Monday, January 19, 2009

Let ME Eat Cake...Finally!!


I started contacting Chicago-area bakeries for my wedding cake last September. A whole year ahead of my wedding. I know that this is a definitely faux pas, and that picking your cake need not happen earlier than 6 months before your wedding. But the anticipation of the array of cake flavors and frosting in front of me was too much for me to handle. I also like how on wedding shows, the bakers just sit and sketch the cake so easily, like creating the likeness of a bride's dream cake was just another day at the office. What will they create for me?!

Beyond stuffing my face, there were other reasons I wanted to get in touch with these bakers. For starters, since I'm an avid home baker I've been asked nonstop since my engagement if I was going to make my own cake. Umm, no. I'll take a pass on that one. But I know that I'm expected to have an amazing cake. Which brings me to reason number two for nailing down the cake...budget!

Cakes are so labor intensive anymore. I've worked with fondant and have made very simple cakes. Pastry chefs earn every penny for the amount of work they put into a single cake. But just because it's worth the dollars, it doesn't mean that I can afford it. I have to be strict to my bottom line. My goal is to keep my cake no higher than $700 to feed around 120 people and to be covered in fondant, the black and white damask cake as an inspiration.

I've rounded up my top finds for great pastry chefs that fall within my budget. While there are so many more amazing bakeries in the Chicago-area (Cake Girls, Bleeding Heart Bakery, etc), I know that unfortunately they won't be creating my cake. Here are a few of the frontrunners:

Le Royale Icing
I like the thought of working with Le Royle Icing because they're located in Oak Park, where my wedding and reception will be. While their web site may not be as shiny and new as some of the trendsetters in the city, Margaret Lastick has been making cakes for over 20 years and has had an illustrious career. She quoted me a great price over email but we didn't get into specifics of what it would look like, so I'm really just going on hope that I could afford her.

The Sugar Syndicate
Cathay Rayhill's attention to detail is amazing. Her portfolio speaks for itself, and she's conveniently located on the north side of Chicago not far from where I live, so I could just walk to the tasting, how fabulous. From the pricings I saw in September (which may have gone up) I could probably pull this off for just $100 over budget. Not too shabby.

Sugar Bliss
A cupcake boutique located downtown, these are just too adorable, and at $40/dozen that would put me far under budget. I could go either way on cupcakes, they're really cute but I'd definitely want to do a small cake for cutting. The great thing about cupcakes is that you can easily do a few different flavors...and, well, they're fun!

Amy Beck Cake Design
Amazing! But sadly just a little out of my reach...unless I want a teeny, tiny little cake. That would of course be beautiful, but tiny! Since my budget seems to be expanding minute by minute, padding the cake budget probably won't happen. A girl can dream, though.

Anyone else out there have any suggestions for more modern wedding cakes at a vintage budget? Right now I'm going to probably start with Le Royale Icing as the price seemed to be the best and she's a local Oak Park vendor. I don't think my cake should have to take a trek out of the city if it can instead only travel a few blocks!

Now how am I going to continue holding myself back from that aforementioned cake tasting, you ask?! I've finally settled on a cake topper, thanks to Etsy's Goose Grease. By this time next month I should have my fabulous custom cake topper in my hands and that will lead me to my tasting immediately, mark my words. Oooh, I'm so excited! I have such great plans for those mini-me's!


tina January 19, 2009 at 11:32 PM  

I cannot save enough awesome things about Sugar Syndicate. We had three people e-mail us about our cake in the week after the wedding. And, for what we wanted, their prices were about $200-300 less than the other places we spoke to. (Not to mention more delicious.)

TJLoop85 January 26, 2009 at 1:56 PM  

Picking out your wedding cake and get to taste it is always the funnest part when it comes to wedding planning...all you have to do is let you fork do the walking and your tongue do the tasting.

Hope you get a great cake that makes your wedding even more special.

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