"We're definitely seeing a growing trend this year for wedding dessert buffets featuring a collection of different cakes," says Anne Heap, owner of Pink Cake Box. "The buffet might include several different flavors of small cakes, and it might also include in addition to these cakes a variety of mini cupcakes, cake pops, macaroons and other desserts."
Brides and grooms want their guests to enjoy the dessert hour, as well as the wedding itself, and they know that guests look forward to the delicious dessert and pastry options that close out the celebration. Providing multiple types and flavors of cakes allows guests to relish a flavor or flavors of their choice. The cake buffet is an evolution of the traditional Viennese dessert table, a long buffet offering many different types of desserts, from mousses to tarts to petits fours and other items. Now, the trend includes multiple cakes that may be offered in addition to the grand wedding cake.
Selecting Your Cakes
Heap says that while each cake itself has a different flavor and filling combination, all of the cakes are iced and designed in a coordinating color palette. "If the couple choose an ivory, blush pink and gold color combination, we create all of the cakes in those hues," just iced and decorated a bit differently.
The cakes all coordinate and create a cohesive effect, whether it's all-white cakes or a combination of pastels, brights or even dramatic black-and-white cakes to go with a black-and-white wedding theme. (Of course, the color mix could be red and white or yellow and green -- whatever shades you desire.)
As for flavors, Heap says that red velvet is still extremely popular for these cake buffet choices, and "we're also doing a lot of classics like vanilla and chocolate, and other flavors, such as peanut butter and Oreo cakes." Other flavors to consider for cakes are lemon, berry, rum cake, coconut, caramel and passionfruit - all top trends in wedding cake flavors.
Jodi Rhoden, owner of Short Street Cakes and author of "Cake Ladies," says that cakes are being chosen for their regional specialties, like her company's traditional Southern salted caramel cake, paired with a triple chocolate ganache cake. Another big trend is to include a flourless cake for your gluten-free guests, and some couples are including gluten-free cupcakes, as well. Guests are tremendously grateful at the bride and groom's thoughtfulness, so that they can partake in the dessert hour fully.
While vibrant cakes are a trend, Heap says that she's getting many requests for cake buffet selections that fit in with the currently hot wedding themes of "bohemian, romantic, vintage and Victorian," which entail softer blush colors such as pinks and light greens, with decorative icing to suit those particular soft and feminine themes.
Cake buffets are also a trend at bridal showers, which is where the larger move is to vibrantly colored cakes, cupcakes and desserts, such as hot pinks and bright oranges, sunny yellows, and even zebra stripes and polka dots. Whimsical designs such as cakes with slanted layers, creating a topsy-turvy effect, are also popular for bridal showers. For weddings themselves, cakes tend to be more classic and in keeping with the style of the wedding cake itself.
Cake Buffet Display Trends
The display of your cakes will impress your guests simply by the appeal of the cakes themselves - but the way you arrange the cakes on the table adds even more panache. Begin with a high-quality linen tablecloth in a color that coordinates with your chosen cake collection color scheme. For that ivory, blush pink and gold cake variety, the tablecloth may be in any of those colors. Solid colors are best, without stripes or patterns, so that the cakes stand out.
Your cakes may be arranged on uniform-height pedestals or on pedestals of alternating heights (always with a sturdy base for cutting slices without the pedestal falling over). Beneath and around the cakes, your platters of cupcakes, macaroons or cake pops create a sumptuous display.
A must is to pair each cake, as well as other desserts, with attractively designed, color-coordinated, printed labels identifying the flavors and fillings of each. And it has become more popular to alert guests to the presence of any nuts or nut butters in the cake, filling or frosting. A simple, small mention of, "This cake contains nuts and nut products," on the cake-identification card is a smart and safe service to guests. The same indication may be made for gluten-free cakes.
The final touch for the cake buffet table is often a lighting effect. Open-flame candles are not advisable, since guests will be reaching across the table to help themselves to the cake slices and other desserts. So create that glow with LED cubes (which don't conduct heat, preventing cakes and desserts from softening) set on the table itself or in vases. There's no need to decorate this table with flowers, which is a budget-saver and prevents any petals, leaves or especially berries from falling onto or around your desserts.
As a final note, you might choose to have your reception site provide a cake buffet table attendant or two, who can cut cake slices for your guests and keep dessert platters attractive and stocked.