How to Work with your Baker

Wedding cake designer Ron Ben-Israel on cakes on a budget and how to communicate with your baker

Wedding cake designer Ron Ben-Israel chats about tips for choosing a cake for your summer wedding, why he traded in ballet slippers for a baker's apron and clears up two common cake myths.

You were a ballet dancer before becoming a baker. Why did you decide to change careers?

I actually went to art school before getting bit by the dance bug. I would still be dancing today if my body hadn't betrayed me and I had to retire at the ripe age of thirty-five. The culinary industry, and particularly pastry arts, was a natural evolution of my strict training. I was able to apply my passion to the extreme discipline required to achieve perfect wedding cakes. And every cake I design and bake is like opening night!

We've heard a lot of mistaken ideas that brides have about cakes. Are there any wedding cake myths that you wish you could set straight?

The notion of presenting a smaller cake during the reception and serving from additional sheet cakes in the kitchen always backfires. I feel that the cake size and structure are essential, and need to be coordinated with the statue of the venue.

Second, I don't understand why a bride would instruct a baker to copy a design she fancies in a magazine. A copy is never as good as the original, and not everyone is capable of the technical challenge. By all means bring your cake designers photos for inspiration, but challenge the baker to create a unique cake just for you.

These days many brides are working on a reduced budget. Do you have any advice for a bride who would like to have a beautiful wedding cake for less?

There is no reason not to get a wonderful cake for a lesser budget—as long as the bride is realistic about her means and expectations. The cake budget is largely based on the time it takes to execute it. Bolder statements are less costly than labor-intensive details.

What's the most important thing for a couple to keep in mind when choosing a wedding cake?

I can't stress enough the importance of the element of trust between the couple and their chosen cake designer. Brides need to evaluate if their vendors can provide the quality they expect. During the creative process, the bride and groom need to express their likes and dislikes, and communicate freely with the designer.

What factors does bride need to consider when she chooses a cake for a summer wedding?

Since heat and fresh cake don't go well together, it's important to let the baker know if the reception is going to take place outdoors. Your trusted caterer should arrange a cool spot for the cake until the reception starts. We deliver our cakes in cold vans, and often setup the refrigerated cake just before the guests arrive.

See more beautiful wedding cakes in our Cakes Gallery.

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