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Do wedding cakes ever taste good?

How important is it for a wedding cake to actually taste good?

As opposed to just looking good?

At a wedding recently, I was struck by this comment: "This is a wedding cake. Who cares how it tastes. It photographs so marvelously!"

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  1. They can taste good, but I agree they seldom do. And I suspect that's what most wedding guests expect. In that sense, good taste probably isn't all that important.

    I used to cater occasionally, and I recall on my first job, a wedding, the bride got her cake from a local woman who would make whatever you wanted. She wanted an "amaretto" cake and supplied a recipe. The cake turned out fabulous, best wedding cake I can ever recall. Shows it can be done.

    I got married myself about two years ago, and learned a bit more about wedding cakes. We went to a local bakery that specialized in them. Their choices of cake type (the actual cake inside) were very limited, but they would do any decoration you wanted. Given how they grind them out, especially on June Saturdays, I can see why they really can't do every little cake under the sun. In the event, the cake was pretty good, but not great by any means.

    1. Almost every piece of wedding cake I have had--has gotten a "meh" rating at best. A few have gotten a "blech"--and these were cakes that looked beautiful and tasted horrible. What was the difference btw meh and blech you ask? Well, it was all in the icing. If you want a beautiful looking cake that photographs well, go ahead and get the fondant. But fondant (IMO) tastes terrible. If you want a cake that looks okay, and tastes okay...get buttercream, whipped cream or cream cheese frosting.

      I think that is is pretty important for a wedding cake to taste good vs. looking good. Especially if this is your main (or only) dessert.

      1 Reply
      1. re: CorinneM1

        Most fondant cakes cover a coating layer of buttercream. You can always peel off the layer of fondant... Personally I've never really disliked the taste of fondant, but most people don't like it.

      2. I know I that taste was our first priority! And the one we got was to die for--I can't count how many people told me it was the best wedding cake they'd ever eaten! It was an almond poppyseed cake with a buttercream frosting, covered with white chocolate shavings. No frou-frou piped icing decorations--just fresh flowers on top. It was gorgeous, and delicious!

        It came from a bakery called Great Cakes in Redmond, Washington, which sadly has gone out of business. But their head cake designer and pastry chef has a website where she says she still does cakes over on the Olympic Peninsula, and she recommends some other good bakeries in and around Seattle.


        2 Replies
        1. re: MsMaryMc

          They most certainly do have some very good wedding cakes out there. I used to work for a four star catering service and had the confectioner make my wedding cake and it was out of this world, chocolate Chambord...

          1. re: MsMaryMc

            Yeah, taste rules over looks! And I think my wedding cake looked good as well -- perhaps not as flawless as the fondant covered cakes but still beautiful. I had a blackout cake that was moist, rich, dense and absolutely delicious!

            "At a wedding recently, I was struck by this comment: "This is a wedding cake. Who cares how it tastes. It photographs so marvelously!""

            That's probably a metaphor for a lot of couples who get married these days.

          2. My wedding cake was delicious. ...Oh, wait, we didn't have a cake. We had Ted Drewes frozen custard. It was way tasty. (We didn't go with cake b/c neither MrLit nor I cared too much about pretty, we much preferred yummy.)

            1 Reply
            1. re: litchick

              My sister lived in St. Louis for many years while she and my BIL went to Wash U. She would appreciate Ted Drewes at at wedding!

            2. Probably the tastiest and most beautiful wedding cake I ever ate was... VEGAN. Yes, I too was shocked, but that spice cake with lemon icing was simply marvelous. Simply decorated with fresh raspberries, it was divine.

              1. I think they always should, but unfortunately often don't. Style over substance. My wedding cake did taste good, because I made sure of it. I bought my wedding cake from a local bakery, not from a boutique cake shop, and the bakery used real lemon juice and fresh cream in the cake, and it was delicious. It was only single tier because it was a small wedding, and it wasn't too fancy, but it was delicious.

                1 Reply
                1. re: FoodieKat

                  Foodie, I'm with you on taste versus looks. We are not quite there yet, but as the mother of 2 DD, they have often commented that the local bakery we patronize has the MOST delicious cake. Even if they were to marry Prince William or Harry, they would want a Resch's cake. They use real butter and milk and it tastes like it. It's de rigeur at our Bday dinners and I am a pretty good baker.

                2. We were definitely a taste-over-pics couple, and our cake- chocolate, with dark chocolate buttercream- was sinfully tasty, and darn cute, to boot. The only decoration were our cake-toppers: cast-iron antique bottle openers cast as a gal and guy in swim trunks and a bathing suit. The cake couldn't hold up itself (three stacked layers) AND the "toppers"- so they were "proppers"- just leaning against it. But still cute. We also had a carrot cake/cream cheese frosting sheet cake. We don't stand on ceremony in my family- I'd have probably been a laughingstock with a fancy cardboard cake!

                  1. YES! I was far more interested in a wedding cake that tasted good than one that looked fancy. I opted for quite a simple design. I got my cake from weddingcakelonline.com (bakery in NYC) because they had so many tasty cake options and designs that weren't over the top.

                    My cake had layers of dacquoise, chocolate ganache, and blackcurrent cream. Everyone loved it.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Avalondaughter

                      YES YES!!

                      It was my first priority! My uncle makes steel spiral stairs, and I wanted a square cake. I had him construct a three tier cake stand for me, and we had a local baker make a big fluffly vanilla pound cake, lemon filling, I think buttercream icing? And a chocolate fudge/something. The stand is bigger than a coffee table. I'll post some pics in a bit. The baker as a rule didn't do wedding cakes, so she piped simply, and we decorated with flowers. We ordered a ton extra, and told people to be sure to try it. I know I always skip the cake because it's always so heavy, to stand up under the weight. It was one of the things we were most complimented on.

                      My cousin was so jealous, she made him do one for her too the next year. My poor uncle..he's the best...big macho man...metal artist at heart, who knew?

                      1. re: Avalondaughter

                        Living in NYC is fortunate. Our wedding cake came from La Bergamote and included a bunch of other fancy pastries around it. Yum Yum

                      2. I've been to many weddings, and believe it or not, most of them have had cakes that were both beautiful and very delicious. Now, these delicious cakes were emphatically not white cake with wedding-white, shortening-based "buttercream"; they were chosen with the express intention of tasting great. They've ranged from simple lemon or chocolate to spice cake, carrot cake, European nut tortes, four-tiered cakes with each tier a different flavor. I guess my friends and family value good cake!

                        I've actually never had fondant-covered cake, but my understanding is that, among other things, these are the least fresh wedding cakes you'll eat, because of all the steps in decorating them.

                        The worst cakes I've had have been at country club-type venues, where I assume the cake is part of the package (and the cake is bad even if the other food is not). There's usually a dessert table or another dessert served in these situations, so once I realize the cake is bad, no cake for me.

                        1. Our cake was delicious, and beautiful, if I do say so myself. We went with a cake maker who works out of her home on the basis of a recommendation from a friend who used to be a pastry chef. We'd heard the woman's cakes were great from several people but we figured this friend knew her cake (and hired the woman for her own wedding).

                          She used very simple flavors (chocolate, vanilla, carrot and I think a few others), but she did them beautifully. Her decorations were also amazing. She had several cakes that looked like fondant, but that were actually buttercream. So if people want the look of fondant, but not the taste of it, it is possible with a good cakemaker.

                          We also tried cakes from a few other cakemakers. One was from a very hoity-toity local bakery where a friend ordered a cake there for a baby shower. The other was from the caterer at our venue who was a trained pastry chef. In those cases, both were horrible and I think it was largely because of the frosting. It was that syrupy sweet stuff and tasted like it came from Wal-Mart (I used to work in an office that ordered a monthly birthday cake from Wal-Mart and it was awful). I'm guessing it contained a lot of synthetic ingredients. The woman we hired used buttercream that was smooth and not overly sweet.

                          1. My wedding cake was out of this world. I am Dominican and got married there and we do not mess with our cakes! Mine was filled with a rum based pudding and the other half with guava preserves.
                            The way we strike a balance between a beautiful cake that photographs well and one that tastes good is the controversial "fake" cake trend. We had a fake cake for pics and then the cake maker baked a large sheet cake to cut for the guests. There was a small portion in the rear of the display cake that was real so we could cut for the pictures.
                            Many people have a problem with the fake cake thing (there's a thread here somewhere) but in DR its a fact of life and nobody thinks its a big deal.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: HungryRubia

                              While planning for my wedding, I found out that this is done here...decorated styrofoam and then a sheet cake to serve. What a shame! The comments about how it all looks is a sad commentary on the US - marriages, people and food. Who cares about whether it is good as long as it is pretty! I loved my simple apple filled yellow cake - simple and tasty without overwhelming the rest of the meal.

                            2. Recently at a friends wedding in the outer banks at NC they had a key lime cake that was pretty and incredibly tasty. The fiance who never really eats whole pieces of cake might have gotten seconds even. Half of it was chocolate blueberry for the groom who loved chocolate and it wasn't as good as the key lime luckily I think only the top layer(s) was chocolate.

                              1. Yeah, as with that comment about it photographing well, it comes down the preference of the bride and groom. I offered to make my friend's son's wedding cake. The bride came back to me w/ a picture of the cake she wanted and said she didn't care how it tasted but wanted a cake that looked good. I declined to make it. I know I can make a cake that tastes good but I might not make a cake that looked like the one she had in her head. The best part of planning my wedding was getting all the sample cakes and tasting them all. It was so much more about taste for me. (I'm thinking of the same bride saying, I don't care what he's like on the inside, as long as he looks good in the tux!"

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: chowser

                                  My wedding cake tasted very good - it was red velvet cake iced with vanilla buttercream. I'm a baker, but since I didn't want to bake my own cake, I hired a home baker to make mine. I didn't want a typical catering hall type cake - spongy and airy with no real substance or taste with fake icing.

                                  I've been to many weddings in my lifetime and most of the cakes were mediocre. However there were a few standouts. In those few cases, the cakes were made by pastry chefs and not your run-of-the-mill bakery.

                                  1. re: Kris

                                    so interesting- we opted for no cake- by the time it is time for cake at a big, jewish wedding no one even wants to eat anything more! we started dinner at about 10 pm and ended with fantastic sorbet and cookies and no cake cutting fee! then we danced til 3 am like lunatics- so not about the look, pics or anything else for us (going strong 12 years later :)) i love my food (especially baked goods) , but the wedding was about me and him--

                                2. My bride-to-be insisted on engaging a woman who made ONLY wedding cakes, and whose specialty was the semi-hard-shell variety with marzipan fondant. I had a long-standing dislike of marzipan, but being an indulgent guy (there is a less complimentary phrase for that) and not really caring for cake anyway I went along. Glad I did - the fondant frosting changed my mind about marzipan, and the enclosed cake was not only moist, rich and delicious, its keeping qualities were such that the piece we froze for our first anniversary was every bit as good as it had been originally. Oh, and it was also probably the most beautiful wedding cake I've ever seen, before or since, though at the price it should have been!

                                  1. My neice got married last July, and opted for cupcakes. She and her husband love camping, hiking, etc, so the wedding was an outside wedding in the Berkshires. She had s'more cupcakes, and they were delicious.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: macca

                                      Have you watched the CH video on obsessive cake baking?
                                      Her cakes are art forms, but Ms. Lu insists that they should taste good too.

                                    2. For my second wedding, I got my cake from a Mexican bakery my mother frequents. Not only did it look lovely it was delicious (chocolate). We had gotten a wedding cake for a cousin of mine their a few years back and it was also fantastic. Guest were coming back for seconds. My dad the one who never eats cake had a huge slice. On an average however most wedding cakes are failry bland and I rarely take more then a bite.

                                      1. imho it is always important for food to taste good, and that includes wedding cake.

                                        Back in the day (looong ago when most of my college friends were getting married) the taste -- and indeed the decoration -- of most wedding cakes I thought was "meh." For the past 10 or so years, however, all the wedding cakes I've had occasion to taste have been delicious. I know several wedding cake makers, and their cakes are as delicious as they are beautiful. It all depends upon where you go for your wedding cake. and what you expect.

                                        I would not order a wedding cake without having tasted a sample.

                                        1. I think tasting good is more important, but that isn't the way most people I know look at it.

                                          My friend got married a couple years ago, and a relative from Germany who came to Canada for the wedding made her cake. It was unbelievably delicious, and unlike any wedding cake I had ever seen or tasted. Layers of buttercream, meringue, marzipan, raspberry jam, sponge cake.

                                          From appearances alone, it looked more like a fancy layer cake. In fact, if it hadn't been my friend's wedding day, you would have never known it was a wedding cake.

                                          6 Replies
                                          1. re: phoenikia

                                            Oh man, I love marzipan! That cake does sound utterly delicious. I was in marzipan heaven in Germany. It's obviously very popular over there, and for good reason. I even had an amazing marzipan crepe. Oh, how I wish I could have one of those now!

                                            1. re: FoodieKat

                                              I love marzipan, too. A marzipan crepe sounds fantastic. I haven't seen that on any menus before, but I'll try to remember to look for it on future trips to Europe!

                                              1. re: phoenikia

                                                It was wonderful. I really wish there was a place out here in California where I could get one.

                                            2. re: phoenikia

                                              I love marzipan too!! of course we needed (as tradition in most dutch wedding cakes) marzipan on our wedding cake!! haha! we had vanilla sponge, whipped cream and fresh strawberries and of course the marzipan outside. was very tasty! at my job (country club) I have to say the weddingcakes are always very good... made in house.
                                              I just think the more work goes in the cake, the less it's about good flavor...
                                              has anyone ever tried ace of cakes or weinstock cakes?! those cannot taste good.......

                                              1. re: chefschickie

                                                I haven't had a Charm City Cake but my mom has she said it was decent. On our board there are multiple threads with people debating some really like the taste others think they just are pretty so I think it is a matter of preference. Finace's favorite cake is just plain vanilla normally... so he likes those "pretty" cakes better than I would I don't really like plain vanilla or chocolate cake.

                                              2. re: phoenikia

                                                That sounds like my wedding cake. It came from a local German bakery, and I think it was called a Sacher Torte. I'm sure I didn't spell that right, and I might not have the name right. After all, it was a long time ago (22 years). It was good, though.

                                              3. My cake was delicious. It was strawberry shortcake on two tiers and raspberry on another, with whipped cream. No yucky Fondant or Royal icing.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: hotteacher1976

                                                  We just had a celebration cake project in class yesterday, and some of the wedding cakes that my classmates made did taste good. Someone made a mocha-pistachio wedding cake from "Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook", with alternating layers of vanilla and pistachio-flavored cake, mocha buttercream and mocha pastry cream, and frosted with vanilla buttercream. The cake was moist and tender, and I really liked the intense mocha flavor yet light texture of the pastry cream.

                                                  Other highlights were a moist chocolate cake filled with praline buttercream (a recipe from Rose Levy Beranbaum's "The Cake Bible") and a white cake filled with lemon curd and raspberry jam, frosted with vanilla buttercream. I made a lavender honey genoise moistened with lavender-lemon soaking syrup that was filled with lemon curd and frosted with lavender honey buttercream. I enjoyed the subtle, floral hint of the honey.

                                                  It seemed that most of my classmates ate the fondant-covered cakes without the fondant, and just the cake and filling. I guess buttercream-frosted cakes are just more popular.

                                                2. I liked mine. I had an almond cake with Kahlua flavoring and I can't remember what kind of filling. Several people told me it was the best wedding cake they'd ever had. My husband didn't like it, though. He wasn't there when it was picked out since the wedding was in Florida and we now live in Maryland. He was mad that we didn't have carrot because it wasn't an option.

                                                  I also liked my brother and sister-in-law's wedding cake. They had a red velvet. For some reason, the servers didn't give any to the wedding party, so I had to hunt down a piece once I realized what flavor it was.

                                                  1. Not only can they taste good, they should taste good! I really don't get the point of having something equivalent to a cardboard box. We had an amazing cake at our wedding (made by Daniel Vokey from Patisserie Daniel in Victoria BC). Not only was it gorgeous and photogenic, but it was absolutely delicious! Guests still talk about it, and I got married 13 years ago!

                                                    1. Weddings seem to be the time where the foodies and the non-foodies are very distinguishable.

                                                      For me, the taste of the cake was the most important thing! I went to a number of bakeries and decided to do something that I thought was sort of unique for a wedding cake. I got it at an Italian bakery in Springfield, MA called La Fiorentina. It had 3 layers. The bottom and the top were a canolli cake. Delicous, moist cake with a very thick layer of cannoli filling in between - with orange zest and chocolate chips. The middle layer was a rich rum cake with white frosting.

                                                      The cake had a regular kind of frosting and was decorated between the layers with ivy and purple and white roses.

                                                      I don't remember about the price, but I was surprised at how little it cost. I think a fondant cake from a different bakery that didn't taste as good would have been more expensive.


                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: puppymomma

                                                        I agree that wedding cakes separate the chowhounds from the civilians. Being both a chowhound and a cheapskate, I got my wedding cake from Whole Foods (chocolate with chocolate ganache). We had two round cakes decorated with fresh flowers on a tiered cake stand to serve as the "wedding cake" for photos, plus a couple sheet cakes which were cut in the kitchen and distributed to guests.
                                                        I decided on this route after reading Bridal Bargains -- a great resource for anyone planning a wedding on a budget. The book describes why there is often an inverse relationship between wedding cake cost and flavor. Shortly after I got married, a co-worker's fiancee insisted on getting a cake from one of Manhattan's celebrity wedding cake designers. With all the drawings faxed back and forth, you would have thought the woman was creating a house, not a cake!

                                                      2. Bar none, the best wedding cake I've ever had was at my cousin's wedding on the coast of Maine last year. They got it from a little coffee shop up there. It was of the simple is best school, just two large layers of what most closely resembled blueberry muffin cake. The frosting separating the two layers was real whipped cream, then the cake was frosted with more real whipped cream and blueberries. As you can imagine the blueberries were fresh. What a great cake.

                                                        1. Our wedding cake was very good! It was chocolate, with raspberry French cream filling and buttercream frosting. It was small, three layers stacked up like a beehive, with vivid, multi-colored frosting flowers (to match the wedding flowers, which I had requested from the florist to be "a riot of color," given that it was the first of March and rather dreary in Portland, and the silk ribbon flowers my mom had embroidered on my dress). It came from the Helen Bernhard bakery in NE Portland.

                                                          1. My friend had a pistacio cake at her reception. Wow! Was it good!!!

                                                            1. I make cakes and I never ever make it from scratch. (this is the only thing I dont make from scratch btw) I always use Duncan Hines white cake mix with the pudding in it and let it beat in the mixer for about 20 minutes on high speed and then bake it to just where the toothpick comes out almost clean. The cake has to set sometimes for up to 4 days before the wedding and you still want it to be moist. I add all my different flavors to the white mix. I even use a white mix for chocolate cake. Chocolate mixes are to heavy. I also always brush on ameretto liquer on each cake layer too.

                                                              1. Ours tasted great. It was gluten-free, vegan chocolate cake. You can see how it looked here: http://www.flyingapron.net/special.htm

                                                                1. So many wedding cakes taste like cardboard; when I got married, one of my biggest priorities was a cake that TASTED good. And I found it.

                                                                  When I went for a tasting at this bakery, most all the choices were so good, that I had a very hard time deciding what I wanted. I ended up going with: one tier of German chocolate, one tier of silver pound cake with amaretto fillling, and one tier of silver pound cake with raspberry filling. It was all sinfully good. The whole thing was frosted in chocolate buttercream and decorated with red roses. I hate fondant and did NOT want any of it on my cake. And, I love chocolate, and saw no reason a wedding cake was required to be white! (My parents, OTOH, were somewhat horrified by my frosting choice, but I cared little about that opinion).

                                                                  We froze the top tier until our 6 month anniversary and yes, it was almost as tasty as when it was fresh!

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: thedoorchick

                                                                    My 1st wedding the cake not only looked bad it tasted bad. nobody ate any of it. But my 2nd wedding cake was a hit! It was plain vanilla with vanilla buttercream frosting. The cake was so moist and the frosting was to die for. It was decorated with fresh flowers from her own garden. I have been to tons of weddings and it was by far the best wedding cake I ever tasted! Even a year later the cake was delicious.

                                                                  2. These wedding cakes tasted great (thank you very much).

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: Patrincia

                                                                      Did you make them? They're beautiful. What kind were they?

                                                                    2. Yes, definitely. We did a triple layer cheese cake with a chocolate coating from Simma's in Milwaukee for all three kids weddings, the only things left were the tier supports, and these had been cleaned off.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: giveittomikey

                                                                        That is what my daughter wants me to make for her wedding. She is going to have a cheesecake bar set up and people can get their own toppings. I will also make the tradional 2 tier cake for people that dont like cheesecake. Who doesnt like cheesecake?

                                                                      2. I'm one of those home bakers who makes wedding cakes. I always make them entirely from scratch and I must say they are delicious. I use fondant for the visual effect, but use plenty of yummy buttercream underneath..

                                                                        I do have a hard time figuring out how much to charge for my cakes. My last cake was 3 tiers for 100 people decorated with fresh flowers, and I charged them $150. I suspect I underpriced my cake :). I know it's a tacky question, but I could use some help. What would a reasonable price be for a home-baked wedding cake of this kind to serve 100?

                                                                        7 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Hofhombre

                                                                            Hof, think it depends on where you are located. In NYC, they might get $6-7/person but in Podunk, Iowa considerably less. In Central Ohio somewhere between $4-5/person, so you 100 person cake was a true bargain for the couple, but probably didn't yield much profit to you. I would call up other wedding cake bakers in your area and price their wares or go online and determine what the going rate seems to be.

                                                                            1. re: Diane in Bexley

                                                                              Thanks. It's harder than you'd think to get a going rate in this area. I definitely won't do another cake for $150 - too many hours spent. Here in NJ I think a better price would be $350 - 400.
                                                                              I miss Central Ohio...used to live in Grandview.

                                                                              1. re: Hofhombre

                                                                                my 3 tier cake here in IND would have been 350.00. I did my son's cake and it was 2 sets of 3 tiers coming of 1 large bottom cake and when I called around just for giggles, it would have cost them 1000.00. That cake would have served between 4 to 500 people. Then on top of that the bride wanted 2 cupcake holders of cupcakes for the little ones. Did we have lots of cake left over but it was a beautiful masterpeice.

                                                                            2. re: Hofhombre

                                                                              I think most cakemakers charge per slice. The normal charge in our area was $2 to $3.50 per slice. I live in a small city in the midwest.

                                                                              1. re: rweater

                                                                                ***I should add that we didn't have fondant, but I think that was $1 extra per slice, and that seemed to be the norm.

                                                                              2. re: Hofhombre

                                                                                It depends on where you are located. I'm Deleware, and like you, I make everything from scratch with swiss buttercream and fresh fruit filling I start at $3.75 a slice, if it's fondant (and I use a high end fondant, not the cheap Wilton stuff) I charge $5.00 a slice. The prices may seem steep, but there are not additional fees for set, delivery, and every cake is custom designed. I am fully booked for the season.