The Reluctant Groomzilla Meets the Queen of Cakes

Sylvia Weinstock, queen of cakes.

I’m sure you know the expression “piece of cake.” Well, as it turns out, picking a cake is anything but. However, the good news is that you get to have your have your cake and eat it, too! So, to paraphrase Marie Antoinette, let us eat cake (samples).

It all started with our reluctance to get a cake at all. The reason is that since we’re having a kosher-style wedding, we have to have a dairy-free cake because we’re serving meat. Now, taking the dairy out of a cake usually results in something resembling sugared cardboard, so we had decided to forgo cake altogether and serve an alternative dessert. Then we went to a wedding where Sylvia Weinstock had done the cake. It was actually glatt kosher (meaning super-duper kosher) and tasted fantastic, so off we went to meet Sylvia.

For those of you who aren’t as food- or celebrity-obsessed as some of us, Sylvia Weinstock is known as the “queen of cakes” and has baked for a ton of celebrities and politicians. In fact, a few days before we were scheduled to meet her, she had made a cameo appearance on Gossip Girl—one of the fiancée’s favorite shows, so she was suitably starstruck. In addition to Sylvia’s amazing and beautifully designed cakes, she’s also know for wearing awesomely large black-rimmed round glasses that look like something from a comic strip. I’ve been watching Ace of Cakes on the Food Network a lot, and I’d love to see Sylvia and Duff do a show together. It would be akin to the London Philharmonic playing with Slayer, a glorious train wreck with bystanders splattered in buttercream icing and fondant.

Anyway, planning for the meeting was a production in and of itself. We had spent three days beforehand looking at pictures of cakes. Pictures in magazines, pictures online, pictures in the morning, pictures at night. By the time we were done, I was ready to buy a few boxes of Betty Crocker and be done with it, but the fiancée wanted to have “ideas” and a “vision” when we spoke to Sylvia. On the day of our meeting, I had no idea what I really wanted and my vision was blurred by thoughts of marzipan flowers, but I knew one thing for sure: NO CAKE TOPPER. I wanted one of those amusing ones you can get—you know, with the couple on cell phones or with the bride lassoing or bullwhipping the groom—but apparently those are not classy.

When we finally met Sylvia, she was a whirlwind of activity and had exactly the sort of personality I imagined she would—hard-nosed New York businesswoman who, despite her best efforts, is sweet and funny. It was obvious she had forgotten more about cakes than most bakers will ever know, and as she guided us through the process of figuring out what the cake would look like, I felt as if I wanted her to approve of our selection more than anything else. I think I know what it’s going to look like (because I was sent away several times, I’m guessing it contains elements of the fiancée’s dress) and that it has five tiers.

The best part was picking the cake flavors and filling. We’re going to have two types of cake that will alternated in the tiers: chocolate-hazelnut cake with hazelnut, caramel, and mocha filling and dark-chocolate cake with two layers of blood-orange filling and one of vanilla. With flavors like that, it could be covered in pink sequins and I’d be okay with it!

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