Take the Cake: 5 Tips to Ace Your Cake Tasting

Seattle's Dessert Geek Jess Tupper shares her advice and expertise for selecting a top-tier wedding confection.

1) DO YOUR RESEARCH

Here’s the big secret: each cake designer thinks about cake (and cake flavors) extremely differently. Karolina Montcalm of Lilac Cake Boutique offers “a highly curated list of flavors.” And then there are all the other components of a cake: some focus on fondant, others buttercream, some cakes are highly stylized while others aren’t. If you’re after a specific flavor combination or design, it’s best to find out if they even offer it before you book that appointment. Speaking of appointments, not every place requires one. Mike’s Amazing Cakes regularly hosts open house tasting events, and you can always swing by the Sweet Side’s retail shop for a slice to go if you’re not up for a full appointment.

2) YOU DON’T NEED ALL THE DEETS

You don’t need your wedding vision planned to a tee in order to book a tasting, but there are some details you’ll want in place. “You just have to know what the general design aesthetic feels like in your mind,” says Kara Burfeind of the Sweet Side. However, knowing rough guest count is important. “You don’t need to know you’re going to have 236 people,” adds Burfeind, “you need to know you’re going to have 200-250. Just [have] a good starting point.”

3) STRATEGIZE YOUR CAKE EATING

First, the prep: come hungry, and no spicy or sour foods an hour before you taste. Eat your cake in this order: vanilla to fruit to spice to chocolate, with light flavors first and chocolate and intensely flavored cakes last. Be sure to drink water as a palate cleanser between cakes. Coffee and tea also work, but they’ll impact what you taste, so bring coffee drinks you might have at your wedding, not your favorite layered coffee. Lastly, try to stop atsix or seven cake and frosting combinations. Palate fatigue is real, and you want to be able to enjoy the cakes, not feel ill. Don’t forget to take notes!

4) ASK TO TRY IT ALL

Eat all elements (icing, gum paste, filling) both separately and together with the cake.
You want to know what components you like and how they play together. (For example, lemon cake with lemon buttercream could taste just right but then get super sweet once you add fondant on top.) Find this out before you pay so you’re getting exactly what you want.

5) BRING ONLY YOUR CLOSEST CREW

The more people you bring, the more opinions are involved, and the harder it gets to reach a unanimous decision. Think you, your significant other, and one or two importantpeople you want to make sure love the cake as much as you do.

Jess Tupper is the Seattle Dessert Geek on Instagram, bringing you Seattle’s sweetest bites.