Here at the Gettysburg Hotel, we take our dessert very seriously and offer you only the best Gettysburg has to offer, which is why we include a wedding cake by either Karen Rodkey Cakes or Wells Family Baking Co. in all of our wedding packages.
I sat down with both of our baking masters to learn a little bit more about their journey to where each of them are today.
What I found most interesting is that Karen got her start completely by accident. After she graduated from culinary school, she worked at Baltimore’s Pimlico restaurant for a time before taking a ‘normal job’ elsewhere. One day, she got a call from the chef at the Westminster Inn who was familiar with her work and asked her to make two wedding cakes for the coming weekend. Their current baker had quit mid-week with no notice and Karen stepped in to save the day. Little did she know that would be the start of a 24 year journey that continues to thrive.
I asked her about the changes she has seen over those 24 years and what’s currently trending. The biggest change is that when she started out, she offered a variety of flavors that were sure to be crowd pleasers. Over time, she’s kept those originals, but has created flavors and fillings that suit her palate, most notably Orange Ambrosia and her signature White Chocolate with Raspberry Cheesecake Filling. At this point, she offers over 30 flavors, each paired with the perfect filling, that are the delightful finish to a flawless wedding day.
When asked about her favorite flavor, Karen said, “It would have to be carrot cake, a flavor my mother made for us growing up all the time.” The most popular flavors are consistently Chocolate Peanut Butter, Chocolate Ganache, Strawberry Shortcake and Red Velvet, though some flavors do gain popularity seasonally. For example, Pumpkin Spice and Apple Cinnamon start trending when the weather turns cold and the White Chocolate with Raspberry Cheesecake Filling is a hit as spring emerges.
The steady popular trend that we’ve seen again and again over the last two years or so is the shabby chic wedding reception, complete with burlap and mason jars. In cakes, this trend manifests itself in designs that include plaster-like finishes and naked cakes. In some cases, cupcakes fill the bill for this more casual theme. Karen told me she feels that most couples choose a cake to match their venue and thus, has been bringing a lot of classic wedding cakes to grace our Grand Ballroom. This year’s trend has been an increase in blush and navy, metallic accents and soft, feminine patterns, such as lace or damask.
I asked her about transporting the cakes, which she replied is “probably the most nerve wracking part; being aware of the other drivers, trying to be patient and watching out for the safety of the cake because there is no second chance.” But she says that’s not the hardest part. “The most difficult part of making a wedding cake is all of the unseen hours that go into the process.” The average cake can take upwards of 15 hours or more to create, but that brings us around to her favorite part. She loves that she can look at her counter filled with common ingredients of the finest quality, (fresh produce, gourmet cocoa, real Land O’Lakes butter) and through all of those long hours, she can shape not only a gorgeous, but delicious creation, custom designed to be the perfect fit for one lucky couple’s wedding.
A huge thanks to Karen for taking the time out of her busy baking schedule! Check back next week for more on our wedding cake discussion as we speak with Delisa Wells about her journey opening Wells Family Baking Co.