Once just a sweet addition to a reception with punch, wedding cakes are now works of art with complex flavor profiles. Wedding cakes are a focal point for a reception design, and a chance to have some fun (or keep it traditional if you choose) with flavors to delight your guests. So how do you create a once-in-a-lifetime cake worth of Pinterest boards and tastes great? We asked Bridal Extravaganza of Atlanta vendor, Jenean Carlton, Owner of Carlton’s Cakes.
Read on for Jenean’s perspective on how to guarantee guests will enjoy a cake that will accurately reflect each couple’s taste and style.
Hire a Pro
When it comes to wedding cakes, experience counts. I have been making custom cakes for over a decade and my approach to each cake is that it should taste incredible and be a work of art. This ensures that every couple has a cake that will be talked about for years by their guests and loved ones.
My motto is “scratch confections, luxe design.” That’s more than a business idea – it’s a reflection of my personal aesthetic, and a pledge of quality.
Every Carlton’s cake is made from scratch, every single time. A scratch made cake has a much finer texture and crumb, and the flavors are complex. Carlton’s Cakes uses only the finest ingredients to achieve this level of quality – vanilla beans from Madagascar, Callebaut Belgian chocolate, European butter, specialty flours, fresh fruits, alcohol infusions, etc. These ingredients cost more than those used by ordinary bakeries, but the taste difference is like night and day.
Food allergies aren’t a problem for us. We commonly work with clients with gluten or dairy intolerances. Our baking expertise allows us to alter our recipes to exclude these ingredients while still providing exceptional results.
It’s always rewarding to me when a wedding guest, or another pastry chef, tastes our cakes and then makes a point of telling me about the taste of our cakes. I love these conversations and it makes the hard work worthwhile!
The second element is “luxe design.” Every cake we make is a unique creation. I studied art in college and understand what makes a design a work of art.
Our design process begins with a consultation with the bride and groom. I meet with clients and sketch their cake as we talk about their vision for the wedding. After our meeting, the sketch is refined and I send it to the couple for approval. I get to know each couple personally, so I know their design style and how the cake will fit in with the overall theme of their wedding.
For couples needing inspiration, we can review photos of cakes I have made in the past. I have designed cakes that resembled the bride’s dress. I have topped cakes with flowers that looked fresh from the garden, but were in fact made of edible ingredients. I once made a groom’s cake that looked like bottles of beer in a bucket of ice when, in fact, the bottles were made entirely out of sugar. I love a design challenge!
The location of the wedding plays an important role in how I design a wedding cake. I have made cakes for indoor weddings, outdoor weddings, and weddings in barns. Each venue must be factored into the cake’s construction. Outside weddings need a cake that will be altered as needed for weather conditions. For example, I can alter the recipe to produce a cake that will be able to withstand the heat.
Chemistry, Engineering and Artistry
Once the design and ingredients are selected, I strategize. Time is critical. It may take up to 90 hours to make a large wedding cake. Great time and skill go into sculpting edible design elements such as gum paste flowers (which can take weeks) and also edible animal sculptures or luxurious design elements. I often work with Isomalt, which is a sugar medium that looks like glass. It takes an extremely high level of skill to work with this medium as it is torched with an open flame and worked at temps of 300 degrees or higher.
I once constructed a cake with 600 individual fondant ruffles that looked like fabric! It takes a great deal of time, skill, and patience to construct edible, realistic-looking details like this.
Most people do not realize the complexity of creating a specialty wedding cake. Most cakes are on display for at least 4 hours and the cake must hold up. Stability is critical. A 5 tiered wedding cake consists of at least 20 layers of cake, 40 lbs of icing, and many lbs of filling. Our cakes are covered in either Italian Meringue buttercream (with a layer of chocolate ganache under each layer for added stability) or a premium fondant from Switzerland.
Weddings cakes from Carlton’s Cakes are an investment. I guarantee the cake will be delivered on time and displayed beautifully. Much engineering, architecture, artistry, chemistry and love for detail is involved in creating a towering wedding cake that is delicious and structurally sound while also being beautiful.
For a unique, delicious, and beautiful cake that will delight guests and enhance your incredible day, choose Carlton’s Cakes.
Carlton’s Cakes Carlton’s Cakes was started by Owner and Head Chef, Jenean Carlton. Jenean started baking at a young age and her interest in the science of baking is still as fascinating to her as when she began experimenting in her family kitchen. She has a background rooted in science and also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Art from Georgia State University. Her sense of style and design is expressed in all of her creations. Her education in the field of sugar artistry includes coursework at the renowned International Sugar Art Collection Atlanta (Nicholas Lodge), Chocolate coursework with Sydney Galpern ,Chocolatier and owner of Simi Cakes, and numerous courses over the past 10 years with many experts in the field of sugar artistry and baking. Her creations and techniques have been featured in the International Cake Exploration Society publications, Modern Luxury Weddings, Jezebel magazine and more. Carlton’s Cakes received the coveted awards “Best of the Knot” in 2018 and also “Best Wedding cake in Atlanta” by Jezebel magazine 2018.