It’s officially time to start celebrating all that’s possible for 2021. And that means digging into just how sweet the new year will be.
Simple, tiered white wedding cakes aren’t the only option on the wedding dessert menu anymore, and we can’t wait to see what imaginative designs come out of 2021. There are definitely a few styles holding on strong from the last few years. You can’t hold a good trend down, right? But, there are a few new and creative techniques that bakers are working into cake designs to make wedding cakes (or wedding cake alternatives!) that much more fun.
Looking for inspiration for your own wedding dessert for 2021? Read on for some of the top predictions from expert bakers.
Skinnier Multi-Tier Cakes
A smaller guest list typically means you’ll need way less cake. So, if you still want that classic tiered cake look, this is a great way to pull it off. “We’re planning cakes that are anywhere from two to four skinnier tiers, where it still has that feel of a wedding but not the scale you would see at a large event,” says Janderyn Makris, owner of Earth & Sugar.
Micro weddings and elopements took center stage for 2020, with couples scaling down their guest lists dramatically. Chances are, this will continue into 2021. A beautifully decorated single-tiered cake is the perfect option for a group of 10 to12, offering just enough for everyone on the small guest list to enjoy a slice.
Individual Mini Cakes
There’s more of a focus on seated, plated dinners for 2021 receptions, and the dessert menu will most likely follow suit. Many couples are opting for individual mini cakes to be served at each place setting. “Couples are definitely planning with their guests’ safety in mind,” says Smith.
It’s becoming more common to ditch the idea of having a wedding cake altogether. With that, opting for another unique stacked dessert, such as croquembouche, has become popular in recent years. For 2021, Tiffany MacIsaac, owner of Buttercream Bakeshop, is predicting more desserts such as croquembouche served in an individualized way. “Anything from individual croquembouche to single-serving 'cakelettes' under a cloche,” she says. “They are a delicious and pretty way to protect guests from serving slices from a larger cake that has been on display all night.”
Watercolor detailing on cakes is a trend that’s been gaining traction over the last few years, and we’re totally here for it! And Weithers predicts we may see even more of it in the new year. “Continuing in the art trend, I have seen more and more couples wanting to include some sort of painted techniques in their cake designs,” she says. “Whether it be watercolor or palette painting with buttercream, there are so many directions that you can go in with these design elements, and couples really like that.”
Decked-Out Sugar Flowers
Edible flowers made out of sugar have been showing up more often on wedding cakes, but 2021 might just be their most popular year yet. “We’re already seeing a massive uptick in clients requesting sugar flowers for their cake rather than fresh flowers,” says Samantha Mayfair, owner of Samantha Mayfair Cakes. “Couples are tending to host smaller weddings, which provides flexibility to go for the show-stopping cake of their dreams!” Plus, with sugar flowers, they can also serve as a keepsake from your big day.
Semi-naked and naked cakes have been holding on strong for years, and this coming year won’t be any different. According to Dalana Fleming, owner of The Cake and The Giraffe, much of her 2021 orders coming in include buttercream cakes that are rustic or semi-naked with fresh flowers and greenery.
Some experts are seeing couples going back to basics for 2021. This past year was filled with so many ups and downs, and there’s comfort in choosing a classic such as buttercream. However, these cakes are incorporating more intricate detailing with buttercream than ever before. “I predict that we’ll see some fun textures, like bas relief and buttercream stenciling,” says Randi Smith, owner of Sugar Euphoria. “These are both beautiful ways to add visual interest to your cake.”
Modern Art Pieces
Who says a wedding cake needs to only include round tiers? This will be the year to really lean into an even more artistic approach, with the incorporation of offset tiers or darker color palettes. “I have been seeing a greater interest in clients letting go of classic wedding cake designs and leaning into a more modern artistic approach to cake design,” says Andrea Weithers, owner of Sweet Details. “I’ve had several clients tell me that they want their cake to look like ‘a piece of art’ showcased at their reception.”
Individually Packaged Sweets
The days of setting up elaborate dessert tables with candy and macarons or cupcake displays seem to be on hold for now. However, these sweet treats definitely aren’t going out of style—they’re just being reimagined. “Some of the cupcake tower orders are being converted to individually packaged cupcakes that will be available to guests as favors,” says Fleming.
The same concept goes for macaron towers, turning these sweet displays into individual take-home treats. “Not only are individual mini desserts practical from a safety standpoint, but they can also be personalized with pretty bows and name tags for a special touch,” adds Smith.
Want more inspo? Check out 30+ fan-favorite buttercream cakes below.