The following story, written by Amanda Grayson, originally appeared on A Taste of General Mills.
Wedding season is upon us, and bakeries are busy putting the icing on the cake … or cupcake … or donut.
We went in search of the latest wedding cake trends and discovered that more and more couples are topping off their celebration with something other than cake.
For one recent wedding, Dorothy Ann Bakery in Woodbury, Minnesota, created a seven layer fondant cake and tort-style sheet cakes for 260 people. A couple hours later, it delivered a thousand mini Italian desserts, éclairs, fresh fruit tarts, rum babas and other sweet treats.
Steve Conway, second generation owner of Dorothy Ann, says dessert buffets are becoming increasingly popular, although most couples don’t have such an elaborate cake with it. Instead, they choose a smaller cake just for the bride and groom..
So what’s driving the dessert table trend? Many couples like that it’s an interactive part of the reception.
“If you do a dessert bar or table, it’s something where your guests get up and go get their desserts and start mingling,” explains Lynn Schurman, co-owner of Cold Spring Bakery, in central Minnesota, and education director for the Retail Bakers of America. “It’s not just about the dessert, it’s about the experience of having the dessert.”
Although cupcakes have been on the scene awhile now, they continue to be a popular pick among couples this season.
“I would say close to half of our weddings are cupcakes,” estimates Conway. “It’s not uncommon for weddings to have between six and eight flavors of cupcakes.”
That variety is part of the appeal. Guests might select between chocolate cream, almond raspberry, salted caramel, Bavarian cream, red velvet and lemon. They have no choice when traditional wedding cake is served.
In addition, couples who go with cupcakes can avoid the cake cutting fee that many venues charge.
John Lupo founded Grandma’s Bakery in White Bear Lake, Minnesota, and is doing a lot of smaller wedding cakes with donuts on the side. He thinks couples just really desire something different and non-traditional.
“They go for these kind of simple looks with a base cake, and then they’ll do something wild like have vases of donut holes or something like that.”
Stacked donuts – donuts arranged on traditional wedding cake stands – are big right now, too.
Even though desserts, cupcakes and donuts are top trends, and even though wedding cakes are smaller than they used to be, they’re still an important piece of the big day.
The bakeries we visited might do twenty wedding cakes a weekend this time of year. They all use Pillsbury Bakers’ Plus cake mix for the base of their wedding cakes.
“Usually what happens is when the bakeries start to grow, and they get really big, they’re not able to maintain the consistency, depending on who makes the cake, so that’s where we come in,” says Greg Wagner, senior territory manager for General Mills Convenience & Foodservice. “I don’t ever say I’m going to be the end all for what you’re trying to accomplish, buy what I can do is give you a good foundation or base for what it is you’re trying to do.”
The bakeries then customize their creations by adding different flavors such as cocoa or cinnamon. They also add their own fillings and frostings.
“At Cold Spring Bakery, we used to do a lot of cakes that were just plain cake, and now we’re doing a lot more filled cakes,” Schurman tells us. “We’re seeing more fresh fruit, especially fresh strawberry filling, this time of year.”
Although bakeries can make a cake to suit any taste, Lupo notices most couples don’t stray too far off the beaten path.
“There are some people who like their buttercream infused with rose petal water or something, but the majority of the people they still like the basic flavors.”
As for designs, there are a lot of requests for rustic or textured icing. Think stucco or simple lines made with a spatula.
Conway’s daughter Colleen decorates most of the wedding cakes at their bakery and will be decorating her own cake when she gets married this fall.
She’s planning a classic design with multiple tiers and lots of piping.
Sometimes, though, it’s just too hard to choose what to serve wedding day.
“We recently did one of those split cakes. One side was white, beautiful with elegant piping and the other side was Batman. The bride and groom had cupcakes on either side. The bride’s cupcakes were all princess themed, and the guy’s were all superhero themed,” Colleen says. “Everyone wants something different.”
Need some inspiration? Learn more about using Pillsbury Bakers’ Plus Cake Mix as a base for your dessert creation in this Wedding dessert recipe collection.