A dream wedding is not complete without a spectacular cake. Luckily for couples in Central Oregon, there are very experienced and talented wedding cake artists in town.
Sweet & Swanky Cakes
Sonja McLean, owner of Sweet and Swanky Cakes in Bend, is an artist first and a bit of a world celebrity. Her third cake went viral on Pinterest and she has been featured in Bride Magazine and publications in Europe and even Russia. She says her cakes are for the bride when the cake is important to them and they are of the spirit, "I can't wait for my cake."
"I've developed a reputation," she says. "I don't eat, I don't sleep, I breathe your wedding cake. I think about it a lot, a lot, a lot. The wedding cake tells me how she wants to come to life as I'm making her," says McLean. "It's such a beautiful experience. You're getting a piece of my soul and it shows in my cake. My cakes have personality. They reflect the couple."
"I work very differently than other businesses. My brides don't get to see their wedding cake until their wedding day. I sit down for two hours with my bride and she tells me everything about her wedding. I get to know my bride and everything about them. I love it. It brings me joy." McLean works closely with the bride and says she may text a random question at 11 p.m. We work together, bond and build a relationship." With this level of commitment, McLean keeps her schedule to four cakes per month. She loves it when the brides and grooms cry when they see their cakes.
Sweet and Swanky wedding cakes start at one thousand dollars. This is the minimum for the custom cakes. Beyond that, she allows the couple to set the price. "I won't design something out of your price range," she says.
McLean likes to have six months or more in advance of the wedding to begin. Her custom, hand-tailored wedding cakes include sugar flowers that are created petal by petal. "They take hours to make," she says, and they last forever, so they are also a keepsake.
She also offers a buttercream option with no customization for $7 per serving. These cakes, like the custom cakes, are made from scratch.
For those curious about the craft, McLean recommends Craftsy, an online school for the arts, which recruits the world's best to film making a craft. In 2015 she was filmed as a Craftsy instructor on Dramatic Cake Design. "I made it my dream and it happened," she says.
The Cake Lady
"It's art work," says Linda Hickman, founder of The Cake Lady, in business in Bend for 39 years. She and DeAnna Kinsey are the cake ladies. Hickman was born just on the other side of Prineville and attended Oregon State to become a teacher. She wanted a business that she could do while taking care of a child at home, and in 1966, she began making wedding cakes.
In Hickman's 50 years of experience, she has seen several trends come and go. "The tradition has changed from the big white cake with lemon filling and lots of frosting," she says. "We went from only white to then every flavor under the sun but white, and now we're back to white cakes."
In the past, cakes were separated, but now, she says, the cakes sit one on top of the other. Cakes that are textured with burlap and wood are in at the moment. "We're doing burlap flowers, and twigs wrapped around each tier with the cake raised on a piece of wood from the base of a tree.
Requests for naked cakes, those without frosting, do come in from time to time, but Hickman notes the nature of a cake is that from the time it comes out of the oven, a cake starts drying out. "I don't know how many people would say, 'Yum.' We recommend a light, light frosting to seal it so it doesn't dry out," she says.
Cake Lady cakes start at $3.25 per slice. This is for cakes with buttercream frosting made with real butter, and whipped so that it is not as sweet, she says.
"We find out what the bride wants and make it even better. We do our utmost," says Hickman. "We don't mess around. These are top quality."
"The trend for summer of 2016 is Bo-ho," says Nickol Hayden-Cady, owner of Foxtail Bakery in Bend. "That means texture and earth tones, ribbons and geos, which look like crystals, rocks and gems, such as amethyst, but are edible and made from sugar," she explains. Hayden-Cady also sees a big trend right now in cakes with metallic design, such as gold, bronze and copper. Naked cake requests are not uncommon and they can be either entirely without icing or a romantic naked cake, which has some cake showing through, she says.
Foxtail likes to have eight months to one year, and has a medium price range of $500 to $1,000 for wedding cakes. Hayden-Cady works with the bride and groom, reviewing sketches and building upon what the bride and groom would like. She says cakes are "so personal now."