Fondant fantasies and butter cream dreams

Traditional or whimsical? Elegant or eccentric?

Alaska's wedding cake experts let the cake celebrate you

Story by Mara Severin

  • Creative Cakes by Jeryll Creative Cakes by Jeryll
  • Superstar Pastry Design Superstar Pastry Design
  • Superstar Pastry Design Superstar Pastry Design
  • Creative Cakes by Jeryll Creative Cakes by Jeryll
  • Cake: Uniquely Ria Photo: Chugach Peaks Photography Cake: Uniquely Ria Photo: Chugach Peaks Photography
  • Superstar Pastry Design Superstar Pastry Design

We’ve all seen that wedding cake in the window of an old-fashioned bakery – the one that’s been there for as long as some marriages. The one with the plastic couple on top, forever frozen in time, surrounded by white sugar flowers that have gone a bit gray with dust. There’s no denying the skill that goes into a traditional wedding cake – but that cliché in the window is uninspiring for a modern couple looking for a cake that speaks to (and for) them.

Today’s weddings are diverse, full of personality, and so expressive of the uniting couple. One cake most certainly does not fit all. And luckily, no matter who you are as a couple, there’s an Alaskan wedding cake specialist who can help you express it.

Strictly Personal

Couples’ cake choices today are “all over the board,” says Will McDonald of Alaska Cake Studio, where every wedding cake is custom-designed. “We ask a lot of questions,” he says. “We ask them about themselves, about the wedding, and then we help them to create a concept.” His customers are similar only in their love for cake. “For some couples it’s the band or the dress that is the priority,” he says. “For our customers, it’s the cake.”

Kory Joyner of Superstar Pastry Design has designed cakes that look like glaciers, a stack of books, even an elaborate graveyard. Recently she created a cake that looked like an enormous red snapper on a rock for a couple who (obviously) love to fish. “We love doing things that are out of the ordinary,” she says. And, she adds: “There’s absolutely nothing we can’t do.” Even the more traditional motifs can be very personal she says – piping that matches the lace on the bridal gown, for example, or scroll work that mimics the design on the wedding invitation.

Jeryll Luper of Creative Cakes by Jeryll has designed cakes for some distinctly colorful couples. Rich jewel tones, bright primary colors, luminous metallics – and sometimes all three on the same cake – mark some of her most dazzling creations. A painstakingly hand-painted “Kenai River” cake – complete with mountain-scapes, an edible forest, and an under-water scene with salmon – is distinctive, Alaskan and quite popular. An eye-catching and beautiful cake can be the highlight of the reception, she says. “It’s a piece of art, “she says, “and people will look at it and admire it.”

A marriage of flavors

Whether it’s salmon or scrollwork that distinguishes your cake, everyone wants one that tastes delicious under the frosting and the fondant.

In the past, says Jeryll, “I did virtually no cake tastings.” Now, she says, people want to know that the final product will please the palette as well as the eye.

“It’s all in the taste,” agrees Will. Alaska Cake Studio has been making cakes with a lot of infusions, he says. “Specialty flavors and fillings that pair really well,” he explains. “They add another dimension of complexity to the cake.” Infusions such as coconut, Cointreau, cognac, Earl Grey, and lavender can be married to fillings such as chocolate silk, lemon silk mousse, lingonberry, blueberry and mandarin orange for a taste that’s as unique as you are.

“Hardly anyone is ordering chocolate anymore,” agrees Jeryll, who says that in her bakery, red velvet cake has recently “exploded in popularity.”

Kory agrees that the cake has “to taste even better than it looks.” She loves to do tastings because she has a “huge flavor list” and the surprising possibilities excite her customers. “A cake should be pretty AND,” she says, “not pretty BUT.” After all, she says, “It’s food!”

Elegance, edibility and (sigh) economics

Most couples have to keep a close eye on the bottom line and that can put a kink in the cake. But being prudent shouldn’t keep you from getting a spectacular cake, says Kory.

While you may need to scale back on some of the more elaborate designs, simplicity can be stunning. It’s all a question of time, she says. A cake with three overlapping layers of piping will cost more because of the time involved. Cakes adorned with sugar flowers will also add up. But, she says, a good cake designer will help you get the cake that you want while staying on budget. “We hate to say no!” she says, adding that she often makes suggestions that keep prices down, and the couple’s happiness up.

Another money saving tip: Opt for a smaller centerpiece cake for the wow-factor and then let your bakery prepare simpler (but still delicious) kitchen cakes for the rest of the guests.

Individual cupcakes are still popular with many brides. They’re less costly, easy to transport, and can be beautiful. “You can still decorate the heck out of a cupcake!” says Kory.

Your wedding cake is the ultimate symbol of wedded bliss: sweet, unique, beautiful and meant to be shared. And, here in Alaska, if you can dream it, you can have it.