Weddings 2012 Planning Guide: Cakes

Weddings 2012 Planning Guide: Cakes

Weddings 2012 Planning Guide: Cakes

Natalie Atell had an inconspicuous start in cake making, to say the least—a summer job making ice cream cakes at Baskin Robbins when she was 17. Barely seven years later, she opened Ache for Cake, aimed at young, budget-conscious couples. Her cakes feature all-natural ingredients, custom flavours and designs that top out around $500. Atell hand crafts all the design elements—birds, leaves, flowers—creating multi-tiered cakes that range from elegant (a simple white cake covered in fluttering butterflies) to effervescent (a Warhol print of Marilyn Monroe). By appointment. 1 Hickory Tree Rd. (at Weston Rd.), 647-289-2505.

Weddings 2012 Planning Guide: Cakes (Bakerbots)Trained as a visual artist as well as a baker, and with inspiration coming from surprising sources like maps and ceramics, Rosanne Pezzelli loves to experiment with non-traditional shapes and sculptural forms (a cake that looks like a geisha, for example). Her sense of whimsy is evident in a simple cream-coloured three-tier with a troop of pastel macarons tumbling down the side. Pezzelli notes that holding back on decoration can be difficult, but a stunning white cake with a simple sugar bow edged in black shows beautiful restraint. Each cake—made with eggs, whole milk, butter and Belgian chocolate—features at least three layers, with possible fillings including chocolate-hazelnut buttercream or cream cheese frosting. Minimum wedding order $500. By appointment. 416-901-3500.

Allyson Bobbitt and Sarah Bell’s custom cakes (starting at $1,300) are strong on details, with a touch of humour and whimsy. Picture a stack of luggage topped with a pair of passports or a dark chocolate cake crowned with incredibly lifelike whole lemons. The partners also have a line of around 30 less expensive cakes ($700–$1,000) with no custom designs, just a selection of the most sought-after styles. Also popular for weddings are macarons, hand-painted and letterpress cookies, mini-cakes and whoopie pies. Closed Monday. 1121 Queen St. E. (at Caroline Ave.), 416-466-8800.

Some sculptors work in marble, others in bronze or clay. The Cake Lady, a.k.a. Vanessa Le Page, works in ganache-filled chocolate cake. The Dufflet alumna’s portfolio includes a three-dimensional Eiffel Tower, an elaborately iced reproduction of a Delft blue china plate and, for Mr. Dressup’s retirement party, an edible Tickle Trunk. Even quirkier requests are welcome (she once did a cake shaped like a roast chicken). Flavours range from crowd-pleasing vanilla, chocolate and carrot to lime- or grapefruit-infused sponge cake; all receive a thick coat of fresh buttercream icing. Vegan options available. Rates vary. Book several months ahead. By appointment. 416-539-9415.

After meeting with a bride-to-be, Alexandria Pellegrino draws up a sketch, a work of art in itself that becomes a treasured memento of the big day. The OCAD grad and Cakewalk judge crafts ornate, jaw-dropping cakes like The Piratess, a baroque sculpture of a cake inspired by 17th-century tall ships. Partner Jessica Smith, former head pastry chef at the dearly departed Truffles, ensures the beauty is more than skin deep with flavour combinations that include red velvet cake with white chocolate cream cheese icing and banana with milk chocolate buttercream and salted caramel ganache. Book at least nine months ahead for high season. From $800. Closed Sunday and Monday. 1136 Eglinton Ave. W. (at Glenarden Rd.), 647-347-2626.

Peonies and hydrangeas so realistic they look hand-picked rather than freshly baked; lifelike edible flowers and flower cakes—one that resembles an oversized white rose—are a specialty of baker and cake artist Konstadin Cadeau (who has trained with masters like New York’s Ron Ben-Israel). During a consultation and tasting, she will help you custom design your cake inside and out, incorporating elements from your wedding’s theme and colour palette. Be it a traditional tiered cake with sugar jewels to match your own jewellery (from $12 per serving) or adorable mini-cakes made for each guest ($15–$35 each), Konstadin’s perfectionism and attention to detail are evident. By appointment. 416-238-4723.

Lori Hutchinson’s one-woman operation is usually booked up to a year in advance for high wedding season. (In winter, a Dubai wedding planner flies Hutchinson to the United Arab Emirates to make cakes from scratch.) She draws inspiration from fashion, and her designs flow like fabric, with 24-karat-gold detailing providing subtle bling. A recent splashed-out wedding at the Royal York required a six-foot tiered tower cascading with 400 handmade sugar flowers that took three people a month to prepare. Fillings include banana split, Bailey’s dark chocolate ganache and strawberry buttercream. Wedding cakes start at $900. By appointment.

From a cake that resembles a vintage wine cask to tiered pieces embellished with dainty fondant ribbon work, artist Christina McKenzie specializes in the fanciful, but she also has a knack for the traditional. McKenzie, who bakes from home, offers cakes with heartwarming flavours and textures. Examples include the aromatic vanilla chai spice and Aunt Harriet’s famous carrot cake, a soft but dense treat (from $5 per serving). Gluten-free, nut-free and vegan options available. Cupcakes and cookies (from $2.50 each) are also available. Cakes from $50. By appointment. 647-929-8053.

This is one-stop shopping for the harried bride. Cake and floral arrangements are a natural combination, and that’s what drew together clinical-researcher turned floral designer Jennifer Yang and pastry chef Esther Ha (who has trained at George Brown and the Bonnie Gordon School). With five years of experience in event design, the partners promise a cohesive look. “This way, we can make sure things are coordinated without being matchy-matchy—unless that’s what the client wants,” says Ha. Think fat bunches of ivory roses adorning both tabletops and cake. Buttercream-iced creations start around $3.50 per slice. Closed Monday and Tuesday. 883 Eglinton Ave. W. (at Peveril Hill N.), 416-789-0222.

Owner Genevieve Finley is a master with fondant, gum paste and sugar lace. Her custom sculptural cakes feature handmade flowers and ribbons that are so realistic it’s hard to know if you can actually eat them. Detailed decorative work includes elaborate Parisian street scenes, rolling country landscapes and a groom’s cake that looks like a beer can. Custom cakes require one to two weeks’ notice. Cakes range from $350–$2,500. Closed Monday. 171 East Liberty St. (at Hanna Ave.), Unit 117, 416-306-6446.

Meticulous attention to every fondant detail is what has grown I Do! Wedding Cakes from a home-kitchen operation to a shop with a six-month waiting list. While prices for elaborate custom jobs have reached summits of around $15,000 (six tiers with edible jewels and handmade, hand-pressed flowers), it’s the $300 to $500 I Do! line that keeps the place buzzing. Couples select one of the chic, clean-lined designs and customize the colours and filling flavours (the mango passion fruit is outstanding). Owner and head designer Olivia Nguyen, who is often assumed to be a trained artist, humbly insists that she can’t do in clay what she magically creates in cake. By appointment. 2700 Dufferin St. (at Briar Hill Ave.), Unit 43. 416-787-6666.

Lynda Paul’s art doesn’t survive long; it tends to get eaten with great gusto. Armed with an arsenal of sculpting tools, she transforms cake and icing into an array of impressive pieces: a Lego sculpture, for example, or a mountain (for a couple who met while rock climbing), or maybe a neatly wrapped pink present, its white fondant ribbons ready to be untied. Fanciful and always personal, the cakes come in a multitude of flavour combinations (just ask) and sizes (from daintily decorated single- serving minis to multi-tiered towers that serve 500). All products are nut-free. Cakes start around $30 for 10 servings. Make an appointment for a consultation. Closed Sunday and Monday. 1238 Queen St. E. (at Leslie), 416-469-4973.

The aromatic scent of fresh baked goods wafts through this Parisian-style pâtisserie, which also offers custom baking services for weddings. Clas­sically trained pastry chef Isabelle Loiacono builds cakes that look astounding. For example, a tiered cake is topped with a pastel peacock ($5–$15 per serving). Scrumptious macaron towers ($200–$650) can act as an alternative to a cake, and Isabelle is frequently experimenting with new flavour com­binations for her airy delicacies: her lemon and almond is masterful. 3308 Danforth Ave. (at Byng Ave.), 416-691-4554.

With a commitment to local, fair-trade and certified organic ingredients, pastry chef Lesia Kohut started her business at home in 1998. Now you can consult with her at her pastry shop on Queen East, where she caters to vegans and gluten-intolerant customers who are “standing up for their right not to have to eat sawdust.” Her cakes are funky, modern and bold, with an ever-expanding list of vegan, gluten-free and kosher flavours to choose from, including coconut lime, banana, maple and double chocolate fudge. She’ll even create a custom flavour for a cake no other bride has sliced into. To keep everyone happy after dinner, consider three tiers: one regular, one vegan and one gluten-free. Prices vary, but expect to spend about $800 for a three-tiered cake serving 100 people. Closed Monday. 718 Queen St. E. (at Broadview), 416-461-6440.

On a lunch break from a dead-end job as a translator, a despondent, 20-something Roxanne Wickware flipped through a copy of Martha Stewart’s Wedding Cakes at Indigo. Inspired, she took a cake- decorating course with Bonnie Gordon and has since become one of the most sought-after cake designers in the city. Often booked a year in advance, the Michelangelo of fondant is known for startlingly realistic sugar flowers: a stunning three-tiered creation pinned with fat white peonies can be found at Vera Wang’s Yorkville boutique. Wedding cakes start at $1,500. By appointment. 416-819-3331.

Offbeat things, like vintage clothing, trinkets and even fresh Ontario asparagus, are what inspire Rosie Alyea’s pretty but quirky creations. A vanilla sponge cake is given a modern, albeit rococo, finesse with gilded edges; a princess-pretty one in pink buttercream ruffles cuts to reveal six decadent layers of chocolate; a simple white cake decorated with glittering multicoloured discs and topped with a stunning red bow will (almost) outshine the bride. Wedding cakes start at $300; average cost $1,000. By appointment.

In 2009, best friends Catherine D’Agostino and Adrienne D’Amico quit their jobs (in graphic design and advertising, respectively) for a career in sugar. So far, the transition has been as smooth as buttercream. While their wedding cakes can be appropriately girly, with pretty bows and pastel detailing, they’ve become known for less-traditional creations, including a to-scale replica of the Stanley Cup for a sportscaster’s wedding. Flavours include all the classics, plus more trendy combinations, such as brown sugar cake with dulce de leche buttercream. For budget-conscious brides, cupcake towers (at roughly half the price) are the new wedding cake. Wedding cakes start at $7 per serving; cupcakes, $3.75 each. Closed Monday. 8099 Weston Rd., Unit 2, Woodbridge, 905-264-0030.

Morag Cleeveley’s Parkdale bakery is renowned for its lip-smacking, buttercream-covered cupcakes. If the traditional flavours, like chocolate, vanilla, red velvet, carrot or coconut, tickle your fancy, Cleeveley can customize your wedding cake to suit your palate. Traditionalists will be tickled to know that Cleeveley is an experienced fondant artist who is willing to tackle nearly any custom challenge. For an ornate wedding at the Royal York, she made a three-tiered cake decorated with dozens of hand-painted flowers. Each tier was supported by Doric columns. For more subdued affairs, an arrangement of cupcakes adorned with pansies is always popular. Book at least six months in advance. Cakes start at $4.50 a slice. 1660 Queen St. W. (at Triller Ave.), 416-531-9732.

(Image: Emma McIntyre)