After months of brainstorming how to have the most delicious wedding cake possible, Rachel Karten and Roxanne Rosensteel, a pastry chef based in Santa Barbara, Calif., concluded that only one kind of wedding cake could fit the bill: a big sheet cake.
The original plan was to have four of them, but when Ms. Karten, the former head of social media at Bon Appétit, saw the 3-foot-long cake at the designer Sandy Liang’s wedding in June, she asked Ms. Rosensteel if it might be possible to combine four sheet cakes into one.
It was. Ms. Rosensteel baked an olive oil chiffon and plum jam cake, topped with burnt honey buttercream and delicate purple gomphrena blooms that measured just over 4 and a half feet — a size dictated by the width of Ms. Rosensteel’s car. (Other bakers may travel with the cake in parts and put it together on-site.)
The mega cake was momentous for reasons beyond its size — it was part of an emerging trend of extremely long cakes popping up around the world. But they are alike only in their oversize proportions: Bakers are putting their unique spin on large-format desserts to produce cakes of all forms and flavors, and for all occasions. Zélikha Dinga, a chef based in Paris, baked a 5-foot-long semicircle cake for the stylist and model Shawn Lakin’s wedding to Matt Spector in Michigan in September. That same month, Blanca Miró Scrimieri, a content creator and influencer, celebrated her birthday with a more than 5-foot long Brazo Gitano, a Spanish cake roll, baked by Pastry Gas in Barcelona. Julia Gallay of Gallz Provisions in Toronto baked a 7-foot-long floral slab cake for a pop-up event at a friend’s bar, passing it through a window.
These oversize food scapes might feel trendy now, but the intersection of large-scale food and art is nothing new. “Food has always been a symbol of wealth and status,” said Geraldine A. Johnson, head of the department of history of art at the University of Oxford.
“Beginning in the 16th century, there was an increasing fascination among European elites with elaborate banquets that included sculptures made of food,” Professor Johnson said. “At the wedding of Maria de’ Medici and the French King Henri IV in 1600, the elaborate table decorations included almost life-size gilded sugar sculptures of the bride and groom.”
In a more contemporary context, one could reference “Les dîners de Gala,” Salvador Dalí’s surrealist cookbook published in 1973, for scenes of sprawling table scapes and towers of food. And more recently, the artist and chef Laila Gohar has been doing large-scale desserts at high-profile events since 2019, including 50 feet of sweets last year that fed 3,000 people.
Now, as a departure from pandemic-mandated micro-gatherings and individually wrapped treats, the trend has arrived at weddings, along with oversize charcuterie boards and their newest iteration, butter boards. “This idea of a messier, more communal dessert will probably be something people continue to do,” said Ms. Karten, who married Greg Costanzo in September.
Then there is, of course, the social media appeal of these ostentatious offerings. Generally, Ms. Karten said, “there’s a pressure with weddings to get attention. More people are attempting to do things or little touches that might get them noticed online or set a trend.”
Delaney Lundquist, an interior stylist and design manager in Charlotte, N.C., was early to document the mega-cake trend on TikTok. “I hope it’s not overdone by May 2024,” said Ms. Lundquist, 31, who is currently planning her own wedding. “I’m dreaming of a several-foot-long tiramisu.”
She need not worry. The trend is “probably only getting started,” Ms. Gallay said.
Kassie Mendieta, a cake decorator and recipe developer in Los Angeles, cautioned, however, that what might appear at first to be a humble sheet cake can still pose a challenge.
“I can confirm it is not easier than doing a tiered cake,” she said. “I don’t want anyone to go into this thinking, ‘Oh my god, this is going to be a breeze.’”