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Wedding Cakes: A Glossary of Wedding Cake Terms

When it comes to cake terms, we've got you covered.

Photo: E Photography

Print out this list, stick it on your fridge, and learn some cake lingo before meeting with your cake baker. Here, the most commonly used cake terms and definitions.

Basketweave

A piping technique that features interwoven vertical and horizontal lines (like a wicker basket).

Your wedding cake should be a reflection of your wedding style and today's top cake designers can make this happen. So speak up and share your sweet dream -- whether that's a pink-and-green polka dotted cake or a bright orange one topped with white sugar orchids.

Buttercream

A smooth, creamy icing that stays soft so it's easy to cut through. It can be colored and/or flavored. Also used to create piping, swags, and other borders, as well as decorative rosettes. It can be used as filling too.
Knot Note: Buttercream is made from butter (as its name implies), so it may melt in extreme heat or humidity.

Cornelli

An elaborate piping technique that yields a lace-like pattern.

Dotted swiss

A piping technique that forms tiny dots in random patterns that resemble a fine dot swiss fabric.

Dragees

Round, edible sugar balls coated with silver or gold and used for decorative purposes.

Fondant

A sweet, elastic icing made of sugar, corn syrup, and gelatin that's literally rolled out with a rolling pin and draped over a cake. It's a smooth, firm base for gum paste flowers, decorative details, and architectural designs, and has a porcelain finish.

Ganache

A sweet, rich chocolate, denser than mousse but less dense than fudge, which can be used as icing or filling.
Knot Note: Because ganache is made of chocolate and heavy cream, and will soften in very humid weather.

Gum paste

This paste of sugar, cornstarch, and gelatin is used to mold realistic-looking fruits and flowers to garnish a cake. Gum paste decorations are edible and will last for years as keepsakes, but, say some, they don't taste as yummy as marzipan.

Latticework

A piping detail that criss-crosses with an open pattern.

Marzipan

A paste made of ground almonds, sugar, and egg whites, used to mold edible flowers or fruit to decorate the cake. Marzipan can also be rolled in sheets, like fondant, and used as icing.

Pillars

Separators used in a tiered cake. They can be made of plastic or wood in several lengths to achieve the desired look.

Piping

Decorative technique created using a pastry bag and various metal tips. Piping details include leaves, borders, basket-weave patterns, and flowers.

Pulled sugar

A technique in which boiled sugar is manipulated and pulled to produce flowers and bows.

Royal icing

Made of egg whites and confectionary sugar, this icing starts life as a soft paste piped from a pastry bag to create latticework, beading, bows, and flowers.
Knot Note: When dry, its texture is hard and brittle -- do not refrigerate.

Torte

A dense cake that does not use leavening agents like baking powder or baking soda.

Whipped cream

Heavy cream beaten to achieve a thick consistency.
Knot Note: Whipped cream does not work well as an icing, and must be kept refrigerated -- it is unstable and not recommended for outdoor weddings.

Resources: Sweet Celebrations by cake designer Sylvia Weinstock (Simon & Schuster, 1999)
Cake designer Gail Watson, Gail Watson Custom Cakes, New York, NY

-- The Knot

See More: Wedding Reception Ideas , Wedding Cakes