Searching for a contemporary design for your wedding cake? Look no further. We've pulled together some of the most contemporary and chic cakes.
Sometimes the simplest techniques produce the most striking effects, as is the case with these single tiers topped with cocoa-powder initials (his, hers, and theirs). A fairly dense cake, such as a pound cake or vegetable-oil-based cake, works best to provide an even surface to stencil, as does turning the flat bottom of the cake top-side. We glazed our Chocolate-Cherry-Stout Cake with a cornstarch-based chocolate glaze. Once the glaze hardened, the stencils (available from Designer Stencils) were applied, and cocoa powder dusted on.
Chill out before your big day by making these delightful sorbet bombes. All you need is a mixer to soften the sorbet and a metal container -- or four (you can use cake molds and a vase to get these shapes). Once the sorbet is smooth in consistency, spoon it into the containers (for visual flair, layer different flavors), and freeze overnight. At your wedding, just slice and serve! Lemon, peach, coconut, and pink grapefruit sorbets are showcased in our versions, but you could easily substitute ice cream.
Faux bois, French for "fake wood," is a lovely decorative motif. A wood-graining tool creates the white chocolate markings on bittersweet chocolate panels -- they're then pressed into the chocolate ganache that envelops the cake. To make the leaves, tempered bittersweet chocolate is brushed onto real lemon leaves, which are peeled off after chilling briefly.
The hexagonal and rectangular tiers of this cake were inspired by the architecture of Spain, which incorporates a blend of motifs from Middle Eastern as well as European cultures. The applied ornament is influenced by the dense, brilliant tile work of the Arab world, with parapets of exotic crenellations constructed of gum paste.
This chic confection features black lace licorice wrapped around pristine tiers covered in fondant. We set it on a painted wooden cake board that's 16 inches in diameter and 3/4 inch thick. You'll need a fine-tip natural-bristle paintbrush to attach the licorice laces.
Perhaps the most classic of cake finishes, buttercream always looks (and tastes) luscious. Here, Ohio baker and Weddings contributing editor Wendy Kromer covered each tier of the cake in Swiss meringue buttercream, then created a repeated flourish with a petal tip, which gives the cake a modern style. Half-circles traced on each tier provided a guide for piping the fan shapes, done in plain and pink-tinted buttercream. This design relies on a single pastry tip, but because bakers have a large assortment from which to choose, piping can achieve a wide range of effects. Cake by Wendy Kromer and Avery Wittkamp.
Hidden beneath a gentle flurry of bittersweet chocolate curls are three tiers of mocha spice cake made tender with sour cream. The cake gets a lift from coffee, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove; each layer is brushed with ginger-infused syrup before it is frosted with chocolate buttercream. The edible sugared pansies make the cake lovely for a springtime wedding, but the curls are too delicate to be placed outdoors in summertime. The spices are also right for fall and winter.
A midcentury silk scarf in an abstract petal print inspired this modern floral cake, which takes the old-fashioned out of pink flowers. We used a cutter to create a profusion of tulip petals out of gum paste, worked them into three dimensions using a tiny ball-shaped tool, and attached them to a base of pink fondant. Each row of petals is just a whisper darker than the preceding one, creating an ombre effect. The square tiers are separated by tiny risers to let the petals hang over the edges.
This opulent five-tier cake is a graphic interpretation of damask; it plays up the pattern, which is traditionally tone-on-tone. The intricate scrollwork is best suited to a square cake because the flat surfaces display the repeating motif to greatest advantage. To create this magnificent design, the pattern is placed under waxed paper, then piped over and filled in with royal icing. After it dries, the hardened frosting is removed from the waxed paper and affixed to the cake. The Wedgwood-blue fondant and dark brown decorations look elegant on a chocolate cake.
A graphic embellishment is all the more striking against rich chocolate-brown fondant. These royal icing designs, piped in white and light-brown dots, echo the petal shape of the cake tiers and stand. A pattern was first pinpricked into the fondant, then piped over. The cascading design on the top tier forms an intricate, many-petaled flower -- an understated alternative to a cake topper.
To construct our irresistible lemon icebox cake, with its layers of scalloped lemon cookies and honey mascarpone cream, we simply built from the bottom up. Top it with candied lemon slices for a tangy-sweet cookie cake that will appeal to fickle kids and grown-up foodies alike. (These cookies were made from scratch, but store-bought ones work just as well; try Moravian Meyer lemon cookies, Salem Baking Co.)
In the charlotte, featherlight ladyfingers surround a filling of raspberry mousse, raspberries, and fraises des bois, or wild strawberries, on soft almond biscuits. More berries and a drizzle of raspberry preserve crown the tiers. Fauchon's signature ribbon is wrapped around each tier, but a ribbon with the bride and groom's names would be a fitting substitute. Like all the best French pastries, the charlotte is at once light and rich.
No special talent is needed to create this luscious-looking confection -- just swirls of fluffy seven-minute icing applied to a snow-white cake. Freshly shaved coconut falls where it may, while tiny fresh mums adorn the cake and sweet peas and ranunculus dress the table.
Pin tucks and ruffles encircle the layers of this formal cake, which resembles the bib of a classic tuxedo shirt. Tiny sugar-paste pearls, like fabric-covered buttons, punctuate the center of each frilly sugar-paste band. Ivory taffeta ribbon trims the cake board; its picot edging alludes to the black of the suit. The interior consists of white layers filled and frosted with vanilla Swiss-meringue buttercream and covered with fondant.
This suite of sweets by Wendy Kromer features a graphic calligraphy-style motif and words from the classic wedding vows. The designs are incorporated into white-chocolate panels using plastic transfer sheets printed with tinted cocoa butter. The panels are then adhered to tiers evenly frosted in buttercream, which is also used to create the string-of-pearls effect on each level. Pools of raspberry sauce adorn two of the cakes.
Architectural yet intimate, our white-chocolate panel cake requires neither culinary talents nor design skills (other than the ones you learned in preschool). Just order a buttercream cake from a local bakery and a pack of chocolate panels from chocolatier Christopher Norman. The rest is a cakewalk: Adhere panels of varying heights onto the tiers, and fill the ledges with golden raspberries or another fruit. Cake panels, Christopher Norman Chocolates New York, 212-402-1243.
The classic American layer cake is dressed up with geraniums for an informal wedding. Use your favorite devil's food recipe combined with our favorite old-fashioned chocolate frosting for this delicious cake. The soft frosting is made of semisweet chocolate chips, heavy cream, and corn syrup, and is spread on the cake in fanciful, broad strokes that playfully echo the frills of the flowers and that require no special decorating skills.
As fun to make as it is to eat, our sparkling marmalade-candy cake takes a little muscle -- and that's about it. Buy your favorite hard candies, place them in a large resealable plastic bag, get a rolling pin, and have a blast pounding away your prewedding jitters. Then press the glittering crushed pieces to the sides of a buttercream cake. Orange hard candy, La Vie de La Vosgienne, amazon.com.
The paper picado flags typically found at Mexican celebrations serve as inspiration for this whimsical cake. Here they're fashioned from fondant, which was tinted in a variety of hues, then cut using eyelet and petit-four cutters. The flags were placed over baker's twine and attached with stiff royal icing. Some were propped away from the cake with paper towels while drying so they'd look as though they were fluttering joyfully in the breeze.
Consider this cake for a wintertime wedding, when the tiny citrus fruit is in season. Tart kumquats are candied and served on the side. Their syrup is brushed on the oval tiers of chocolate cake, which are covered in whipped ganache, then surrounded by bands of tempered bittersweet chocolate. The bands are adorned with flowers cut from kumquat skins and with leaves and flourishes piped in dark and white chocolate.
A classic pastry, the charlotte, sparked this design, but a rather unusual tool made it possible. Wendy Kromer molded the fondant coating with a sheet of ribbed plastic used by model makers. She trimmed the top edge with a scalloped cutter to resemble the lady fingers that would encircle a charlotte. A ribbon around each tier completes the theme, and sanding sugar glitters atop pink fondant. The plaque, also made from fondant, was embossed with a custom rubber stamp and attached with royal icing.
Fancy: Yes. Fussy: Not in the least. To make these mini chocolate-covered desserts, we poured a glaze over each cake and piped on lines -- and, in the case of the cake in the middle, circles -- of melted white chocolate. (Perch the cakes on a wire rack so excess glaze doesn't pool.) Then we gently dragged a toothpick through the lines to create the designs.
This playful creation unites two traditional confections. Meringue mushrooms, often found on buches de Noel, here sprout from cake tiers iced in soft folds of Swiss meringue frosting. Black Forest cake filled with kirsch-soaked cherries stands out against the stark white icing when this cake is served. Serve with a cherry syrup.
Fauchon's monogrammed pink pastry boxes, or boites roses, are interpreted in tinted white chocolate; the cake itself is vanilla sponge with strawberry syrup and mousse. Almond macaroons in raspberry, chocolate, pistachio, and passion fruit are piled on and around the tiers.
Tiny treasures of the woods are rendered sweetly in marzipan on an ivory marzipan-covered cake. A ladybug, signifying good fortune, rests on the frond of a fern; a fiddlehead with royal-icing foliage uncoils overhead. Mushrooms with gum-paste stems, acorns, oak leaves, and fallen bark made of shaved chocolate further adorn the tiers.
The tops of these three stacked boxes are covered with fondant and marzipan buttons. Some buttons are painted with a pale, shimmery coloring to simulate a pearly finish. At the base of each box is a fondant ribbon, made by pressing strips of fondant into ribbed elastic to simulate the look of grosgrain. A gum-paste bow serves as the cake topper. For the cake table, grosgrain ribbons are woven together to cover a board.
Give your cake a splash of whimsy. Order up a fondant cake, plus a bucket of fondant, from a bakery. Add food coloring to the fondant to get the right hues, and roll out into a thin sheet. Cut with various teardrop-shaped cookie cutters, let dry, and attach to the front of the cake with gum paste mixed with hot water. Cookie-cutter set, Ateco, Sur La Table.
These lighthearted scrolls were inspired by fabric-coiled appliques used to embellish dress bodices. To make these decorations, gum paste is sent through a pasta machine, then rolled into curls and attached to the fondant-covered cake with water. The finished cake resembles a fabulous hat, one that Audrey Hepburn might have worn.
Fondant that has been tinted ice blue blankets this cake, like snow in the shadows cast by a winter sun. Real pinecones flocked with royal icing and glistening with sanding sugar are accented with finely wrought chocolate pine needles; they add a natural-looking texture to the cake's modern lines.
Why limit monograms to stationery and linens? Here, sweeping lettering adorns icing on a geometric cake by Wendy Kromer; placed end to end, the arcs and swirls seem more like a graceful pattern than initials. You can have the baker adapt your existing monogram. Rather than piping the design freehand, she traces the monograms in royal icing onto waxed paper, lets the letters harden, and then affixes them to the cake.
Miniature calla lilies, long and sinuous, are a dramatic counterpoint to crisp, angular tiers. Only the bottom layer of this glamorous structure, clad in white fondant, is meant to be eaten; the remaining tiers are Styrofoam, which keeps the flowers from touching the cake. Rubbing the stems between fingers renders them bendable. The tiers sit on clear acrylic columns and a custom stand.
The monograms on these French patisserie-style charlottes, or molded sponge cakes, consist of piped chocolate batter baked into almond-flavored cake. Each confection is filled with milk-chocolate ganache and chocolate-espresso Bavarian cream; the top and bottom are sealed with chocolate cake rounds brushed with espresso syrup. Glossy chocolate glaze and a crisp twirl of espresso Swiss meringue complete the picture. Calligraphy by Maybelle Imasa-Stukuls.
This tower of truffles is inspired by the croquembouche, the traditional French wedding cake. The chocolates are rolled in assorted cocoa powders from the United States, France, and Holland. The different qualities of the powders provide nuances of color and flavor. Beneath them are layers of yellow butter cake that are filled and frosted with a dense, dark ganache.
The quiet shimmer of white sweets gives this cake a romantic air. The candies are scattered across tiers dusted in sparkling sugar. The sweets include rock candy, gumdrops, almond dragees, wafers, chocolate candies, and more. For the cake topper, a dish made of a barley candy was selected.
These cakes are sure to recall the joys of summer. Fresh strawberries top stacked pound cakes instead of the traditional biscuits; mascarpone cream is sandwiched between the layers. For an easy-to-slice texture, almond paste and cornmeal were mixed into the batter. Platters piped with royal icing in a basket-weave pattern lend a country feel; they sit on ribbon-wrapped columns that elevate the dessert from its rustic origins and allude to the shape of a conventional tiered wedding cake.
This grand stack of five rectangular tiers looks like a tower of mattresses sheathed in summery, romantic blankets. It was inspired by vintage chenille bedspreads and consists of five nearly square tiers coated with Swiss meringue buttercream, then covered with crisp panels of Swiss meringue.
The edible pleats here recall the crinolines beneath a cream puff of a wedding dress. White wafer papers, cut with scallop scissors and folded, were painted with gold luster dust and petal dust in pinks and greens. They were then piped with white royal icing and attached to the mint-green fondant-covered tiers with more royal icing. The fluted pastry cups, filled with pillow mints, complete the pleated theme.
The fondant-covered box "lids" are the actual cake here, and the bottoms, also wrapped in fondant, are cake risers. The whole package is tied together with a taffeta ribbon, while each tier is edged with gold luster dust and matching royal-icing dots. The surrounding gumdrops, mint "lentils," sugar wafers, dragees, and pillow mints, are treats you might find inside these packages ...were they not made of cake.
No wonder King George went mad! He was likely driven to distraction by the opulent jewelry Englishwomen took to wearing during the 18th and early 19th centuries. This cake is an homage to those showstoppers, with four regal tiers of spearmint-hued fondant, royal icing piped to mimic pearl strands, and sparkling edible baubles, each ringed in a "pave setting" of royal-icing pearls.
This towering confection is the traditional wedding cake of France. The name "croquembouche," which means "crunch in the mouth," refers to the hard caramel that coats delicate puffs of pate a choux filled with vanilla cream. The top tier rests on an edible nougatine base, made of caramel and crushed almonds. The roses and ribbons are pastillage, a sugar paste that dries with a porcelainlike finish; the giant swirls are pulled sugar.
A Tuscan-style cake with Swiss meringue buttercream is garnished with champagne grapes and Seckel pears. A cake stand of stoneware is supported by dowels inside the bottom tier. The display includes fall foliage, plums, and walnuts; the cake is served with Italian nougat candies.
In the ancient Celtic ritual of handfasting, a couple's hands were tied together with ribbon during the wedding. For these domed petits fours, our food editor Elizabeth Colling fashioned pulled sugar into delicate knots. Though the ribbons look deceptively soft stretched over white fondant, they're just as crisp as hard candy.
Early summer is the best time to choose a cake like this one -- brimming with a fresh and varied assortment of the season's best berries. Red currants, raspberries, gooseberries, blueberries, and strawberries look beautiful jumbled together on basket-weave tiers. The basket-weave effect was created using an oversize leaf tip. The cake's three tiers are supported by wooden dowels; the berries are arranged before the dowels are inserted, which helps hide the supports.
In the old days, church bells were rung to let people in the area know that a wedding had taken place, as well as to wish the newlyweds good luck. Now they're simply sweet. Kate Sullivan of LovinSullivan Cakes in New York City strung graphic golden fondant bells -- brushed with edible gold luster dust -- from pale blue royal-icing ribbons.
The traditional princess cake, an old Swedish wedding standby, is normally covered in green marzipan. In our decidedly floral interpretation of the confection, the dome-shaped cake was cloaked in pink fondant and topped it with a smattering of real cherry blossoms, some of which have been coated with sugar.
Cherries and almonds are close botanical relatives, and they're famously compatible in desserts. Here, they meld lusciously in a three-tier cake cloaked in marzipan (a sweet almond paste) and scattered with marzipan cherries. Sour-cherry jam and buttercream top layers made with ground almonds.
Here, the notion of icing is put on ice, relying instead on unadorned pastel layers for graphic appeal. Coconut pound cake, tinted with gel-paste food coloring, serves as the foundation, while white fondant and passion-fruit curd rests on top (the curd is also between each layer). Sorbets in mango, passion fruit, lychee nut, and coconut are paired with strawberry sugar wafers that mimic the look of the cakes.
A creation that is tropical through and through. The yellow-cake layers are brushed with rum syrup and filled with passion-fruit curd and rum-and-vanilla-bean buttercream. The top of each tier is spread with more passion-fruit curd. Hibiscus flowers, lychees, coconut, mini pineapple and bananas, and tamarillo crown the cake. Pressing a straw mat into the ivory fondant produces the textured appearance. Serve with a slice of fruit such as star fruit, and coconut sorbet.
This bloom's reputation as nature's most definitive love symbol stems from the Greeks, who used the flower to represent the goddess Venus. White roses, specifically, have come to symbolize purity, unity, and true love -- as opposed to red roses' association with passion -- which has earned them the status of Ultimate Wedding Flower. Here, New York City cake guru Sylvia Weinstock blanketed three tiers of cake in handmade, edible sugar petals to gently echo the shape of a French croquembouche -- and create a temple to Cupid's favorite bloom.
Tendrils of romantic buttercream wisteria adorn this majestic cake; royal-icing blossoms dangle from the natural curly willow arbor framing the bride-and-groom topper. (This vintage cake topper is from a personal collection.) The columns are hidden beneath winding royal-icing vines.
Apples have been a symbol of love, fertility, and abundance since ancient Greek times, when the goddess Gaia gave her granddaughter a golden apple tree as a gift at her wedding to Zeus. Golden lady apples, painted with edible gold luster dust, are the focal point of this tower by Betsy Thorleifson of Nine Cakes in Brooklyn, New York. The vanilla-bean spiced apple cake -- filled with caramel buttercream -- is drizzled with luscious caramel.
Hidden beneath the swooping white frosting of this tiered dessert are stunning scarlet layers infused with buttermilk and cocoa. Red velvet cake, whose namesake hue comes from food coloring, is a favorite dessert in the South, but its exact origins are unknown. In honor of its adopted home, gum-paste magnolias adorn it here.
As a symbol, rings are stunningly simple yet monumental in their meaning. More than a promise cast in platinum or gold, they represent the eternity you and your husband will spend together: The band itself has no beginning and no end. Here, New York City baker Mark Joseph uses an abundance of precisely applied sugar-paste rings to create a stylish, mod-inspired pattern. A base of unexpected yellow makes the rings pop and completes the fresh, contemporary effect.
This cake reflects a dreamy springtime moment amid the cherry trees, when a breeze scatters the dainty blossoms into the air. Here, they seem to drift from the top of the cake, where they are densely massed, down to the bottom, where the pink petals break apart as they would in nature.
Pretty fabric butterflies transform a plain-Jane cake into a marvelous tiered wonder -- and there's nary a pastry tip in sight. Simply slide the wired section of each fluttery beauty into a fondant-covered cake, clustering the butterflies here and there for the most dramatic look. Tied around a cake knife, a ribbon in a matching hue completes this super-easy -- not to mention easy on the wallet -- makeover.
Three square tiers, draped in pale pink fondant, are embellished with a sparkling array of trims and ribbons. This is an easy, inexpensive way to turn a plain cake into a gilded confection. The topper is made of three nesting boxes, each edged in gold ribbon, tied up like a parcel from an elegant boutique.
In Bermuda, couples top their wedding cakes with tiny saplings, which they plant to grow as their marriages do. Here, a milk-chocolate figurine, formed in a replica of a 1920s mold, stands on a faux top tier of Styrofoam coated to match the cake. The flowering quince branches above were painted with chocolate (choose pesticide-free foliage). The rolled fondant is tinted pink to pick up the hue of the quince.
The visual elements of this cake are a fanciful reinterpretation of a Corinthian column, an element first seen in Greece during the fifth century B.C. Acanthus leaves made of fondant bring an organic touch to the gently graduated tiers, preventing the marble-white finish from becoming too austere. The column's fluting is created by carefully pressing an offset spatula into the fondant.
In a cheerful tower of a cake, five deep hexagonal layers are iced with buttercream; the tiers are piped with a star tip in opposite directions for a patchwork effect. The initials are made of air-dried meringue. Extra meringue letters were made, so each delicious slice of French orange pound cake with Grand Marnier buttercream frosting could be served with its own R.
An airy lace from 1900 is reimagined here as a uniquely contemporary cake. The white sugar-paste floral appliques, cut with a craft knife, look almost pixelated when affixed to the nettinglike grid imprinted onto the ivory fondant below. The end result appears delicately antique one second, strikingly futuristic the next. Cake by Ron Ben-Israel Cakes.
Swiss meringue buttercream icing, piped through a petal tip with a slight wiggle of the wrist, is the medium for the squiggles enveloping the Loose Petal cake. Buttercream is soft, free-form, relaxed -- and very delicious. Each buoyant, cushiony tier of this peach-tinted powder puff of a cake is almost imperceptibly elevated above the preceding layer.