For Bronwen Weber, chef at Frosted Art Bakery, helping same-sex couples celebrate their big day is a piece o’ cake
When Arizona’s recent anti-gay law was being defended by its supporters, one of the refrains from conservative clucks was: “What if a gay couple wants a wedding cake?! A baker should be allowed to refuse to support such a travesty on religious grounds!!!”
To which Bronwen Weber says, “Let ’em eat my cake!”
Although she doesn’t look old enough, Weber has been baking cakes for more than 25 years, and for virtually the entire time — long before marriage equality became a hot topic — she has gleefully designed and delivered numerous same-sex wedding cakes.
“I’ve been doing same-sex commitment ceremonies since as far back as I can remember,” she says. “To us, it’s just as common as any wedding.”
Weber — who for eight years has run the 65-year-old Frosted Art Bakery & Studio in the Design District — doesn’t discriminate: She’ll even do heterosexual couples’ cakes. After all, newlyweds warrant their just desserts.
“We don’t judge … even if the same bride comes in twice a year. Here at Frosted Art, we say, ‘The sixth one is free.’ So far, no takers, though,” she jokes.
Weber has supported the gay community in other ways — she once designed mini-cupcakes with Pride themes for an event — but the wedding cake is clearly a forte. And in her long career, she’s definitely encountered some interesting requests.
“This one” — the one in the photograph — “has 13 tiers — that about 7 feet tall,” she says. “We will have to transport it in several pieces in refrigerated trucks and assemble it on-site.” Still that’s no where near a record for her.
“The tallest I’ve was probably 20 feet tall. Of course, it was in Dallas. Dallas [couples] want cakes that are significantly bigger than [couples] in other cities. In New York City, a 3-foot cake would be considered huge. We call them three-man cakes — with six tiers, you need three men to carry. Most are only two-man cakes.”
For the record, even a three-footer would serve 400 to 500 people.
“There’s a lot of cake in there,” Weber says.
Since people rarely have more guests than that, the huge cakes are some smoke and mirrors — a faux show,” she says. And no matter how far out she may plan it, when it comes down to it, the finished product (whatever the size) had to go out the door quickly. (“We usually only have 72 hours to get it out the door — if you start too early, it gets old, and no one wants an old cake,” she says.)
But even in Texas, where everything is bigger, size isn’t the only consideration. Weber usually interviews the couple about everything from color to theme to favorite flavors to bake a creation that’s perfectly suited to the occasion. Whether gay or straight, the process is pretty much the same.
“We want the feel of the wedding — the colors, do they want to put a lot of personality in the cake or something traditional, how big a statement do they want to make?” she says. “Twenty years ago, you’d ask, ‘Are your colors peach or pink?’ And it was always a white cake. Now anything goes.”
That’s especially true with same-sex weddings. Traditionally, the wedding cake is made to the bride’s liking and the groom’s cake for the groom. So what if there are two grooms?
“Then get two groom’s cakes!” she says plainly. “Or two bride’s cakes. The most popular groom’s cake flavor right now is strawberry. Women love chocolate, so it’s always seemed odd they don’t get chocolate wedding cake.”
Indeed, the wedding cake should be equally to the liking of both parties — tradition be damned.
“I always say it’s the couple’s chance to be selfish — if you worry about pleasing other people, you’ll go crazy. Say you like nuts, but have a guest who’s allergic — get nuts on your cake! They can eat something else.”
If you think outrageous requests bother her, you couldn’t be further from the mark. Weber has a puckish sense of humor about her work, and embraces every challenge thrown at her.
“Sometimes people say, ‘My grandma used to make this cake with Coca-Cola and mayonnaise,’ and we do it — we do everything. If it has sugar in it, we’ve tried it.”
“Hey, it’s just egg and oil. That’s what goes into a cake. It’s pretty inventive, actually,” she says.
Some of her stranger requests are usually with groom’s cakes. “People can get ‘out there’ — one time, we were asked for a surgery in progress. One time, Gene Simmons’ head. If it’s gory, it’s fabulous! Anything goes.”
There do tend to be trends, though. For a while, cupcakes were popular, then they fell into disfavor; now, they are back again. And another hot choice is the “Viennese table,” a tableau of luxurious desserts laid out on a smorgasbord. And pop-cakes and pop-pies are “in” as well.
“Put something on a stick and people love it,” she says.
Sometimes, couples ask for her opinion about what to do. Since she wants them to decide, an outrageous suggestion usually gets them the focus.
“I always say something like, ‘I like emus — let’s put an emu on your cake.’ If I could do it, I would,” Weber says. (Her own wedding cake was one of the most outrageous: Each of her employees designed a different tier and surprised her with it at the reception. She had to guess who did which level.)
The flip-side, of course, is bridezillas … and groomzillas.
“I won’t deny it. They exist,” she says. “They do calm down eventually. We have it easier than the photographers or florists, because we feed everyone cake. It’s hard to be grumpy when you have a piece of cake in front of you.”
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 11, 2014.