We're entering the second phase of the summer wedding blitz. Which brings up the question: How do you cut the cake?
Oh, we know that the bride and groom have the cake-cutting ceremony and feed each other, often smashing frosting in each others' faces. Then the wedding guests can enjoy the rest of the cake.
If the wedding is catered, there's usually staff that does the slicing and serving. But in many Utah do-it-yourself weddings, the task may suddenly fall to an aunt or friend who is mystified when faced with a knife and massive cake layers.
Do you slice huge, pie-type wedges, no matter how big the tiers are? Do you start with the top layer or the bottom? How thick should the slices be in order to feed a crowd? Do you save any for the bride and groom for later?
There are a few different ways to do it.
Russ Oliver, owner of Granite Bakery & Bridal, says he gives clients a diagram to follow from the Wilton Co.'s cake-decorating books.
"People will say, how do you get 56 servings out of a 12-inch cake? Well, it's how you cut it," said Oliver.
Many brides today are opting for square-tiered cakes, which are easier to cut. "I have 37 cakes this week, and 35 of them are square," Oliver said. "Round cakes are traditional, and right now we don't have many traditional brides."
For square cakes, move in 2 inches from the outer edge of the cake and cut a straight line through the tier. Then slice that row into 1-inch pieces of cake. Then move in another 2 inches and slice again until the entire tier is cut.
"So each piece is 4 inches high, 1 inch thick and 2 inches deep, and that's plenty of cake," Oliver said. A 10-inch square tier will yield about 45 pieces of cake.
Each wedding cake tier is actually a double layer of cake, so the slices don't need to be very thick, said Jonan Williams, co-owner of the Eldredge Manor reception center in Bountiful. "We just go in 1 or 1 1/2 inches deep."
Oliver said some people prefer to cut round cakes in the same manner as square ones, in straight rows. However, several local wedding reception centers that were interviewed, as well as the Wilton Wedding Cake Cutting Guide, "Lion House Weddings" (Deseret Book, $25.95) and Janna Ellis, sales manager of Granite Bakery & Bridal, advise the following process:
1. Remove the top tier, which is usually saved in the freezer for the couple's first anniversary. (This tier is usually not calculated into the number of servings for guests.)
2. Remove ribbons, flowers and other inedible decorations.
3. Begin cutting the second tier and work your way down to the third, fourth and so on.
4. Move in two inches from the tier's outer edge and cut a circle all the way around the cake. Slice this outer ring in 1- to 3-inch pieces (plating the slices as you go).
5. Move in another two inches, and cut another ring and repeat.
6. When you get to the center of that tier, cut the core into thirds, fourths or eighths.
If you want to serve larger pieces, the procedure is still the same. You can just increase the width of the ring, or the size of the slices.
Log Haven, the site of many picturesque weddings, has a slightly different procedure, said Faith Sweeten, the restaurant's wedding planner.
"First, we take off the top tier of the wedding cake and set it aside for their first anniversary. If there are any ribbons, pins, cake supporters that prohibit cutting the cake, we take them off and set them aside.
"If it is a round cake, we make a small circular cut in the center and then cut around the circle. We cut the slices approximately 1- to 1 1/2 inch in thickness. If there are several tiers and more than one flavor we will cut wedding cake from each tier.
"For rectangular cakes we cut the cake in small squares, approximately 2 to 2 1/2 inches square.
"If there is still leftover cake, we use Saran wrap and wrap the uncut cake to the cake piece that it is sitting on. That way if the cake vendor has brought in a special marble board, for example, that the cake is set upon, it all stays together. It's really helpful if the cake vendor will leave a box for the wedding cake to go back into. But if not, we provide boxes for the wedding party to place the wedding cake in."
The bride and groom should decide beforehand if they want to serve the cake to all of their guests, or near the end of the reception after many guests have already gone home. This will determine how many slices are needed. They may want to supplement the wedding cake with smaller "satellite" cakes, or a sheet cake. They also may consider boxing slices of cake for guests to take home.
"A lot of times the reception center will charge a cake-cutting fee of $50 or $60, or maybe $2 per slice," Ellis said. "We can also send someone out to cut it, for a $60 fee."
Ellis had a few other thoughts about wedding cakes:
• A sharp knife makes the job easier. A serrated blade is preferable for making clean cuts.
• Rolled fondant icing, which has become more popular than butter cream frosting, is also less messy when slicing.
• Victorian-looking cakes with subdued brown, champagne and ivory hues are "in" right now. "Brown is the new black," Ellis said.• Instead of the usual large tiered cake, one client used 9-inch round, decorated cakes on each table, "So they served as both the centerpieces and the dessert," she said.