Cake designers are pushing their bakes to spectacular new heights. Patricia-Ann Young speaks to two bakers about the work that goes into creating such fabulous (and delicious) showstoppers
Modern cake designers really are the architects of amazing edible wonders. Every year I’m wowed by their beautiful new designs and impressive layering feats.
It takes a serious amount of talent and imagination to create something beautiful at the best of times, but wedding cake designers are special because they manage to conjure up the style and personality of their couples, making it gorgeous to look at and taste, all while using little more than eggs, butter, flour and copious amounts of sugar.
I sat down for a cuppa (and a slice or two) with Sandra Dillon and Kate Jackson, two very talented bakers, to hear about their creative process and how they collaborate with their couples to turn dreams into reality.
How are the cakes designed?
Words can only do so much, and when it comes to designing a wedding cake, visuals are a must, say our designers. “It can be hard to visualise key components of a cake, such as height or colour, without a reference,” explains Sandra Dillon, who runs Sandra’s Cakes St Andrews.
“I always tell my couples that while I don’t want to copy another baker’s work, if there’s an element to a cake they’ve seen on Instagram or Pinterest that they love, send it over to me and I will try to incorporate it into my design.”
Do you need a reference photo?
Kate Jackson of Argyll-based Northern Lights Cakery appreciates it when her couples show her photo references: “I really love it when couples come to me with lots of images of what they’re thinking. I find it easier to communicate visually, rather than us trying to describe our ideas to each other,” she says.
“The first thing I like to do with a couple is get to know them and what they want from their wedding day. The nitty-gritty details of what exactly their cake will look like isn’t really too important at that stage. I just need to get an idea of the vibe of the wedding.”
How does the process work?
Thinking you and your supplier are on the same page, and actually being on the same page, are not always the same thing. The next step in the design process is providing the clients with a mock-up of what their wedding cake will look like. “I create a dummy cake for each couple,” says Sandra.
“It’ll be made of polystyrene but I will use real icing and create gumpaste flowers if need be – the whole works! It might not be the most time-efficient way to create a reference, but I feel that if I can give my clients a way to actually see the dimensions of their cake and how it will literally be designed, it’s so much easier for them to provide feedback and articulate what they want.”
Kate’s method is similar. “After our initial consultation, I write down as much information as I can about what the couple have said, then I send them that document to have a look over to make sure everything is correct. After that, I create a ballpoint drawing of their cake so that they have a clear idea of what it will look like.”
How involved are the couple in the design process?
Many couples will trust their baker to get creative when designing their wedding cake (the baker is the expert, after all) but even so, it’s ultimately a collaboration.
“It’s all a process, and working closely with my couple while they’re on that creative journey, whether they know exactly what they want or are looking for guidance, is always my favourite part of the job!” says Kate.