Now you may find this a strange post by a pastry chef, but yes, I am a little nervous of making wedding cakes, after all the expectations are high and they are second only to the brides dress in how important they are (or ties in case of male civil partnerships )
Now don’t get wrong, I have made a few wedding cakes over the past 26 years, and not had any complaints yet, but boy have they changed a lot over the decades! It’s very unusual to be asked for fruit cake these days, or to have them just in white or ivory…so far I have been asked to make one covered in meringues, one in black with electric blue roses, one with carrot cake layers, And even one a few years ago featuring sugar-paste chilli peppers with a frog climbing up the side ! ( I just made the cake & didn’t ask questions, I didn’t like to pry …or even want to know the reason behind that one.)
One thing that has not changed is the nerves I get and the pressure I feel, but its all part of the process, I like making them…It’s just the gaps between making them are big as my main job as a chef is all about desserts, pastries, birthday cakes, tea cakes etc, very few people in the restaurants I Have worked in ask for a huge wedding cake, so when I get one it’s just like the first time all over again :). It’s always nice to hear back from the happy couple though, and to let out a silent sigh of relief when they say how pleased they are with them.
Things I have learnt over the years.
1/ Let people know your capabilities…do not agree with everything if it doesn’t sound right, they are seeking your guidance after all. If you feel something might be too difficult to obtain say so… got my self into trouble with that one before.
2/ If something that has been suggested sounds hideous say so ! They won’t be offended, better they find out now rather than be told by their guests at the actual wedding then have them sending the “boys round” as you ruined the day.
3/ Transportation – think carefully and advise on the difficulties of transport, tell people not to stick a four tier stacked cake on the back seat of the car, gravity tends to reclaim what is rightfully his when given half a chance. If need be offer to do it yourself ( include cost of delivery in price of course)
4/ Invest in a hacksaw for cutting Dowling rods…a bread knife won’t do.
5/ Never drink strong coffee, before you start, unless you are piping loads of filigree, then shaky hands might be useful 😉
6/ Finally find your style and be proud of it.
Now recently I have made a cake that was met with high praise indeed. I enjoyed this one as I finally made my peace with the genre & my own style & relaxed. The bride wanted a Marie Antoinette style cake, she did show me loads of examples she had seen on the web. Now I don’t like copying other people’s work for a start, and a lot of top cake artists were featured in the portfolio I was shown, whose league I am not in by a long shot with their fine workmanship. My style is less clean-cut and more “disorganised” and not so symmetrical.
Now I took on board the colours … the gold decoration, and the flavours. But decided to work how I feel, in a more relaxed style and in my own abstract way. ( I did say this to the client who was more than happy with this, as she had seen examples of my usual work)
I made the cake, stood back & was very pleased with the result, I had found my niche at last in the wedding cake department…and just in the nick of time, this one was heading off to Claridges of all places…no pressure then.
I received a bottle of Fortnum & Masons champagne & a thank you card from the bride a few days later, which was rather lovely 🙂
The following gallery shows how I got on, I have included a few links to the various websites I bought equipment, moulds and colours etc which you might find useful.
Silicone Moulds for scrolls & Fleur de lis – squires kitchen
Gold lustre powder, powder rejuvenator & colour pastes, bronze food colour spray, dowels. – cake craft world
Cherub chocolate mould ( for white chocolate cherubs I painted gold ) The home chocolate factory
Gallery of wedding cake progress – click on any image to enlarge:
© The cake-shaker 2013