We caught up with Ron Ben-Israel, celeb pastry chef and the judge of Food Network’s hit show Sweet Genius (which airs on Thursdays at 10pm/9c) to find out exactly what goes into a wedding cake, from conception to that last bite on the big day.
“I’m very much influenced by the bridal designers, such as Carolina Herrera and Vera Wang, of course,” said Ben-Israel. He was motivated to create bold, colorful cakes when the latter introduced a "light sage green" gown a couple of years ago that featured "a black satin ribbon on the waist."
Think like a sweet genius and use your own gown to inspire your cake design. If you're wearing an elaborate ball gown, then a five-tiered cake fit for a pedestal will match its grand style, while an architectural, sleek dress would better suit a square-tiered, modern cake.
Each tier of Ben-Israel's creations contains four layers of cake, three layers of filling and an outer layer of frosting, so there's endless flavor combinations. Tune in to Sweet Genius for ideas: "I give the contestants new ingredients that they have to work with and mandatory objects of inspiration," said Ben-Israel.
We got him to reveal some of his all-time favorites: chocolate cake with a dash of Grand Marnier and alternating layers of fresh berries, mixed with chocolate bits; cake filled like a candy bar, with gooey caramel and mini marshallows, or sweet coconut with almonds dipped in dark chocolate; and citrus cake that has lime, lemon, and tangerine flavors, coupled with white chocolate. Let your imagination run wild and experiment—that’s the best part of a cake consultation!
Decorations personalize your wedding cake so that it is unique to you and your groom. Ben-Israel recommends playing up your venue in the design: "We do a lot of weddings in the large ballrooms of cities...so a lot of our cakes have architectural motifs on them, as opposed to flowers, and many of them will have gold and silver," he said. Edible jewels and lace are also hot motifs this season.
This might surprise you, but the actual preparation and baking of the cake is the quickest part of the entire process. It needs to be made a day before the wedding, and on Sweet Genius, the contestants only have an hour!
The most important part of a wedding cake is what it represents—true love between two people. Like most people in the wedding industry, Ron Ben-Israel enjoys his job and strives to make couples happy: “I love seeing how devoted they are to each other...But I have also learned to see how difficult it is to organize such a large party. For most people, the wedding event would be the largest party they’ve ever thrown.”
Photos courtesy of The Food Network
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