Here comes the wedding cake

michelle.jpgI’ve had my cake. And eaten it too.

But ask me anything about my own wedding cake, other than the fact that I had one, and things get a little foggy. It was white and covered with flowers. I think. As custom dictates, wesaved the top tier for our first anniversary, tucked into the deep freeze. Then forgot about for 8 hours in a hot car and ended up throwing it into the San Francisco Bay, thinking it symbolized something profound (actually it just tasted too freezer burnt to eat). If I only knew.

Eleven years later, one divorce, two kids, and a “life partner” (we’re still working on the verbage) later, the whole idea of picking out a wedding cake seems terribly charming. Maybe a little silly. But for so many blushing brides, it’s as symbolic as picking the right bridesmaids and the perfect dress — an integral part of the perfectly planned day.


oliverscake.jpgWhich may be why Wine Country has a booming wedding cake industry.
High-end bakeries like Auntie B’s, Michele Marie’s, Costeaux and
Patisserie Angelica can make upwards of 450 wedding cakes each year,
with August and September their busiest months. They’re not the only
ones getting into the action. Oliver’s has an in-house bakery that
makes haute wedding cakes that rival the fanciest patisseries at a
fraction of the cost. And hip brides know that a multi-tiered highrise
of cupcakes are all the rage as alterna-desserts
.

So here I sit alone in my kitchen with 10 bakery boxes full of wedding
cake samples, a fork and a tall glass of milk ready to dive in once
again. Just for fun. No perfectly planned day to fret over and plan. No
guest list to figure out or dress to fit into. Just the simple pleasure
of contendedly savoring slice after slice of buttercream-frosted
happiness.

Best bets for Sonoma County wedding cakes…

Patisserie Angelica: Simple to exotic flavors made from some of the
best stuff on earth. White cake with Sharffen Berger chocolate;
Tahitian vanilla bean cake with French buttercream; coconut cake with
passion fruit curd; lemon zest cake with organic Meyer lemon crud or
tiramisu cake with ground hazelnuts, espresso, Kahlua and brandy with
whipped mascarpone filling. Truly haute, European-inspired cakes that
taste as good as they look. 6821 Laguna Park Way, Sebastopol,
707.827.7998.

Michelle Marie’s Patisserie: A favorite of many Wine Country brides,
this Santa Rosa bakery consistently makes some of the best-tasting
cakes around. Although it may look cute, skip the fondant and go for
flavor with their decadent buttercream frosted buttermilk cream cake
filled with raspberries, strawberries and blueberries. Or a French
Vanilla fudge cake with raspberry preserves and whipped ganache. 2404
Magowan Drive, Santa Rosa, (707) 575-1214.

Oliver’s Market: This ain’t no grocery store cake. Using real butter,
cream and fruit, this local market has a stellar in-house bakery that
can customize any of their dozen-or-so flavored cakes (carrot, white
chocolate raspberry mousse, passion fruit or German chocolate) into a
wedding-worthy dessert. Affordable without looking (or tasting) cheap.
560 Montecito Center, Santa Rosa, 537.7123; 461 Stony Point Road, Santa
Rosa, 284-3530; 546 East Cotati Ave., Cotati, 795-9501.

costeaux.jpgCosteaux French Bakery: Elegant, classic cakes that can be customized
all kinds of ways to match your taste. Standouts include Grand Marnier
cream cheese frosting on a poppy seed rum cake (with raspberry conserve
and fresh raspberries); Swiss butter cream chiffon; whipped cream
topped vanilla cake stuffed with strawberries or chocolate truffle –
just to start. 417 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg, 707.433.1913.

Fleur de Lisa: A small, intimate bakery with creativity to spare. Lisa
Marie Kincaid’s cakes are stunning to look at, but inside are
tastebud-popping flavors like Victorian vanilla cake layered with white
chocoalte cream cheese and raspberry puree; lemon poppy seed cake with
cream cheese and lemon curd; dark chocolate devil’s food cake with
espresso butter cream and chocolate mousse; ginger spice cake with
cinnamon cream cheese filling or white cake layered with coconut
pineapple filling. Lisa’s also a whiz with themed groom cakes. 463
Sebastopol Avenue, Santa Rosa, (707) 544-5581. By appointment only.

Auntie B’s: Yes, there really is an Auntie B and she’s been baking
bridal cakes for nearly two decades. Light, fluffy chiffon cake filled
with everything from champagne custard to lemon curd, raspberry mousse
and Italian rum custard. 3279 Dutton Ave., Santa Rosa, 707-584-4269.

cupcake.jpgSift Cupcakery: Personalized little cupcakes in all kinds of funky
flavors — red velvet, key lime, raspberry champagne, chocolate and a
whole bunch of others. Cupcakes can be served individually or placed on
a multi-tiered stand to mimic a more traditional wedding cake. The
bakery can customize colors, flavors and themes — including doing some
saucier cupcakes for bridal showers or groom cakes. Just plain fun.
7582 Commerce Blvd., Cotati, 707-792-1681 and now in Napa, 1000 Main
St., Napa, 707.240.4004.

Penelope Jane: Napa wedding cakes as cute as the name. Owner Penelope Jane Orsini is known throughout the valley for her tasty tarts, cupcakes and and cakes, which sell at Sunshine Foods and Dean & Deluca in St. Helena — a good way to test the merchandise. (707) 292-2282, penelopejane.com.

Sweetie Pies: It’s one thing for a wedding cake to look good, but making these elaborate creations taste good is truly an art.  The pastry chefs as this popular downtown Napa bake shop spend plenty of time making everything from brownies and mini cakes to breakfast pastries, cookies and whoopie pies, so when it comes to special event cakes, there’s no shortage of flavor. 520 Main St., Napa, (707) 257-8817.

Perfect Endings: A baker to the stars, this Napa bakery is a personal favorite of Oprah Winfrey. A specialty are “vintage” flavors including coconut, banana, Devil’s food and of course, red velvet. (707) 259-0500, perfectendings.com.

Pair with: Champagne or sparkling wine is the traditional accompaniment
to wedding cake. Gloria Ferrer in Sonoma has recently released a new
ultra cuvee called Va De Vi that’s a great match for the sweetness of
cake.

Looking for a wedding consultant? Thanks to Robbin Montero of A Dream
Wedding for her insight into local wedding cake vendors! 707-579-5886

Related Images:

Author: biteclub

Food Dining and Restaurants in Sonoma County and beyond, BiteClubEats.com is Wine Country dining with Drive-Thru Sensibility.

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44 Comments

  1. I can’t say enough nice things about Michelle Maries patisserie, the staff is incredible and the cakes are absolutely wonderful and the service is always great. michelle maries did my wedding cake, which people still talk about not only because it was beautiful but it was delicious.we get all of our families birthday cakes, anniversary cakes and any other occation cakes we order from michelle maries. they have never let me down. not to mention they did my wedding cake on a 1 week notice… THANK YOU MICHELLE MARIES…

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  2. I own a large wedding plannng company in the wine country and have used Michelle Maries as a cake vendor for over 10 years. I have had nothing but compliments from my brides and their guests, on the quality of the cake and personally have had a wonderful working relationship with them. Kathy always gets back to me and the cakes are delivered on time. I continue to recommend them, with confidence, to our brides.

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  3. My wife and I used Fleur de Lisa and we were extremely impressed by the artistry and flavor of our cake. She made an unbelievably beautiful 3 tiered cake of vanilla, lemon and dark chocolate with a Hawaiian theme. She hand crafted bamboo sticks and Hibiscus flowers out of sugar that were so realistic it blew my mind. After we hired her to make our cake my wife was watching a wedding special on Oprah and there was Lisa handing out cakes she had made with her former employer. Oprah was as impressed as we were :)

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  4. No one who uses our services is ever dissapointed….29 years producing fab. cuisine from the Earth to the table…which more people knew we are available to satisfy their every wedding or event dream….Marta

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  5. Just got a Park Avenue Cake from Michelle Marie’s last week. Unfortunately, it was all dried out and a great disappointment. Not sure what goes on with service there as I waited for quite awhile to be served while the counter person cleaned the cases. Finally she asked if I needed assistance (No, just standing here watching you clean because I have nothinh better to do.) I hope they read the comments and go over basic service with their employees. Used to eat lucnh there but, stopped doing that as the waiters and counter help were neither. I do think their tarts are decent if you get one while it’s still fresh.

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  6. We celebrated my Mom’s 80th Birthday on Saturday with 70 friends and Michelle Marie’s Fruit Basket cake. It’s one of our favorites and people LOVED it!!! We organize many of our gatherings around their special cakes. Who can resist the Chocolate Overload cake during the holidays? And, their marzapan “potato” cake has become a tradition on St. Patrick’s Day. When we want a special treat with no occasion at all, we get one of their eclairs–delicious!!

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  7. We had a very limited budget for our wedding three years ago and used Della Fattoria in Petaluma as our baker. What an amazing cake! We ordered the Tuxedo cake. It cost $231 and fed an army. All my foodie friends remarked on how amazingly good the cake tasted. Even if you’re not getting married, I recommend their fabulous cakes. We picked up the cake ourselves. Everyone was wonderful at Della, they have my undying gratitude. The head pastry chef was fabulous to work with.

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  8. Oh Costeaux… I loved this place and will miss their crab cakes. Unfortunately, they were the only negative thing about my wedding day. I met twice with Marin to design how my cake should look (to match my dress). When the cake arrived, it did not look anything like our design. It was not remotely attractive (had a top and bottom shell border and that was all). She informed me that she ‘thought it looked better without a design on it’. I am a baker as well, and being the bride, was extremely upset. Costeaux sent out another baker to try to fix the cake, but it did not help. I shutter everytime I think about that cake. Awesome tasting carrot cake though!

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  9. The best cake you can possibly eat would be by Pattycakes. Patty makes a cake that there is not a crumb left. No one can outdo Patty Forget.

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  10. Michelle’s Corner Cakes in Santa Rosa is my fave! A delightful, professional woman who makes delicious, gorgeous cakes. Michelle is easy to work with, prompt & affordable. You can’t go wrong!

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  11. Costeaux French Bakery served a frozen/raw cake to my wedding guests. I can’t see this article posted and not make mention of my disastrous wedding cake. The details on our cake also looked amateur. They did refund the cost but I spent the money wanting a good cake for my wedding guests, not the leather chair that I bought with the refund.

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  12. That was a glaring typo…should be lemon curd.
    Also a typo I imagine was bitter cream (butter cream)

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  13. Hi. Thank you for your kind reply. I love your column and use your advice regularly because after living nearly 40 years in Sebastopol, I need new places to have fun and food. And speaking of wedding cake, my same-sex spouse and I are ordering up a “new wedding cake” to celebrate our 30th anniversary in three weeks. So we like your advice! In fact, we are such fans of wedding cake per se that we have several times stopped in at wedding cake shops and asked to buy any “unclaimed wedding cake.” On one occasion, the clerk looked at us and said, “There is no such thing as unclaimed wedding cake.” It says a great thing about wedding cake. If the wedding falls through, cake is the great consolation prize.

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  14. Totally agree with the poster below. Sweet Expectations is a great local baker (Carolyn Besse) with a wonderful TASTING cake. She also made my daughter’s birthday cake which was so wonderful.
    http://www.yoursweetexpectations.com/

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  15. “bitter cream” is also an amusing description of a wedding cake :-)

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  16. For all planning weddings I wouldn’t use Ellington Hall. They by far were the worst part of my wedding. We were married the day before and only used them for our recpiton party. 4 years later I am still upset by the way the handled our wedding. After having many metting with David and Circle, many hours spent to planning and a time line of the day, they didn’t do anything we wanted!!! In fact neither of them were even at their hall on the day. We were never told that they wouldn’t be there. Their staff didn’t follow any of the time line and severed our DINNER at 4pm, WTF!!!! None of the songs we wanted were played which meant none of our dances were done. After crying the day of and being upset I tried to call David and Circle (the onwers) but they didn’t even return my calls!!! DON’T USE ELLINING HALL!!! Not worth your money, time or tears.
    I know this was about cake but just wanted to vent the worst part of my wedding.

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  17. Your right! I have a right to my opinion too! Me thinks thou doth protest too much!

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  18. Michelle Marie’s did a great job with my cake in 2007. I am a former professional pastry chef, and couldn’t stand the thought of making my own or running around tasting cakes. I asked for simple & delicious for 80 people, and that’s what I got. I picked the flavors, and they decorated it with extra flowers I brought in from DeVoto’s in Sebastopol (they did my flowers-beautiful). I’ve never had a bad experience with Michelle Marie’s, and I am a regular, but not especially frequent or spendy, customer.

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  19. Recently, Michelle Marie’s made a 3 tiered 50th birthday cake for my (step) Mother-in-Law. The cake was “good” it was decorated very nicely, but oh my… the Michelle Marie’s staff was horrible. They seemed very put-off and bothered by my $200.00 order. We used to go to Auntie B’s regularly.. don’t know why I changed bakers for this event, but I did. Auntie B’s is consistant & friendly no matter how big or small the occasion. I’m throwing a HUGE graduation party for my daughter, and I will be calling Auntie B’s this time!

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  20. lemon crud is very funny in a wedding cake description! :)

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  21. ORH – You really should go away, you are an idiot. People have a right to their opinion – and you need to get over yourself. This blog is about informing people, and that is all they are doing. You think someone hired all those people to rip on Michelle Marie’s? Seriously – go away.

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  22. We used Auntie B’s for our wedding recently and both the groom and I couldn’t B any happier…the most delicious cake (white chiffon with lemon curd and rasperry mousse, yum!). The cake was fresh, moist, delicious, and perfectly decorated. Many guests commented on just how delicious it was. Michelle Marie’s cakes can be dry I’ve noticed from past orders of regular cakes there.

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  23. We used Auntie B’s for our wedding recently and both the groom and I couldn’t B any happier…the most delicious cake (white chiffon with lemon curd and rasperry mouse, yum!). The cake was fresh, moist, delicious, and perfectly decorated. Many guests commented on just how delicious it was. Michelle Marie’s cakes can be dry I’ve noticed from past orders of regular cakes there.

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  24. On wednesday we went Auntie B’s for a tasting and fell in love !! i cant wait till our wedding and actually have a cake i am sure everyone will love !

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  25. While at the Wedding Expo in January with my mom (who is getting remarried next year! ^_^) our favorite cake vendor was Sweet Expectations. They had a lemon poppyseed cake with cream cheese frosting that was TO DIE! Oh so delicious. When we went back around after trying everyone out, they had this really great chocolate cake, can’t remember what else was with it though.

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  26. I would second Natalie’s raves about Judy Giorgi’s wedding cakes! She took the time to get to know us, worked well with the other vendors, and delivered a cake that was beautiful, fresh and delicious!

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  27. I loved my cake from Auntie B’s too! She delivered it perfectly, was easy to work with, kept it simple, delicious, reasonably priced. Would highly recommend!

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  28. ORH – I cannot speak for others who have complained on here but Michelle Marie’s was the only one of my wedding vendors to disappoint me; the others exceeded my expectations by leaps and bounds. I was quite satisfied with everyone else’s service from start to finish.

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  29. Looks like you missed an awesome cake maker – Judy Giorgi of Giorgi’s Wedding Cakes in Windsor… http://www.giorgisweddingcakes.com/
    She made our wedding cake and it was beautiful and delicious as well! We were married 10 years ago in June and the cake still remains one of the highlights of our day!

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  30. Auntie B’s is awesome! She has done a couple of wedding for us, and my parent’s 50th anniversary.

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  31. Thanks jack. You are totally right. All I can say is that no matter who you’re marrying make sure you both like the cake. It’s a deal breaker for me if they don’t like bittercream

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  32. I would highly recommend Michelle Marie’s for any special occasion cake. My daughter’s wedding cake was made by them. Not only was it incredibly elegant, it was incredibly tasty. We have all been to that wedding where the cake looked wonderful and tasted like greasy cardboard. That will never happen at Michelle Marie’s. To those who are complaining. I’m sure you are never satisfied anywhere! How sad. Maybe your karma is following you!

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  33. Michelle Marie’s has terrible service in general. Their food/pastries may be tasty, but when you pay a premium for a danish or sweet, it’s nice to have it served on something other than a PAPER PLATE – tacky!! The people who work there are often rude. I don’t go there anymore because of the paper plates and the service…

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  34. Please! Just a question of sensitivity. Why is this article written as if only women (brides as mentioned) pick out cakes when, even during this “Period of Prop H8,” the wedding industry economy in Sonoma County is boosted by so many men in same-sex ceremonies—where cake is served.

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  35. We were married seven years ago this May, and family and friends still bring up how much they enjoyed our wedding cake! We can’t recommend Auntie B’s enough– the whole process of selecting and ordering the cake was a pleasure, and the delivery was perfect and as agreed. Her wedding cakes are truly delicious (we had three cakes with chocolate, rum, and lemon), so we have made it our family custom to get our childrens birthday cakes from her bakery as a way to relive our happy memories. Thanks “B”!

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  36. For my wedding I used Michelle’s Custom Cakes (not Michele Marie’s). She is very well priced, wonderful tasting cakes. We only had one sit down and did the rest via email. The cake was perfect, and I had many compliments on it. I even ended up getting a mini version for our 1 year anniversary, which Michelle again did…it was just as good as the original.
    She’s wonderful to work with, works out of her home in Santa Rosa which keeps the price down. I highly recommend her!!!

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  37. Michele Maries is s wondeful bakery though my sister in law’s wedding cake was a total miss. The process of mulitple comsultations was tedious and my sister in law stil left both consults feeling like she was being treated like a ignorant child in regards to design choices. The cake arrived at the wedding on time and had wonderful flavor.
    I hope that Michele Maries can learn from the comments here, and maybe assist the brides to be in feeling like their design choices are celebrated, not critiqued.

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  38. We had a white-chocolate-covered cheesecake from Rosens in Petaluma (famous cheesecake provider to Frank Sinatra). They provided raspberry sauce for the side. I’m not a white chocolate fan, but this cake was so much better than any wedding cake I’ve ever had. My extended family is still talking about it, 7+ years later. Rosens made three sizes to make a tiered presentation. We picked it up frozen in the morning, my friend who did the flowers decorated it beautifully with violets, and by early afternoon, the cake was perfect for eating. A huge success.

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  39. I got my wedding cake from Costeaux. It looked and tasted fabulous. And, they were a pleasure to work with. I’d recommend them.

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  40. I start my day laughing with the blog “Cake Wrecks: When Professional Cakes Go Horribly, Hilariously Wrong” at: http://cakewrecks.blogspot.com/ . It seems only fitting that I share the URL with everyone, especially those who have been disappointed with their professional cakes. On Sunday, they feature “unwreck” cakes that are spectacular examples of the baker’s art.

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  41. I’m with you anon! My wedding cake from michelle marie’s was late! And when my mother in law called to find out, we were told they were already there with the cake…yeah because we have nothing better to do that day! We finally get the cake, an hour and a half after we were supposed to…and the cake tasted like it had been in the freezer. My MIL had gotten a costco cake for me just in case and decorated it herself, and it looked and tasted so much better than my $300 for 20 people cake. I will never recommend michelle marie.

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  42. I only had one wedding vendor who disappointed me and it was Michelle Marie’s. Two days before my wedding, after two in-person consultations, they still did not have my very simple order written down correctly. Further, when I tried to correct the order that day, I was treated like a child and patronized with a pat on the head (not kidding). Then the cake was delivered to the wedding site and it was still wrong; a couple of quick-thinking bridesmaids were able to camouflage it so that I didn’t notice and get upset on my wedding day. I sure wish my first choice, Auntie B’s, hadn’t been on vacation during the time I had my wedding. I will never recommend Michelle Marie’s to anyone.

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  43. All those wedding cakes to sample – feeling very envious! They look great, makes me want to get married again ;O)

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