Thursday, March 19, 2009

Destination Wedding Cake Tasting

We've recently discovered the biggest drawback to a destination wedding. It's not that the planning is harder or that people don't want to come. It's that there's no cake tasting. I was super bummed about this b/c I've always looked forward to this part (and all events involving eating cake). So, earlier this week we hosted a fake cake tasting. No, we didn't taste any fake cakes. But we did do a kind of fake cake tasting to figure out what to do about the cake. Since we can't fly down to Austin just to try cakes (really? we can't? but I want too!), we have to figure out some way to decide what kind of cake to serve. I emailed a few bakers up here to see if we can just try some different flavor combinations and learn about different kinds of frosting and it was not met warmly. I even offered to pay for the tasting! One guy wanted $100 for a tasting, another wanted $25 per flavor. Are they serious? For essentially the equivalent of a slice of cake? Who am I, the Sultan of Brunei? Anyway, these options were promptly denied. Moving on. I still wanted to do some kind of cake tasting and I'm not sure what to do about cake flavors so I kept looking and had an idea. New York is basically the World Capital of Cupcakes. Seriously people are cupcake crazy here. Like if they had to choose b/t eating a cupcake and rescuing a baby from a careening pedicab, that baby would be toast. Anyway, we have tons and tons of cupcakeries in the city and isn't that basically like a cake tasting? Mini cakes in different flavors? Duh. So I went to my nearest cupcakery, Billy's Bakery in Chelsea and got a small sample of all their flavors. I got a yellow cupcake with vanilla buttercream, a chocolate cupcake with vanilla buttercream, a red velvet cupcake with cream cheese icing, a slice of banana cake with banana puree filler and vanilla icing and a slice of yellow cake with coconut filler and meringue icing.

Yellow cake with coconut filler and Meringue icing

Banana cake with banana filler and Vanilla Icing

Red velvet with cream cheese icing

Here's what we thought:

1) Yellow cake with vanilla buttercream: Classic combo, but the buttercream was give-you-a-toothache sweet and not as creamy as I like. (this is very common with New York buttercream. I don't get it, but then again, I prefer Duncan Hines)
2) Chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream: Ditto on the icing and I think we'll leave chocolate to the groom's cake (for those of you Yankees who don't know about groom's cakes, please contact me immediately)
3) Red velvet with cream cheese icing: I'm not opposed to red velvet wedding cake, but I'm not completely sold either. The cream cheese icing, however, was my favorite of what we tried. It was really, really creamy and just the right amount of sweet. But you could definitely taste that cream cheese tang. Would that be good with other flavor combos? What about fillers?
4) Banana cake with banana filler and vanilla icing: This non-buttercream icing was pretty good and not too sweet although not as pretty. And the cake was kind of...awesome. It was basically a lighter (in density, not calories) banana bread. I also really liked the banana filler. But is banana too weird for a wedding cake? I'm not especially a banana person. What about just banana filler? Would people be into that?
5) Coconut cake with meringue icing: Now, I love coconut cake, but I'm worried it will be too polarizing at the wedding. Don't some people really not like it? The coconut filler with the yellow cake was great and the meringue icing was better than most, but not my favorite, so not a wedding contender.

Now the best part of this tasting option is that we can just keep doing it! More cake, yay! Here are some flavors I've seen from the Austin bakeries that sound interesting: mexican vanilla, yellow cake with banana filler and chocolate ganache, yellow cake with chocolate mouse or vanilla custard fillings. What do you think? What's your favorite kind of cake? What's the best you've had at a wedding? Are banana or coconut too polarizing? Should we reserve any chocolate for the groom's cake? Does cream cheese icing work with everything? Should I stick with buttercream icing (I'm definitely not doing fondant) even though if made incorrectly, I really don't like it? Whew, that's a lot of questions. Anyway, let me know!

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