Fillings for Wedding Cakes

Photo courtesy of Amy Lee on Flickr, amywmlee.

Tasting fillings for wedding cakes is surely one of the most delicious and fun parts of wedding planning. Even the most common fillings become rich, decadent, and flavorful in the hands of an expert baker, and more exotic fillings are also a thrill to sample and sneak into a few layers of a finished cake. Regardless of your dietary restrictions or personal preferences, there's undoubtedly a tasty filling that will prove to be an ideal fit for your final cake choice.

Cake Filling Suggestions

Selecting a wedding cake filling is almost like choosing a fine wine. The filling should complement the cake without taking control of the cake flavor or overshadowing the texture, but it should have enough distinct personality that it also stands on its own. Tried-and-true fillings are so popular because they prove to work well with almost any flavor of cake, but more unconventional choices are also worth consideration for the unique benefits they have to offer.

Most Popular Fillings

These options have earned their classification as some of the most popular fillings for wedding cakes because they're near-universal crowd pleasers:

  • Vanilla: Vanilla buttercream is light, fluffy, mild, and delicious. It pairs well with traditional white wedding cake, yellow cake, chocolate cake, or fruit flavors. Plus, it's easy for cake decorators to spread, and when it's made with shortening instead of butter, it can stand up to the heat of an outdoor summer wedding without melting or drooping.
  • Chocolate: Chocolate buttercream is another longtime classic. For couples who break the mold and go with a chocolate cake instead of a white wedding cake, chocolate filling is the natural choice. It also complements berry cakes, particularly raspberry or blackberry, very successfully.
  • Pastry Cream: A sweet, mild filling, pastry cream is flavored with vanilla extract but has a different texture than vanilla buttercream. It's thicker and richer due to its cooking time on the stovetop, and it's much sweeter than light varieties of buttercream such as Italian meringue or Swiss.

Fruit Fillings

Heart cake with cranberry filling, courtesy of Jeni Yang.

For a lemon cake, yellow cake, or even a plain white wedding cake, a fruit filling is a wonderful choice because it can wake up the palate and merge flavors better than a more conventional filling option.

  • Berry: A berry coulis, berry buttercream, or crushed berry filling has bright, profound flavor, texture, and color. Raspberry filling is an excellent pair with chocolate cake, and strawberry, blackberry, or blueberry works well with lemon or coconut.
  • Citrus: A citrus filling or curd is a slightly less common choice that has especially strong flavor. Thus, it does run the risk of clashing with other flavors or overwhelming a very light cake. Lemon, orange, lime, or grapefruit curd are all tart, tasty flavors that can stand up to cakes with a firm crumb. For a subtler option, ask a decorator to flavor buttercream with citrus zest.

Exotic Choices

  • Ganache: Although it's not the most unconventional of choices, ganache isn't often used for wedding cakes. It's especially rich, heavy, and quite firm when it's been refrigerated, so make sure it won't crush layers of a light cake or overwhelm lighter flavors. On the plus side, ganache has a delightfully decadent flavor that is difficult to achieve with plain buttercream.
  • Coconut: Coconut cream filling is rich but somewhat subdued, making it an ideal pair for a spongy white cake, a citrus cake, or even a banana cake. Mixing in sweetened flaked coconut will result in a more interesting texture and bolder flavor.
  • Mocha: Mocha filling elevates the traditional chocolate buttercream by adding a jolt of coffee flavor. It's not usually used in wedding cakes, but the effect is pleasant and sophisticated.
  • Cream Cheese: Cream cheese filling is really popular for birthday cakes but hasn't yet made it to the wedding dessert mainstream. It's a good partner for citrus cakes and spice cakes.

No Shortage of Filling Choices

The filling choices listed above are far from the only options. Any spice, fruit, extract, or flavor imaginable can be used to create a filling, so if you're looking for something that's truly out of the ordinary, experiment with a few recipes yourself or describe to your cake baker what you have in mind. No matter how traditional a wedding cake looks on the outside, it can still house a tasty surprise on the inside in the form of a sweet, unique, and especially suitable filling.

Fillings for Wedding Cakes