We were lucky enough recently to be engaged to make and decorate a wedding cake. So I thought I’d share the process involved in creating a cake of great beauty. It is a heady and somewhat overwhelming responsibility, as there is a great deal of weight placed on the wedding day and affiliated aspects.
So with the couple, we sat with cups of tea and coffee, nibbles of cake and looked at the photos that they’d brought with them of cakes and cake styles they liked. We also pulled out our cake magazines and refined their preferences down to square or round cakes, number of tiers, finish on the cakes, flowers, figurines, types of cake(s) to be made and, of course, number of guests, date & location of the wedding and mode of delivery. We actually got the cakes tins out and built a little model of the cake, complete with apples and lemons in place of the roses. It was a great photo reference for us later on.
Once we had all the information, we sat down and worked out a timeframe for the cakes to be made, cost of making the cakes and completing the icing and details to be included on the cakes. We then sent a quote to the bride and groom for their consideration.
In this particular case the bride changed her mind, which was fine as we were happy to accept changes to the design within 30 days of the quote being issued. However, major changes might require a re-quote if a higher level of work was involved.
Closer to the time we worked out the logistics and committed a day of kitchen-time to bake and crumb coat the wedding cakes and then another two days to final coat the cakes, finesse the finish and transport the cakes to venue and assemble on-site.
The couple wanted a buttercream icing which we made the day before the cakes. To make the icing as pale as possible, we beat butter to within an inch of its life. We also made mountains and mountains of buttercream icing to ensure that we had ample to give the rough coat finish that had been specified.
Once the cakes were baked (we made extra cakes, because prior-preparation-prevents-poor-performance) and cooled, they were crumb-coated and left to harden.
The next day they were given another crumb coat and smoothed off to ensure that the base cake was as smooth as possible. The irony is that the finished coat on the cake was to be a rough coat finish. But the philosophy that if you start with a solid foundation then everything will follow, is always good advice.
We had a dry run at assembling the cakes to make sure they were level, the heights were uniform and to make sure we knew how to align them first go when we assembled them at the reception venue on the day.
We then gave each of the cake a rough finish. We actually reworked the finish three times to make sure that the finish was as “perfect” as possible.
As the cake was going to be transported 200km to another city, we left the three tiers separate; I was going to assemble them at the venue. I drove with the air conditioner on full. Even though it wasn’t a particularly warm day, I was paranoid about the buttercream melting. Melted butter cream would make the cake harder to assemble, mean that the rough finish would lose its sharp definition and that the fat in the butter would rise to the surface and potentially spoil the colour and look of the icing. So the poor kids sat in the back with the boxed cakes between them with blankets over their legs to keep warm!
At the venue, I fussed and arranged, and then re-arrange the cakes to make sure they were just right.
I placed the roses with the help of a the lovely photographer who suggested a minor change to the placement of one rose, She assured me that it would made a big difference to the balance of the photos, as in the original placement, the rose would be lost in the photos.
So with the cake finished and sitting proud and beautiful in the corner of the reception room, the kids, who had been so helpful and quiet while I was sweating on the cake assembly, started demanding food. So after a few more photos, we left the cake with a wing and prayer.
I am very proud of the cakes we made; we executed the cakes and the finish exactly as requested by the couple. Moreover, I think that Renee, Veronica and I all worked together as a well balanced team – drawing on our individual strengths and pooling them to produce a very beautiful cake. The thing I liked most about the cake was the subtle beauty brought out by the finish and the simplicity of the design to showcase the cakes with beautiful, but minimal adornment of the natural roses.
Wedding Cakes tips (a few things to think about when you order a wedding cake)
1. Make sure that you are very explicit about your expectations on the finished cake. This includes things like:
- The size of the cakes (how tall do you want the cakes to be).
- The angle of the cakes and the face you want presented to the camera (a corner placement or a direct front facing cake).
- The colour of the finished cakes. For example, white is not always white. There are shades of white, just as there are shades of blue. Avoid sitting your cake on a white tablecloth, especially if your cake is a different white to the cloth or an off white/cream buttercream icing. Use a contrasting colour from your wedding party colours on the table to avoid a white and “white” colour clash.
2. The lighting in the room will have a huge impact on how your cake looks in photographs. If your cake has a textured finish, then light directly onto the face of the cake will highlight this.
- Dimmed and subdued lighting will make a textured finish look flat.
- Evening light and artificial light brings out yellow tones, while daytime light absorbs colour and makes colours look less intense and vibrant.
- If you are concerned about the colour of your cake and details in the photos, then discuss your concerns with your photographer and venue host before the day.
3. If you’re using flowers – fresh or sugar craft – think about the placement in terms of which face of the cake will be presented to the guests and get the most photographic coverage. If you have flowers situated at the back of your cake, nobody will see it and the effect will be lost. Think also about the size of your flowers. Make sure you’re clear to either your cake decorator or the florist on how large or small you need your flowers to be, so that they look balanced when placed on the cake(s).
For a beautifully decorated and deliciously unique, gluten free wedding cake, made from organic, freshly ground grains: please feel free to contact us to discuss your celebration cake requirements – (03) 6343 3002.