By Rebecca Padgett
Cake tastings are the opportune time to indulge that sweet tooth, and they’re one of the many perks of being an engaged couple. Selecting the cake isn’t as easy as pie though; there is much to be considered, from icing to decor and more. Just like with your catering, you want your cake to not only be a crowd pleaser, but also something you as a couple decided upon. So have your cake and eat it too — while keeping in mind these sweet spots for a successful tasting.
Before the Bakery
Prior to reaching out to a bakery, you should know your wedding date, venue, approximate guest count, time and approximate timeline. Typically picking a cake comes later in the planning process, so it shouldn’t be hard to already have these solidified or as a solid estimate. It’s also helpful to have a cake budget in mind.
Pinterest, wedding magazines, blogs and Instagram are great resources for cake ideas. Make a Pinterest board or save photos on your phone for easy access. Once you have some design ideas in mind, research bakeries in the area you plan to get married. Visit their social media and website to get a feel for their previous work. Extra points if you can point to examples of their work and be able to say what you love and what you would want to incorporate for your wedding day.
Plan Your Visit
Most bakeries charge for cake tastings, so it might be wise to narrow your options down to two places if you aren’t sure on “the one.” Reach out to the bakeries you’re interested in and inquire about doing a tasting. Some bakeries are still doing in-person tasting while others offer to-go tastings. SoDough Baking Co. in Tallahassee, the bakery my fiancé and I chose for our cake, put together an adorable tasting box for us to take home and try. If in person, some places allow additional guests. If you decide to go this route, I would advise no more than three to four guests. There can be too many bakers in the bakery, making the opinions hard to decipher. I personally suggest making a date out of it, whether at the bakery or at home. Just be sure not to eat a big meal beforehand, you’ll want to be able to appreciate the cake in all of its deliciousness.
Put Your Taste Buds to the Test
You may go in knowing exactly what you want, but be open to the experience of tasting as the baker has invested time in setting it up for you. Some bakeries will present you with all of their options to try while others will have you select from a list of choices. At our cake tasting, we were presented with three cake flavors: vanilla, chocolate and red velvet; seven icing choices: vanilla, raspberry, white chocolate, caramel, strawberry, chocolate and honey cinnamon; and six filling choices: caramel, cookie dough, fudge, raspberry compote, lemon and banana pudding. We had so much fun trying all sorts of flavor combinations. Once we lowered it down to our top two, we took our time really reflecting on which flavors complemented each other and what suited our personal taste and fit within the theme of our cake.
Don’t be afraid to get creative and ask your baker about possibilities. Maybe you don’t want a cake at all — you’re pie people. Or, you want a sampling of small desserts. Most bakeries also specialize in other desserts. My fiancé and I knew we wanted a wedding cake, but instead of doing a traditional groom’s cake, we ordered his favorite — Boston Cream doughnuts. These are not normally on SoDough’s menu, but they had the capabilities and wanted to make our day extra special.
What Will Be Decided
Generally you select your cake flavors during the tasting. If you need more time to think or simply don’t know if this baker is the one, take the time to digest (literally) and send a follow up email at a later date. The baker will get to know you and your wedding style. They will inquire about your ideas and wants in a cake. They are there to answer all of your cake decor questions, from icing types to fresh florals to edible decor. If you say yes to the cake that day, you will likely sign a contract and put down a deposit for the date. Additional discussions can take place such as how you would like the cake to be presented at your venue or if any special cake toppers will be added.
Questions to ask:
Do you have a portfolio of past designs?
How big should our cake be to feed our guests?
How are your cakes priced?
Is a tasting included in the fee?
Do you deliver and set up? If so, what is the fee?
How far in advance should we order?
How many cakes do you deliver on the same day?
Are you licensed and insured?
What flavors do you offer?
What ingredients do you use? Are there vegan, gluten-free or organic options?
Can you recreate this idea?
Can you work with my florist to put flowers on the cake?
How will the cake be displayed?
Are there additional fees we should be aware of?
How much is the deposit?
When is the final payment due?
What is your refund policy?
How do you ensure the safety of the cake? What happens if it is damaged in transit?
How do you preserve a wedding cake tier?