A cake must look tempting, but, as the old saying goes, it’s what’s inside that really counts. Beth Forsyth tucks into both new and trad flavours while chatting to two Scottish bakers
The visual impact of a cake is important and can tie together a wedding’s aesthetic, but – if we’re being blunt – your guests are probably more interested in what it tastes like. We caught up with two top Scottish bakers to hear what’s on the cake menu.
“My cakes are all baked using natural flavourings; I don’t use essences or extracts if I can avoid them and I think that’s why my clients enjoy my bakes so much,” says Sandra Dillon of Sandra’s Cakes St Andrews. Her five staple sponges and fillings are Madagascan vanilla with raspberry or strawberry jam; dark chocolate filled with choc and salted caramel buttercreams; tangy lemon drizzle filled with lemon curd; red velvet filled with Swiss meringue buttercream; and a moist, moreish carrot cake with zesty citrus or smooth white chocolate buttercreams.
“These traditional combinations are always available, but I tend to change my non-traditional/luxury flavours to reflect the seasons or to suit a particular customer’s tastes,” continues Sandra. “This includes a pistachio sponge cake filled with a pomegranate butter-cream made at the request of an Italian couple. It was such a hit that it has now found its way on to my menu.”
Sandra’s clients also can’t get enough of her decadent chocolate mud cake drizzled with Baileys Irish Cream, and her caramel crunch cake filled with Swiss meringue buttercream laced with crumbled Biscoff biscuits – all of which can be sampled at one of her ‘tea and cake’ consultations. “These take place in my home studio and cost £30 per couple. Over the course of an hour, you can try five of my most popular flavours and discuss your requirements,” explains the baker.
At Argyll-based Northern Lights Cakery, flavour consultations usually take place on Zoom. “I offer my couples samples of six different flavours from my menu, posted out in a beautiful taster box. They can try these at their leisure and come to a decision,” says owner and head baker Kate Jackson.
From the sound of what’s on offer, it could be a tough call: Kate counts Victoria sponge, double chocolate, lemon and elderflower and cherry bakewell among her most popular traditional favourites. Honey with orange blossom, rhubarb with rosewater, and salted caramel popcorn are the big hitters on her changing flavour list. “I offer a specially curated list of delicious seasonal flavours, with new menus launching each March and September.
Each seasonal menu typically has around eight different flavours. Highlights from our recent autumn/winter menu included gingerbread; spiced toffee-apple; and chocolate, cherry and tonka bean. Rainbow cake and raspberry ripple tend to do well in spring and summer.” If her couples have a hankering for something that’s not on the list, Kate will happily oblige.
“Lots of couples are looking for bespoke flavour inspiration – I’d advise them to think about what kind of feeling they’d like their cake to have (fresh, fun, cosy, spicy, fruity and so on), and then consider the flavours they appreciate more generally. I recently had a request for white chocolate and passionfruit that will now grace my 2023 spring/summer menu, and a bride came up with the idea of adding dried apricot to my Maple Chai flavour – that was sensational,” smiles Kate. And the good news for anyone with dietary requirements? “Almost all of my flavours can be adapted to be vegan or gluten-free.”