Cake the lead

Finding your wedding cake is a delicious perk of wedding planning – don’t get cut up about it

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Words by Sarah Gillespie

Worried your cake knowledge only stretches to the office trip to Greggs on payday? While I’m sure your guests would smile at a four-tier arrangement of yum yums topped with a steak bake (sweet and savoury is so in right now), you certainly don’t want to pose next to one in your wedding finery. Fear not! We spoke to some of Scotland’s top cake makers to find out everything you need to know about dough (only kidding, cakes have mix, not dough. See – you’ve learned something already!).

PREP SCHOOL

Some brides will know exactly what they want for their wedding cake, complete with colour swatches and sketched designs. If this doesn’t sound like you, don’t panic. Cake makers are just as happy dealing with couples who only have a vague idea they want something cake-shaped. There are some essentials you should know before contacting companies however. “To get quotes, it’s useful to have a rough guest list number,” advises Sharon Anderson of Designer Cake Boutique (designercakeboutique.com). “This allows your cake designer to recommend a size based on how many portions you’ll need.” If you’re having a theme for your wedding then that’s something to communicate at the start as it opens up loads of creative possibilities, as well as narrowing down your brief. “It’s also useful to discuss the style of your gown, bridesmaids’ colours, decorations and fresh flowers your florist will be using,” says Claire Davidson, creative director at Liggy’s Cake Company (liggyscakes.co.uk).

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From top: A feast for the eyes and stomach by Three Sisters Bake; delicate iced designs are sure to impress, Special Days Cakes; we love the finishing touch of gypsophila round the stand on this Fay’s Cakes creation; a stunning fusion of textures and colours, The Little Cake Parlour have tempted our sweet tooth See page 396 of Issue 38 for stockist details.

FLEX APPEAL

Impossible as it sounds, the best outlook is to be openly decided – both flexible and certain about your cake. You’re paying a cake maker for their skills and expertise, so being rigidly convinced you know best is a waste of their time and your money. On the other hand, a wishy washy attitude is just as dangerous. Sharon agrees: “If couples are too indecisive then they’re often not happy with the end result, but this is because they still don’t know exactly what they want.”

MYTH AND LEGEND

We’ve often advocated that dummy tiers and spacers are some great money saving tips for wedding cakes. Turns out even the wedding masterminds at BSW can be slightly off sometimes. “As the design finish is the same regardless of having dummy tiers or real cake, I often have to correct couples who think that they can add dummy tiers at no extra cost,” explains Sharon. “I’d normally recommend having a rich fruit cake that could be used as a christening or Christmas cake in the future.” The external look of the cake will be the same whether the inside is sponge, dummy sponge or fruit cake. “One common misconception we find is that the outer icing determines the flavours underneath,” says Claire. “We can ice pretty much any flavour of cake in any style, and we find most couples now chose a different flavour for each tier,” she adds.

By focusing on the right mix of style and substance, talented cake makers can create works of art that taste as good as they look.

TIME AND MONEY

Wedding shows are a great place to source cake makers, get inspiration, and most crucially, get your hands on some tasty samples. There might also be some promotions on certain styles with ‘show only’ prices that require a deposit. While you shouldn’t feel rushed, if the price (and cake) is right then go for it! “Once a deposit is paid, you may well want to alter details like colours, portions and flavours,” says Claire. You’re normally expected to pay the final balance the month before the wedding, but your deposit can be anything from £50 to 50% of the total cake price. It’s advisable to book with your chosen cake maker at least six to nine months in advance in the ‘off season’ (October to April) but if your wedding is planned for the summer months we wouldn’t recommend leaving it that late. “If you’re having your wedding in a busy summer month, I’d confirm a date with a cake company a year in advance,” Sharon suggests.

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From left: Discuss your wedding decorations with your cake maker, a bright butterfly theme like this Liggy’s Cake Company creation would look fabulously fun; tiers don’t have to be identical, Designer Cake Boutique are masters at mixing things up; textured icing can mirror the style of your dress, Designer Cake Boutique; both sugarcraft and fresh flowers are still in bloom, Special Days Cakes Below: having a beautiful cutting cake is essential if you’re planning a dessert table, Happyhills Cakes.

FACE TIME

We’ve said our piece about the potential pitfalls of buying a dress online (see page 33 of Issue 38 if you missed it), but this extends to cakes too. We’ve heard stories of brides ordering cakes/cake pops/cupcakes from companies operating on Facebook, paying their deposit and never hearing from them again. “It would always be recommended that couples meet face to face with the bakers/designers in the run up to the wedding,” advises Claire. Although not all cake makers have a physical shopfront, having a registered address and telephone number provides some reassurance, plus protection if your company is worryingly slow at email correspondence. Although bear in mind that ‘worryingly’ has to be looked at through objective – not stressed-out bride – eyes. Two hours is not a worry.

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FLASH FORWARD

So what do you need to know about the year ahead? “Developing technologies means that the creative possibilities for 2015 are endless,” Claire reveals. “Edible lace, edible metals and sugar crystal work colliding with a renaissance of traditional sugar craftsmanship are just some of the exciting new advances,” she elaborates. By focusing on the right mix of style and substance, talented cake makers can create works of art that taste as good as they look. That is, if you want them too. The rise of the rustic dessert table is showing no sign of slowing down and is the perfect antithesis to carefully constructed creations. The relaxed ‘Bake Off’ vibe is proving popular with couples, and there’s now scores of companies cropping up to provide the same experience for brides and grooms whose grannies are more adept to baking themselves in the sun than cakes in the kitchen. Whatever you opt for, be sure to have fun while deciding. “The cake tasting and consultation can be a real treat and a luxurious break from some of the more hectic aspects of wedding planning,” concludes Sharon. So swap your planning tears for sugary tiers and indulge yourselves!