Just as flavours are taking on more decadent profiles, decorations are also embracing sophistication. In the same The Knot article, custom art is identified as a major trend expected to be everywhere (and on plenty of cakes). "Hand-painted art, as well as edible printed patterns inspired by textiles, will be a trend we continue to see.” This gives bakers an opportunity to flex their decorating muscle and showcase talents that may often go unexpressed during the off season. For many bakers, the reduced business of 2020 meant time to experiment with new techniques and now is the time to let that work pay off. "Texture is still on the rise, as is the use of wafer paper for flowers, abstract paper-y shapes and edible fabric draping,” echoed The Knot.
While weddings are celebrated all year long, May - October is traditionally defined as wedding season. Although the season may stay the same, wedding centre pieces, like cake, take on their own unique personalities season to season.
What are the top trends bakers need to consider going into this year’s wedding season to ensure they’re offering cakes that couples want? Dawn is taking a deeper look at five of the top trends influencing cake flavours and design around the world. We talked with our own experts, global insights teams, and other wedding professionals to understand what cakes will be in demand in 2021.
Focus on Flavours
One of the most important decisions in wedding planning is often selecting the wedding cake flavour. Traditionally, favourites like chocolate, vanilla and carrot cake reign supreme. However, as the world comes out of the other side of COVID, decadent and unique flavours are making their way into the mainstream, helping brides and grooms capture the specialness of their day. Chocolate is going darker and deeper than in years past. According to Phil DeWester, senior director of category marketing for Dawn Foods, couples will take a classic flavour and reimagine it in an indulgent way. “This trend toward flavour indulgence is significant for chocolate cakes,“ DeWester said, adding that chocolate cake and cupcakes continue to be the top flavour among all cake flavours (Source: Nielsen, POS Sweet Bakery), and that chocolate is projected to grow at a steady rate into 2025 (Source: Datassential MenuTrends/Flavor, April 2020). DeWester said, “This wedding season, chocolate cakes will be darker and richer than ever before, with ingredients like black cocoa powder, activated charcoal and richer fudge.”
For couples looking for something decadent but lighter, citrus and fruit are top choices. In fact, lemon is making a strong comeback in European flavour profiles. Europe is the leading sustainable producer of lemons, meaning the zest, juice, essential oils and peels are finding their way into cakes, icings, fillings, and decorations. In the US, strawberries are showing in strong force. As one of the first fruits to ripen in the summer schedule, strawberries are the perfect pink addition to baked goods for the early months of wedding season. Pairing well with both vanilla and chocolate, this fruit can add a touch of flavour and seasonality to otherwise basic cake choices.
Gone are the days of five-tier wedding cakes. Today’s cakes trend toward smaller cakes that reflect the more intimate gatherings people are having this year. According to research from Dawn Food’s Latin America Market Research and Insights Team, one-tier and individual cakes will be popular in 2021. The single-tier cakes allow for the traditional sharing of a slice, while individual cakes give guests the chance to have their own cake, even choosing their own flavours and designs depending on the variety offered by the bride and groom.
Another take on individual cakes that started in the UK and is spreading globally is the cake pizza. The cake is baked in moulds that resemble cut slices of pizza, giving bakers the freedom to decorate each piece with different icings and toppings. It’s a modern take on cake and cupcakes, combining what consumers love about each and bringing them together in a new shape.
Traditions Take on Special Meaning
According to experts at The Knot, traditions are taking on more meaning in 2021. In their article, “These 2021 Wedding Cake Trends Are Unlike Anything We've Seen Before,” cake trends in 2021 are all about intentionality, “especially since a smaller wedding allows the couple to experiment heavily on the details. One way to make an unforgettable statement is with the cake.” What does this intentionality look like? It starts with giving bakers an opportunity to get to know their customer and show their creativity. It could be recreating the bride’s favourite flowers as sugar flowers to top the cake, or infusing flavours from their favourite holiday destination. In a time when people are appreciating family and relationships more than ever, creating cakes that reflect those connections gives bakers a way to shine.
Make it Matter
While decadence is trending, its counterpart – minimalism – is also making a comeback. Items like naked cakes and minimally decorated cakes are having a moment this season. Monochromatic colour schemes are popular, as is decorations that feature one impactful item, like lavender, other herbs, or the same flower used to punctuate the decoration. If going the minimalist route, it’s important that whatever direction you choose, you make it matter. Use herbs or flowers that do double duty of not only looking beautiful but smelling amazing as well. Also choose single colours that provide impact while connecting to the larger theme of the event. And if a naked cake is the bride’s choice, develop a table scape that showcases the simple, straightforward beauty of the cake.
Regardless of the trends the year’s weddings are reflecting, best practices are a must. Stay focused on getting to know the bride and groom so that their cake reflects their style, taste and sensibility. Be sure to market your bakery throughout wedding season so that you remain top of mind for these once-in-a-lifetime cakes.