Colorfully designed and decorated cakes can do wonders for special occasions by adding a luxurious statement to any event. Cake designs at Hispanic bakeries are becoming more elaborate, and tiered cakes (two or three tiers) are replacing pillared cakes (separated by pillars) as the most popular cake designs today.
Mi Pueblo Market in Denver has more than doubled its cake and pastry business in the past few years, and its pasteleria now accounts for 40% of the store’s total bakery sales.
“Tres leches cakes are our best seller,” says Jenaro Lopez, bakery supervisor for Mi Pueblo, which plans to open its fourth store in the Denver area in September. “Our secret is in the flavor. People buy our tres leches cakes for weddings, quinceañera and other occasions.”
Popular in many Hispanic cultures, a quinceañera is a coming of age ceremony to celebrate a girl’s 15th birthday. A quinceañera party is comparable in grandeur to a wedding. There is a significant dress, just as with a wedding, and can be just as expensive and unique as a wedding gown.
Flowers and decorations are selected to match the color scheme of the festivities, and a reception is held at which guests are served a meal. There is a dance for all in attendance.
Isabella Wall, a leading expert on quinceañeras who writes for Mis Quince Magazine (www.misquincemag.com), writes a column that includes tips for planning special quinceañera parties. She writes that white cakes are popular because they match with any color theme and suit any theme and budget. She offers the following tips from her sister, Miriam Gautreaux, a famous cake baker in the Dominican Republic, on how to personalize white cakes.
• Place flowers between the tiers.
• Trim the bottom of the tiers with ribbon in your quince color.
• Stack the tiers of cake on pillars.
• Change the shape of the tiers — make them square or round.
• Stack the tiers straight or crooked, as if they were falling.
• Add texture that’s related to your theme, like waves for a summer quince, or paisley print, silhouettes, shapes and jewels.
• Copy the lace or the details of your dress, such as bows, on the tiers of your cake.
For other special occasions, Hispanic cake decorators are adding unique textures to cakes, and cake designs are becoming more personalized to the unique interests of the person celebrating a big event. Wedding cakes, for example, increasingly are patterned off the wedding dress of the bride. In some cases, cake decorators use silicon molds that are formed using the lace design of the bridal wedding dress to make an exact copy of the lace design on the wedding cake. Using the mold, the lace design is formed in fondant or gumpaste and placed carefully on the top or side of the wedding cake to create a one-of-a-kind cake design.
Special occasion cakes come in many sizes, flavors and colors. “We offer cakes with different sizes and presentations,” says Jose Dominguez, bakery manager for Rancho Liborio’s six grocery stores in Colorado. “We definitely want to please the customer and give them whatever they want.”