Buddy Valastro of Carlo's Bakery
in Hoboken, NJ chats about tradition in his family-owned shop, gives advice on how to choose your perfect wedding confection, and weighs in on the age old question: buttercream or fondant? Find out more about the Valastros and their bakery on their new show "Cake Boss."
Carlo's Bakery has been a business in your family for almost 100 years and you pride yourself on the fact that you stick to tradition. What are some key factors in your cake-making process that have never changed?
We still do things the old fashioned way. Our recipes haven't changed for almost a century and we still use the finest ingredients and bake things with old world tradition. I am a purist; simple, fresh ingredients are a recipe for success. Sometimes people try to over-complicate things and flavors fight so we stick to our guns and make what we've been making for 100 years.
How do you advise couples who have no idea what type of wedding cake they want?
I give them a big book of cakes to look through and tell them to mark down the elements that they like from different cakes. Then I come over and ask them questions about their venue, color scheme, her wedding dress, invitations, etc. From there I try to design something using all these variables and see what they think. Most of the time it works!
Buttercream or fondant?
Definitely fondant over buttercream when it's done right. We have a machine here that rolls our fondant out really thin so it doesn't affect the taste of our cakes. Fondant looks a million times better than buttercream, plus you can do so much more with the designs. Most of the brides who come in say they don't like fondant but after tasting it say, "Oh you were right, it's not bad."
Many of your wedding cakes have a signature look (draped fondant, all white or ivory, iced monogram). Why do you think this formula works so well for so many different couples?
You know, it's weird. I try not to have a style. I listen to the bride when I do a consultation and a lot of times the brides pick out the same style cakes. You can't go wrong with an all white or ivory cake. There's something simple and romantic about it that fits any theme or color scheme. If you are an indecisive bride you can't go wrong with a classic.
What are some popular trends in cake flavors and fillings for spring?
Pink Champagne cake with Chantilly cream and fresh raspberries is popular, as well as lemon zest pound cake with pistachio mousse filling. Lemon and pistachios are the essence of Sicily. Most people don't know it but they work perfectly together.
What do you hope to accomplish with your new show "Cake Boss"?
I made a promise to my dad before he died that I would make his bakery a household name so I've been trying to do that for 15 years now. I want to show the world who I am and what I do. My life is actually pretty funny. Most people hate to go to work but I love what I do and I think people are going to laugh seeing me and my family do what we think is normal because it might look a little crazy to the rest of the world.