Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Choosing the perfect...Wedding Cake

"A sprinkle of design know how, a spoonful of passion, a dusting of exceptional expertise and a bowlful of the finest ingredients". That's how the amazing Rosalind Miller describes herself on her website, and that's why she is the perfect choice of contributor for our next feature on how to choose the perfect wedding cake.

Her cakes are incredible - just take a look at the delicious images in this blog post. Anyone peckish?

How do you get the ideas for the design of your cakes?

Each cake is like a new canvas. The seeds of ideas come from the consultation. Then it's a matter of coming up with a design, one which is in my own style, but that expresses the couples wishes. There's a lot of thinking and doodling goes into it! Ideas come to me and I try them out till I find the 'right' one. I find inspiration in many places; artworks and illustrations, films, fashion, jewellery, the garden. I like to mix classic and contemporary and I'm always on the lookout for anything interesting that could be translated into a cake.

Who else do you admire in your field of work?

I love Peggy Porschen's work, it combines, timeless elegance and simplicity with a modern twist.

Tell us about the history of wedding cakes 

In ancient Rome, marriages were sealed when the groom smashed a barley cake over the bride’s head. In medieval times, newlyweds kissed over a pile of buns, supposedly ensuring a prosperous future. Unmarried guests sometimes took home a little piece of cake to tuck under their pillow.

One early British recipe for “Bride’s Pye” mixed cockscombs, lamb testicles, sweetbreads, oysters and (mercifully) plenty of spices. Another version called for boiled calf’s feet.

By the mid sixteenth century, though, sugar was becoming plentiful in England. The more refined the sugar, the whiter it was and so pure white icing soon became a wedding cake staple. Not only did the colour allude to the bride’s virginity, but the whiteness was a display of wealth. A wedding cake that had a lot of tiers and height was also a status symbol. Formal wedding cakes became bigger and more elaborate through the Victorian age. The queen's wedding cake in 1947 weighed 500 pounds.

With the huge choice of cake designers out there, how should a couple go about choosing the right one for them?

Use the internet. Most cake designers will have a website where you can browse their designs, and choose someone whose style you like. Then arrange to meet them for a consultation where you can usually taste their cakes.

Once I have chosen my cake maker, what sort of process should I expect from briefing to seeing the cake on the day?

Most of my customers contact me by email before coming for a consultation. The prospective bride and groom can taste different flavours of cake; a few of which are Madagascan Vanilla sponge, Banana, Carrot Walnut and Ginger, Raspberry, Chocolate, Lemon, Elderflower, Lavender and Rose, Red Velvet.

We discuss their preferences for flavours, and whether they want different flavours for each tier of the cake. We will talk about their own design ideas, themes and colours for their wedding, and together come up with a cake design they're happy with, either based on one of my previous cakes adapted in some way, or a completely bespoke design. This may involve an email conversation, where we discuss sketches, but it's usually sorted out on the day of the consultation.

How do I go about tying in the cake with the theme of the wedding?

It's best to have thought about this before the consultation, so you can bring along some colour and fabric swatches and images of the flowers you are having and any decorations.

Cakes can be inspired by any of these things, and we can incorporate colours, patterns from fabric or the invitations on the cake design.

What are the current trends in wedding cakes?

The Royal Wedding will obviously influence wedding cake designs in 2011.  Cakes will have lots of regal details, intricate piping, and majestic designs. A strong trend this year is for double height tiers, which can look very elegant. The vintage theme is still going strong, with lots of sugar flowers, butterflies and jewellery on the cake. There is also a strong trend for square cakes with offset tiers and strong graphic patterns.

A recent bride and groom said to us "We are not bothered too much about the cake. It's just a cake" - What would you say to persuade them differently?

I think guests still expect cake at the wedding and the cake cutting 'ceremony' is an important part of a wedding. It symbolises the bride and groom helping each other as they will throughout their marriage. Sharing the cake is like sharing the couple’s good fortune amongst their friends and family.

A beautiful wedding cake is an important focal point during the reception.

Our thanks go to Rosalind Miller for her contribution to this blog post.  http://www.rosalindmillercakes.com/
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