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Outdoor Wedding Cakes
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Outdoor Wedding Cakes

Venues

Since we’re fortunate to live in “endless summer” here in San Diego, lots of couples get married and have receptions outdoors.  Of course, this means the wedding cake is getting set up outside as well.  You have to make certain allowances for a cake that’s going to sit out for 5 hours or so before it’s cut — which is a pretty typical time frame for most wedding set-ups.  I’ve actually changed some of my recipes and assembling techniques over the years to accomodate outdoor weddings, since we do so many of them.  When I first started Twiggs, I offered several mousse cakes, as that’s what I’d learned up in Northern California.  But mousses sitting for an extended time in some heat is a recipe for a collapsing wedding cake.  So I no longer offer any mousse cakes.  Also a big potential problem for a buttercream frosted cake is that it may “sweat” as it sits in heat.  You’re basically guaranteed of having a sweating cake if the bakery delivers a frozen cake, which several places do.  Twiggs will never deliver a frozen cake.  But even a cool cake can sweat if it’s sitting in 90 degree heat.  I played around with my buttercream formula so that now our cakes practically never sweat.  And no, I’m not divulging my secret.  It took me too long to figure it out — and actually came upon it by accident.

So what should you think about regarding your wedding cake if you’re having an outdoor wedding?  Here are things I’ve learned after delivering cakes for over 20 years:

1- Direct sunlight is the death of any buttercream frosted cake.  I know at least one bakery that refuses to do a buttercream frosted cake for any outdoor wedding.  But our buttercream frosted cakes will be fine as long as they’re in the shade.  Even if it’s upper 60’s, direct sunlight will ruin a cake.  It’s absolutely essential that your cake is in the shade.  If shade just isn’t an option for some reason, you’ll have to get a fondant covered cake.  I know fondant is more expensive and a lot of people don’t like fondant.  But you made the decision to have an outdoor wedding, not us!  Your buttercream frosted cake will NOT survive in direct sunlight unless it’s 55 degrees or colder.  And if it’s that cold, the wedding cake is the least of your worries with your outdoor wedding.

2- ants can be a real issue.  Do Not let the table cloth touch the ground.  Put the table legs in cups that are filled with water.  This way ants can not climb up onto the table and onto the cake.  I’ve delivered to some places where the table is already swarming with ants because they didn’t follow one of these two directives.  At that point, all hope is lost.

3- flying insects can be a problem.  We’re very fortunate in San Diego to have very few bugs.  But there are some places that have quite a few.  I’ve found anything near vineyards, especially, to be particularly buggy.  So what’s your option?  I’ve delivered to a few weddings that had the cake in a small pergula with mosquito netting around it.  But really, flying bugs aren’t a huge problem in San Diego.  Even the vineyards aren’t THAT bad as long as your cake is 15 yards or so removed from the vines.  Just don’t set your cake up next to a grapevine or horse corral.  Don’t laugh, I’ve done both.

4- if you’re near the ocean or the bay, you just have to have someone on seagull guard duty.  There’s one bayfront venue I deliver to (which shall go nameless) which has a real issue with HUGE seagulls that will swoop down when no one’s looking.  Make sure your caterer or one of your friends is standing on-guard by the cake table if seagulls are around.  Once a crowd gathers, they’re not so likely to attack.  But before the guests arrive is a real danger zone time.

5- as long as you’re in a coastal area with ocean breezes, you’ll be great with a buttercream frosted cake as long as it’s in the shade.  If you’re in Lakeside, however, in July with potential 100 degree weather, you’ll have to get a fondant covered cake.  Sorry, but the melting point of butter is about 96 degrees.  Don’t let a melting wedding cake be a sad metaphor for your future life together.

I think that covers the main points.  I hope they’re helpful.  If you get nothing else from this blog post get this:  NEVER SET YOUR WEDDING CAKE IN DIRECT SUNLIGHT!  

Finally, no blog post is complete without pictures.  Here are some cakes we’ve set up outside which had very happy existences.  The two on the first row were both set up at the Darlington House in La Jolla — a fantastic outdoor venue (as long as you’re not hung up on an ocean view).  The lower left picture is from Piatti’s restaurant in La Jolla Shores.  They have a lovely outdoor patio for smaller weddings.   The bottom right with the ducks in the nest topper is from the Martin Johnson House at UCSD Scripps Institute of Oceanography — one of my absolute favorite venues.  Actually, all three of these venues are personal favorites.    Click on any picture to see a larger view.

      

   

 

 
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