Creating Wedding Cakes is An Art
LOVEPOST is chatting with wedding cakes designer extraordinaire Lindsey Gamble, of New York’s Elegantly Iced. Her custom creations will make your jaws drop and your mouth water. Check out Lindsey’s drool-worthy designs and hear all about her decorating style, wedding cakes, and advice for couples looking for that dessert wow factor.
Q&A With a Wedding Cakes Expert
Tell us a little about yourself and how Elegantly Iced came about. How did you get into the business?
That’s a long story, so I’ll try to sum it up. I grew up with an artist mother and cooking and baking with my grandmother. (She was a recipe tester for McCall’s and Woman’s Day before becoming a mother and we spent a lot of our time together in the kitchen.) On the other side, I spent a lot of time drawing, painting, and sculpting with my mom’s tips and inspirations.
I went the “normal” route through college to become an accountant, not considering anything in the kitchen to be a “real” career, and definitely not wanting to struggle as a starving artist, but very soon discovered that I hated it. I decided to take a year off and travel through Europe, making France my home base. However, once I got over there I knew I wasn’t going to come home any time soon.
I started working as a private chef, and finally friends took me aside and said that perhaps that was what I should actually be doing. At the same time through some sort of serendipity, my mother had sent me an article (That I still have!) that had four different cakes that were inspired by couple’s china patterns. They completely blew me away. It was a way to combine everything that I loved, and it gave me the perfect reason to stay even longer in France. Culinary school.
I moved to Paris and enrolled in the Cordon Blue, graduating with Le Grande Diplome in both culinary and pastry. I continued to work in France, and then Germany before moving back to the US and continuing to work as a pastry chef, doing cakes on the side. My culinary education in France was exemplary, but cakes and cake decoration aren’t really something that’s done in France. So, I was teaching myself to do this on the side, while my paid work was honing my baking skills. More and more often as time went on I was asked to make cakes for the places I worked, and finally I decided it was time to move to NY and do nothing but cakes. I started working for Cheryl Kleinman Cakes and Bijoux Doux as their GM and after several years with them, I decided it was finally time to branch out and open my own business. Elegantly Iced was born!
Would you say you have a specific decorating style when it comes to your wedding cakes? How would you describe your aesthetic?
I definitely have a style, but I’m not entirely sure how I’d describe it. Clean, perhaps? Very detailed. I get lost in the details, and try to put in as much as possible. However, I don’t like wedding cakes to look fussy or busy.
What are some of the most unique wedding cakes you’ve ever designed? What has been one of your hardest creations to pull off?
Oooh. That’s hard. There are so many great, unique wedding cakes that come to mind. I think that anytime you’re making a sculpted cake- or a cake that doesn’t look like a cake- they’re all incredibly unique. I did an assault rifle on a gun case, surrounded by bullets that actually went to a wedding, which was….different. I also had a lot of fun designing and making a first-birthday cake for one very punk-rock baby that had a girly skull with a bow on top and tattoos and spiked collar around the bottom! As far as the most difficult, I had a 6′ tall cake with over 500 roses on it that was very hard just because of the logistics of getting everything to the site and assembled.
What’s the hardest part of your job? What is the most rewarding?
Well, I’m a techno-phobe. Seriously. I’m terrible on computers, so the hardest part of my job really has nothing to do with cakes, but the more tedious aspects of running a business. It’s been very hard for me to pull myself out of the kitchen and sit down at a computer for several hours a day, and near impossible to start teaching myself about this new social-media world!
The most rewarding part is getting to see my designs finished and brought to life. Every cake is a little thrill after having the ideas in my head and in my sketches–sometimes for many months beforehand–come to fruition.
Let’s talk about taste. The cakes look great, but of course they have to taste great too. How do you achieve that? What are some of your most popular flavors?
Yes! The cakes absolutely need to be delicious. At the end of the day, no matter how beautiful or amazing the decoration is, the clients are still ordering a cake to be eaten. I spent years working as a pastry chef all around the world trying to perfect my recipes and baking techniques. Everything at the shop is baked fresh from scratch within 48 hours or less of the cakes going out, and are never frozen. I also use all organic and local ingredients wherever possible, and use only the best chocolates, vanilla and nuts.
The popularity of flavors really changes with the seasons. In the Fall and Winter people tend to want richer, denser wedding cakes, so something like my devil’s food cake with espresso soak, dark chocolate ganache, and salted-caramel buttercream is very popular. As the Spring and Summer roll around, lighter, brighter flavors like my lemon pound cake with Framboise soak, raspberry preserves and lemon buttercream is a favorite.
What is your advice for couples looking for the right wedding cake?
Two things. First and foremost, definitely plan in advance! Wedding cakes should be booked 3-6 months in advance, but in-demand bakers can often book up even further out. The more time that you can give to your baker both to ensure that you can get into the schedule, as well as more time to plan for all of your decorations, the better!
The other thing is to be personal! It’s wonderful to look through cake pictures online and in books for ideas, but just about anything can be done in cake. Bring in personal aspects to incorporate in the cake and really make it your own! This could be anything from things about your personalities, an heirloom piece of jewelry, flowers that you both love, elements of the wedding gown, or even a saying or poem that’s meaningful to you. Get creative!
Tell us: What are you looking for in your wedding cakes?