What questions do you need to ask your wedding cake baker?
Finding professionals you can rely on who are experts in their field is key for a smooth wedding planning process, especially if you are not hiring a wedding planner to do the leg work for you. The bakery making your wedding cake is no exception.
Typically the first wedding planning decisions will be choosing the venue and your decor style and color palette. These will help inform the rest of your decisions, such as flowers, invitations, favors and of course, the cake! Here’s a helpful list of questions to ask the baker who’ll be making your wedding cake. The answers will give you the important info you both need to select options that are right for you and your event.
1. When should I order my cake?
Some bakeries are booked up many months in advance and close dates for new orders. Typically you’ll want to contact them 9 months or more in advance to reserve your date.
For events at Cornman Farms, you’ll be connected with Zingerman’s Bakehouse for a one-on-one consultation to talk about your design inspiration, taste preferences, and other key details. This is a great time to gather your cake inspiration. Do you already have a theme, style or mood in mind? Maybe you’re thinking rustic chic neutral, modern gold glam, casual sunflowers and gingham, or classic white on white? Or perhaps you’re taking cues from your alma mater where you first met or the vacation destination where you were engaged. Bring in samples of your invitation or flowers, or a photo of your venue or dress if you’d like them to inspire the feel of your cake.
2. Do you bake from scratch? Can I taste samples?
A wedding cake should taste good, not just look good. It’s often the last thing your guests will eat before they leave your celebration, so make it memorable! Wedding cakes sometimes get a bad reputation for being too dry, too sweet, or just nothing special. A great bakery will skip the box mixes and pre-made components for fresh ingredients and made from scratch cake layers and fillings. They’ll proudly offer you samples so you can taste for yourself before you place your order.
Zingerman’s Bakehouse makes everything from scratch, even their own fresh vanilla fondant, using the best ingredients like organic flour, real butter, Belgian chocolate, cage-free eggs, real vanilla bean, toasted nuts, Italian preserves, and more. At your scheduled consultation, you’ll be served two slices of cake for tasting and go you home with a complimentary box of about seven other flavors to try.
3. What are my flavor options? How many can I choose? Does this increase the cost?
You’re probably looking for more than the standard chocolate and vanilla cake. Adding in a couple of options like a seasonal flavor, or something that evokes the location, or just your personal favorites can make your cake something special. Some bakeries charge an extra fee for more than one or two flavors, so be sure to ask up front.
Using the season of your wedding as a prompt can help inform your cake choices, too. It also adds to the atmosphere of your event when the cake is seasonally appropriate. Think of a ripe berry filling inside and colorful fresh wildflowers on the outside for summer or a spiced ginger cake inside and sweet sugar snowflakes on the outside for winter.
The most popular flavors at Zingerman’s Bakehouse are buttermilk chocolate cake with salted caramel buttercream, hummingbird cake (pecan, pineapple, coconut, banana) with vanilla swiss buttercream, and vanilla buttermilk cake with lemon passionfruit buttercream.
4. Why would I choose Buttercream vs. Fondant?
Depending on the look you’re going for with your wedding cake, either buttercream or fondant might lend itself better to the exterior. Buttercream is a soft butter and sugar frosting that can be applied as a smooth or textured surface to the cake and piped as a border, so it works best for rustic simple cakes or cakes that will be decorated with fresh flowers or fruit. Fondant is a sugar, shortening and gelatin dough that is rolled thin and used to cover cakes or form into decorative shapes or even figurines. A fondant covered cake works best for elegant fine detailed cakes or modern cakes with hand painted or airbrushed elements or sugar flowers.
5. How does the weather or venue affect my cake choices?
Buttercream and fondant choices also come into play when considering your venue and the season of your wedding. Buttercream is a risky choice for a warm summer outdoor affair. Better to avoid the possibility of a melting cake! A fondant covered cake can hold up well in those warmer conditions.
6. I want to use a cake topper. How can that be incorporated in my design?
Your baker will want to get your topper from you in advance so they can be sure it works with the design of your cake. They’ll also need to apply it to the cake in a secure way.
7. What is your serving size? What are my options for tiers and additional sheet cakes?
A standard wedding cake serving size is a 1”x2” slice, but be sure to confirm with your baker what size they’re using to calculate the size of your cake. Give your baker an estimated guest count and ask what your options are. Sometimes a smaller tiered cake and additional sheet cakes or cupcakes can be considered in place of one large tiered cake to serve all your guests.
A great bakery will work with you to create a wedding cake you’re proud to share the spotlight with, for a few photos that is, and that caps off your celebratory meal deliciously.