Cakes – need to know guide

We’ve spoken to the best cake makers in the industry to help you find a creation that’ll guarantee tiers of joy

Marie Antoinette famously said ‘Let them eat cake’ and this catchphrase is never more appropriate than on your wedding day. Even if they’re stuffed after the wedding breakfast, your guests will be more than happy to make room for a slice of the wonderful creation that you have chosen. Your cake will be a focal point at the reception – one that’s likely to draw ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ from your guests as they are seated and likely to and be in many photos as you cut the first slice – so deciding on a style that fits with the rest of the wedding is a key part of the planning process. We think it’s one of the most fun too; after all, when else can you get to try lots of cake samples guilt-free?
There is a host of criteria to consider when hunting for your perfect cake: size (two tiers or five?), style (classic stacks, cupcakes or croquembouche?), and then there’s the all-important flavour conundrum. Should it be chocolate, vanilla or traditional fruit cake? Or what if you favour chocolate fudge cake and your fiancé loves carrot cake? And that’s before making any allowances for guests with special dietary requirements.
As you can gather, there’s plenty to mull over in your quest for your dream cake, so delve into our need-to-know guide and a perfectly-sized, designed and delicious cake will be yours….

1 WHAT TO ASK

If you’ve been doing your homework and flicking through wedding magazines, pondering at wedding exhibitions and browsing online, chances are you’ll already have an idea of who you want to make your own creation. After drawing up a shortlist of two or three cake designers that you think will best suit your needs on the day, it’s vital to ask several key questions to ensure that your preferred supplier will be able to cover everything you need. One of first factors you should address is price, as you don’t want to fall in love with something before realising that it’s going to break the bank. Liggy Morgan of Liggy’s Cake Company (liggyscakes.co.uk) agrees, “Budget is the most obvious point that needs to be addressed and it’s good to ask your designer what they think they can do within your budget and then work around that.”
The logistics of delivery and time-frame are key too and something you should firm up with your wedding cake designer from the outset, as Dolores King of D Cake Company (dcake-company.co.uk) explains: “Make sure you’ve fully briefed your designer on the location and time of your wedding, and don’t forget to notify him/her if there are any last-minute changes. Remember to talk about delivery too. This will give the cake designer a chance to familiarise themselves with the route to the venue and on-site set-up beforehand, so they can ensure there are no hiccups with getting your cake there on time.” You also want to check that the person you have liaised with will be in charge of looking after your cake. Andrea Webster from Glamour Cakes (glamourcakes.co.uk) explains why: “You should always ask ‘Will you be the one to personally bake, decorate, deliver and assemble the cake?’. ”If not, find out who will. You should also find out how many wedding cakes your cake designer works on per week. “Be wary if the reply is more than one and it’s a small company you’re talking to,” advises Andrea.

2 STYLE & SIZE

There’s a dizzying array of cake styles available, from traditional tiered and pillared cakes to cupcake towers (either with or without a top tier for the classic cake-cutting picture). You may even decide that a croquembouche (a French dessert made up of stacked profiteroles) is for you, or go all-out for cake pops – an American trend that brides here are cottoning onto. So where to begin? Start by fathoming which style will most suit the theme or feel you are trying to achieve. Liggy Morgan says, “I’d advise that the couple begin by looking at the type of wedding they are having. An informal, small celebration could be nice with cupcakes, whereas a traditional stacked cake is far more appropriate for a grand venue.” While you may not instantly think that your choice of venue would impact on the cake, it just as important a factor as guest numbers when deciding upon its size. Nancy Davidson from Sugar and Spice (sugarandspicetroon.com) says, “We suggest that the bride takes the venue into consideration when ordering. If the reception room is large with high ceilings,a small stacked cake will not have the same presence as a cake displayed on pillars or astand.” It’s a sentiment that Lisa Franchetti of The Little Cake Parlour (cakealicious.com) agrees with: “If the cake will be displayed against a neutral wall then you can go crazy with colour and texture. However, if the venue has a very busy or dark background, then simpler, paler cakes will stand out and look great in the photos.” Once you have discussed the cake’s surroundings, you then need to figure out how big it will need to be for each guest to have a slice. Christine Taylor of Choccy-woccydoodah (choccywoccydoodah.com) explains, “Decide whether or not the cake is for dessert or after dessert, then go to your cake designer knowing how many portions you require.” Most importantly, don’t forget to choose something that you actually like; don’t pick one just for the sake of your theme if your heart’s really not into it. Andrea Webster agrees, “I always remind couples that it’s impossible to please everyone, so they should just aim to please themselves. Most guests will respect this.”


3 FINISHING TOUCHES
Once you’ve worked out the size and style of your cake, it’s time to think about the outermost layer, and this is really where you can go to town – your imagination is the only limit. Will you keep things simple and elegant with classic white icing adorned with flowers or go all-out to tie your cake into a theme? Do plenty of research – read magazines, visit wedding fairs, look online – and you’ll find plenty of inspiration. Earmark anything you like, even if it’s from a cake maker in America or Australia as your cake designer will often be able to replicate a certain look with changes to suit your own tastes. Andrea Webster says, “We start by talking about the ‘look’ of the wedding: degree of formality, colours, fabrics, flowers and so on, then we brainstorm to come up with a design that is uniquely theirs. The gown and bridesmaid dresses are good sources of inspiration.” Dolores King assists her clients in realising their designs, making sure it remains individual: “We suggest couples come to us armed with ideas and inspiration. Some even bring in drawings of what they envisage which is a great help to us.” Many designers have a distinctive ‘house’ style look too, making them an easy choice for couples who have their mind made up on a certain style. For example, Liggy’s Cakes often uses pretty patterns and regularly incorporate lace or pearl embellishments. “When creating our designs, we take inspiration from vintage china, brides’ dresses and the new trends we are seeing emerge,” says Liggy.

4 FLAVOUR

You want the exterior of your cake to tantalise the taste buds, so the flavour must live up to expectation. The traditional fruitcake filling seems to be out-of-favour at the moment, with more and more couples opting for a ‘modern’ filling. “Fruit cake seems to be off-the-menu for many brides and grooms just now,” says Nancy Davidson, “but some couples still build in one small tier of it because of parent pressure and tradition.” If you want to be adventurous, layer up the tiers with different flavours for each; carrot, coffee, hazenut, lemon, vanilla, red velvet, chocolate – just ask your cake-maker what’s possible. Andrea Webster of Glamour Cakes positively encourages mixing things up: “My chocolate truffle cake is often requested for at least one tier. I find carrot cake, lemon curd cake and hazelnut cake with fresh raspberries are all popular choices. Couples should have fun with their layers!”

Top: Cute cupcakes from Poppy Greens, Middle right: A fabulous creation from Choccywoccydoodah, Left: Spring Posey cake by Liggy’s Cake Company

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