The Untold Truth Of Sylvia Weinstock Cakes

There are so many fairy tale aspects to a wedding — the dress, the vows, the first dance, and of course, the wedding cake. Large, elaborate wedding cakes have long been part of the nuptial celebrations of the wealthy. Queen Elizabeth's wedding cake pushed the limits of the dessert to new heights — it stood 9 feet tall, weighed 500 pounds, and contained ingredients from Australia, South Africa, and other parts of the English Commonwealth (per Hello!). Gorgeous cakes can always impress and no one does it better in this day and age like Sylvia Weinstock and her signature wedding cakes

For the last quarter-century, Sylvia Weinstock's baking business has created some remarkable cakes for the rich and famous. Oprah Winfrey, Robert DeNiro, Bobby Flay, the Kennedy family, the Clintons, and the Trumps have all indulged in Weinstock's signature creations (per InStyle). While Weinstock's most famous cakes have made their name by appearing in celebrity magazines, some details about Mrs. Weinstock and her sweet business that might surprise you.

Weinstock is known for over-the-top celebrity wedding cakes

According to CBS News, a cake from Sylvia Weinstock Cakes costs about $15 a person, which amounts to $3,000 for a 200-guest cake. Not every couple can afford a Sylvia Weinstock cake, but for the well-heeled, these beautiful cakes are well within reach. In November of 2000, Sylvia Weinstock created a lavishly expensive cake for Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones' Plaza Hotel wedding. Weinstock and her team made a 10-tier vanilla-and-buttercream confection covered with thousands of sugar flowers. The cake was so large that assistants had to remove the top two tiers so that the dessert could fit through the doors (via The Daily Meal). While this cake clocked in at $7,000, the price tag seems relatively tame compared to what a Weinstock cake currently fetches. 

Sofia Vergara commissioned a jaw-dropping cake that cost an estimated $50,000 for her 2015 wedding to Joe Manganiello (via Cafemom). According to The Knot, the five-layer cake featured a quilted design and thousands of elaborate sugar flower splays spilling over the edges of each tier. Weinstock told Town & Country that designs like this stem from collaborations with gown designers like Vera Wang, Reem Acra, Monique Lhullier, Oscar de la Renta, Carolina Herrera. Weinstock takes inspiration from what the client's wedding dress looks like and uses the garment's lacework or jeweled designs as reference material.

Weinstock started her career as a teacher

Sylvia Weinstock's early life offered no clues that she'd one day be the most sought-after baker of wedding cakes for the rich and famous. Long before some of her A-list clients were even born, Sylvia Weinstock seemed headed for a career as a kindergarten teacher (per InStyle). The future baker married fellow student Ben Weinstock while she was just 19 years old and still studying education at Hunter College in New York. According to an interview with Fashion Week Daily, this decision drew the ire of her parents, who thought she was too young to marry and felt she wouldn't finish school. 

Ironically, the woman who would one day be called the Leonardo da Vinci of wedding cakes tied the knot in a much more simple way (via Oprah). The Weinstocks married in a seminary assembly hall in the presence of a handful of relatives and toasted with a glass of wine and a simple honey cake. The determined young woman went on to graduate, became a teacher, and eventually went on to earn a master's degree in psychology. The Weinstocks went on to have three daughters, moved to suburban Massapequa, and have been together for 69 years.

Sylvia Weinstock's patient cake designs

According to CBS News, Sylvia Weinstock Cakes creates about 15 cakes per week, allowing her bakery the time to craft perfectly-executed custom creations. Weinstock involves the client at every step of the process, and the two parties collaboratively choose the pastry flavor and fillings, themes, decorations, and design. In an interview with Fashion Week Daily, Weinstock points out the difference between cake decorators and bakers and insists that she and her team are bakers and artists. For Weinstock, a cake decorator doesn't handle the cake and abstractly plans the design. Weinstock believes these individuals don't use high-quality ingredients and undercut prices. 

The Times of Israel notes that Weinstock is a perfectionist who doesn't take shortcuts when she creates the perfect cake, and never skimps when it comes to the quality and flavor of the cakes. The insistence that these cakes must also taste good, in addition to looking beautiful, lies at the core of the baker's philosophy and inspired Weinstock to start her own wedding cake business.

Weinstock started her business in her 50s

In the early 1980s, Weinstock was diagnosed with breast cancer (via The Times of Israel). The Weinstock family made the decision to relocate from Long Island to Manhattan to be closer to the hospital where Sylvia Weinstock received treatment. During this period, Weinstock turned to baking as a form of stress relief and perfected her life-like sugar flowers that would become her signature. She then realized her talent could translate into a successful business. After Weinstock's recovery, her husband became her business partner, selling his law practice in order to support Sylvia Weinstock Cakes. According to Fashion Week Daily, few others designed cakes when the Weinstocks first entered the business, but now, everyone wants to be a cake decorator.

The Weinstocks purchased four floors of a Manhattan building to house their baking headquarters (via Tribe Citizen). The business occupied the second and third floors, while the family home sat on the fourth and fifth stories. Weinstock said she thought living near her workspace would give her a greater sense of control, but soon, it felt like she was working eight days a week. Despite the heavy work schedule, Weinstock loved her job and the business transformed into the formidable bakery that makes waves to this day.

Flowers are Weinstock's signature

Weinstock's commitment to cake quality is matched by her artistry. In an interview with Splendid Table, Weinstock describes how she perfected her trademark life-like sugar roses. She achieves this technique by pulling apart an actual rose, petal by petal. She then lays the petals in a row and duplicates each delicate, silky section with her proprietary confectionary dough. She then puts the sugary petals together in the order of the real rose petals. 

Weinstock and her staff went on to use this same technique to create sugar tulips, lilies of the valley, sweet peas, poppies, and any other flower a client can dream of. Each member of the team has a flower they've perfected and specialized in making. According to The Times of Israel, it's not uncommon for one of Weinstock's multi-tiered, six-foot cakes to be covered in hundreds — sometimes thousands — of edible blossoms. According to CBS News, the process is time-consuming and can take an artist 40 hours to make 100 roses. Like Weinstock's trademark black-framed glasses, these edible flowers have become an essential part of Weinstock's brand. 

Weinstock's cakes go international

While the majority of Sylvia Weinstock Cakes' clientele live in New York City and the surrounding area, brides and grooms from around the world can't get enough of her cakes. These delicate towers of pastry, icing, and sugar flowers don't easily make it across an ocean, a desert, or even the continent, but Weinstock and her team figured out a way to do it. The secret lies in the architecture and design of the cake (via The Times of Israel). When the cakes have to travel, Weinstock's creations are engineered to travel separately and get reassembled at their destination. The most extreme example of a Weinstock cake reassembly occurred when a 3,000-serving cake for the Saudi Royal family flew from New York to the Middle East on the Saudi royal airline. Since buttercream doesn't travel well, these same international cakes often get a fondant finish.

Flying cakes takes a ton of prep work, and Weinstock told InStyle that her company received the title of registered shippers, meaning their cakes can travel in cargo or on nonstop charter or private flights. According to Tribe Citizen, her cakes have made the journey to Turkey, Ireland, Mumbai, Abu Dhabi, and beyond (per InStyle). With cakes that travel far and wide, anyone who appreciates a great confection can find something to love in these intricate, beautiful desserts that make any wedding feel like a fairy tale.