Many of our clients at Ron Ben-Israel Cakes say that they have yet to enjoy a good wedding cake (until they try ours, of course!) So what exactly is the challenge in making a cake taste fresh and flavorful? Based on the general consensus out there, a wedding cake is intended to look beautiful on the outside but the inside is an after-thought. For those of you who just gasped in shock, it is a sad generality across the cake world–but one that can change with a little help from those who are in the know.
It begins with ingredients. If you skimp on the components of your masterpiece, it cannot be expected to withstand its journey from kitchen to table. The structure of a cake is only as strong as its foundation, and that means not substituting real food for faux. Real creamery butter will have a more luxurious feel on the palate as opposed to a vegetable oil based substitute. Whole flour and eggs create a stable base for the cake to be baked and built as these need to be included to bind components together. Without them the texture changes, the durability changes and you no longer have something that can be considered cake. It is not always the fault of the baker’s technique but rather the shortcomings of the ingredients they choose.
Even something as simple as sugar can greatly affect the overall sensory impression of a cake. Substituting nectars and synthetic sweeteners may save on calories but these faux sugars and substitutes can change the resonance of the flavors in the frostings and fillings. Compare this concept in fashion where a simple sheath dress is created from two different fabrics: a silk charmeuse and a polyester satin. While both fabrics have a sheen to them and appear to the naked eye to be very similar, the way they move on the body, the drape and the hand all feel quite different. Polyester is a synthetic imposter of its silk cousin which starts with an oil base; a similar manufacturing method is used in creating plastic bottles with the same chemical composition. While it keeps production costs low, it will never measure up to the softness and flow of the charmeuse, a natural fiber with low friction beneficial to the skin as well as hypoallergenic qualities. Silk is a gift from nature and while it may be harder to find and cost a bit more, the end result is a far cry from anything a synthetic fabric could accomplish.
And for those of you who are crying out that sugar is bad for you and butter is the devil, I would say that cake may not be the right dessert for you–or any dessert for that matter. No one is forcing you to cut yourself a slice of layered goodness, but if you choose to do so, don’t you want it to be worth it? Would you rather drive a Bugatti Veyron down the Audubon or a Honda Accord? There is nothing wrong with a Honda, but if you have an opportunity to enjoy the engineering purity of a Bugatti, you should absolutely do so without any regrets. So indulge in the real thing if you want a piece of cake. Your tastebuds will thank you and just be mindful of your waistline–everything in moderation.
So for all the aspiring bakers and home cooks alike, remember this one piece of advice: Keep it real. Those who will devour your cakes and then immediately ask for seconds will thank you for it.