Wedding cake wisdom - because you need to know
Since Roman times some form of wedding cake has been a traditional, and symbolic, part of wedding celebrations. So, unless you are determined to defy tradition, and are prepared for a lot of opposition from family and friends, you are going to need a cake! However, as every bride discovers fairly early on in the planning process, even the apparently simple aspects of your big day turn out to be surprisingly complicated – and this is definitely the case with cakes. In this post we cover the main issues and give you some tips on how to handle them.
The cake can wait
Cakes come in all kinds of different styles and you need to pick one that is in harmony with your overall theme. For instance, a rustic semi-naked cake will look out of place if you’re hosting a very formal black-tie and ballgown affair.
So, don’t start thinking cake until all the decisions about dress style and reception décor have been made – they’ll give you some pretty strong clues about what kind of cake is going to strike just the right note. You also need to bear in mind the style of the venue, the season, your dress, the flower arrangements and possibly the menu.
Time for taste-off!
Once you’ve got a shortlist of cake creators it’s time for sampling – it’s a tough job but someone has got to do it! The cake is a showpiece, so the look is obviously very important but it needs to taste amazing too. Meet the bakers, talk though some ideas, but be sure to experience a range of different flavours. Vanilla and chocolate are the traditional favourites but don’t be afraid to try something a little out of the ordinary. The same goes for fillings – sample as many as you can. You might find you really like something that’s a bit offbeat but utterly delicious, like guava and mango or hazelnut and mocha!
How big a cake are you going to need? Two things to consider here – the number of guests and the size of the room. Generally speaking, three tiers will serve 50 to 100 guests. For 200 guests or more you'll probably need five tiers. If the reception is in a grand room with high ceilings there’s a danger the cake won’t look sufficiently impressive. You might want think about increasing the cake's stature by separating the tiers with columns between the tiers.
Bearing these two factors in mind we go back to our very first tip – don’t order your cake until you have the guest list and venue sorted.
The average spend on a wedding cake is around £300. Having said that, both M&S and Waitrose provide a number of very yummy and attractive options for somewhat less – it may not be the most romantic option but it means you’ll have more to splurge on other things. If you have over 100 wedding, and three to four tiers, £400 is more the mark. The sky, however, is the limit and you can get some amazing creations if you are willing to spend upwards of £500. The important thing is to fix a budget at the start - and stick to it.
The more decorative the more costly
Naked and semi-naked wedding cakes involve much less work than fondant and handmade sugar flowers - and that will have a bearing on the cost. Delicate gum paste or sugar paste flowers, which are constructed by hand, one petal at a time, are obviously expensive. The same goes for marzipan fruits, metallic finishes, chocolate-moulded flowers and lace points.
Presentation is important
Your cake will almost certainly be on display before it's cut and consumed. Make sure there's a designated cake table that allows the most elegant presentation possible. A round table is perfect for round cakes, but a linear cake design may call for a rectangular table. Once you have a cake table, have fun dressing it up: Drape it with sumptuous fabrics and decorate it with motifs, colours and flowers to match the cake (your florist can help). A great cake stand is invaluable for showing it off to best advantage – especially if you have a single tier creation.
Top it off
Even the plainest cake can be transformed into something much more impressive with a beautiful cake topper. You are spoilt for choice, with everything from the sophisticated to the kitsch on offer. You could stick with the traditional figurines or opt for fresh flowers, a monogram of your initials…whatever takes your fancy.
Cake? Now you’re talking!
Who would have thought something as simple as cake could get so complicated? We’ve covered most of the essentials in this post but if you have more questions just ask the experienced team at Clevedon Hall – we’re always happy to talk cake!