BY JACKIE STRAWBRIDGE
A wedding cake has many roles – it must look beautiful, represent the life of a couple and taste delicious, all at once.
Denise Passarelli, the baker and decorator behind Denise Makes Cakes, said she does not take the responsibility of creating this type of dessert lightly.
“It’s a lot more work, it’s a lot more process [than other types of cake]. You get to really know the client a lot,” she said. “They’re really putting a lot of trust in you that you’re going to be able to fulfill their vision, make this delicious dessert for their guests and that it’s going to be perfect when we walk into the room on their wedding day.”
Altogether, the process from brainstorming to baking takes several weeks, Passarelli said. She added that many customers come in with pictures and Pinterest boards full of ideas, while others let her take control of the design.
“Some people leave the creative decisions up to [me] and some people are very specific,” she said. “I like to be able to add a little bit of my own flair or design to it – I like someone who will give me an idea but will let me choose some of the embellishments.”
One of Passarelli’s favorite accomplishments was a groomscake.
“The groom was a huge fan of ‘Ghostbusters,’ so the bride asked me to make the Ecto-1, which is the car that they drove [in the movie]. It was going to be a surprise,” Passarelli said.
She added that as an extra surprise to the bride, she made the cake flash with blue lights.
Lisa Bracigliano, who owns the Chocolate Swirl bakery, said that a crucial aspect of the cake design process is getting to know the couple she is working with.
“I actually like to talk with them, to see how they met and get a feel for what their vibe is,” Bracigliano said. Afterwards she might draw up a rendering, “and then we’ll go back and forth on finalizing the design and the flavors.”
Some of the more popular wedding cake themes Bracigliano has noticed over the past few years include beaches, art deco, simple ribbon and lace.
Both Passarelli and Bracigliano said they came to baking naturally. Bracigliano said she was working as a theatrical stage manager and started bringing in elaborate desserts for opening night. Passarelli started by making birthday cakes for her nephews and got into the habit of outdoing her previous cakes each year.
“Making cakes is a lot of work. It takes a long time – they’re labors of love. You really have to love it and it doesn’t feel like work,” Passarelli said.
Both bakers also stressed that couples should start the cake planning process early, to give themselves time to choose a bakery and cake design they are comfortable with.
“Start early, do a lot of research, have a clear theme in mind,” Passarelli said.
Denise Makes Cakes and the Chocolate Swirl can be found online at denisemakescakes.com and thechocolateswirl.com, respectively.
Reach Jackie Strawbridge at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JNStrawbridge.