A-Z of Wedding Cakes
The world of wedding planning can be a confusing one at times. Everywhere you turn, you’re faced with seemingly endless options - chiffon or silk; veil or tiara; rustic boho or urban cool; band or DJ; tux or tweed...aaaargh! I’m afraid the decision-making doesn’t stop when you get to selecting your cake. Much as it might be easier to say ‘I want something delicious - make it so!’ to your wedding cake artist, we want to make sure we’re delivering something truly special that exceeds your expectations. Your wedding cake is after all the biggest and most meaningful baked good you’re likely to come across in your life - it’s important to get it right! But knowledge is power, and I’m here today to make your cake-related decisions that bit easier by explaining some of the options you’re likely to come across. Here’s your very own cheat sheet - an A-Z of all things wedding cake to stop you from getting bamboozled by buttercream or confounded by a croquembouche. If you’re ready to chat in more detail about flavours and textures and icings (of course you are!) then why not get in touch for a consultation with me? I’d love to hear about your wedding day plans, and see what delicious concoctions we can come up with together.
THE A-Z OF WEDDING CAKES A is for Airbrushing : Useful when unleashing my inner graffiti artist - airbrushing uses a small air compressor to spray food colouring onto cakes. As well as creating modern designs, it’s also really useful to get a uniform coverage and smooth texture - exactly the same way make-up artists use airbrush foundation for a photo-ready finish. B is for Buttercream : Super sweet icing made predominantly with butter, egg whites and sugar. It’s fluffy, creamy and delicious, and can be made in different consistencies. It’s often used as a filling in sponge cakes as well as an icing. C is for Croquembouche: A traditional wedding dessert in France, this impressive piece of patisserie is made from dozens of choux pastry cream buns piled high in a cone shape and drizzled with golden caramel. Ooh la la! (As ‘cake’ begins with ‘C’ I’m giving it a bonus entry) C is also for Concrete Cake: the last word in urban chic, these moist, light sponges are iced to look like concrete
D is for Drip Cake: a cake decorated by dripping ganache, caramel or colourful chocolate down the sides of the cake. It’s a truly mouthwatering effect.
E is for Edible Images : Images printed on wafer paper using edible ink mean the opportunities are endless. Want your actual face on a cake? No problem. Scary, and probably ill-advised, but no problem!
F is for Fondant : Seen on many traditional wedding cakes, this is a type of flexible sugar icing that can be dyed many different colours. It can be rolled out and spread over cakes for a smooth, sweet finish. G is for Ganache: a cake filling and covering, hot cream is poured over chocolate and beaten until it’s glossy and delicious. Often used alone or as a covering under fondant. H is for Hand-painted cake: I love this technique. It’s time consuming but so satisfying! This really does what it says on the tin. I use food colouring and paint brushes to make the cake my canvas.
I is for Isomalt: A type of sugar substitute that’s amazing for making sculptures or glass-like elements on cakes. Think window panes in gingerbread houses or edible gemstones. J is for Jaffa cake: A mystery that may never be solved. Is it a cake? Is it a biscuit? Will we ever know for sure!? K is for Kransekake: A traditional Scandinavian wedding cake made from concentric rings and flavoured with almond. L is for Lemon Meringue Pie: Not a traditional wedding cake, but one of my absolute favourite desserts. Rich shortcrust pastry filled with lemon curd set cold and Italian meringue coloured using a kitchen blow torch! Delicious!! M is for Macaron: On trend and oh-so tasty, these dainty morsels originated in France. They’re made with sugar, ground almonds, egg whites and food colouring. Patissiers are really pushing the boundaries with flavour combinations, and macarons are sure to be a stunning addition to any dessert table.
N is for Novelty Cakes : Bespoke cakes made around a certain theme, often using fondant icing to create sculptures and 3 dimensional elements.
O is for Ombre : When tones of colour blend into each other, usually graduating from light to dark. P is for Piping : Fiddly but worth it! This technique allows cake makers to add intricate details with icing using a piping bag with a metal nozzle. Q is for Quality : Possibly the most important of all the letters. Make sure your cake artist has a 5 star hygiene rating!! R is for Royal Icing: Typically a mixture of meringue powder, icing sugar, & water. Used for piping details on cakes. S is for Semi Naked Cake : Don’t worry, not a cake that’s about to get done for indecent exposure! This refers to a layered sponge with a very thin layer of buttercream on the outside, so some of the sponge shows through.
T is for Tier : The layers that make up a traditional wedding cake. U is for Upside Down Cake : usually flavoured with pineapple & probably the first cake we all made at school (and have never made again)! V is for Victoria Sponge Cake: a traditional-but-delicious sponge cake (named after Queen Victoria, no surprises there) sandwiched together with raspberry jam and cream and dusted with icing sugar. W is for Whipped Cream: A fresh and creamy filling that’s a great vehicle for fruit when beaten into thick peaks. X is for Xtra: It’s your wedding cake we’re talking about here - this is not the time to scrimp. Extra chocolate, extra cream, extra fillings - yes please Y is for Yeast Doughs: These raised doughs are used for baked goods like brioche and croissants Z is for Zest : The zest is the tough outer skin of citrus fruits. I love the bursts of fragrance you get when zesting a lemon or lime - the intense and slightly acidic flavour is a wonderfully bright addition to sponges and fillings.