Cothran’s bakers work to achieve a bride’s vision

 An example of a multi-tiered traditional wedding cake, made by Cothran’s Bakery. An example of a multi-tiered traditional wedding cake, made by Cothran’s Bakery.

By Donna Thornton/News Editor

With 50 years in the baking business, Cothran’s Bakery has the traditional down pat. However, General Manager Clay Gambel said the staff at Cothran’s have their specialties, and they happen to match the preferences of the brides he typically sees.

“You have your traditional brides, the modern brides and the ultra-modern brides,” Gambel said.

One type will favor the classic cake – layers of buttercream and delicate piping. Bakery owner Chris Cothran said he prefers tradtional cakes, too. Some of the more modern styles, he said, maybe be elegant, but they are simple — not as creative for the baker making them.

Gambel said modern brides want that elegance and simplicity, he finds. They may want square layers, and more use of fondant. Fondant, he said, has improved greatly over the years. In the past, some fondants didn’t taste as good as buttercream.

“If you get chocolate fondant now, to me it tastes like a Tootsie Roll,” Gambel said. “The vanilla tastes like vanilla.”

Ultramodern brides opt for more unique cakes – often with bolder colors than one might normally associate with weddings.

At Cothran’s, Gambel said, there’s a baker to meet all these kinds of brides: one who specializes in traditional cakes, one who likes to craft the modern elegant cakes and another who enjoys bringing the bolder ideas to life.

“The staff complements each other,” Gambel said. “They all have their strengths.”

As far as grooms’ cakes go, anything goes. “We made a cake that looks like the plane that flies the Unversity of Alabama football team around,” Gambel said. “We had a groom come in and pull up his sleeve to show us a tattoo. We made a cake that looked like his tattoo.”

A few years ago, Cothran’s delved into full-service catering. Gambel said the staff has been catering events long enough now that they are comfortable with any event, “from a boxed lunch business dinner to a convention hall dinner for 600.”

With those events, as with weddings, it comes down to realizing someone’s vision for their day.

With weddings, you’re talking about the day of a lifetime.

“Most brides come in with some thoughts,” Gambel said. “They may want to bring ideas from different cakes they’ve seen.” He said they often bring pictures or whip out phones. The staff consults with the bride and talks about the elements they want to merge for their cake.

“We like to be able to paint a clear vision,” Gambel said, before starting work. “We try our best to accommodate every brides wishes,” Gambel said, helping them consider their budget and their venue.

“We recently did a wedding and learned that Cothran’s did the cake for the bride’s mother about 25 years ago. That comes from having 50 years in business,” Gambel said.

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