as easy as people think it should be. It’s a difficult cake to prepare and get the correct taste without a bitterness to it, because you use [almond] extract, and extract is very bitter.” Of course, anything as lusted after as white almond cake couldn’t come that easily. The same is true for another Rouses wedding favorite, the Berry Gentilly Lace cake: a juicy, warm-weather dream of a dessert where cloud-like tufts of mascarpone frosting are as elegant as any wedding dress (at least, for those with a sweet tooth). The building blocks of the cake read like a list of whimsical picnic delights — only baked into something glamorous. To begin with, three tiers of white almond cake (naturally) are sprayed with an orange simple syrup; then a frosting is created out of mascarpone cheese, cream cheese, powdered sugar and almond emulsion. (In order to ensure freshness, it’s whirred together on-site at each Rouses location.) The frosting goes between each layer of the cake, along with a who’s who of the berry family: raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and blackberries. The cake is then laced and iced with the remaining frosting, while additional berries are glazed in an apricot syrup and fastened to the top of the cake like edible brooches. “A lot of people really want the Berry Gentilly cake for weddings,” says Knight. “But it’s so rich, and real cream is in it. It’s got to really be kept refrigerated. It’s not a cake you could keep out and display for a while.” And while no one wants a melting cake to ruin their first moments of matrimonial bliss, at the end of the day, Knight is firmly committed to ensuring that future brides and grooms get the sweet wedding centerpiece of their dreams. “You know, I went downstairs today, and a lovely couple walked up and said, ‘We need a wedding cake.’ And they seemed like they were a little bit confused on what they wanted. So, I said, ‘Well, how many people do you have coming?’ And they said, ‘Only 25.’ And after I suggested a 10-inch cake, I said, ‘Well, when is the wedding?’ And they said, ‘Tomorrow!’” For most bakers, a one-day turnaround on a wedding cake would be a complete no-go: the kind of impossible, Herculean task that would bring all other bakery production to a screeching halt or — at the very least — require an extra rush-fee surcharge tacked on to the price. For Knight and the Rouses team,though,the desire to make every wedding as joyful as possible outweighs these sorts of challenges. “We took her order, of course, and we’re going to give her a beautiful wedding cake and everything she dreamed of. But that’s because people know that we accommodate no matter what it takes. Even for the last-minute people. Now, we don’t suggest that they do this to us,” Knight laughs. “But you know, if there’s any way we can help, we do. Because they’re special moments, and people go to weddings and eat the cake, and they realize it came from Rouses, and that it’s the white almond cake we’re known for. And they love it.” Whether your wedding is a low-key backyard affair with picnic tables and close family, or a blowout church event complete with organist and a bridal veil longer than Kate Middleton’s, Knight appreciates, above all else, how weddings hold a special time stamp on our hearts and in our lives. “It’s not about how much money you can make, it’s about how happy you can make someone on their special day. I mean, birthdays come around every year. Your wedding does not.”

Barrilleaux-Rouse wedding


Make no mistake about it, Southerners love to find as many ways as possible to turn their baked goods into ornate exhibitions. In the Gulf South, that often means the addition of trinkets: little pieces of delight that add interactive whimsy to a dessert (looking at you, king cake babies) but aren’t necessarily meant for human consumption. And while the Carnival time bundles of (plastic) joy are the best-known example of this phenomenon, the tradition of wedding cake pulls might just be the most endearing. A ritual dating back to the Victorian era, cake pulls are small metal charms that are attached to pieces of ribbon, then baked into a wedding cake — ribbon-side out. Prior to the ceremonial cutting of the cake, the (typically, single) female members of the wedding party gather around the cake, pick a ribbon and pull out a charm that will — surprise! — reveal their destiny. End up with a boot-shaped favor? Tradition dictates you’ll be off on a grand adventure soon. Pull out a charm with a button on it? Looks like you’ll be having a child sometime soon! The pulls often become much-treasured bridesmaid gifts, with New Orleans-area jewelers like Adler’s and Mignon Faget crafting their own versions of the pulls that are then easily fashioned into bracelets. “Years ago, cake pulls were very common. People would bring in their charms; we would put them into the cake; and they would pull them out at the wedding. Way back then when we did that, everyone would be wondering which charm they would get: Who would be the old maid? Who would be the next one married?” explains Michelle Knight, bakery director for Rouses. “These days, we don’t really get many people asking us to put them in, or they decide to put the charms in themselves.” And while the tradition may be experiencing a bit of a lull, its inherent uniqueness ensures that there’s still plenty of room for interpretations that will appeal to modern brides. What about a crawfish-shaped cake charm to represent all the future boils you’ll have with friends? Or a hot sauce-shaped one to prophesize a “spicy” life? With a little creativity, the possibilities — and legacy — for such a singular tradition seem endless.



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