When I see a couple for the first time, I love the process of chatting with them about their wedding plans and their ideas for their perfect cake.
Some people know exactly what they want and have all their plans and ideas organised in a scrap book or wedding planner app. When I say they I mean the bride. When clients have a very clear picture of what they want for their cake the design process is pretty straight forward but when people come to me with very little idea about what they would like, this process becomes much more involved and it is my job to take the ideas they have and turn them into, not only a cake they will love but one that works both aesthetically and structurally.
If someone wants a cake in the shape of the Golden Gate bridge it is not going to work in cake alone but will need some kind of support structure.
I have a design background so I relish any opportunity to get the colouring pens out and start drawing.
I generally follow the same process when it comes to designing a cake. As well as a chat about wedding plans I ask:
What venue the bride & groom have chosen as this will give me an idea of the style of the day. It also tells me something about what type of cake may work best. A seven tier magnificent cake will stand perfectly in the grand stairwell of a venue whilst a small cake may look a little lost.
Whether there is a specific theme or anything unusual about the celebration which would work well within the design of the cake.
What is the colour scheme? and do the bride and groom want to use these colours on the cake? It may be that they want a white cake with hints of the colours in the flowers or perhaps the venue itself has colours such as gilt framed mirrors which can be reflected (excuse the pun) in the design.
The type of flowers they have chosen and whether they want fresh flowers on the cake.
Many couples bring magazine pictures and ideas with them and this is usually a very good indicator of the design details they like. They may have pictures of ten cakes which all look quite different but on closer inspection have many of the same design details such as stripes, piped beads or sugar hearts. These are the details they are drawn to and it is a good starting point.
When it comes to getting a design on paper I ask what my clients picture when they think of their cake. Is it a round or other shaped cake? do they want a very large cake or something smaller? Do they want to go for tiers stacked on top of one another or separators?
I would rather work with what the bride & groom have in mind and not the number of guests so that the design possibilities are not limited. Once we have a design they love we can then discuss options for including dummies if required. The inclusion of dummies means that a couple with 80 guests could, if they wished have an eight tier cake with one or two edible tiers and the rest in dummies. If I designed a cake based on their guest numbers it would be very small or they would be eating cake for weeks.
Coming up with a design is not just about creating a stunning cake on paper but also about how the cake will work in reality. This requires some consideration of the type of decoration used to achieve the finished design.
If my clients want jewels on the cake but really want a true sparkle then these need to be real because however good edible ones are these days, they will never shine like the real thing. This has implications for the cake structure because it is unwise and impractical to put real gems on a cake which is going to be served to wedding guests. Therefore the tier with the gems has to be a dummy. This will reduce the number of portions served which may in turn require a cutting cake to be included.
When an order is placed I then make a plan for that cake including each stage from baking, filling, covering and decorating. this includes timing for all areas and identifying which parts ca be done in advance such as covering the cake drum, making flowers or making a topper for the cake.
If it is a cake design with details I have never done before I may well practice the new technique which gives me the opportunity to identify any tricky areas and feel confident about the process when it comes to the real thing.
I love coming up with creative ideas to make each cake unique to the couple it is for. It is so satisfying to turn a design on paper into an edible work of art.