How To Choose A Wedding Cake

So you've become engaged and the exciting task of planning your big day has begun.  You know where you want to get married, the style of wedding you want and have found 'the dress', but where do you start with your cake?

Style Of Cake

First, think about the type of cake that will fit into your wedding venue and the overall style of your big day.  Are you getting married in the luxurious surrounding of a beautiful manor house or are you having a rustic, tipi wedding?  This will help guide you in the style of cake that will fit into your big day best.

Naked cakes and semi-naked cakes are very popular right now and are a good way to keep costs down if you don't have a huge wedding budget.  Naked cakes have no buttercream or icing on the outside of the cake, whereas a semi-naked cake has a thin coating of buttercream around the sponge.  Both look beautiful dressed with fruits or fresh flowers.  You can still choose more than one flavour of sponge to give your guests choice. They are particularly popular with summer weddings. 

Perhaps you'd like a more traditional style of cake.  Sugar flowers, ruffles, lace and royal iced details could all be incorporated.  Lustre can also add a subtle sheen to some tiers which gives a nice contrast to the matt fondant. There are lots of options to keep your cake more traditional but also give it a modern feel.

Or are you having a modern or quirky styled wedding that calls for a less than traditional cake? Drips, metallics, bright colours and vivid prints are all popular trends right now.  Having tall, or shorter tiers and mixing up the shapes of your tiers is a way to add interest and a modern vibe to your cake too.

Don't forget Pinterest! It is an amazing resource for design ideas.  We have our own 'Wedding Cake Ideas' Pinterest board here to help you choose your cake. 

Budget

When you plan your wedding, think about the budget you have in mind for your wedding cake.

Your cake may be very important to you or it might just be something you feel is a necessity.  Try to remember however, that every guest at your wedding will see the cake and most will eat it so it would be better that it both looks and tastes good.  

Try to be realistic when you set your budget.  This may seem a daunting task if you don't know the first thing about cakes.  As an example, a piece of cake from a department store cafe will cost you at least £3.00 so it is unlikely your wedding cake will be less than this per portion.  

Many high street shops now offer wedding cakes to buy off the shelf for a budget price, but these cannot really be compared to a handmade, bespoke cake. 

If an off the shelf cake is all your budget will allow then go with that and dress it up with fresh flowers, coordinating ribbon or a cake topper. 

But if you want a cake that is especially designed for you and completely bespoke, then you need to have a realistic expectation as to what it may cost. 

We always ask couples to give us an idea of their budget when we meet with them so we can plan ideas for their cake accordingly.  It also allows us to be realistic about what is achievable within a budget or to make small changes that reduce the cost but still keep the overall design similar.  For example, a couple would like metallic gold on their wedding cake.  A higher budget might allow the use of 24 carat edible gold leaf, whereas for a more modest budget we could achieve a similar effect by using gold lustre. 

Choosing A Cake Designer

The most obvious place to start is online, but this can be a bit of a minefield! How do you know who is the best company to choose?

Look at the photographs of the cakes on a companies website and Facebook page.  Do they look genuine? Are they all of a similar standard? Can you see anything you wouldn't be happy with if it was your cake? 

Check the supplier is insured, food hygiene qualified and registered with their local council.  They don't have to have a physical shop.  Lots of cake suppliers choose to work from their home these days (us included), but there are strict hygiene and health and safety rules and regulations that need to be followed so if they have taken these steps, they are at least trying to do things properly.

Ask friends who made their wedding cake, or if they have been to any weddings where the cake was amazing.  Look on social media sites; Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram etc.  Lots of companies advertise on these sites or post examples of their work.

Ask your wedding venue if they have a preferred supplier or any suppliers they recommend.

Read reviews of people's work.  Most companies post testimonials on their websites but Facebook is a fantastic way to leave feedback for companies so check this too.  Also, Google the business - are they present? Do they have Google reviews?  These are obviously not the be all and end all but its good to read other peoples experiences to help you decide if this is the right business for you to work with. 

Ask To Meet With Your Chosen Company

Once you have narrowed down your search, arrange to meet your chosen company/companies for a consultation.  Does the company let you taste their cakes when you meet them? This is very important, as obviously you want your cake to taste good too. 

Some people offer consultations for free, whereas some may charge a small fee to cover their time and expense in making samples for you to try.  Clarify this before you book.  Our consultations are free of charge.

Questions To Ask During A Consultation

Usually you will have around an hour of someones time for a consultation.  You may want to ask some of these questions during that if they are not already covered:

  • Do you make your cakes and filings from scratch?
  • What will my cake be filled with and covered with before it is iced?
  • Will you deliver and set up my cake?
  • Will you liaise with the venue and other suppliers for me if needed?
  • How tall will each tier of my cake be?
  • Can I have each tier a different flavour?
  • What are your payment terms?
  • Do you hire cake stands?

Hopefully then, you will be happy with the person you have chosen and they will go on to make the wedding cake of your dreams a reality.

If you are interested in a consultation and tasting with us, please contact us using the 'Contact Us' form on our website or email hello@littlebuttonbakery.co.uk 

Thanks for reading!

Kate x

My Top 10 Tools Of The Trade

 

When you start out on your cake decorating journey and you begin to look at equipment, the choice of products on the market can be very overwhelming.  If you are anything like me, you will buy everything (even if you're not entirely sure what it's for...........ooooh, but it's shiny!)! But what would you actually find most useful?

I've complied a list of my 10 tools that I think are worth their weight in gold. So if you want to buy a few things to start your journey into cake making, start here and I don't think you can go wrong.

1: A Decent Rolling Pin

This is an absolute essential!  You can't roll out fondant for your cakes without a rolling pin.  But which one should you buy? 

If money is no object then my absolute favourite rolling pin is my King Pin.  Now it isn't cheap, at almost £70.00 but I just wouldn't be without mine.  It is a weighed pin so it does the hard work for you.  You hold the handles and push the rolling pin, rather than roll with your hands and arms (you have bruises, right?).  It recommends it works best with another tool called 'The Mat' but I have never used this and have read mixed reviews.  If you suffer with weak arms or wrists then the King Pin would be very helpful for that too.

You can purchase one from The Cake Decorating Company here. 

You can purchase one from The Cake Decorating Company here

I appreciate not everyone has £70 to spend on a rolling pin, so obviously there are other options.  For around £20 you can get a good non stick acrylic pin.  I would suggest getting at least a 19" long pin and make sure it has some weight to it.  There are lots on Ebay for under £10 but you may find they are very lightweight and not as good for the job. It is probably best to go to a cake shop so you can actually handle the pin.  Hobbycraft sell cake decorating equipment too so they would have them.  Reputable brands are PME or Wilton.

2: PME Baking Belts

Get them here from The Cake Decorating Company.

These are quite a new discovery for me.  I had had something similar for years but they needed replacing and just weren't quite doing the job properly.  The PME baking belts are used by soaking them in water and then wrapping them tightly around your cake tin before it goes in the oven.  

They help to ensure a level, even bake and even give your cake mix extra height, which if you are a fan of tall cakes like me, you need.  You can buy them in different lengths and widths to match your cake tins.  I have the 3" wide ones.

3: Acrylic Ganaching Plates

Get yours from The Vanilla Valley here. Or custom made from Hearts & Unicycles here

I could not live without my acrylic ganaching plates.  I use them for every single cake.  It's a personal preference, but I like to use one top and bottom on my cake and I ganache using the upside down method. They give me a lovely smooth and straight ganached cake which is the key to having a smooth finish on your fondant.

 

For my round and square cakes I buy my plates from The Vanilla Valley and for any custom shapes e.g. hexagons, I get them custom cut from a lovely local company called Hearts & Unicycles

If you would like to learn how to perfectly ganache and ice your cakes then I do offer 1:1 classes so please get in touch if that interests you.

4: Acrylic Smoothers

Acrylic smoothers are an absolute must if you want to achieve a smooth finish on your fondant and those lusted after 'sharp edges'.  

Shereen's Cakes & Bakes sells a brilliant set of all different shapes and sizes for £10.00.  Get yours here

5: A Surgical Scalpel

This is one of my most used tools for cutting out small details neatly.  The blades are super sharp and mean you don't get any scruffy edges on your work.  Use with a cutting mat (see below).  I have the handle, the 10A blades and I also bought a blade remover that safely takes the used blades off and stores them inside. You need some pliers to hold the blade and get it onto the handle.  You can purchase them all on Amazon. 

6: A Cutting Mat

Get your SweetCut mat here.

I have only had this SweetCut mat for a few months, but I love it! It's great for cutting on as it is self healing, but it is also really useful for rolling out small details on as its non stick with a slight texture. It also has loads of useful measurements, lines, angles and circles on it to help when you are modelling.  I wish I had found this tool sooner.

7: A Stand Mixer

Kenwood K-Mix Stand Mixer

A stand mixer is your most essential piece of kit.  There are lots on the market to suit all budgets, but my preference is the Kenwood K-Mix.  I have had mine for over 5 years and it is still going strong. I've tried another of the big brand mixers and I did not like it one bit.  Again, it is personal preference, but for the money, I don't think you can go wrong with a K-Mix.  

If you are savvy, you can often pick them up on E-Bay for under £180 which for something you will use every single time you make a cake, is a great investment.  If your model doesn't come with the flexible beater, I would recommend you buy that as an extra tool as it is much better for making cake mix and buttercream as it scrapes the side of the bowl as it mixes.

8: A Cornflour Dusting Pouch/Pot

Get yours here

Yes, you can make your own one of these from a brand new cloth and a rubber band, but it is handy to have a ready made one.  I favour this Wilton one.  When you are rolling out small pieces of icing for flowers, models etc, you should always use corn flour, so this little pouch will get a lot of use.

9: Foam Balls

Get yours here from Purple Cupcakes.

If you plan on making cupcakes as part of your business then these are essential.  They help form domed pieces of icing that you can decorate and place on top of buttercream on your cupcakes.  I would suggest getting 2 sets to begin with so you have enough for 12 cupcakes, then just add to your collection as you need them.

10: A Cake Leveller

If you want straight, even layers in your cakes then a cake leveller is a must.  There are all different kinds on the market.  I like to use the little green and white adjustable plastic ones pictured above that I attach to my 14" cutting knife.  They are really cheap on eBay here.  I would recommend ordering a few sets and sometimes they do break (I am clumsy!).  Or you can get a wire leveller like this Wilton one. Or if you want to pull out the big guns, you can splash out on an Agbay! I haven't taken the plunge with that yet as they are super expensive and also very sharp. I saw a tutor at a cake class once almost lose her finger! So for now, the 99p eBay levellers will do me!

I hope you have found that useful.  Maybe you already have all of these tools, or perhaps you are just beginning your cake journey out and didn't know where to start.   Thank you for reading and check back soon for more blog posts.

Kate x