Ask The Experts: The Sugar Mama

This local pastry pro offers guidance on ordering your tiers without fears.


Pastry chef Kristen Repa’s cakes taste as good as they look; Photograph by David Yellen

FOR NEARLY A DECADE, NORWOOD’S DESSERT WORKS has been crafting and delivering specialty cakes for weddings all over New England, from Providence to Provincetown. Owner, pastry chef, and head decorator Kristen Repa has always kept a heavy hand in the production of each confection her shop churns out. “We’re a midsized scratch and custom bakery, which means you won’t get cookie-cutter styles here,” she says. The downside to all that design potential? Decisions, decisions. Whether a bride wants a multicolored confection or plain white cake, fondant or buttercream, two tiers or 10, Repa’s staff walks her carefully through the process. Here, the cake specialist shares her sweetest pieces of advice.

First things first: What kinds of cakes are people ordering?
About 80 percent of our couples end up going with the classic flavors — vanilla or marble chiffon. I really don’t get many requests for flavors like peanut butter or coconut. During the testing, they will fall in love with three or four of our varieties, but will often choose one that isn’t too far out in left field.

If a couple does want to switch it up, what flavor do you absolutely adore?
Our triple-chocolate mousse cake is truly fantastic. Despite the name, the chocolate isn’t overpowering. The flavor combo is so creamy and delicious; it actually ends up being a lighter dessert.

And what if they want to forgo a cake altogether?
Besides cupcakes, miniature cheesecakes and pastries allow couples to break from tradition a little bit. We’ve also done cookies that were monogrammed or designed to look like the wedding dress.

We know that what’s on the inside is what counts, but what about the cake’s outer beauty?
Again, we have plenty of traditional brides who want elegant, classic shades of white; champagne tones; and cream and pearl colors. I’m surprised at the popularity of white-on-white icing, but there are ways to make that cake not so traditional by bringing in couture elements like exaggerated tiers or handmade ribbons and bows.

What kinds of accents are popular?
We are definitely seeing a little more glamour and glitz. Sometimes brides want something shiny incorporated into the cake design, such as silver accents, rhinestones, or faux brooches.

Your menu includes a “Boston cream pie” cake. What other flavors have New England appeal?
New Englanders have affection for the seasons. In autumn, for example, we’ll incorporate nuts and harvest fruits like apples and pumpkins into fall-themed cakes. A lot of chocolate and spices are used during that time of year, too.

Let’s not forget the groom’s cake — what are the brides getting those Boston boys?
Recreations of Fenway Park! I’ve done numerous Red Sox-themed cakes.

What about saving some for the anniversary? Do people still do that?
We find that most couples aren’t freezing the cake for a year. So we often create a miniature version that’s decorated as closely to the original as possible. We call it the honeymoon cake; it’s delivered on the day of the wedding. They can enjoy it later that night or the next day, or freeze it.