The Perfect Wedding Cake
The cake is a crucial part of the wedding celebration. It's a main focal point of the reception so it needs to look great, as well as tasting delicious. Read on for all you need to know when choosing that fabulous cake.
Find your cake style
While the traditional white, tiered wedding cake is as popular as ever, it's not the only style of cake available. Look through books and magazines at different designs to find the most appropriate style for your wedding. You might decide to have a traditional tiered cake with pillars, a stacked cake (where cakes are placed directly on top of each other without pillars), a chocolate cake, fairy cakes, a novelty cake or even something completely different such as a croquenbouche.
Seek out the talent
As soon as you have an idea of the cake you'd like, start looking around for the perfect person to create it. Ask for recommendations from friends, your venue and other wedding suppliers. It's also a great idea to get contacts from magazines, or visit bridal exhibitions where you can see the cakes ‘in the flesh' and sometimes even have a taste. Look for a cake designer who specialises in the style of cake you'd like. If, for example, you've got your heart set on a fabulous chocolate cake with chocolate decoration, it's a good idea to choose someone who specialises in just that. A designer who makes wonderful traditional iced cakes might not make the best croquenbouche.
Choose the flavours
We often associate fruit cake with weddings and this is still popular, however, if you're having a tiered cake, you can choose different flavours for each tier, giving your guests more choice. You might, for example, decide to have a fruit cake on the bottom tier, chocolate in the middle and lemon on the top. They can all be decorated identically so the overall appearance is the same. It's a good idea to stick to just two or three flavours - any more can offer a little too much choice. Bear in mind also that your cake should suit the dietary requirements of your guests. Fruit cake is best avoided if you have guests with nut allergies.
Decide on the decoration
This is the fun bit. You'll no doubt have an idea of how you'd like your cake to look, ideally bringing in colours that co-ordinate with the rest of your day. If you'd like to use fresh flowers, put your florist in touch with your cake designer to enable them to work together. And, don't forget to remove anything inedible before the cake is served. Sugar flowers can be incredibly impressive and have the added bonus of being edible. A cake designer who is talented in sugarcraft will be able to suggest all kinds of wonderful designs, so take along swatches of fabric, photos of the venue and other details to help them create the perfect cake.
Top it off
Cake toppers are back... but we're not talking plastic figurines here. Stylish alternatives are sugar or marzipan figures, porcelain antiques (for the vintage look), feathers, gingerbread cookies (for the country style) or even a monogram with your initials created out of sugar.
Check it for size
We've talked about the cake looking fabulous, which is important, but it's also going to be eaten, so you need a cake large enough to feed your guests. Unless you're serving it as pudding, chances are your guests will have been well fed already so they don't need a large ‘slab'. Your cake designer will be able to advise on the size of cake needed, but generally work on the premise that a 10inch (25cm) cake will serve around 70. Square cakes usually serve more than round designs as they are easier to cut in to portions. A large number of guests obviously require a larger cake, which can become more expensive. If you're watching your budget, consider having a smaller decorated wedding cake, and then undecorated plain cakes (‘cutting cakes') in the kitchen.
Think about presentation
Since you've spent so much time choosing a beautiful cake, put some thought in to where it's going to sit on the day. Your cake should have its own lovely table, perhaps scattered with some fresh or dried flower petals. And make sure it's in an area where it can be admired by your guests.
Save some for later!
If you're sticking to tradition, you might like to save the top tier of your wedding cake to celebrate the christening of your first child. Do bear in mind that you can only preserve a cake if it's made from fruit and if the cake hasn't been cut into. After the wedding, wrap the remaining cake in tin foil and seal it in an air-tight container. When it comes to re-decoration, strip the cake of all its icing, feed it with some more brandy and re-ice. While this is a lovely tradition, the cake may not taste as good as it once did, so it might be worth enjoying your wedding cake on the day and having new cakes for future celebrations.