Wedding cakes: on a scale of 1-10, how important are they? I’d say about “8,” behind the venue and the bride’s dress, but tied with photography, flowers, and music. Every wedding of every faith shares in common a wedding cake tradition. It can be a towering confection taller than the bride or a simple sheet cake, but everyone knows that the sweetness of the wedding cake symbolizes the bliss of love and marriage. Whether you prefer fondant or buttercream, “naked” or robed in flowers, I’m here to help you find the Philadelphia bakery that will cook up the wedding cake of your dreams. The following represent the best wedding cake vendors in the City of Brotherly Love.
Co-owned by best buds Lily Fischer and Nima Etemadi, Cake Life Bake Shop has received attention on a national level. Fischer and Etemadi have competed not once, not twice, but THREE TIMES on The Food Network’s insanely popular show, Cupcake Wars – and won! Cake Life combines the best of American tradition with European classical techniques. The duo call their confections “at once unique and familiar, comfortable and exciting.”
Founder and lead director of Violet Philly is award-winning author Carey Madden, who previously whipped up cakes at famous Two Little Red Hens bakery in NYC. Indeed, she has been called one of the country’s “foremost experts on the art of buttercream decoration,” so you know that you’re in good hands. The exquisite buttercream flowers that distinguish Madden’s work come from icing that is sourced from an organic dairy farm in Lancaster County. Hate buttercream? Not a problem – Violet can work with dairy-free and vegan brides as well. Previous cake clients of this bakery include Madonna, Henry Winkler, Martha Stewart, Christina Hendricks, Katie Holmes and Anthony Bourdain.
How do you know a baker is exceptional? When it’s only mid-November and their schedule is fully booked all the way into 2020! Nutmeg has been twice featured in Martha Stewart Magazine, and the hype is real. Founder/designer Meg Skill’s aesthetic leans naturally towards the minimal and streamlined, but she of course is capable of as elaborate a cake as you can dream up. And yes, a five- to eight-month lead time is required. The final product will definitely be worth it, however. Of note is the fact that Nutmeg Cake Design is known for its scrumptious gluten-free cakes made with almond flour that taste just like a regular cake. Skill says that the highest-quality ingredients and unique artwork are her top priorities.
Milk + Sugar had a humble beginning: at the first, it was a cupcake-slinging food truck. Founders Marcel and Brittany quickly caught attention for their unique vision and non-traditional approach to building wedding cakes. For example, their cake pillars tend to be taller and slimmer, resulting in a more regal, towering confection than the norm. They are also extremely well-known for their wedding cake alternatives, too: want brownies, cookies, or cupcakes instead of a traditional big ol’ cake? They can work with that!
Whipped is definitely the top dog in Philly wedding cake bakeries. It comes up on just about every “best of” list and has the highest name-recognition value in the Center City area. This shop is acclaimed for good reason: its custom wedding cakes have appeared in Style Me Pretty, Brides Magazine, the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Weddings magazine. Martha Stewart Weddings actually went so far as to name Whipped among the top pastry pros in America. On top of the main event, Whipped also does groom’s cakes, shower and engagement party confections, and wedding favors. They have no fewer than sixteen signature cake flavors, including “Breakfast on the Thames” (an Earl Grey cake with blueberry-citrus curd and a honey-lemon buttercream).
Crust is a responsibly-sourced, all natural, vegan bakery that will appease even the most conscientious of brides. A buttercream base is used for their cakes using only local ingredients with no chemicals or preservatives. Signature motifs here are gold leaf accents, unexpected pops of color, and matte black on cakes, which surprisingly looks sophisticated and chic rather than goth-y. Accents lean towards the joyfully peculiar side, like trailing mini-succulents, Brussel sprouts, cattails, and herbs like lavender and rosemary. You’ll know that you are getting a truly unique treat when you go with this bakery, whether you are an everyday vegan or just branching out.