The month of June is especially packed with celebrations that call for special cakes: weddings, graduations and Gemini birthdays. With all that frosting in our near future, Holidash asked Buddy Valastro, the eponymous "Cake Boss" of TLC's reality television show, for cake-related advice. (Season three of "Cake Boss" is just getting underway, premiering on May 31.)
Holidash: Let's start with weddings! Do you meet brides or engaged couples who get overwhelmed at the sheer scope of the wedding cake styles? What advice do you offer them if they just can't decide?
Buddy Valastro: If you can't make a decision, talk to your cake artist about the venue, the style of party you're throwing. What are you into; what does your dress look like? Your invitations? More info about the wedding event will help you focus.
Holidash: Are there certain fail-safe wedding cake flavor combinations that you think work best at this time of year?
BV: Right now, I like a vanilla cake with French vanilla frosting and fresh raspberries.
Holidash: What are some special cake designs you recommend for a graduation party, reaching beyond the standard cap-and-diploma decoration?
BV: I do what I call a mish-mosh cake, with all different interests and accomplishments in that person's life. If they played baseball or football, or if they like a certain kind of music, [I represent that on the cake.] I also ask about their goals and dreams. Let's say they want to be President of the United States -- I might do a Washington cake. And I always like to sneak a little diploma on the side.
Holidash: Could you suggest some fun, creative decoration ideas for an out-of-the-ordinary birthday cake?
BV: I take a similar approach -- it's good to think of the people you're celebrating first. You could do something humorous or sophisticated, depending on their tastes and ages. For a girl turning twenty-one, you could do a cosmo cake, shaped like the cocktail. For a five-year-old [who loves cupcakes] you can do a whole cake that looks like a cupcake.
Holidash: Are you seeing any special summer flavor trends?
BV: Red velvet has become really big. Traditionally it's a southern cake, but it's making its way north. We've been making these nonstop. The key is the cream cheese frosting; you gotta use good cream cheese. We use Philly, that's the truth! It is the most expensive but you get what you pay for.
Holidash: Is there any kind of cake that you dream of doing or something you'd love to experiment with?
BV: I want to do a cake where I actually have to paint a portrait on the cake or replicate a famous painting. It would be on a fondant canvas. My other dream cake would be to make the White House, an entire White House cake, and present it to the President. It would be my honor.
Holidash: The Valastro family and your employees work long hours in an intense environment. What advice would you offer to readers planning a big family event -- do you have any tips about working well together?
BV: You gotta breathe deep and think of the better good of the family. You can't let personalities get too involved. Show that you're thinking of the family; if everybody knows that, they'll fall into line.