Some helpful tips and other musings from Graham...
“But how will I eat cake if my head is over there, and my hands are over here?”
― Marie Antoinette
Cakes have been popular for hundreds of years and there are many variations and traditions from all over the world. Many people form their own traditions involving cake and sometimes don’t even realize that they are doing so. We are all familiar with the life events that we normally associate with cake such as christenings, birthdays, weddings and anniversaries. There are many others though that have become more popular such as family reunions, picnics, groom’s cakes, special events and just because. And with the ability to design your own cakes, the sky is the limit for the creativity involved in your cake.
But just how do you begin to design a celebrations cake, especially if you have never done so?
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When I was in school and studying Algebra, Geometry and Math, I remembered thinking “I’m never going use this, so why do I have to learn it?” Now, Ms. Watson (my Math teacher) would be very proud of me, as I apply the principles every day regarding how to correctly sizing a wedding cake.
I was recently asked by a bride, “How big is a piece of wedding cake?” I replied,” I’m glad you asked, let me show you.” I gathered two pieces of Styrofoam and some charts that help illustrate the point.
Here in Richmond, Virginia and in the South, cake is typically more like a pound cake consistency, which is a denser than the sponge type cakes used in the North and other regions of the United States. The resulting wedding serving size is 1” x 2” x 3” (equals 6 cubic inches). (The larger birthday cake serving is typically 1.5” x 2” x 3”.)
By tradition, most wedding cakes are round, symbolizing eternity from the shape of the rings which are exchanged during the ceremony. The correct way to calculate the number of servings from a round cake is to first calculate the area of the tier ( ), then multiply by its height (3 inches) then ask divide by six (cubic inches per serving). Let’s assume the value of pi (π) is 3.14. Regardless of the size of the tier, the formula remains the same. The formula looks like this;
Example: a 10 inch cake (has a radius of 5 inches) and its formula would look like this:
Occasionally other shapes are used for weddings and each shape has its own mathematical formula for calculating their yield. Obviously, after calculating the yield it is important to cut the cake properly in order to achieve the correct yield. A good cake artisan will provide cutting instructions with each cake for the caterer or server to use.
Ms. Watson would be very proud of me, as I now use her lessons and formulas every day.
Richmond, Virginia is experiencing a rapid growth in loft and studio apartments. These apartments often have small refrigerators and even smaller freezers, most not being big enough to store a 2 pound bag of peas- let alone the top tier of your wedding cake. Thus, freezing the top tier may be difficult. Should you live in a loft, studio, apartment or even a house with a small freezer, I still want you to enjoy the sentimental value of celebrating your first anniversary with the top tier of your wedding cake.
At the cakery, we have freezer storage space where we can freeze a limited number of top tiers and will do so complementary on a first-come first-served basis. Please let us know if you are considering freezing the top tier, but do not have the space…we will store it for you…
If you are able to store your anniversary tier yourself, directions can be found on this blog titled Wedding Cake Handling Instructions (Paragraphs 3 and 4).
Happy 1st Anniversary!
A couple came in to select their wedding cake recently and the bride appeared to be very rushed. She sat upright on the edge of the chair, frowned a lot and in the first few minutes of speaking with them the bride hurriedly talked about what she had found, like, considered, not liked, what her friends cake looks like, and what her bridesmaids had like, the flowers and her rehearsal dinner. As she spoke she appeared to be panicking, so when she took a breath I asked, “So tell me when the wedding is?” She replied, “It’s next year and I only have 11 months left.” “Oh we have plenty of time then” I said. She appeared confused and after talking with her some more I discovered she had read a timeline somewhere that the cake had to be ordered a year in advance.
After reassuring her that she had plenty of time to pick out the cake she sat back relaxed into the chair and appeared as if a weight had been lifted from her shoulders. She had taken the timeline literally and was thinking she was behind schedule. Soon she began to smile and was able to relax, answer questions calmly which resulted in us making great progress and picking out the perfect cake.
It’s understandable when planning a wedding for the first time you will believe what you read and are told, but unfortunately not all guidance is good guidance. You could read four different timelines and they will all tell you a different time when the cake has to be ordered. When you take into account different regions wedding seasons and vendor availability not all timelines are applicable to all regions or all vendors.
No two published timelines are going to be identical. My advice would be find a time line you think is realistic and comfortable for you and stick to it… But only use it as a guide.