What do real brides have to say about the wedding planning experience? Newlywed Courtney Kern is the owner of Events Beyond, a wedding and event design company. Engaged since 2007—yes, she's heard every Five Year Engagement joke—she knew exactly how her dream day would unfold, but that doesn't mean the process was always a cake walk.
Though there are a multitude of talented bakers and bakeries in New York City offering nearly every kind of confection, for Ben and I, selecting our baker was as easy as pie—er, cake. I have lots of vendors with whom I work and respect, but Deborah Lauren of City Sweets & Confections is my go-to baker. Most of her clients find it difficult to cut into her incredible creations, which are known for their stunning florals and embossed frosting. (Alec Baldwin and his bride Hilaria Thomas even opted for one of Deborah's organic, vegan, and gluten-free wedding cakes at their summer wedding!)
Photo: Turnquist Photography
Needless to say, her work is always breathtakingly beautiful—and delicious—but most importantly, we work well together. Selecting vendors is personal; what works for one bride may not work for another. It's critical to the vision of your special day that you select vendors who you feel understand your likes (and dislikes).
In preparation for our tasting, Ben was given the not-so-painful task of narrowing down the selection of flavors City Sweets & Confections offers. (I'm allergic to gluten, and though they offer tons of tasty gluten-free options, we decided to reduce guest confusion and stick with a single, regular cake.) Deborah, equally skilled as a cake baker and mad scientist, offers something like 144 flavors of cake, fillings, and frostings. We're talking cake flavors like green apple and champagne, fillings like passion fruit custard and mocha mousse, and buttercream frosting varieties including wild strawberry and lavender.
With a world of wedding cakes open to us, the goal was to select three different tiers: one "basic flavor" tier that most guests would enjoy, another that picked up on our fall comfort food-themed wedding menu, and a third tier based on Ben's favorite flavors that would stand in for a groom's cake. (With a smaller, intimate wedding, it seemed crazy to have another cake on top of the additional sweets—including City Sweets & Confections gluten-free cupcakes, homemade caramel apples, and French macarons—that we were already offering. It was the perfect way to honor him!)
Ultimately, Ben's chosen flavor for his "groom's tier" turned out to be totally seasonal—apple cake with caramel buttercream frosting! We went with vanilla cake and chocolate truffle ganache for our every-palette-pleasing tier, which left one more layer to sort out. Finally we decided on carrot cake with vanilla bean mascarpone buttercream, a family favorite. It was a sweets-lover's dream!
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