Sunday, January 2, 2011

Wedding Cake

Last week, we took advantage of being in the Lehigh Valley to attempt to find an edible strawberry wedding cake. This is more difficult than it sounds. I've called on or talked to several bakeries who looked askance at she who would desire a strawberry wedding cake; they'd never heard of such a thing. (My parents apparently went through the same thing when they got married; my dad wanted a chocolate wedding cake, but in 1969, everyone only did vanilla, I guess.) Vanilla, chocolate, marble, even red velvet, all these were manageable, but strawberry flavored?

When we went to Louie's Bakery a few months back, they tried to give us some terrible concoction that tasted like it had been sitting in the garbage can; it had chunks of unripe strawberries in a mushy vanilla cake. Not what we wanted. It was apparently difficult to understand that we did not want strawberry pie filling, or strawberries cut up in a cake of a different flavor, or whole strawberries cut up on the cake. So while this time around I made four appointments for last week, I wound up canceling one; although the Village Bake Shoppe does do strawberry cake, I was told that since strawberries aren't in season they wouldn't make me one to try now.

We stayed nearly two hours at Kym's Creations. Kym was extremely chatty and very nice; she had mentioned in her e-mails that anyone I'd want to bring would be welcome; and she made various cupcake samples of various flavors - chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry - with various flavors mixed in, and various fillings to try on the side, which was really helpful. But of the bakers we tried, I liked her cakes the least: I thought they were dry and didn't have much strawberry flavor.

DK Cakes had a really good cake that I liked slightly more than the others we sampled. The woman (also named Kim) who made the cake used strawberry syrup, which I liked a lot, but didn't provide a sample of either ganache or fondant, so we couldn't ascertain how good either would be. And in a slightly odd twist, the strawberry cake wasn't pink. Although she said she could add the necessary coloring, Mom, Dad, and Ed all said it threw them for a loop that the cake wasn't pink, and of the three cakes we sampled, this one didn't taste especially strawberry to them. (We later discussed if this was psychological, which perhaps it was; we also wondered if my sister-in-law's having made Thai food for us that night may have affected our taste buds.)

Ultimately we chose Granny Schmidt's. The cake was good; the woman we met with, Michelle Q., had provided a small round strawberry cake with chocolate ganache and Swiss buttercream that she cut samples from (she then boxed and sent the rest home so I could give samples to my parents, and Justin and Cheng). Michelle Q. also addressed things we hadn't thought of: how the cake will be transported (including the cake board and supports, which we'll be charged for in addition to everything else, to make sure the cake stays in place as it's being transported). And the cake will include a small top-layer cake specifically to be taken home and frozen for our first anniversary.
Interestingly, none of the bakers make their own fondant. Kym's Creations and Granny Schmidt's both said they could get the buttercream as smooth as the fondant would look, while DK Cakes said that essentially such a look was too difficult to do and wouldn't (or couldn't) guarantee that same smoothness unless fondant was used.

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