Let them eat ...
You can have your cake, but can you eat it too?
The tragedy of your wedding cake is that you'll probably only get one piece-if that. That's why it's essential to milk the decision-making process for all it's worth. There is nothing so luxurious as agonizing over praline buttercream or limoncello mousse, or anything ending with "fondant."
Rumor has it that E.M. Forster once sat opposite Queen Mary at a wedding party. When asked if he would like to be presented to her, he quipped, "Good Lord. I thought that was the wedding cake." If you want a cake that looks like royalty, say a dewy princess, then look no further than Scandia Bakery's splendid princess cake. Originating in Sweden in the 1930s, Scandia's iconic dome-shaped beauty dominates 60 to 70 percent of all wedding cake orders, says owner Marcela Barrenechea. While the princess cake's curved physique-iced in a satiny jacket of fresh marzipan-is alluring enough, it's really her inner beauty that will keep your wedding guests stepping back in line: raspberry preserves, whipped cream and custard are cupped between layers of vanilla cake.
"My goal is to have people eat it all," says Marcela. And they do. The secret to such rapture?
"It's the combination of flavors," says Marcela. "And we haven't ever changed the recipe, so it's very consistent." Of course plenty of variation can occur on the outside-from different hues to multiple tiers to embellishments like delicate buttercream piping, fresh flowers or fruits.
In addition to the preponderance of princesses, Scandia offers a range of other cakes and an abundance of flavors and fillings to choose from.
Now, if you're searching for some deliciously edible architecture laced with polka dots and argyle, or if your fiance is looking for a groom's cake in the shape of an X-box, Sonoma's Christina Danner, the baking ingenue behind Occasional Cakes just might be your girl. Her designs range from simple and sophisticated to wacky and extraordinary. Born with baking mitts and whisk in hand, Christina's been cooking all her life and she's a sort of autodidact of cake creation. It all began years ago "when I tried to make a round cake look like my dad's face." Her winning designs were such a hit at family gatherings that she began receiving orders before she even had a business.
"I just really always try to wow the bride. It's amazing to me how much the cake matters. I've had some brides more excited about their cake than their dress," she says.
Customers will delight in the menu of classic flavors and icings, and Christina tries to use as many local and organic ingredients as possible.
Meanwhile, Fiorini's "Truly Italian" Bakery and Café on West Napa didn't earn its middle name for naught. Lucca native Max Fiorini is the Willy Wonka of Italian pastries, and his cakes are even more sublime, fluffy as heaven and decadent as the devil. That devil is in Max's delicious details-ingredients like fresh cream, eggs and custard. Customers fawn over traditional Luccian delights including tiramisu, tartufo and meringato, but the most popular wedding cake is the St. Honore, a luscious concoction of puff pastry shells plump full of zabaione cream, liqueur-soaked sponge cake, chocolate and whipped cream. Max likes to describe his cakes as classic, soft and fresh. They're also very Italian, like Max. Wedding cakes are typically made the morning of the event, and while many American buttercream-based cakes can "last for months," his cakes have the lightness and the lifespan of a butterfly. So eat up.
From the Summer 2009 issue of SONOMA