Here comes the wedding cake
Wednesday, April 29th, 2009
I’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.
Which 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
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,
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 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.
Sift 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
Looking for a wedding consultant? Thanks to Robbin Montero of A Dream
Wedding for her insight into local wedding cake vendors! 707-579-5886