I remember (as a child) not really noticing the cake at weddings until I heard the DJ/MC start singing "Hi-ho the derry-o, the bride cuts the cake..." (to the tune of "the Farmer in the Dell") and saw a tall tiered cake, held by plastic columns, come rolling out. Was that even a real thing? Do you know what I'm talking about? I asked some friends today if they had ever heard that song played at weddings and they looked at me like I was making it up. But I do remember this as a real thing. Thankfully, the coffin has been nailed shut on that wedding tradition.
Today the cake is the center piece of the wedding rather than the final course. Wedding cakes come in all colors, designs, shapes, and sizes. They have become artistic expressions of the couples interests, an extension of their wedding theme, or a mimic of the wedding gown design. Wedding cakes are given center stage from the outset of the event, not simply rolled out after dinner. Cake makers aren't merely bakers but rather artists who have found an edible, artistic medium.
I recently found City Sweets & Confections in my search for NYC's best cakes. Baker, Deborah Lauren, was nice enough to speak with me over the phone and then invite me to her brand new studio in the Lower West Side for a cake tasting. The former graphic designer finds it amusing to be called a baker even though she has been in the business for over a decade. She considers herself more of an artist, as she rightfully is. But, in spite of her huge popularity, she has a down-to-earth personality that I was drawn to instantly. It is no surprise that she is such a huge success.
City Sweets has been featured in Brides Magazine, Life & Style Magazine, Inside Weddings, Bridal Guide and People magazine (where her cake for Alec Baldwin took center stage).
During our conversation, I asked Deborah about the growing trends she enjoys most in the wedding business. Among them she mentioned the metallic cakes that are widely seen today. (The gold metallic wedding cake below won her America's Most Beautiful Cake in 2011)
City Sweets is the perfect marriage of wonderful taste and artistic design. Deborah believes in the individuality of the cakes she makes. She won't copy the work of any other cake maker. She will meet with the couple and discuss the wedding to get a clear image of what the event will be like. She wants to know about the couple's wedding attire, their colors, the flowers, the design, the overall theme. But it doesn't just stop there! She may also ask you about your home furnishings or your fashion style. All of these factors go into the design of the cake she will make just for you.
Deborah really enjoys the high tiers that are being requested these days; as well as the modern, geometric designs that are a growing trend. She described the "less flowery, more contemporary" designs as her favorite.
One of the most appealing things about City Sweets was not simply the beautiful design of her cakes but also the attention to taste. Ironically, this is commonly overlooked. I tasted the most amazing cake ever at her studio. The flavors were clearly distinct. The texture was light and fluffy. The icing was creamy with the perfect sweetness. City Sweets has an entire page on their website set aside to flavors. Couples can choose from over 50 tasty combinations of cakes, frostings and fillings. Deborah and her team bake their cakes only two days before the event. She promises her couples that their wedding cake will taste just as good as their cupcakes did at their tasting.
She enjoys working with high quality European fondant. This allows her to create the vast array of embossed and gilded work she is so famous for.
And let's talk about high quality a minute. I was so impressed with the quality of all her ingredients. She doesn't use food coloring in her red velvet cake. Do you know how great that is? Honestly, I am a health nut and I haven't had a red velvet cake in YEARS because of the RED #40. I just loved it!
My favorite flavor cake, for the record, was the champagne. And close for second was the chai.
In meeting Deborah, I was struck by her sincerity. She loves what she does. She was kind enough to spend time speaking to me about her lovely website, her growing business, and her yummy cakes. And then she took the time to ask all about my new business venture. She gave me advice and introduced me to people she thought I should know. I sincerely appreciate her hospitality and her time. What a gem!
You can find City Sweets here.
For the Love of Weddings...
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