Elizabeth Chambers Hammer on Wedding Cakes and Graciousness Towards Guests
Spend an afternoon with Elizabeth Chambers Hammer at BIRD Bakery, and you instantly feel better about yourself, and what you are eating. She galavants throughout the Highland Park Village confectionery introducing herself to every guest, ensuring no one leaves without a smile and a sweet treat. This hospitable nature runs deep. Every item at BIRD Bakery comes from Hammer’s grandmother’s recipe box—a nostalgic sentiment reflected in not just the menu, but the rustic-yet-elevated design of the bakery spaces in San Antonio and Dallas.
What began as purely a cupcake shop has grown into a casual chic destination for ladies who lunch, nearby school children craving afternoon snacks, and millennials desiring a trendy IG pic under the glowing, hot-pink “Let them eat cake” neon sign. While the business has grown, the mission remains consistent: freshest, finest, from scratch, everyday.
The bakery’s emphasis on tried-and-true recipes made with high-end ingredients means you can confidently serve their delicious cake and buttercream on your wedding day. We asked Hammer to give us her tips for choosing your wedding cake and desserts, as well as her top 10 baking and entertaining must-haves.
Be True To Your Style
Wedding cake trends come and go, but Hammer urges brides to think long-term. “Some people are into experimenting, but you have to ask yourself, ‘Is this something I’m going to love when I look back at my wedding photos in 30 years?'” she says.
Make Clear Your Priorities
Every couple is different. Some may care most about flavor and less about looks; some want that Instagram-worthy moment regardless of how it will taste. Some are sticklers about dietary restrictions, while others weigh the budget over all else. Some may not even want cake, instead preferring cookies, pie, or some other sweet treat. Whatever you care about most, keep that in mind as you interview prospective bakeries so you can find the right match. “When we did our wedding cake, I wanted to ensure we used only the best ingredients—no jars of Crisco or big containers of fondant,” says Hammer. “You have to ask the right questions.”
Think Of Your Guests
Though your wedding day is about you and your spouse-to-be, it’s nice to have options for your guests to suit different tastes and preferences. “It’s about celebrating the couple but also graciousness for your guests, so be hospitable in all that you do,” she says. “Have options and think about something that isn’t so heavy—a palette cleanser as well as traditional cake.”
Is there such a thing as too many desserts? Hammer would definitively say no: “I’m never going to be mad about more cakes—never.”
Don’t Forget The Favor
Your guests made an effort to make time—and in some cases, travel a great distance—to watch you say “I do.” Don’t send them home empty-handed. Hammer loves edible favors because they’re practical, pretty, and, for guests that are traveling home, won’t take up room in a suitcase. “Usually people want to come home with something sweet, so it’s nice to give them a little something to nibble,” she says. “I love a sugar cookie with a monogram on it.”
Elizabeth Chambers Hammer’s Top 10 Baking and Entertaining Must-Haves
- KitchenAid Mixer — My favorite! I rely on them heavily at home and at the bakery.
- Silpat mat — Will save hours of cleaning and ensure that cookies, scones, and croissants bake more consistently.
- Silver serving trays — Everything looks prettier on silver.
- Julep cups — My go-to for small floral bouquets on the table.
- Cake Platters — I collect vintage cake platters from antique stores and online. Different elevation is so important on a table, and I feel like every cake platter tells a story. They can be used for anything…not just cakes.
- Beautiful water pitchers — I also collect antique pitchers; they’re beautiful and efficient.
- Monogrammed linens — I collect monogrammed linens from antique stores and online.
- Antique ice buckets — Another antique love of my life! I collect them from antique stores and online and have far too many of them!
- Antique Champagne buckets — Use them for champ, use them for wine and water….just use them!
- Atlas Mills salt and pepper grinders — I love these and use them every single day, for every single meal. One is gold and one is brass and there are no plastic parts internally, which ensures that no plastic will end up in your food.