Just like in fashion, there are classic looks that never seem to go out of style like the black dress, a single strand of pearls, or the Channel suit. Just like in fashion, this applies to cake and pastry as well. Cake artists and pastry chefs push the normal boundaries and break the rules in order to create modern versions of classic cakes and desserts. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t.
Cakes reflect history and eras like the Neo Classical with clean, sharp lines, columns and architectural elements or ornate designs with cherubs, moldings, and gold metallic finishes the Baroque period featured. The Jacobean age influenced colors with interesting shapes and texture, and the Victorian era showcased an excessive, almost “over-decorated” look – a style preferred by Queen Victoria. A current popular style that salutes a throw-back to the late 1950’s and 1960’s is mid-century modern, with simple lines and bright, funky colors. Often, outside influences will dictate what kind of wedding cake will be available to a bride.
St. Brides Church in London is a famous and popular church to be wedded in England. The church spire, built in the 1700’s, featured a multi-faceted, tiered design that inspired the famous Pastry Chef William Rich. He designed his wedding cakes after the architecture of the church and by the late 1800’s, most all European wedding cakes were round and multi-tiered.
Today, the classic multi-tier, round wedding cake symbolizes a round, wedding ring – this is the reason cakes are round. A three-tier cake is in association with the time periods of the engagement, the wedding, and eternity together. In Europe, the top tier is carefully stored and served at the Christening or Baptism of the couple’s first child – the eternity of the family. In America, the top tier is kept for the celebration of the couple’s first wedding anniversary. Again, representing eternity. The classic round cake has had a modern makeover by creating a deep six to eight-inch cake known as “the double barreled.” This combination provides a more modern look to a classic cake. With a classic wedding cake, we envision numerous sugar flowers, and a more modern version may only use one large focal flower, such as a peony.
As a cake artist and pastry chef, I love taking classic and modern elements and integrating them into one cohesive design. Working like this keeps my work fresh and updated, but still maintains the classic elements people love. Also, I enjoy integrating a classic element, like piping, into a modern design. In my articles here at The Butter Book, I’ve talked about current trends, as this influences the modern side of cake decorating. By including these trends in your work, items such as color, texture, geometric patterns, metallic, geodes and natural stones, chalkboard and rustic have all been popular and influential on brides, and ultimately you as a cake artist in recent years.
There are many cake artists who create very modern designs all of the time while others stay with the very classic look. I recommend that you offer a variety of styles to appeal to as many markets as possible to attract as many clients and to have a thriving, successful cake decorating business.
Until next time,