Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Little Advice from the Baker at Law

*Please note that all information provided in this post is purely for delicious purposes.  The advice given is of a purely general, non-legal nature.  Any decision to follow or disregard the provided advice in no way forms an attorney-client relationship or gives rise to any rights under the law.*

Today’s topic of discussion is wedding cake.  Yes, I have a ton of experience in this category.  Between the onslaught of TV shows about all things wedding and cake, and the four weddings I have attended in the last 10 months, I feel I have a good basis of knowledge to give out this advice. 

There is a tradition that exists were the newlyweds save the top tier of the wedding cake, place it in the freezer, and share it on their first wedding anniversary.  While this tradition sounds nice (in theory) to reflect on fond memories of the wedding day while eating sugary deliciousness, let me break it down for you- it is year old, freezer burnt, smell/odor absorbing cake.  It is not at the peak of freshness and regardless of what miracle of modern science that was used to preserve it for a year, it will not in taste, texture, or appearance be close to what was enjoyed on the original wedding day.

First piece of advice- Just say “NO” to the year old wedding cake!  But you say, “I want to look back and relive those sweet moments a year later with my sweetie.”  No problem.

Second piece of advice- Hire a baker that is willing to make you a replica top tier of your cake for your first anniversary.  This is more than a growing trend and is really becoming popular.  Do not have any qualms about asking your baker to include this service.  As a baker, I do not want my clients eating a month old cake, let alone year old cake.  I want all things associated with my name to be tasty and fresh.  Stale, year old wedding cake will not be the last thing a couple remembers my name by.  Your wedding cake baker should be willing to include this service with your cake order. 

Which brings me to my third piece of advice- Get it in writing.  Make sure the replica first-year anniversary cake term is in the contract you enter into and sign with the baker.  While the baker may freely agree to your request for a replica cake when trying to obtain your business, it may be a forgotten promise a year later when you ask them to honor it.  Having the replica cake provision in writing will help to “remind” the baker of what they agreed to.

Advice is best illustrated by a cautionary tale to bring the point home.  For her wedding a friend of mine contracted with a great and reputable bakery; they agreed to make a replica top tier for the couple’s first anniversary.  The wedding cake was gorgeous and tasted wonderful.  The bakery lived up to the hype surrounding their name.  One year later when my friend contacted the bakery about scheduling the replica top tier, the bakery recanted and refused to make the replica top tier.  Though the bakery orally agreed to make the replica, it was never reduced to writing.

My friend was left high and dry by this (supposedly) reputable bakery.  For her one-year anniversary, her and her sweetie would not have a sweet reminder of their wedding day.  That was unacceptable.  While my friend battled with the bakery, but foreseeing that a cake would not be produced by her anniversary day, she asked me to make a stand-in top tier wedding cake.  I immediately agreed and asked her what flavor(s) they wanted.  She gave me free reign to make whatever I wanted.

Even with that much freedom, I wanted to tie back to the wedding.  I did not want to duplicate the cake flavors from the wedding (lemon and red velvet); I wanted to create some new, warm memories.  My friend’s wedding was in the fall and the couple loves fall flavors.  So, I immediately thought of spice cake.  Additionally, for their wedding favors the couple made and canned apple butter.  I still had my unopened jar and used that in the filling.  I frosted the cake with a brown sugar swiss meringue buttercream to keep the appearance in the warm golden tones.  Lastly, I decorated the cake with marzipan pumpkins painted gold.  My friend and her husband loved the cake.  They were touched by the details that I included to remind them of their special day.

The above story does have a yummy ending, but view it as a word to the wise.  The above is the exception, not the rule.  You may not have a baker in your life able and willing to make you a stand-in wedding cake top tier.  While I am grateful for anyone reading this, I cannot personally make you all a replica first year cake, but I can give you some sound advice to hopefully ward off a similar situation.  So remember- say NO to year-old wedding cake and YES to a replica cake a year later, written into your contract with the baker.

Spice Cake


2 cups Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Baking Powder
2 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Allspice
1/2 tsp Cloves
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
1 3/4 cup Sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) Butter, room temperature
4 Large Eggs, room temperature
1 cup Sour Cream, room temperature
scant 1/2 cup Whole Milk
2 TBS Vanilla Extract

This recipe would likely make two 8in circle cake layers.  I used a 6x4in circle pan and had enough batter left over to make 6 cupcakes.

1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Prepare pans with parchment on the bottom and flour/shortening spray on the sides.

2. Combine first 7 ingredients.  Whisk together and set aside.

3. Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

4. Mix together sour cream, milk, and vanilla.

5. Alternate adding flour mixture (in 3 additions) with adding milk mixture (in 2 additions) to the butter mixture, beginning and ending with flour.

6.  Pour into pans and bake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Adapted from Bon Appetit, Oct 1999

Apple Butter Cream Cheese Filling


4 oz (1/2 cup) Apple Butter
8 oz Cream Cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) Butter, room temperature
4 cups (more or less to taste and consistency) of Powder Sugar


1. Beat cream cheese until creamy.  Add butter and cream together.

2.  Beat in apple butter.

3.  Add in powder sugar, after sifting, in 2-3 additions until desired sweetness and consistency for filling.

Brown Sugar Swiss Meringue Buttercream


5 oz egg whites
9 oz Brown Sugar
15 oz (2 TBS short of 4 sticks) Butter, room temperature

These are just the measurements for the ingredients I used.  The same method that is used for making the swiss meringue buttercream with granulated sugar is used for brown sugar.  For the method, look here.


1. Tort cake, if necessary, into desired number of layers.  I used four.

2. Pipe a buttercream ring around the first cake layer.  Fill in the middle of that ring with the apple butter cream cheese filling.

3. Repeat in between the 2nd and 3rd layer.

4. The cream cheese filling is very soft and will need to set-up before continuing.  If the cake is sliding too much, place two skewers in the cake to stabilize it and refrigerate it until it is complete set.

5. Frost the cake with the buttercream, and smooth and decorate cake as desired.

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