Not everyone is lucky enough to turn a lifelong hobby into a full-fledged career. But that’s exactly what Jocelyn Pierce did when she launched her Rockport dessert business, Mayflour Confections, in 2013. It was the natural next step for the pastry wunderkind, who decided to enroll in Chicago’s French Pastry School after years spent whipping up tantalizing treats for family and friends in her home kitchen. These days Pierce’s workspace is decidedly larger, but her sweets are still all about love, as she works with brides and grooms to create distinctive wedding cakes in flavors like honey-lavender and rosemary-lemon. “I would say I have a curated, organic aesthetic,” Pierce says. “ I fully believe that simple is beautiful.”
How would you describe your baking philosophy?
Generally, I try to keep it natural. I tend not to use a lot of dyes or colors in my cakes. Sometimes the color will be based on the ingredients. I’m doing an espresso buttercream on a cake that will have an ombre effect, for example. I also like to use seasonal products as much as possible. I don’t like to use fresh berries in a cake in the winter, because the quality of the fruit doesn’t make it worth it.
In addition to offering a set list of cake flavors, you can develop custom recipes for couples. How does that work?
I start with a general conversation about the clients’ plans. I always like to know the location, the time of year, the overall feel that they’re going for, and the food they’re serving. I did a wedding for a couple that was serving an Asian-fusion menu. They wanted cupcakes, and were going to do a couple of different flavors but wanted one that would be their signature cupcake, like people do for cocktails. We made a green-tea cupcake with ginger buttercream. I get the most excited when I work with clients who are really into trying new flavors and doing something unique with dessert. That’s sometimes when the best cakes come about.
At what point in the planning process should a couple decide on their dessert lineup?
It’s really important to have a sense of the food before you move on to dessert. I’ve had a few clients reach out to me before they’d met with caterers or rounded out their food menu, and that can be hard. It’s really important for the whole meal to feel cohesive.
How do you tailor cakes to the theme or style of a wedding?
Once I’ve talked with clients about flavors, we always talk about design and aesthetic. It’s important that the cake feels cohesive with the rest of the event. I once did a wedding at an art gallery for a couple who wanted to keep things simple and modern. I did a semi-naked cake—which is when there’s a really thin layer of frosting around the cake that you can see through—with a minimalist cake topper. There was nothing edgy to it. It just was pared back a little bit and worked really nicely with everything else they had going on.
So is the venue an important consideration?
I encourage people who are getting married in a large or more formal space to think about the scale. Small cakes are sweet and lovely in their own way, but they can get lost in certain venues. You want the wedding cake to have a presence.
What about presentation—what makes the biggest impact?
The cake stand is something people don’t always think about or realize how many options they have. That can really be a beautiful design element, whether it’s a big silver tray, a wooden slab, or a glass stand. I’ve also done cakes where I tie a big bundle of ribbon around the base of the stand. I work with fresh flowers a lot, too. They add so much drama to a cake.
What are some ways the time of year should factor into a wedding cake?
Seasonality works on every level—it’s a lot about flavor, but I think it can also be about design elements. In the fall, doing more greens and fewer fresh flowers can be really nice. I also love doing cakes with fresh figs or pears.
What dessert trends are you seeing?
The naked cake and the semi-naked cake are really popular. I’m doing fruit on a lot of my cakes this year, which is lovely. Couples are also more open to different flavors. It’s nice to see people thinking less about what you should or shouldn’t do, and really just enjoying the process.
On that note, choosing a crowd-pleasing cake can be challenging. What advice do you have?
Part of the reason we’re seeing dessert tables is that they give people options. If you pick one cake and you have cookies or cupcakes, you’re able to cover different tastes. I do meringues or coconut macaroons for people so they have dairy-free and gluten-free choices. A lot of clients get nervous because they start to dwell on what their guests are going to be most happy with, and that’s just really hard to do when you’re talking about 100, 150, or 200 people. I always tell them to pick what they love. If you’re really excited about it, your guests will be, too.
One Whistlestop Mall, Rockport, mayflourconfections.com.
Find the perfect match for your taste buds with these cake flavor pairings from Jocelyn Pierce.
Tart: Lemon cake with raspberry preserves and lemon buttercream.
Spiced: Pumpkin cake with cinnamon buttercream.
Chocolatey: Vanilla cake with chocolate ganache filling and chocolate buttercream.
Fruity: Spice cake with fresh or preserved fig filling and vanilla buttercream.
Caffeinated: Marble cake with espresso buttercream.
Boozy: Almond cake with rum-poached peaches and vanilla buttercream.
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