When was the last time you celebrated something without a cake being involved? You will probably have to think really hard to find an example. Well, I couldn’t think of any event, but that could also be because I just need an excuse to eat cake. I eat cake for my pet bird’s birthday too!
Jokes aside, it is has become very common to expect a cake at a birthday party, wedding, anniversary, or a work-related event. And in the past, ordering a cake was just a matter of picking the best-looking one from the limited range that a bakery offered on any given day. I remember memorizing the day when a particular bakery had cakes fresh out of the oven. This was just so that I could avoid buying a soggy and syrupy cake.
But things have changed now. Almost everything is measured in terms of their Instagram or Facebook worthiness. And this trend has inadvertently driven up the demand for themed or designer cakes. Besides, for those who binge-watch shows like Master Chef, Cake Boss, and the Great British bake-off, the idea of having a cake customized in terms of design and flavor is very appealing.
Just like any other art form, a designer cake gives us an outlet to express ourselves. So, the next time you are invited to an event, pay close attention to the cake. In all probability, the cake will be a close reflection of the host’s personal style.
Occasions that are perfect for themed cakesThemed or designer cakes have been a rage for a while now. And they have become more accessible thanks to the rise of specialized home and professional bakers who view cake designs as an art form. And customization requests from customers have become very creative. While the pandemic and the lockdown that followed affected baking businesses to a large extent, celebrations of various kinds have picked up, although at a smaller scale. The easiest way to make any occasion special, especially when it is virtual, is through customized cakes.
Wedding and anniversary cakesCake from Pragati's Signature Cake Lounge
The coronavirus might have changed a lot of things in our life, but the one thing it hasn’t dampened is our spirit of celebration. I remember a couple in my acquaintance who celebrated their wedding anniversary in the initial days of the lockdown. Since they couldn’t have a big bash, they opted to order a cake that was a coronavirus joke. The home baker who made the cake did a tremendous job on the cake, skillfully adding in a visual representation of the virus, mask, and sanitizers, making it a delight to look at and taste.
In certain countries, it is normal to deep-freeze the wedding cake and defrost it for anniversaries. However, with numerous design options to choose from and an abundance of bakers who do a fabulous job, every anniversary can be made special through designer cakes. Don’t you agree?
Weddings are probably one of those occasions where I have witnessed creative cakes. Most of the cakes I have seen reflected the wedding colors, personalities of the couple, décor, and costumes. For example, at a rustic outdoor themed wedding, the couple had a stunning two-tiered naked cake mounted on a wooden board. Another couple wanted to show their love for cars and had a topper that featured a car on a tiered cake. A bride who wanted to showcase her color scheme had a three-tiered cake with a cascading pattern that resembled the train of her dress.
One wedding stands out in my mind for a creative gesture that the host did with cupcakes. The host made us raise a toast to the couple, not with champagne but with cake. We were given a decadent chocolate cupcake with blue icing and an elaborate chocolate design that tied really well with the décor in the hall. That is what you would call a delicious and sweet gesture.
Covid-19 and weddings
With restrictions on the number of guests that can be invited to a wedding and rules about food hygiene, there is a new trend emerging at weddings. The main wedding cake has gotten smaller in most cases, but there is a second cake which is meant just for the guests. While some prefer cupcakes since they are easier to handle and distribute, having a second wedding cake gives couples an opportunity to allow people to share in their wedding cake.
Birthday cakes and smash cakesCar themed birthday cake from Fresh Bakes by Meera
Birthdays were probably one of the first occasions to go virtual. The one good thing about virtual celebrations is that it has given rise to a lot of innovative cake designs. It has become common these days for parents to either bake or order customized cakes, including smash cakes, to make a birthday special for their children.
From generic themes to Marvel and cartoon character-themed cakes, I think I have seen it all on my Instagram feed. Don’t get me wrong. I love cakes that feature Elsa and Anna from Frozen, Peppa pig, or even Hulk bursting out of a wall. But every time I see a themed cake, it makes me wonder if the person celebrating found it hard to cut into an intricately yet beautifully designed cake.
Does cake really need an occasion?
Themed cake from Riya Sethi's Cakeamour
Thankfully, it’s acceptable to order cake even when there is no proper reason. Even so, having a themed cake for an occasion other than birthdays and weddings is new to me. And I’m loving this trend. Recently a group of friends celebrated their favorite football team’s victory by ordering a customized cake that featured the team’s jersey and players. Now, that is a very random excuse to have cake. But I bet it meant a lot to the people celebrating their team.
What does it take to make a customized cake?Having spoken so much about themed cakes, I had to pause and ponder on what it takes to bake a customized cake that can be proudly displayed. I am a decent enough baker who enjoys baking for my family. But I still balk if someone requests for frosting, and I am terrified of showing my work to anyone.
A look at the creations of different bakers made me realize that making a designer cake requires innate creativity and skill that only comes with practice. A baker needs to know how to mount a tiered cake, design each element with precision, put everything together, and have it standing without falling apart. Besides, a baker should be able to manage time, know how to work with fondants and different types of frosting, and understand how ingredients react to temperature and climate.
Why home bakers are a great choiceRainbow themed cake from Kavita Gupta's Creative Cookery Classes
When this pandemic started and the lockdown was enforced, bakers, both commercial and professional, were heavily affected. Businesses shut down as events were canceled or postponed indefinitely. But there was a silver lining for home bakers. With more and more people focusing on hygiene and added rules on food preparation and distribution, home bakers had an advantage since hygiene was already their strong suit.
Unlike commercial large-scale bakers, a home baker can personally guarantee that the ingredients used in a cake are of the highest quality. Also, since every cake is customizable, it invariably means that the cake you get is freshly baked. Additionally, aspects such as workspace cleanliness, careful storage and handling, and even safe delivery are personally guaranteed by the baker.
Shortages, shutdowns, and containmentsNow, bakers were not immune to the challenge that came with the shortage of ingredients like flour, baking soda, baking powder, yeast, and other baking essentials. Or the hurdle of delivering cakes to containment zones or attempting a no-contact delivery. However, it’s great to see home bakers overcome this challenge and move forward boldly. This might just be the era of home bakers.
Have you ordered a themed cake yet?Sometime last year, I wanted to bake a rainbow cake for a niece, and I looked up every video I could find on this topic. I recall watching an episode on a popular cooking show where the contestants stumbled while attempting to make a five-colored rainbow cake. Although it looked simple on the show, I realized how harder it was to bake one myself. And so, my appreciation goes out to every baker that has mastered the art of making designer cakes.
If you happen to be one of those who has never ordered a themed cake, now is the time to make a change. Visit Bakehoney.com to find a baker and order a customized cake from the numerous options available. Happy eating!