The days when all wedding cakes were butter cream tiers with a plastic bride and groom on top are gone. Today, young couples often want something unique and memorable that reflects their passions not only for each other but also their interests, hobbies or careers. Some eschew a cake altogether, choosing instead trees of cupcakes, mountains of mini-cakes, lazy Susans of ice cream sundaes in pastry bowls, piles of puddings or towers of other treats. Here are just a few of Connecticut’s most creative and experienced at providing an alternative to the traditional wedding cake.
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47 Saugatuck Ave
Westport, CT 06880
Looking to put some whimsy in the wedding cake? How about using a baker who won first place in a gingerbread competition, as CakeSuite of Westport did at the Stamford Museum this winter by constructing not just one cake or house but an entire winter carnival complete with ferris wheel, carousel, slides and booths? Master Baker Michelle Ashear Klem won that award the year before as well for making an elaborate gingerbread replica of the Renaissance-era Duomo Cathedral of Florence. CakeSuite is also a serious yet inventive wedding cake bakery, as its receipt of the editor’s award in 2011 from Brides Connecticut magazine demonstrates. Klem’s daisy-covered wedding cake was as unique and sweet as it was inviting and intricate. Klem specializes in unique and different themed cakes – from those that look like floating hot-air balloons to massive couch-sized concoctions such as the one CakeSuite made for the Broadway cast of “Steel Magnolias.”
Christmas Tree Plaza
220 Indian River Road
Orange, CT 06477
Anyone who sets up shop in a place called “Christmas Tree Plaza” must have a sense of humor, and Jeff Chandler, who named his store after his only daughter (he also has three sons), is just such a baker. While most of the brides coming through his doors in Orange still seek traditional cakes or at least some variation on the classic theme, many are open to his suggestions for alternatives. As one of his bakers Kelly explains, the bakery frequently makes towering tiers of cupcakes or cookies instead of cakes for weddings. Julia’s website includes many suggestions on types of cakes, and includes a unique “Cake Calculator” to help wedding planners design a size and type of cake based on everything from filings and decorations to number of servings and budget.
Modern Pastry Shop
422 Franklin Ave.
Hartford, CT 06114
It may be called the “Modern Pastry Shop,” but this creative cake maker also bears a smaller sign describing itself as a “Fine Italian Bakery.” It is both – and more. Carla and crew pride themselves on their daily traditional French and Italian creations, from which they also draw inspiration for their cakes – wedding and otherwise. Yes, this shop can make a standard cake with the bridge and groom on top, but it also does what it calls “dramatic draping” that makes the cake look like it is made of silk and “enrobing” with filigree frosting ribbons. Modern Pastry also has a selection of “groom’s cakes” – a southern American tradition the shop has revived, where a bride presents her husband with a cake whose design reflects his hobbies, career or personality.
(“Studio” rather than storefront, and by appt. only)
As much architect as baker, this Norwalk mother of three was training to be a commercial pilot when Ms. Papadopoulos rediscovered her love of baking. Now she makes unique custom cakes for weddings and other occasions, and is in such demand that she suggests brides come in at least two and in some cases eight months before their wedding for a consultation. For those who want something other than one of her clever cakes, she recommends tiers of vacherins (meringue cups filled with whipped cream and topped with a raspberry), cream puffs, passion fruit mouse cups or cupcakes – which she offers in a wide variety of what she calls “mix and match” cakes and frostings (like salted caramel buttercream). Lovely Cakes’ studio is not open to the public although consultations and tastings are available by appointment.
Erica OBrien Cake Design
1242 Whitney Ave.
Hamden, CT 06517
Can a girl from Queens make it as a cake maker in Connecticut? Erica OBrien set out in 2011 to find the answer to that question, and so far that answer is a resounding “yes!” Just voted the “best of weddings” by Connecticut brides for 2013 by www.theknot.com, Erica and her staff run a “cake boutique” that makes “one of a kind” cakes or other concoctions for weddings and other occasions. As much if not more “design studio” as bake shop, this Hamden hideaway holds classes for cupcake and other cake makers, and has invented some “signature” flavors such as strawberry-lemonade, maple-bacon and limoncello for its cupcakes.
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Mark G. McLaughlin is a professional and prolific writer with a proven publishing record in a wide variety of fields. An historian, novelist, freelance journalist, ghost-writer, book reviewer, magazine editor, web and magazine columnist, Mark has more than 30 years of experience. His work can be found at Examiner.com.