Getting the wedding cake you want depends on a clear vision of your cake design and good communication with your baker. These are the terms you need to know to make sure you're on the same page when it comes to your wedding-day confection.
A popular pattern for wedding cakes — most often, white-on-white creations — that is made using a piping technique interweaving vertical and horizontal lines (resembling a wicker basket).
A mix of butter, sugar, and eggs that makes a delicious filling and rich icing. Watch the temperature: If buttercream isn't kept cool, it can melt.
A delicate design that's created by using an elaborate piping technique to produce a lacelike pattern.
Silver- or gold-coated edible sugar balls that are used as decorative elements.
A chewy, sweet sugar dough that's rolled out and wrapped around each tier, creating an ultrasmooth finish to your cake. It's an ideal icing for outdoor receptions, as fondant does not need to be refrigerated.
A luscious icing or filling made by heating and stirring together semisweet chocolate and whipping cream.
Gum paste (or sugarpaste)
A sugary dough that's used for making realistic-looking ribbons, flowers, and other beautiful decorations for the cake. Unlike fondant, gum paste hardens when it dries.
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An ornamental design created when strips of icing are crisscrossed over one another to form a pattern of open spaces.
A dense almond paste that has a multitude of uses: It creates an even, fondant-like finish when wrapped around cake layers; it can serve as a decadent filling; and it can be used like sugarpaste to adorn the cake with fruits, flowers, and other ornamental elements.
A decorative technique requiring a pastry bag and various metal tips that can be used to create leaves, borders, basket-weave designs and flowers.
Pulled (or spun) sugar
Heated sugar syrup that's been twisted to make decorations. Pulled sugar can make caramelized adornments like ribbons and flowers; spun sugar can be used to create gossamer strands, aka angel's hair. Both are too fragile to transport, so they have to be made onsite.
A blend of egg whites and sugar, which forms a thick frosting that can be used for lace and latticework. Royal icing should not be refrigerated because, when dry, the texture becomes hard and brittle.
Delicate, incredibly detailed and realistic-looking flowers made from sugar. They are often hand-painted.
A piped pattern made with masses of tiny dots, resembling Swiss-dot fabric.
This light, delicious filling or frosting is very delicate; use it only if you are able to have your cake refrigerated until just before it's served.