Beginners Guide: Wedding Cake Terms

Navigate the process of finding your cake with ease!

A La – what? Fondant? Help!

For most of us, the only professional baking experience we have is binge watching The Great British Bake Off while eating cake. So navigating the process of finding a wedding cake can be difficult, especially understanding all the jargon. Refer to this baker-to-english translation guide to help you get your perfect wedding cake!

Icing Options:

Buttercream: Smooth icing that can be made in different consistencies, colors, and flavors. It is used for add decorations and borders, cake writing, and as the frosting or filling. It will melt in extreme heat. Crumb Coat: A thin layer of icing, put on before other layers, that catches crumbs. Naked cakes are made by using a crumb coat of icing and not adding anymore layers. Fondant: A stiff cake covering that is used to give it a smooth and clean look. It is made of syrup, sugar, and gelatin. Fondant is not as tasty, so many couples choose to have a layer of buttercream or ganache under the fondant. Ganache: A rich chocolate icing that gives the cakes a glossy finish. It can also be used as filling. It will melt in hot or humid weather. Marzipan: A paste with similar consistency to fondant made from almonds, eggs, and sugar. It can be used as the icing or molded to make cake decorations.

Cake Decorations:

Dragées: Sugar balls that adorn the outer layer of the cake. Usually painted with a metallic-looking finish. Edible Images: Images that can be imprinted on the cake using edible ink and edible frosting paper. Floral Wire: Inedible wire that can be used to secure decorations. Gold Leaf: Edible thin gold strips are applied to the outer layer of the cake to add a metallic flair. Gum Paste/Sugar Paste: Made from gelatin, cornstarch, and sugar, this paste is used to mold decorations. It is edible but probably won’t taste the best. Pearls: An edible decoration that is similar to hard candy. They resemble pearls and are used to decorate the outer layer of the cake. Piping: A decorating technique that bakers use to add patterns, swirls, and lettering. It is usually used for basketweave, latticework, and shells. Pulled Sugar: Used to mold decorations and is made by boiling sugar, water, and corn syrup together.

Decorating Techniques

Airbrushing: Coloring is sprayed onto the cake to add more interesting coloring to the icing. Basketweave: A crosshatch pattern made on the outermost layer of the cake using buttercream or fondant. Chevron: A horizontal zigzag pattern added the cake using fondant. Cornelli: A delicate, lace-like pattern made using an elaborate piping technique. Damask: Geometric, animal, or botanical patterns usually made using fondant. Marble: Used when the interior cake has multiple flavors, in which the flavors are swirled together. Petal Dust: A dust like mixture that gives cake decorations deeper matte colors with a shine. It can be used to make cake decorations more realistic. Swiss Dots: Small pearl-like dots piped on the outermost layer that resemble the Swiss dot pattern on wedding attire.


Cake Board: A piece of cardboard that is used as a base. Cake Topper: Decorations of the top-most layer of the cake. Generally refers to the figurine of the bride and groom. Pillars: Usually made of plastic and used as separators in a tiered cake.


Groom’s Cake: A speciality cake made with the groom in mind. Often it is themed around the groom's interests and served at the wedding reception on a table separate from the wedding cake. This old Victorian tradition is popular in the American South. Miniatures: Small individual wedding cakes served to each guest. Torte: A dense type of cake that does not use ingredients like baking powder or baking soda.