dessert

Naked Cakes Enjoy Popularity at Canadian Weddings
Naked cakes continue to enjoy popularity at Canadian weddings, and may be just the right dessert option for your nuptials.

Naked cakes continue to enjoy popularity at Canadian weddings, and may be just the right dessert option for your nuptials.

How do you feel about naked cakes? Ask engaged couples, food fanatics, and wedding industry insiders, and you’ll likely find folks who either love or loathe them. While some south of the border decry the trend as overdone and trite, others suggest that naked cakes will remain a top choice among Canadian couples. If you’re curious about these unusual treats and are thinking of one for your reception, read on.

A Brief History of Naked Cakes

Jennifer Bain reported in a January 2015 Toronto Star piece that naked cakes (cakes in which the sides are bare) became a top choice for weddings in the Queen City that same summer. Bain traces the genesis of the naked cake trend back to 2008, where the treat debuted in New York City at Milk Bar’s grand opening. After chef Christina Tosi invented the confection, it was embraced by foodie culture and eventually crossed the border into Canada.

Brides writer Gabriella Rello adds that naked cakes first hit mainstream American bakeries in 2013. As more establishments added them to their menus, demand for these low-fi desserts slowly increased. American actress Angelina Jolie boosted their popularity when she opted for a naked cake at her August 2014 wedding to Brad Pitt. These treats quickly made the top trends and ideas lists of several major wedding publications between 2014 and 2016. They became a frequent sight at weddings, especially those with rustic, bohemian, or casual themes.

Perhaps due to the common tendency for trends to become trite, 2016 saw a hatred for naked cakes that was just as spirited as the initial fervor for them. In a September 2016 Country Living article, Lyndsey Matthews cited several reasons for this backlash. She opined that the trend had run its course, then pointed to both sloppy execution and their tendency to dry out as her rationale for agreeing with the haters. Even the U.S. version of Wedding Wire said “See ya” to naked cakes, rolling out new cake trends south of the border for 2019.

To Bare or Not To Bare? Key Factors To Consider

Despite the detractors, Wedding Wire Canada’s Alice Prendergast speculates that naked cakes may still be popular choices at Canadian nuptials in 2019. She suggests that they could take on new dimensions in looks and taste, elevated by elements that infuse new aesthetics and flavors. Prendergast mentions a few ideas for kicking your cake up a few notches:

  • Dripped glaze over the top and sides
  • Out-of-the-ordinary decorations
  • Incorporating multiple cake flavors
  • Playing with complementary or contrasting colors

As both Country Living’s Lyndsey Matthews and Brides writer Gabriella Rello point out, naked cakes are at a higher risk of drying out due to the lack of exterior frosting. However, the “nearly-nude” versions avert some of this risk with a very thin layer of frosting on their surfaces. Meanwhile, Lucie Loves to Bake discusses a few other factors that will impact your planning if you select a naked wedding cake. First, your confection will need to be assembled and decorated at the venue, since it can’t be transported in its finished state. Secondly, delivery and assembly should occur as close to your meal as possible. Finally, naked cakes melt more easily in hot weather and have a greater tendency to attract unwanted insects.

Are Naked Cakes Here To Stay?

Depending on who you ask, naked cakes are either the best wedding trend du jour or a tired and overrated fad that’s run its course. Nevertheless, adventurous new takes on this delectably bare dessert may help continue their popularity at Canadian weddings. If you decide a naked cake’s right for your event, plan accordingly and shop for a trustworthy baker who can deliciously and flawlessly execute your vision.

 

 

For a Unique Wedding Cake Option, Try a Croquembouche
A French Croquembouche can be a delicious alternative to a traditional wedding cake.

A Croquembouche can be a unique wedding cake option.

With the number of French contributions to our culture, you probably won’t be surprised to find a croquembouche at a Canadian wedding. However, you might not be familiar with the history, details and preparation behind these fascinating pastry desserts. Whether you’ve adopted a French theme for your festivities or just want a different type of wedding cake for your reception, this delightful tower of goodness might be just right for your crowd.

Origins in 19th Century France 

While much of Canada was still under British rule, a young Parisian baker began crafting a pastry creation that would become his enduring legacy. In January 2017, the U.S. media network National Public Radio website published a piece on legendary French chef Marie-Antoine Carême, the famed inventor of the croquembouche. Born to an impoverished family around 1783 or 1784, he was presumably orphaned by social turmoil resulting from the French revolution. Carême began working in a Paris kitchen at the age of eight, and by the time he was 15 years old, he’d landed a position as an apprentice to top-rated pastry chef Sylvain Bailly.

As Carême honed his craft during his late teen years, Bailly regularly displayed Carême’s stunningly elaborate pastries in his bakery shop window. By the late 1700s, this young sensation had fashioned a tower of small, round cream puffs called “choux” festooned with spun sugar. A recipe for this dessert, which he called a croquembouche, was published in his 1815 cookbook “Le Pâtissier royal parisien.” Meanwhile, Carême continued to rise to culinary stardom, designing lavish, beautiful sweets for the likes of Napoleon, Russia’s Czar Alexander I and prince regent George IV of England.

The Croquembouche in the Modern World

While there are many modern variations on this delicious pastry, they still follow the same basic format: a tall mountain of cream puffs covered in spun sugar and other wonderful edibles. You’ll probably have no difficulty finding bakers in any province to supply one for your special day, and it’s an appropriate wedding cake for many types of wedding themes. Wedding Bells Magazine showcased a French vintage matrimonial affair in a 2012 piece on its website, adding that the couple chose a croquembouche to add a delicate grandeur to their festivities.

If you think that such a spectacular wedding cake should get its own entrance and fanfare, you’re absolutely right. In fact, contributor Kim Petyt on The Good Life France blog revealed that a croquembouche is usually not presented until dessert time. With the lights dimmed and celebratory music playing, guests typically begin chanting “Le gateau! Le gateau!” as the star of the hour is brought out to the dining hall while decorated in small, sizzling fireworks. Once the display is over, the staff serves each guest three or four of the sweet, creamy choux to enjoy.

Flavorful Possibilities Abound

In both exterior decorative touches and inner fillings, the croquembouche presents a wide variety of lovely flavors. Traditionally, each choux contains vanilla-bourbon crème in the center. Nevertheless, bakeries offer several popular filling choices which can include favorites such as caramel and chocolate, or less common tastes like rose, pistachio or orange blossom. Besides spun sugar or pastel-tinted icing, a croquembouche wedding cake can be decked out in sugared almonds, chocolate, candied ribbons or even edible flowers.

A Delicious Wedding Cake Idea for Your Nuptial Affair 

The croquembouche is a distinctive and delightful wedding cake that offers a complex combination of aesthetics, French culture and flavor. Its name appropriately translates to “crunch in the mouth,” and your guests will enjoy the taste and texture of this now-classic sweet treat. Add to that the customary celebratory fanfare with which it’s presented during your festivities, and your croquembouche will certainly be a memorable part of your wedding day.