your Wedding Cakes and Catering

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By Henry V. Thiel

For thousands of years, wedding caterers were only concerned with breaking the cake over the bride’s head to ensure fertility and the happiness of the newlyweds. Today it’s all about the taste, with the “wow factor” as an added bonus. Pair it with the perfect catering menu, and you’ve got a day to remember.

At The Dessert Gallery, owner Sara Brook was well known for her fabulous handcrafted dessert cakes long before she started making wedding cakes, which means that your wedding cake will be as beautiful to look at as it is delicious.

“Most of our brides and grooms come to us because they already have a favorite dessert they want to serve at their wedding,” says Brook.

“We don’t have a preconceived notion of what love is ‘supposed’ to be, as long as it’s sweet and happy. That’s all that really matters to us,” Brook adds. “So whether it’s a bride and a groom, two brides, or two grooms, we look forward to creating a special cake for their wedding day, and hope that their relationship with the Dessert Gallery is the start of many happy family traditions to come.”

When asked if she has a specialty cake for soon-to-be-wed couples, Brook laughs.

“Every couple is different, and there are really no rules. As long as it’s a flavor that both people love, then that’s the perfect cake for their wedding. We have made wedding cakes out of Old-Fashioned Diner Cake, French Vanilla Cake, Carrot Cake, Italian Cream, Cosmic Birthday Cake, Toffee-licious Cake . . . we’ve done them all!”

For spring and summer 2017, Brook has noticed couples are choosing naked cakes (unfrosted) and chalkboard cakes (a cake covered in a black fondant to create an edible chalkboard with hand-drawn details or words made with white gel color and gold details such as dots, spacers, or flower tips). Another popular trend is smaller wedding cakes along with a “sweet table”—a plethora of tiny plated desserts that can be combined with any of their regular cookies, macaroons, and miniature cupcakes to create a beautiful, memorable dessert buffet like nothing you have ever seen before.

“One time we did a 36-foot dessert buffet with the cake in the middle,” shares Brook. “And it was magnificent!”

Nadine Moon of Who Made the Cake! also knows about delectable designs—including a masterpiece she made for two grooms. “I created a custom cake with two peacocks, but the feathers graduated down the cake in shades of the rainbow,” she says. “It was stunning, and perfect for them.”

Moon’s also noticed a few popular trends this wedding season. “Metallics are very popular and photograph beautifully,” she explains. “Many of our cakes this season feature silver and/or gold and a touch of color.”

Haven’t decided on a design or flavor yet? Not to worry, as Moon allows each couple to sample six of the cake studio’s most popular flavors during the consultation.

But Moon isn’t the only one to indulge the sweet-tooth of Houston’s nuptial couples. Jim Benton, owner of Jim Benton Houston, a catering and event-planning service, has a particular motto that expresses his take on the matrimonial munchies. 

“Our ideas are fresh and our clients are spoiled,” Benton smiles.

Love in Bloom: Cake by Jim Benton.
Love in Bloom: Cake by Jim Benton.

To that end, when he was recently asked about his different wedding packages, he replies, “We don’t have specific packages. We will design your wedding to your specific hopes, wishes, and dreams, making your special day just that—your special day. We customize each event to reflect the desires of each couple, and we always stay within their budget.

“We love working with same-sex couples,” adds Benton. “Because we believe that there is never a request that is too over-the-top, too outlandish, or too fabulous! We can go from fairy tale to fantasy to exquisite to contemporary to traditional to everything in between.

“One of the first questions I ask all my couples is, ‘What do you want to remember about your wedding day for the rest of your life?’” Benton explains. Once he gets that answer, the rest is simple. “And then we get to work!”

For Benton, trends come and go.

“Right now, couples are requesting simple items made with a twist, like using serving vessels such as martini glasses and dessert shots. Clients are asking for sustainable disposables, and we are pleased that we have found biodegradable containers constructed from palm leaves,” adds Benton. “We all need to do our part to keep Mother Earth in good shape for future generations.”

David Alcorta, owner of David Alcorta Catering, has seen an increase in couples wanting custom menus for their wedding receptions.

“Adding Grandmother’s Sunday Gravy to the menu, or Aunty Em’s Sand Tart cookies definitely makes the meal unique, different, and memorable, which is everyone’s goal,” says Alcorta.

Another trend Alcorta is seeing is early-evening outdoor garden cocktail receptions, as well as Sunday brunch receptions.

“One couple I am currently working with is planning a Great Gatsby/Roaring ’20s wedding and reception. It’s going to be a knockout.”

Sandy Bubbert, owner of The Acadian Bakers, says that for more than 38 years brides and grooms have chosen her French butter cream icing (which she prepares daily from scratch) for their wedding cakes.

Proving that good taste is never out of fashion, she also strongly recommends her “Brownie Chocolate Mousse, my Italian Cream, Fresh Strawberry Butter Cream, and Pralines and Cream. If these flavors don’t catch your fancy, there are over 24 flavors to select from.”

Thirty years ago, it was nothing short of scandalous when gay couples requested same-sex figurines for the top of their wedding cakes, says Bubbert.

“In 1979, that was impossible. So I sifted through my wedding cake statuettes for the right size and color, and gingerly sawed them in half. [Then I used] a little super glue, and voilà! Now I had two gentlemen and two ladies. It was so much fun! Girl, you should have been there!” laughs Bubbert.

“We said that often in the ’70s!” she whispers aside.

The Acadian Bakers
604 W. Alabama St.
acadianbakers.com

David Alcorta Catering
7507 Hammerly Blvd.
davidalcorta.net

The Dessert Gallery
3600 Kirby Dr.
dessertgallery.com

Jim Benton of Houston
2811 Eastman St.
jimbentonhouston.com

Who Made the Cake!
1811 S. Shepherd Dr.
whomadethecake.com

Henry V. Thiel is a principal with The Epicurean Publicist, a boutique public-relations
company that works exclusively with chefs and restaurateurs. Thiel loves all flavors of
wedding cakes.

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