Andrew Harmon





by Pretty Tasty Cake

Cupcakes - soft, sweet morsels of sponge cake, baked in individual paper cases, piled high with icing and decorated in a million and one different ways. These cute little cakes have become a fabulous alternative to a traditional wedding cake recently. Why?

More Bang for your Buck
If you are planning on having a cupcake for each guest, an effective way to display them is on multi-tiered stand. The most popular type being acrylic round tiers separated by slim pillars - they are almost invisible in the overall effect, so that the full impact of the cupcakes can be appreciated.

Depending on the look you are trying to achieve, acrylic stands come in a variety of shapes and finishes (even cerise pink!) and are scalable - carrying up to 150 cakes - enough to cater for most weddings.

When comparing price per portion, a cupcake tower fares well against a tiered cake. But, whereas a cupcake tower serving 150 would be over a metre and a half tall, a traditional wedding cake serving the same amount of people might only be a third of the size, so with a cupcake tower you normally achieve a much larger arrangement for your money.

Variety is the Spice of Life
Cupcakes can be baked, topped, decorated and dressed in many different ways, so the style of the finished product is almost limitless, giving them the ability to tie in with any wedding theme.

Cupcake cases are a major way to introduce colour into your cake arrangement. More traditionally cases would be made of clear greaseproof paper with silver and gold foil versions lending themselves to wedding celebrations. They are now increasingly available in a myriad of pastel and bold colours and you can find "designer" cases with intricate flower, filigree and butterfly designs and classic versions with spots and stripes.

Cupcakes can be finished with buttercream, flat discs or domes of sugarpaste (the stuff you find on traditional cakes), sugar icing (like your Gran used to make) or even a combination of toppings.

If made traditionally, buttercream is naturally ivory in colour, but can be tinted to suit your scheme. It can be loaded onto your cupcakes in various ways: using a palette knife for a retro, cakeshop feel, in large elegant swirls, piped smooth like toothpaste and rose-effect or tall "Mr Whippy" style swirls.

Most good cupcake makers will make your cupcake decorations by hand, and will take inspiration from different elements of your day. For very simple cakes you can opt for sprinkles, which are available in an ever increasing array of colours and shapes. If you want to add a subtle shimmer or a touch of bling try edible glitters. You can then add simple icing shapes, personalised plaques, sugar flowers, butterflies… the list goes on!

Typically the more intricate the decoration on your cupcake, the more time it will take to make and the more it will cost. You can help keep your cake costs to a minimum, by choosing only a proportion of your cupcakes with very elaborate design and placing these on the outside or more visible parts of the display, saving simpler cupcakes for the middle of your display.

You can add to your look further by encasing your cupcakes in delicate wrappers. The most popular designs are laser cut and give a lace effect outer to your cupcake and come in several patterns and pastels shades. If you anticipate that your guests will want to take their treat home with them, you can even present the cupcakes on the stand in clear boxes tied with ribbons and sprigs of flowers or heather.

Choosing cupcakes of a single design creates a display more in keeping with a modern themed day, whereas having a selection of cases, colours and decoration creates a cake arrangement with an informal or vintage feel - especially if you add some vintage crockery, lace and pearls.

You CAN Please All Of The People
If you are having lots of individual cakes, whose to say you can't have them in a variety of flavours? This way you are sure to tempt the taste buds of even the pickiest guest. You can even look after individuals with food allergies with a special cupcake just for them!

To help guests identify their favourite, you can work into the display some cupcakes decorated with little flags announcing their flavours - this makes them all the more tempting!

Take your cupcake tower further by incorporating mini cupcakes (perfect for the smaller appetite and children) or turning your tower into a full on dessert table, adding in pretty cake stands ladened with cake pops, biscuits and desert "shots". All colour and style co-ordinating, this will create an amazing display that will be making the most of your money and will satisfy everyone to boot.

Let them Eat Cake
You don't need caterers trained in surgery to cut up cupcakes (or pay a fee for them to do it!) and if you are having a relaxed affair, guests can simply help themselves from the display.

But whereas guests will gladly nibble at a piece of wedding cake that is placed directly in front of them, they may be more reticent to take a cupcake from a beautiful display. To avoid leftovers, make sure your display is placed in an accessible spot, make an announcement asking guests to take a cake or even add little "Alice in Wonderland" signs to the odd cupcake saying "Eat Me".
Timing is also important in making sure all your cupcakes get eaten - think about at what point during your day (or evening) your guests will have enough appetite or be in the mood for a cake.

Finally, some guests might cringe at the idea of eating a cake as they would a canapé whilst dressed in their finery, so you might want to provide an artful stack of side plates on your cake table. And if these were pre-owned china pieces, it would add to any vintage theme that you have going on - gorgeous!

Whether you choose a traditional cake, cupcakes or a combination of treats for your wedding cake table, make sure that you enjoy!


About the Author
Pretty Tasty Cake is a one-woman baking machine based in Cheshire. Creating unique and beautiful wedding cakes, cupcake towers and dessert tables, all of their sweet treats are made from scratch and to order, to provide truly individual confections to complement your occasion.




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