Unlike the cakes of the past which were treated solely as towering eye candy, cakes today need to be play a number of roles: They have to look gorgeous, fit in with the overall wedding theme, and taste eye-rollingly good. It's a tall order, but today's cake designers are up to the challenge. Here are some of our favorite trends.
Clean and Classic
Outlandishly frosted confections are a thing of the past. These days, many couples are opting for clean, classic designs, many of which mimic bridal gown fabrics or detailing. Understated yet whimsical designs, such as cakes covered in blush-colored frosting and punctuated with tiny silver-dusted polka dots or pale blue-fondant frosted cakes studded with chocolate-brown sugar flowers, are all the rage.
Though round tiers are still the favorite for today's couples, square, octagon, and hexagon confections are gaining popularity especially for more modern and laid-back weddings. Atypical shapes give the tower of tiers a sophisticated feel without frilliness. For a multidimensional appeal, pair differently-shaped cakes together, such as round tiers on square tiers.
Stacked and Sturdy
Cake tiers stacked upon tall Roman columns have all but disappeared, as most couples opt for layers placed directly on top of one another. If the cake is too heavy, designers may sometimes use pillars for support, though they're usually hidden behind fresh flowers. Fresh berries, sugared fruits, and thick bands of sugarpaste flowers are also appearing between the layers, which creates a lush and voluptuous appearance.
Today's confections are taking a spin on the color wheel. We're seeing hues of light blush, ice blue, pale pistachio, rum pink, and lavender splash across the scene, along with shades of butterscotch and cafe au lait -- colors that reflect the bridesmaids' dresses rather than the bride's gown. Many designers are also addressing demand for cakes that incorporate two tones of the same color: We're seeing snow white fondant tiers wrapped with textured white ribbon or topped with white calla lilies, or candlelight buttercream adorned with eggshell-colored roses or champagne-hued scrollwork.
Fresh and Flirty
Fresh flowers continue to be a popular adornment for wedding cakes, though sugarpaste flowers are still holding their own. Unfussy, simple blooms are replacing the more frivolous flowers; today's most fashionable fleurs include orchids, calla lilies, tulips, and gardenias. Daisies are also becoming popular, due to their light and cheerful appeal. Simple embellishments such as Swiss dots, single rose petals, curving scrollwork, and family monograms are also setting the standard, as personalization continues to be very popular at weddings.
All in Good Taste
In the world of flavors, we're seeing rich chocolate-covered confections in all their cocoa-colored glory shirk their "grooms cake" beginnings and take center stage. Pistachio-enhanced cakes, which can be a rich or subtle sage-green hue, are also big now, as is delicate pistachio-flavored filling. Other fabulous fruit flavors setting the scene: pineapple, exotic marion berries, wild cherries, passion fruit, mango, and blood orange mousses. Couples are also pairing cake courses with other sweets -- classics such as tiramisu and apple pie are making their way to the dessert table too.
Resources: Cheryl Kleinman, Brooklyn, NY; Gail Watson, Gail Watson Custom Cakes, New York, NY; Ron Ben-Israel, Wedding Cakes, New York, NY; and Sylvia Weinstock, New York, NY
Cakes and photos from top:
1. Cake: Rania's Catering, PA. Photo: Dianne Adrian Photography
2. Cake: Celebrity Cake Studio, WA. Photo: Odette D'Aniello
3. Cake: Patisserie Angelica, CA. Photo: Katrina Marie Diaz
4. Cake: Empress of Desserts, WA. Photo: Melissa I. Walpole
5. Cake: Cake Creations, TX. Photo: Aimage
6. Photo: Elizabeth Messina Photography
See More: Wedding Reception Ideas , Wedding Cakes