What’s your flava? Hunt down a cake that tastes as good as it looks!

It’s not enough for a wedding cake to be beautiful: beauty is, after all, only icing deep

Lily McLeod’s chocolate and salted caramel semi-naked cake has four layers and is presented with peonies and salted caramel macarons
Lily Bakes Cakes’ chocolate semi-naked cake is presented with peonies and salted caramel macarons

It can be difficult to get excited about the average wedding cake when traditional flavours fail to inspire you. Thankfully, thinking a little differently isn’t as out of the ordinary these days as you might fear.

Land an imaginative cake maker who isn’t afraid of a challenge, and no flavour is impossible. “An avid tea-drinking couple once approached me to create a wedding cake flavoured by their favourite cuppa,” remembers Lily McLeod of Lily Bakes Cakes. “Earl Grey is created by infusing black tea with bergamot oil, so I decided to use this oil flavour within a plain sponge cake to create the taste of tea. It’s always best to do your research when flavouring your cake using an unconventional ingredient.”

Speaking of hot beverages, Fiona Muir of the Creative Cake House has high hopes that another trusty morning pick-me-up will make its mark on the world of wedding cakes. “I’d like to see coffee cake make it big,” she says. “It’s my favourite cake, and lots of customers are surprised by how good it is.” You heard it here first.

Brides who don’t have to bother about sticking to a budget are few and far between, so don’t think you’re the first to be unsure about what you can afford. And bear in mind that making a few compromises here and there will ensure that decadent four-tier red velvet cake is within your reach. “There are always things I can do to assist a budget-conscious couple,” assures Fiona. “Apart from cutting down on how many different flavours you have, the best advice I can give is that you tell me your limits and expectations and we can work together to achieve your dream cake. Just be aware that sometimes cheaper ingredients can cause more problems than they solve.”

Texture greatly enhances flavour – look out for detailed surfaces such as these from Three Tiers & Tea
A beautiful creation from Three Tiers & Tea. Photo: Jackiline Wilmot Photography

“You can’t beat a simple Victoria sponge,” you find yourself saying, pointing out to anyone who’ll listen that the classics are classics for good reason. Nonetheless, that doesn’t mean that simple tweaks cannot be introduced to well-loved favourites to transform them into something more worthy of being eaten on the most important day of your life.

“It’s all about what is sandwiched between the sponge layers,” says Lily. “If you have a chocolate cake, let’s add salted caramel between the layers as well as buttercream. This is a good way of injecting that element of surprise, while keeping unfamiliar flavours and ingredients hidden.”

Baked’s cake makes effective use of succulents ranunculus blooms
Baked’s cake makes effective use of succulents ranunculus blooms

Taste, ultimately, comes down to the quality of the ingredients, and no more so than in cake making. As anyone who has ever felt queasy after devouring a few slices of bargain birthday cake at a children’s party will testify, top-quality ingredients will always trump the cheap and nasty.

Taking the season into consideration is another way to safeguard the flavour. “I love to use seasonal ingredients at the right time of year as a way to achieve the best flavour,” states Lily. “Light sponges filled with fresh berries are ideal for the summer, while things like pumpkin spice sponge and hearty fruitcake are fantastic in winter.”

Can a wedding cake ever be healthy? Does it matter? If all those months of calorie control are proving hard to shake, listen up. “You can make wedding cakes healthier,” insists Fiona. “Add lots of berries and whipped cream to a naked cake, instead of sugar icing.”

Lily, though, is not convinced. “I’m a firm believer that a good-quality and great-tasting cake cannot be healthy! In any case, chances are the bride has been dieting – this is her night to treat herself!”