Making a wedding cake

  • Chef LaShunda Allen works on a pink and purple owl cake on Jan. 17, 2019for an upcoming birthday order. She's been running a wedding and specialty cake business in the Lakes Region for eight years. —Courtesy of Ooh La La Cakes

  • Chef LaShunda Allen works on a pink and purple owl cake on Jan. 17, 2019for an upcoming birthday order. She's been running a wedding and specialty cake business in the Lakes Region for eight years. —Courtesy of Ooh La La Cakes

  • Chef LaShunda Allen works on a pink and purple owl cake on Jan. 17, 2019for an upcoming birthday order. She's been running a wedding and specialty cake business in the Lakes Region for eight years. —Courtesy of Ooh La La Cakes

  • Chef LaShunda Allen works on a pink and purple owl cake on Jan. 17, 2019for an upcoming birthday order. She's been running a wedding and specialty cake business in the Lakes Region for eight years. —Courtesy of Ooh La La Cakes

  • Chef LaShunda Allen works on a pink and purple owl cake on Jan. 17, 2019for an upcoming birthday order. She's been running a wedding and specialty cake business in the Lakes Region for eight years. —Courtesy of Ooh La La Cakes

  • Chef LaShunda Allen works on a pink and purple owl cake on Jan. 17 for an upcoming birthday order. She’s been running a wedding and specialty cake business in the Lakes Region for eight years. Courtesy of Ooo La La Cakes

  • Chef LaShunda Allen works on a pink and purple owl cake on Jan. 17, 2019for an upcoming birthday order. She's been running a wedding and specialty cake business in the Lakes Region for eight years. —Courtesy of Ooh La La Cakes

  • Chef LaShunda Allen works on a pink and purple owl cake on Jan. 17, 2019for an upcoming birthday order. She's been running a wedding and specialty cake business in the Lakes Region for eight years. —Courtesy of Ooh La La Cakes

  • An Ooo La La Creative Cake is cut into at a wedding. Courtesy of Ooo La La Cakes

  • LaShunda Allen whisks food coloring into a vanilla batter for a child's birthday cake. Sarah Pearson—Monitor staff

  • LaShunda Allen makes a vanilla cake batter at Ooo La La Creative Cakes in Laconia on Jan. 17, 2019. Sarah Pearson / Monitor staff

  • LaShunda Allen pours cake batter into pans on Jan. 17 to be baked into a birthday cake. Sarah Pearson / Monitor staff

  • LaShunda Allen rotates cakes out of the oven and on to cooling racks on Jan. 17, 2019, as butter melts on the stovetop. Sarah Pearson—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 2/4/2019 2:01:52 PM

 

When it comes to baking wedding cakes, timing is everything.

“I learned to be quick,” said LaShunda Allen, owner of Ooo La La Creative Cakes in Laconia.

“Every second counts.”

Allen, who bakes about four to five cakes a week during the busy season, says most of her cakes come together in a day.

She just has one freezer, so cakes for Friday weddings are baked on Thursday and Saturday weddings on Friday. She’ll make her handcrafted fondant decorations and frosting in advance of assembly.

To bake so much, so quickly, she said you have to be organized.

On Jan. 17, by 11 a.m. she was already on to her third batch of cakes. She’d made two large bowls of vanilla cake batter. Some was poured into cupcake tins, some became vanilla cake rounds and the rest of the batter was colored pink and purple for a child’s owl birthday cake.

The Johnson and Wales University graduate said she learned to bake in bulk working in hotel kitchens.

When she moved to New Hampshire, she worked for six years at Hart’s Turkey Farm Restaurant. Then, she decided to go it alone.

Eight years ago, she started Ooo La La out of her apartment kitchen in Meredith. Then, she moved to a larger farmhouse kitchen. And most recently, a year and a half ago she relocated to a storefront in Laconia.

For couples beginning to think about their wedding cake, Allen has some advice:

Timing: Two years out is too early. Too much could change, from your venue to your theme. On the other hand, three months before or less is not a lot of time. She’s made cakes within that time, but only accepts so many orders for a given week, so you might be too late. For fall, the busiest time for wedding in New Hampshire, booking a year out is ideal.

Style: Bring photos or any ideas you have. More information, from your venues to your theme, is helpful for Allen to determine your preferences. Don’t send your mom and dad alone, Allen warns. They don’t know your likes/dislikes the way you do.

Price: Come in with a budget, but a realistic one. Online estimates may not be accurate since they’re based on national averages and the cost of supplies in different states and regions can vary a lot. Pricing will vary based on the style of cake, flavor and your budget. If you have a budget in mind, Allen said she’s willing to work with couples to come up with options. Typically, her cakes cost about $4.75 per slice for a larger wedding cake.

Trends: Many couples are including cupcakes with their wedding cake order or doing smaller cakes with a dessert table to give guests more options. Allen said orders without cupcakes are becoming rare. For styles, wedding cakes are still pretty traditional. Allen says she is able to be more creative with things like birthday, retirement or anniversary cakes, rather than wedding cakes.

Popular flavors: Sixteen cake flavors, seven fillings and 16 frosting flavors (which can double as fillings) means more than 1,700 combinations for your cake. There are some specialty options Allen offers that tend to be popular. The No. 1 choice, Allen said, is the eponymous Ooo La La, a champagne cake with strawberry or raspberry preserves and a vanilla buttercream frosting. The other favorite is Almond Latte, an almond cake with alternating layers of coffee and caramel macchiato buttercreams. Another best-seller is chocolate cake with raspberry preserves.




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