Wedding Cakes ~ FAQ

  • by Anne Gliddon
  • 22 Jun, 2016

Wedding Cakes ~ your questions answered

Your wedding cake is probably the largest and most important cake you will ever purchase so I hope this answers some of your questions and proves helpful to you.

Until you began planning your wedding you probably hadn't thought much about cake. The notion of wedding cake often conjures up visions of dark, heavy fruit cake, coated with thick yellow marzipan and covered in crunchy white icing, with a few flowers and maybe a bride and groom figure on top.   In years gone by this was often the case, with the top tier being kept for the Christening of the first child. Nowadays, as you have probably realised, the options for wedding cake styles are endless and it can be very confusing with so many current trends in wedding cake design to consider.   Below are some of the questions that I am frequently asked, I hope you find it helpful:


"We don't like fruitcake, can we have a sponge wedding cake"?

Yes, certainly. A multi tiered cake can consist of a different flavour for each tier and none of them need to be a fruitcake. (I sometimes suggest you try a little of my moist and tasty, brandy soaked fruit cake though, as you might be pleasantly surprised and decide you do like it after all!)

"Our older guests will expect to be offered fruitcake, so should we order it"?

If you really do not want fruitcake to be part of your main cake but would like a little for those guests who expect it, then I would suggest you order a separate ‘kitchen cake’ – a small cake, plainly iced, which will be delivered with the main wedding cake but left with the chef in the kitchen to be cut and served along with the main cake.

"We would like to follow tradition and keep the top tier for our first anniversary/child’s christening"

If you wish to keep the top tier of your wedding cake then it would need to be a fruitcake which will keep for quite a while if stored correctly. I offer a re-icing and decorating service for couples who wish to do this.

"One of our guests is gluten intolerant, how will they be able to eat the cake"?

I do provide gluten free cakes, but if there are only one or two guests with special dietary requirements I would advise supplementing the main cake with a gluten free mini cake or cupcakes which can be decorated to match the main cake, and if you wish, can be displayed alongside your wedding cake to avoid those guests feeling left out. Alternatively, consider having one tier of your wedding cake as a gluten free option.

"One of our guests has a serious allergy to nuts, what do you suggest"?

You will be asked about any particular allergies to nuts of any other ingredient during the consultation process. This is the time to let me know about any allergies, minor or serious, so that consideration can be given to the best way to avoid a problem. It is quite possible to omit nuts of any description from the baking and decorating process, but I cannot guarantee that any of the ingredients have not been in contact with nuts during manufacturing and although stored well away from other ingredients, they are still used in my kitchen.

"What size cake do we need to serve all of our guests"?

If you tell me approximately how many guests you with to serve I can work out the correct size, and whether you want to serve the cake for dessert, which will require larger portions.

"A family member/friend would like to make the cake, would you ice and decorate it for us"?

Sorry, I am afraid not. There are several reasons for this and I am happy to explain further on request.

"Why are wedding cakes so expensive"?

I agree wedding cakes can be costly, but generally speaking most wedding cakes are extremely labour intensive. Although a simple design can still look pretty and elegant and not require so much work.  However, 'simple' looking cakes can be very deceiving and often entail a lot more work than obviously meets the eye, and a plain, white iced cake can be one of the trickiest to accomplish.

"But it is 'just a cake'"?  

Yes, it is a cake and will be eaten and enjoyed, but bespoke wedding cakes are edible works of art, requiring many hours spent on intricate detailing to achieve a fabulous centrepiece for  your wedding day.   A wedding cake designer, like any other designer, takes immense pride in their work and loves what they do.  Care and attention to detail will be reflected in the quality of their work and thus reflected in the price they are charging for their time and skill.

"So what does making a wedding cake from scratch actually entail"? 

Wedding cakes are created in stages which take place over several days. To produce a tiered wedding cake will take the cake maker the best part of a week from start to finish.  Many people are unaware of the process involved, which is understandable, so here is a brief breakdown of the time spent on creating a basic wedding cake:

Day 1 ~ Baking : I aim to bake all sponge tiers on the same day to ensure that all tiers will be at the same stage of preparation throughout the process. Once baked the cakes are cooled, wrapped well to preserve moisture and stored in the fridge overnight so that they are nicely firm to work with the following day.

Day 2 ~ Levelling, trimming, filling and base covering : This is one of the most time consuming jobs of the entire process. It is also the most important stage, to ensure the cake is completely level for stacking, and that each tier has nice straight sides with no bulges. The sponges are split and filled with the filling of choice and then given an all over coating of ganache to seal in the crumbs, and further coatings of ganache will be expertly applied  to produce a flawless and smooth finish on which to apply the sugarpaste icing.  Again, the cakes are left to set overnight, in readiness for the icing.

Day 3 ~ Icing the cakes : This entails covering the cakes with a layer of sugarpaste icing, and smoothing to produce a flawless finish and a crisp, sharp, contemporary edge to the tiers. 

Day 4 ~ Dowelling and stacking: Dowelling means inserting special plastic food grade rods into the lower cake tiers to ensure that the tiers stacked above will not sink into the cake below. The dowels help to support the cakes above and ensure safety when stacked.  Once tiers are dowelled and stacked together the cake is ready for the pretty part, the decoration.

Day 4 or 5 ~ Decoration: This is where the design comes together. Decorating can be done as soon as the cakes are stacked or the following day. This might consist of just a few simple flowers and ribbon but more often than not the design will entail the use of decorations that have been made beforehand, such as different types of sugar flowers. There might be other lavish details to apply, such as edible painting or stencilling, hand piped pearls or lace, silver or gold leaf or a lustre finish.   Depending upon the intricacy of the design, the decoration part of the process can take an entire day to complete.  It cannot be rushed, your wedding cake needs to be perfect. 

Wedding Day - The delivery to your venue ~ Finally, the cake is boxed and ready to be delivered and set up in situ at your chosen wedding venue. One of the most important parts of the entire process is a safely delivered cake that has been packed and transported with the utmost care.  Your cake will be delivered and placed in position on the cake table at your venue, photographed and left looking beautiful for when you and your guests arrive. 

So there  you go, that is the process entailed during the creation of your wedding cake.

"Will the cake remain fresh for the day if it has taken so long to make"?

Your cake will be perfectly fresh for the duration of the day. Since the coverings beneath the icing and the sugarpaste icing itself will prevent the cake from drying out. It is worth mentioning that your cake should not be placed in direct sunlight at the venue.

"We are working to a strict budget, what can you offer us"?

I never encourage clients go over budget for their cake, nor to order a huge cake that will probably be more than they realistically need.  If you know how much you would like to reasonably spend then the best time to discuss this is during your consultation.  Where possible a design can be adapted to accommodate your expectations of cost.  

"Would cupcakes as opposed to a tiered cake save us money"?

Not necessarily.  Cupcakes with a simple buttercream swirl might work out more economical. However, most wedding cupcakes are highly decorated and every guest will be getting a generous sized individual cake and each cake will be topped with handmade sugar decorations which require making in advance.  For instance, 100 cupcakes require a minimum of 100 decorations, anything from a simple cut daisy to a large rose, or maybe moulded decorations such as cameos or pearls, or a stencilled design, so the cost again lies in the amount of work required, whereas a 3 tiered cake might only need a few statement flowers and ribbon to look beautiful. Portion-wise there is more cake in a cupcake than in a tiny finger portion cut from a tiered cake, so it is often the case that cupcakes work out costing almost as much or more than a tiered wedding cake would cost you.

"I have seen a cake I like on another website/Pinterest etc, can you make me the same one"?

I prefer to create a unique, bespoke design specifically for you, but by all means bring photographs of styles you like to your consultation for inspiration and I will do my best to customise them for you rather than try to copy the design exactly. The work of other cake designers is usually distinctive and the designer well known within the cake making industry, therefore I am unable to quote for another cake designers work.

"Do you deliver the cake for us"?

Part of the service we provide is the safe delivery and set up of your cake to your venue on the wedding day at an agreed time.  Depending on where the venue is located this will either be included in the cost of your cake or a fee will be charged to cover mileage and time if the venue is further afield. This will be discussed at your consultation. Do contact me to check delivery costs for certain venues.

"We are happy to collect the cake ourselves, will this be ok"?

I do not advise collection of cakes larger than 2 tiers high - tiered cakes weigh very heavy, and most are extremely fragile if they contain sugar flowers. We have special packaging and transportation methods to ensure that your cake will be safely delivered and arranged to set it off to its best advantage. Any smaller cakes that are collected from my kitchen will be boxed with instructions for transporting and storage, however, I cannot accept liability for any loss or damage once the cake has left my premises.

I hope this helps.   If you have a question that has not been covered here, please contact us and will be be happy to deal with your query.

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