North Fork Weddings: Couples want smaller cakes and more variety

SAMANTHA BRIX PHOTO | Christopher Junda, owner of Junda's Pastry Crust and Crumbs in Jamesport, with assorted pies and cakes he uses in dessert buffets.

Foodies addicted to television shows about baking may assume the current wedding cake trend calls for an extravagant, over-the-top creation.

But “that’s just television,” says Keith Kouris, baker and owner of the Blue Duck Bakery Café in Southold.

Mr. Kouris and other local bakers say North Fork weddings often feature smaller cakes than in years past — but couples now want more than just cake.

Enter the dessert buffet.

Couples are increasingly choosing cakes with curbed eye-popping appeal and instead requesting long tables of desserts filled with cupcakes, cake pops, tiny cheesecakes and miniature pies.

Miche Bacher of Sacred Sweets in Greenport said the dessert buffet, which can also be made mobile on server trays, is a growing trend that allows guests to taste many different sweets at one wedding. Miniature truffles, bite-size cannoli cookies and small ice cream cones are some treats she’s seen debut in the dessert buffet.

The make-my-cake-smaller trend may be partly attributed to the weakened economy, local bakers say; cakes ordered from North Fork bakeries and pastry studios can cost from $2 to $60 a slice, and smaller cakes mean smaller bills.

Mr. Kouris said people tying the knot on the North Fork are “drastically cutting down on the size of the cake.”

He said couples with 200 guests have ordered cakes that feed only 50 guests and a sheet cake kept in the kitchen feeds the rest.

Still, bakers say there are plenty of couples in the market for high-end wedding cakes involving intricate sugar patterns and extensive techniques.

Regardless of how expensive a cake is, bakery owners say autumn weddings tend to call for heavier cakes with rich frostings like chocolate merlot cake with blackberry buttercream frosting, carrot cake with cream cheese filling and red velvet cake with buttercream icing.

Some brides and grooms are ordering towers of cupcakes in the same flavors, but the popularity of the handheld dessert has lost a bit of steam.

“Last year was the year of the cupcake,” Ms. Bacher said. “This year is the year of the red velvet cake.”

Other fall favorites include apple cake with caramel butter icing and pumpkin cake with cream cheese filling, orders that can be filled at Butta Cakes Greenport Cupcake Factory, which also makes traditional wedding cakes.

Ms. Bacher said some couples are asking for more unique cakes like cardamom cake with pear-ginger filling or wine-flavored cakes like merlot, chardonnay and sparkling wine.

“We’re pretty adventurous with our palates and we encourage our brides to be adventurous as well,” Ms. Bacher said.

Another growing trend is serving pies in addition to — or instead of — a wedding cake.

Christopher Junda of Junda’s Pastry Crust and Crumbs in Jamesport said more people are opting for pies at their fall weddings this year. One couple recently requested he bake a table full of pies instead of a wedding cake, and several couples have ordered extra miniature pies to send home with their guests.

Bride-and-groom duos are increasingly giving sugary sweets to their guests when the reception is over, bakers say, and the dessert buffet can even double as a parting gift.

“Brides might have little to-go bakery boxes be the party favors,” Ms. Bacher said.

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