Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Five Now-Meaningless Terms To Not Use When Ordering a Wedding Cake

Some phrases are used so much they've lost all meaning in a consultation. When a bride tells me one of these I'm no closer to figuring out what they want then when they first walked in the door. Of course, I don't expect people to know that what they're saying doesn't help me figure out what they want, so I'll just keep asking clarifying questions when they use the terms.  Here are some of my favorites:

1. “Moist.”

Oh, how I hate the word “moist.” Moist denotes a level of wetness. Cake usually isn’t wet, tres leches cake being a notable exception!

Most people use the word "moist" to describe the texture of a cake.

However, due to the proliferation of heinous cake mix, “moist” has come to be associated with the gummy mouth-feel of cake mix cakes. Instead of referring to the texture of the cake, people use it to mean the spongy feeling that comes from cake mix additives like those that go into laxatives (yes, it’s true). While these additives do keep a cake mix gummy, it doesn’t make them “moist.”

To me, the terms "light,"“soft,” or “dense” would be more useful to me than “moist” when trying to figure out what kind of cake texture someone is looking for.

2. “Simple yet elegant.”

It’s generally accepted in wedding circles that when a client says this phrase, they’re looking for something that they think is going to be cheaper than something that’s more complicated. I’ve seen florists, wedding planners, caterers, bakers and rental places roll their eyes when this phrase is uttered. It really doesn’t mean anything since one person’s idea of simple and elegant is another’s idea of plain and boring. In addition, the more “simple” looks are sometimes more complicated than more elaborate designs, counterintuitive as that is.

Be specific. If you want something architectural, say that. If you want something modern, say that. If you want to avoid frilly, say that. Those kinds of terms are more useful than something vague.

3. “Something different”

Although I personally am excited when someone tells me they want “something different” for their cake design, it also tells me nothing about what they really want.

Some people think of “different” as being square tiers instead of rounds. On the other end of it, there are people who think that “different” means that the cake has to be constructed upside down hanging from a hook on the ceiling.

If you want a non-traditional cake design, be prepared with ideas so that I don’t go off in a totally different direction than what you’re thinking of. Believe me, if you tell me that you want something different, I’ll design it for you, but it might be WAY out of your comfort zone! It’s better to come in with ideas to point your baker in the right direction so that we don’t waste your time suggesting the hanging cake.

4. “Small wedding cake with a sheet cake for extra servings.”

Not exactly something that needs clarifying, but yeah, don’t even go there. Unless you’re having 400 guests at your reception, or you’re buying really cheap Costco sheet cakes to supplement the excellent wedding cake I’m making, you’re not going to save much money getting the sheets. Click here for a much longer explanation of why not.

If you do go the Costco sheet cake route, you’ll have the problem of deciding who gets the nasty sheet cake and who gets the good wedding cake. Don’t think your guests won’t notice, because they will. And they’ll talk about how cheap you were for years to come. Believe me on this.

5. “Whipped cream icing”

While I understand that a lot of people don’t like super-sweet icing (myself being one of them,) the idea that whipped cream will actually hold up on a wedding cake doesn’t compute.

Here’s the truth, people…What most people these days think of as “whipped cream” icing is actually a chemically mixture of hydrogenated shortenings that have been whipped with sugar and whatever other chemicals necessary to give a lighter mouth-feel to tubs of icing. There’s no whipped cream in them, and no butter, either. What you’re eating is a version of whipped Crisco.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t eat that stuff. It’s foul, and leaves a petroleum spill sensation in my mouth.

No baker in their right mind would say that they can ice a wedding cake with whipped cream unless it’s going to be refrigerated until it’s cut. Then you run into the problem of cold cake, which tastes like it’s stale.

If you don’t like heavy, sugary frostings, ask your baker if they can do a meringue buttercream. Since it doesn’t have any shortening in it, it tends to feel more like a whipped cream texture. Some people won’t do it, though, because their icing comes straight from a tub that they buy from a wholesaler.

What phrases or terms do you want to have banned from the wedding cake ordering lexicon?


 Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC in Richmond VA, and cake supplies online at www.acaketoremember.com and www.acaketoremember.etsy.com

2 comments:

BellaLovesPink said...

Great post!

Anonymous said...

Okay...I'm at work and wasn't able to hold back the laughter...I agree, I recently was asked to do a cake for a friend of a friend who had no clue what they wanted. Q: What color do you want the writing? A: I don't know. Q: What color do you want the trim? A: I don't know - whatever is easier. Q: Do you have a theme or anything in mind for the decorations? A: Umm no. Whatever you think will work. By the way - the cake ended up white with red trim and writing, and black and red roller skates (Fraternity colors were red and white and it was for a skating party and his skates were black) - Quiana from Philadelphia