“The Vian Victorian” is what Rhonda, cake artist and owner of Cakes Couture, calls the most jaw-dropping cake she’s ever created. Over four feet tall, white and baby blue in color, the cake features seven tiers, replica Renaissance paintings, sculpted bronze molding and is topped with a bouquet of handmade white frosting flowers.
While not all of Rhonda’s creations rival the grandeur of the Vian Victorian, it’s needless to say that Cakes Couture has a reputation for creating cakes that double as works of art. One of the San Antonio area’s top bakers, the company has surprisingly humble origins – it all started when Rhonda purchased a cupcake decorating book from her daughter’s elementary school book fair.
“I’ve always been the type who sees things and instantly thinks I can do them,” says Rhonda. “When I found that cupcake book, I thought, ‘I can do that!’ Turns out I was right!”
Now, Rhonda is a trained Italian pastry chef and master decorator. Together with her husband James, she awes clients with innovative designs that taste just as amazing as they look.
“We specialize in custom cakes,” says James. “Most bakeries have storefronts they have to look after, so they can’t put as much time, effort or detail into their specialty orders. But we only do wedding cakes, and they get our undivided attention and expertise.”
The husband-wife team spends their days in their New Braunfels kitchen, cooking up fresh and fabulous cakes that delight clients and wedding guests alike. While Rhonda and James are known for their elaborate, highly detailed designs, they always work in close collaboration with their clients to create a wedding cake that represents the couple.
“We always ask for a description of the wedding and try to get to know our clients on a personal level,” says Rhonda. “Once we know what they’re personality is like, we can help them design something that’s special to them.”
Rhonda and James have crafted everything from a lumberjack’s cake in the shape of a tree stump, with plaid-patterned cake on the inside, to classic white wedding cakes featuring fresh twists, like using fruit as decoration instead of flowers. For Rhonda and James, no two cakes are ever the same; their constant stream of clients and their own creative energy ensure each cake is a custom, unique piece.
Getting the design right is only half the battle – flavor and freshness is equally as important to Rhonda and James, who always do the baking the night before the wedding and never use frozen cake. They offer a rotating menu of flavors that ranges from vanilla to seasonal options like pumpkin spice and are always experimenting in the kitchen; their latest concoction is a fruity pebbles flavor perfect for a fun groom’s cake.
But it isn’t all fun and games in the kitchen – the couple admits they have a competitive streak, and like to consistently surprise and inspire one another with their designs. The two have an opposite, but complimentary skill set; Rhonda handles elaborate fondant designs, while James takes care of buttercream and sugar sculptures.
“Where I lack, he steps in,” says Rhonda. “And we always do things the other wouldn’t think of. We get to surprise each other every day.”
For James, working with cakes is a wonderful oddity – an Army veteran, he’s worked in oil fields, jails and boxing rings, and never once imagined he’d end up in a kitchen. And, with the way business is going, it doesn’t look like he or Rhonda will be out of work anytime soon.
“We wouldn’t have it any other way,” says James.
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