Emily from Lael Cakes sheds some light on choosing the perfect wedding cake + learn how to make marzipan
While the couple may be the centerpiece of the wedding itself, it’s the wedding cake that often takes center stage when it comes to the decorations. Whether tiered, naked, adorned with flowers, or not even a cake at all (here’s looking at you, pie and cupcake lovers), the wedding cake and dessert table acts as a mini-representation of the wedding itself, featuring the couple’s chosen color scheme, signature flowers, and of course, the wedding cake topper. The cake mirrors the couple’s tastes — vanilla… chocolate… lemon… — and the options are endless when it comes to flavor and embellishment, so it’s understandable that the process of choosing a cake flavor and design can be daunting. To shed some light on the process, we turned to FP fave Emily Lael Aumiller, pastry chef and founder of Lael Cakes (you may remember the stunning naked cake Emily created for us last year).
In the 365-or-so days since we last spoke with Emily, she’s been very, very busy having just released her first cookbook where she shares her tricks of the trade on baking with alternative ingredients. To celebrate, she created several stunning dessert tables using techniques from the book. Learn how to create gorgeous vegan and gluten-free cakes for weddings and beyond that are not only made with wholesome ingredients but taste amazing, too. Whether it’s due to allergies, lifestyle or simply the desire to create something special for friends and family, Emily’s book will give you the tools that you need to create a truly beautiful confection. Pure Artistry: Extraordinary Vegan and Gluten-Free Cakes includes recipes for staple cakes (like Mexican Chocolate, Lemon-Poppy, and Classic Red Velvet) plus icings and fondant, how-tos on cake construction, and information on necessary ingredients and tools.
Cake expert that she is, today Emily is sharing her tips for choosing the perfect cake to represent your special day, along with a recipe for marzipan that you can use to decorate everything from a wedding cake to a casual batch of cupcakes. Take it away, Emily…
Emily’s thoughts on choosing a cake for your special day:
Choose a baker who you can really get behind — their ingredients, design aesthetics… someone that you genuinely vibe with. Remember that the yummy cake tucked away behind the pretty design is equally as important. Find a bakery that offers tastings — the best part of planning any event, so I hear. Over your tasting you’ll sample delicious cakes, meet the person behind the apron, flip through inspirational photos and dream up a beautifully decadent cake.
When choosing cake flavors, don’t worry about that great aunt who may turn her nose to the thought of offering anything but your traditional vanilla on vanilla or that distant cousin who has just about every allergy. You’re not going to please everyone — and most importantly it’s your party, your day, your cake. I always recommend offering a variety of cake flavor combinations, this way your guests will have an option to choose from (and just be sure to notify those with allergies if they’ll be present).
When it comes to the design, let your baker do their thing. Let them know what you’re drawn to — whether it’s naked layers, rustic icing, smooth fondant, square tiers, fresh flowers, chocolate drips or gold accents, they’ll take cues from what your style is and create something completely unique for you. I’ve found that when I work with clients that give me the creative reigns, the outcome is always something completely out of this world. And just remember to have fun with the process—it is cake, after all!
This marzipan is so delicious you’ll find yourself eating it by the spoonful while you’re making it. I do, at least. Since almonds are very versatile and pair nicely with citrus or floral notes, I add a splash of orange blossom water or rose water for something extra special and unique.
If you’re looking for an interactive project for you and your children in the kitchen, working with marzipan is it. They’ll have a blast molding, rolling, and decorating. It’s great for covering cakes or sculpting simple figures, animals, and fruit decorations. Marzipan is a good alternative to fondant for simple decorations and handles dyes nicely as well.
Marzipan is a wonderful material for sculpting simple fruit shapes such as peaches, apples, carrots, lemons, and oranges. It takes on a spongy texture that resembles natural fruit, vegetable, or citrus. When you’re done with your sculpture, take a wooden skewer and pierce a hole through the axis that either goes all the way through or only three-quarters of the way through, depending on the item. This will assist in drying the sculpture completely from the inside out. Let dry on a fruit crate for at least 2 days.
How to Make Marzipan
Makes about 2 3/4 cups | 661 grams
3 cups | 440 grams skinned, slivered almonds
1 1/2 cups | 210 g unbleached powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 cup | 60 ml water
1 teaspoon vegetable glycerin
1 teaspoon orange blossom water (rose water works great too)
1/4 teaspoon almond oil or extract
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Pinch of fine sea salt
1. Use a food processor to pulse the almonds into a powder.
2. Add the powdered sugar to the food processor and pulse for about 1 minute, until a fine flour forms but does not clump.
3. Transfer the almond mixture to a bowl and create a well in the center. Set aside.
4. In a separate bowl, combine the water, glycerin, orange blossom water, almond oil, lemon juice, and salt.
5. Pour the wet mixture into the almond–powdered sugar well, and stir with a rubber spatula until a paste forms.
6. Place the wet paste on a surface dusted with a generous amount of powdered sugar and knead until a dough forms. If the dough appears sticky, add more powdered sugar while kneading.
7. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about 1 to 2 hours before using. For longer storage, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3 to 6 months.
Watch Emily’s recipe in action here!
Cakes: Emily Lael Aumiller @ Lael Cakes
Photography: CLY BY MATTHEW
Video: Larissa Lax
Event Planning/Styling/Florals: Jiyun Park