In this blog you’ll find out whether it’s worth sacrificing taste for looks when it comes to your wedding cake – should you rank style over substance when choosing a wedding cake designer?
I started making ‘fancy’ cakes again some nine years ago. This came about when I rediscovered baking and cake decorating as a hobby after many years in the wilderness of student life and then corporate land when I would produce only the occasional batch of scones and a Delia Smith Pavlova for dinner parties.
Returning to ‘special occasion’ cakes had me thinking about afternoons spent faffing about quite happily as a child, with a bowl full of buttercream icing, a wee plastic piping set, and multi-coloured hundreds and thousands which were sprinkled liberally on top. I believe the latter are now referred to as ‘non pareils’ – there’s nothing like using the French term when something becomes trendy. In my day, ‘faux’ leather was plain ‘imitation’ leather.
As a cake business owner, it’s my opinion and this is one shared by my customers, that the taste of their special cake, whether it’s a small family birthday cake, or an amazing wedding cake, is just as important as the look. I knew when I was a child that there was no point messing around with piped buttercream swirls if the family didn't enjoy eating the cake.
Most of my wedding cake customers have come to me for a consultation because they’ve not only seen my original cake designs at wedding fairs but they’ve also tasted some samples and enjoyed them. In some cases, they’ve been pleasantly surprised by the taste, almost as though they’d assumed that wedding cakes were not necessarily going to taste that good. This is possibly due to the number of wedding cakes they’ve tried at weddings and they’ve remembered the dry tasteless ones.
Taste does seem to matter to most people. Those people will include some of your friends and family and therefore, your wedding guests.
A recent customer who was researching cakes for her daughter, having taking on the role of wedding planner, much to her daughter’s delight, commented that it was the taste of my fruit cake (her favourite) and the Madeira cake (the daughter’s favourite) that had decided her to choose me to make her daughter’s cake. Not quite ‘substance over style’, more a case of substance being just as importance as style to this customer.
She’d sampled other cakes at wedding fairs and not been at all happy with them, especially the dry ones.
Whether you’re paying the going rate for your wedding cake, or a friend or relative is making it for you (the topic of aunties making wedding cakes is a whole other blog topic) you should be expecting the cake to taste delicious, look appetising and for people to go ‘wow, that’s really good’.
Why do some people have an expectation that wedding cake will just be a dried up bit of sponge or an overbaked dark fruit cake and that it’s all about the look? You should expect the best from any cake you’ve taken the time and trouble to research and possibly paid a fair chunk of money towards, particularly when it’s one of the memories you’ll keep forever from your big day.
The only memory I have of my first wedding cake is that the royal icing had set so hard that it was impossible to cut through. No, I didn’t make it myself, just in case you’re wondering.
How do you find a cake maker who produces tasty cakes? Here are 7 top tips:
Ask friends who’ve married in the last few years for recommendations.
If you’re keeping costs down, find out via some discreet enquiries who the best bakers in your family are. It might be better to approach them first rather than wait for Great-Auntie Jeanie’s offer to make the same fruit cake she made for your Mum’s wedding. Especially if you can’t stand fruit cake.
Ask your wedding venue if they can recommend any local cake makers. Then use tip 4.
Check out cake makers’ websites and look for them on social media platforms like Facebook where you might find customer feedback and reviews.
Go to wedding fairs, all cake makers there should have cake samples for you to taste. You could always ask to take some home too if your other half isn’t able to go along.
Book a cake consultation where you can sample a number of cake flavours before you decide if you want to place an order. Some cake maker charge for this (I don’t). Those that do will often deduct the charge from the cost of your cake.
If you’re getting married in Scotland, there is a Scottish Baking Awards scheme, have a look at their website for award winners.
The subject of my next blog will be the Scottish Baking Awards It was supposed to be the subject of this one but I got carried away discussing taste. This can happen when I launch into any cake-related topic so please bear with me. Thanks for reading.
If you’ve got any questions about which cake flavours to go for, or you have an entertaining story of a wedding cake that didn’t taste as good as it should, please add your comments below or contact me at email@example.com