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Cakes deserve extra attention
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Wedding guests love two sights: a beautiful bride walking down the aisle and scrumptious cakes at the reception.
Wedding cakes and grooms' cakes have challenges that brides do not face. They must be more than pretty; they must be tasty. Cakes served at 21st century weddings can be as individual as the happy couple themselves.
"The traditional wedding cakes are tiered, white cakes with butter cream frosting, and are either round or square. But today, anything goes," said Melissa Mixon, human nutrition specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service. "Now wedding cakes come in all shapes, flavors, colors and with various decorations."
Flowers such as roses, pansies, petunias, alstroemeria, daisies and orchids are popular decorations on wedding cakes. Lynette McDougald, manager of the University Florist at MSU, said she prefers not to stick flower stems directly into cakes.
"I don't know of any case where someone got sick from flowers on a cake, but when you consider the pesticides that may have been used to grow them, it just makes sense not to stick them into the cake," McDougald said. "I usually use a small plastic cup with a thin oasis inside it to hold the flowers on the cake. In some cases, I wash stems in saltwater, but that may not be a common practice among all florists."
Mixon said the size and style of a wedding cake can add significantly to the cost of a reception. Costs per slice can range from $1.50 to $5.
"If the bride is trying to keep the cost down, she may want to order a smaller wedding cake then have additional sheet cakes to make sure there is plenty of cake for guests. That can be especially helpful if guest numbers are hard to predict," Mixon said.
Couples can express their individuality in the flavor selection as well as the design. Italian cream, chocolate, carrot, spice and lemon flavors are popular alternatives to white or yellow cakes. Side dressings such as raspberry sauce or chocolate-covered strawberries are snazzy options.
"The groom's cake is a popular outlet for expressing his personality. This may be a traditional chocolate cake with a creative design or something completely different, such as a cheesecake or pies," Mixon said.
Many couples anticipate the tradition of freezing the top tier of their wedding cake to eat on their first anniversary. However, Mixon said this tradition is rarely a mouth-watering delight.
"Frosted cakes are best when frozen for less than a month or two. So couples who are determined to save the top of their cake may want to consider eating it on their one month anniversary instead of their one year anniversary," Mixon said.
Before freezing, allow the frosting to harden by placing the cake in the refrigerator or freezer before wrapping. Cake containers or bakery boxes will prevent crushing. Thaw frosted cakes loosely covered overnight in the refrigerator.