Nobody knows wedding cakes like Buddy Valastro. He's the star of TLC's hit shows Cake Boss and Next Great Baker; he runs Carlo's Bakery in Hoboken, New Jersey; and he has a celebrity clientele that includes Oprah and Britney. (He also made Mario Lopez's wedding cake!) We asked Buddy to share his tastiest tips on icing, palette cleansing, and what to eat before a tasting.
What's the best way to save the top layer of our cake for our first anniversary?
"The trick is locking out as much moisture as possible," Valastro says. "Store the top tier in an airtight container. Then wrap the container in plastic wrap and freeze it. It should keep until you're ready to thaw it out."
How do I make sure my cake gets to my wedding in one piece?
"The average three-tier cake weighs 50 pounds," Valastro says. "Make sure your baker delivers, preferably in a refrigerated truck. You don't want him throwing your cake in the back of his Toyota!"
Why should I have a groom's cake?
Valastro gives three reasons. One, "If the couple can't agree, the bride should get the wedding cake she wants; he can have his groom's cake," he says. Two, "It's a fun way to do something really fun and themed—I just did a huge tennis ball cake!"
And finally, "It's perfect to serve at the rehearsal dinner. It gets guests excited about the wedding and is more personal than a regular dessert."
What can we do to save money and still have a gorgeous wedding cake?
"The cost of a cake comes down to time—how long will the details and décor take me to create? The simpler the cake, the less expensive it will be."
What's the best way to cleanse your palate during a tasting?
"Water! But we serve coffee and tea, too."
Should we eat before our cake tasting?
"A lot of couples do tastings with their caterer and baker on the same day. I'd rather you come in hungry. We don't want you full by the second bite!"
If I'm doing cake tastings at multiple bakeries, should I schedule all of them on the same day to compare better?
"We offer a regular-size slice of each flavor (10 total!) to give the couple an idea of the portions. Most finish every plate!" Valastro says. "Don't go to more than one cake tasting in a day. You want to give each baker's ideas and flavors a chance to sink in."
How many people should come to my cake tasting appointment?
"Five. That's the maximum number of people you should bring to a tasting. Make sure one of them is the groom!"
What's the best way to find a baker?
"Ask your venue for suggestions. And think about the last time you loved a piece of wedding cake. Then find out from the bride or groom who baked it!"
What is the difference between fondant and buttercream, and which do you think is better?
"Fondant is a rolled icing made of sugar, water, and flavorings. It goes on smooth, protects the cake, and allows for more creative designs and sculpting. However, not everyone loves the taste and texture," Valastro says.
"Buttercream is a rich frosting made with butter and confectioner's sugar. It tastes delicious, but it's sensitive to temperature," he adds.
His verdict? Fondant on top of buttercream. "Fondant done right doesn'thave to change anything but the look. Most bakers layer it over the buttercream anyway. If they have a sheeter [a machine used for rolling fondant], they can use a really thin layer—your guests can peel it off if they want."