I attended a wedding last May as the date of a former work colleague. As we sat down at our table in the reception room (the beautiful and Art Deco-inspired Sky Room of Long Beach, CA), we discussed what makes a wedding memorable.

“Nice flowers, the bride’s gown, and the food.” I said.

“No one’s going to remember the flowers,” my date retorted. “All they’re going to remember is if the booze was flowing, the music was good, and,” he nodded towards me, “the food was good.”

I can’t say I disagree with him, but ultimately I accepted that different things will be memorable to different people. I know – that was a cop out. But, getting back on track: the one thing my date and I did agree on was food!

This is a subject I have yet to fully tackle. And I’m going to, I promise. But today I’m craving something sweet, so let’s talk about the pink elephant on the dance floor: the wedding cake.

Beauty is in the mouth of the taster

When was the last time you actually enjoyed a piece of wedding cake? Can you remember one that was moist? Can you recall a single wedding in which a glance around the dwindling reception didn’t reveal tables and tables of cake plates, each one with a single rind of fondant, like a veritable archeological dig?

Fact: Wedding cakes are not known for tasting good. They are known for looking pretty in the cake-cutting photos, and being able to withstand everything from transportation from the bakery to the reception, frigid winter temperatures, sweltering, withering summer afternoons, and several hours of display time. These cakes have to be made of sturdy stuff!

Fact: Fondant is for show.

There’s no question: fondant is stunning. And also kind of lazy; it takes much less work for a baker to make fondant look good than to make buttercream look good. And, because this is the credo of the whole freakin’ site, fondant is generic. It has been for at least ten years now.

Fact: The more detailed your cake, the less tasty it is likely to be. Here is a graph I whipped together to illustrate the inverse relationship of cake tastiness to cake decoration.

Viva La Buttercream!

Now, much as I love and appreciate a beautiful fondant cake…wouldn’t it be nice to actually enjoy eating a wedding cake? Hell, if you’re going to spend a couple hundred bucks on the sucker, it better taste at least as good something from a $5 Sarah Lee box. A skilled baker can make buttercream look just as smooth and polished as fondant.

See? Isn’t that even more beautiful, knowing that it’s yummy buttercream? I love the pure white cake with real flowers. If you want flowers on your cake, ask for real ones: they’re much cheaper than sugar versions, and no one is going to eat the sugar ones anyway.

Get (a little) Messy

The proliferation of rustic and less-polished weddings is something I totally welcome. But making them work hinges upon keeping all elements of the wedding to the rustic theme. A totally polished and prim cake isn’t going to gel with that kind of look. Don’t be afraid to add texture to your cake!

We love the cracked rock candy on this cake (with buttercream underneath!)

Okay, who’s ready to slip into an insulin-resistant coma right now? I promise you, if you posit the idea of a fondant free cake to an invited wedding guest, they are that much more likely to 1) actually come to the wedding, 2) eat the cake you paid for!

Stay tuned for more food-related posts…I got a bunch of ideas just from writing this one!