Five good reasons to take cupcakes to a dinner party

 

 Mini rose cupcakes make a perfect dessert canape, £1.80 each, minimum order 24.

Mini rose cupcakes make a perfect dessert canape, £1.80 each, minimum order 24.

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They’re not actual flowers. Your host wont have to unwrap them, trim the ends and grapple with a stupid flower food sachet that will only come away from the cellophane if they cut the sellotape with scissors so it dribbles all over their £310 Anthropologie dress*, find a vase and fill it with water in the sink where the beans are being refreshed in iced water. While the canapes burn to a crisp in the oven.

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 They’re a perfect dessert - no crockery, cutlery, washing up or running to the petrol station to get fake cream; unlike the vegan Bakewell tart that someone you don’t really like brought...

 Delicate flowers piped in Italian meringue buttercream, £3.65 each, minimum order 12.

Delicate flowers piped in Italian meringue buttercream, £3.65 each, minimum order 12.

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Thery’ re a bit grown-up, beautiful, and delicious, but also whimsical and cute - a reflection of your ideal dinner party (arrival) self.

 American flag pull-apart cupcakes. Buttercream swirls £3 each

American flag pull-apart cupcakes. Buttercream swirls £3 each

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They’ll double up as a celebration cake for the birthday that the dinner is in aid of, and that you’ve forgotten. This sitch will never unsettle me in the slightest: not only do I always take cupcakes to everything - even Kettlercise - I wouldn’t leave the house without a packet of cake candles.

 Mini succulent cupcakes, £1.80 each, minimum order 24.

Mini succulent cupcakes, £1.80 each, minimum order 24.

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They can be frozen. Well buttercream cupcakes can. As if anyone reading this would ever be tempted to buy fondant cupcakes lol.

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You can mix and match the flavours and designs to suit the occasion. A couple with two young children will love a mixture of exquisite flower cakes with a couple of dogs thrown in. Or foxes, or pigs. Owls even. Or neon fluffy monsters.

 Piped American buttercream animal cupcakes £3.65 each, minimum order 6.

Piped American buttercream animal cupcakes £3.65 each, minimum order 6.

 








 

 

Five reasons to choose a buttercream wedding cake

Your nana says to have a traditional wedding cake. She still has the yellowing silk flowers that adorned the top of her royal-iced cake in a travel sweet tin. A royal iced cake is hard to come by these days, so conventional folks opt for fondant. But this is changing. Buttercream is rapidly replacing fondant as a cake covering. Here’s why.

1

 Piped buttercream flowers. Not for putting in the loft

Piped buttercream flowers. Not for putting in the loft

It will be cheaper. A fondant cake is crumb-coated in buttercream, chilled and covered in rolled sugarpaste, which then has to be smoothed and decorated with, say, sugar flowers - all hand-modelled from expensive flower paste, wired, dried and finished with paint or petal dust. A buttercream cake is also crumb-coated and chilled, but then frosted with a palette knife and, once scraped smooth, the decoration can be piped on pretty much straight away. The whole process is way quicker, which is why it’s cheaper. Also buttercream cake makers are all super nice and will never overcharge. 

 Such a simple cake, but how delicious does it look?

Such a simple cake, but how delicious does it look?

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It will taste better. Cheffing at weddings in historical times, I noticed that after service, the cake plates were returned to the kitchen loaded with uneaten fondant from the wedding cake. Literally no-one eats that stuff. Buttercream is delicious. If you think American buttercream is too sweet, there’s Swiss meringue buttercream, and if Swiss meringue buttercream is too buttery, there’s French meringue buttercream. Or if that’s too rich, Italian meringue buttercream. People who don’t like buttercream are weird and you don’t want them at your wedding. They probably don’t like puppies or holidays either.


 Buttercream flowers: not only edible but can be different flavours

Buttercream flowers: not only edible but can be different flavours

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You can eat all of it. Unless your buttercream wedding cake is dressed with fresh flowers, or some daft topper made out of clothes pegs or something, you can eat your whole cake. Sugar flowers are rock hard and you can’t eat them. They’re for putting in the box that someone gave you a coffee grinder in and stashing in the loft for you to discover and moon over when you pack to go into an old-people’s home.

 A fun cake design can be inspired by a card, invitation or even a bag

A fun cake design can be inspired by a card, invitation or even a bag

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It will look fun. Even the most elaborately-piped buttercream confections have bags of character and never look boring. Piping is high-risk - once you’ve made a mark it’s not coming off - there’s nothing cautious or tentative about it, which is why buttercream cakes have a spirited style about them that you couldn’t achieve with fondant.


5

 Price Harry and Meghan’s buttercream wedding cake: elegant, stylish and delicious-looking.

Price Harry and Meghan’s buttercream wedding cake: elegant, stylish and delicious-looking.

It’s like well trendy. ALL the good cakes are buttercream. For example, Harry and Meghan, Elvis and Priscilla, Tom Daley and Dustin Lance have all chosen buttercream cakes for their big day. Say no more.

 

How much will my wedding cake cost?

Good question. At the Most Curious Wedding Fair in Shoreditch a couple of weeks ago we were asked how much each display cake would cost over and over again. Conventionally, cake designers are reticent about prices. There are so many variables that come into play that it can be difficult to estimate how much a particular design would cost if it was, for example, made in chocolate rather than Madeira sponge, or with an extra tier.

Anyway. I’ve been sending a little price guide to interested couples, just a few images of recent cakes and how much they cost. This is mainly because I have had long consultations with lovely couples and created sketches for them, buoyed along by their enthusiasm and engagement, to discover weeks later that their budget won’t stretch to their ambition.

So. Here are some things that will help you work out how much your wedding cake will cost: 

How big will it be? Generally, I recommend a three tier cake with tiers measuring 6in, 8in and 10in in diameter to feed 100. My tiers, in fact most tiers these days, are around 6in tall. A finger portion of cake measures 1in by 1in and is cut from the top to the bottom of the tier. This is a decent portion of cake. Especially after a large meal. If you have more guests you may need a 12in base tier to feed them all. this would take your yield up to 135-150. Remember some people won’t want any.

Also consider the proportions of the space. An historic urban venue may be Georgian or early Victorian, with high ceilings, huge fireplaces and windows and sweeping staircases. For your cake to have any presence, it will need to have height. Consider a dummy tier if you don’t have that many mouths to feed, but don’t expect it to come that much cheaper than a real tier: most of the work in creating your cake will be in the decoration, not in the cake itself, and dummies aren’t that cheap.

VERY generally speaking, you can expect to pay at least £150 per tier. My least expensive three tier design is a rustic finish buttercream cake dressed with fresh flowers, which will cost £410 in Madeira and more in another flavour (most couples have each tier a different flavour). Plus flowers. I don’t charge to dress the cake but I have to do it myself to ensure food safety. The gold leaf would be extra, but really makes the cake photogenic, especially in artificial light.

 A lot of the supermarkets are selling buttercream wedding and celebration cakes now, but if you look at the sell-by date on them you'll see that they don't contain very much butter. It's also very important to dress a cake in a food safe way, so whatever you do, don't get a supermarket cake and ask your florist to stick flowers in it willy nilly.

 

 Rustic buttercream cake with fresh flowers from £410 Emma Page Buttercream Cakes

Rustic buttercream cake with fresh flowers from £410 Emma Page Buttercream Cakes

What type of cake will you choose? Generally speaking again, a buttercream cake will be cheaper than a fondant cake. The realistic sugar flowers that you see on a fondant cake are modelled by hand with gumpaste, wired, dried and coloured. It’s a skilled and lengthy process. Covering a tall cake in fondant is difficult without tearing and achieving a smooth finish takes years of experience. A buttercream cake still has to be completely level and smooth to ensure a professional finish, but the detail is piped (still by hand) so it’s often quicker to achieve a full design. 

What about decoration? I can only talk about buttercream cakes here as my fondant experience is very limited. Obviously the more intricate the detail, the more expensive the cake. Delicate lace (particularly if following a specific pattern rather than freestyle) and embroidery finishes are time-consuming. A three tier cake in the size already discussed with a lace background and piped flower cascade will cost around £750. This will be significantly less if the cake is to be placed against a wall or in a corner, so it has a definite front.

 

 Buttercream cake with tapestry piping and flower detail on a lace background, £750

Buttercream cake with tapestry piping and flower detail on a lace background, £750

Our signature piped flowers can be used to cover an entire cake, or they can be piped in cascades against a smooth or rustic background.

A rustic standard three tier cake with a simple single cascade of flowers in the same colour would be £445.

 Rustic buttercream cake with same colour cascade £510

Rustic buttercream cake with same colour cascade £510

Introducing colour, a simple palette of four or five colours piped in abundant cascades, would take the price to £510.

 Rustic background with multi cascade £740. In three tiers this would be £510

Rustic background with multi cascade £740. In three tiers this would be £510

Lots of customers opt to have a cake smothered with flowers. This can be in one colour, an ombre effect or multi-coloured. The last option is the most expensive, at £665.

 Buttercream cake smothered in bright florals £665.

Buttercream cake smothered in bright florals £665.

So there you go. Obviously many of the cakes we sell are bespoke and combine the techniques shown here, but this guide gives an idea of what to expect pricewise. There's a cake for any budget at the end of the day.

How to choose a wedding cake

Choosing anything for your wedding can be overwhelming. An hour browsing Instagram and Pinterest for wedding cake ideas will take you all over the place unless you remain focussed on a few key considerations.

 

 Buttercream wedding cake by Emma Page Buttercream Cakes London

Buttercream wedding cake by Emma Page Buttercream Cakes London

  • Fondant or buttercream? Fondant cakes are covered in a sheet of icing called sugarpaste. This gives a smooth (immaculate in the right hands) finish on which realistic hand-crafted sugar flowers and other details are positioned. These are not edible really, but the fondant covering is.
 Fondant wedding cake dressed with sugar flowers by Sadie Smith

Fondant wedding cake dressed with sugar flowers by Sadie Smith

 

  • I'm HUGELY biased because I only make buttercream cakes, but I also cook at weddings and anyone who works front of house at a venue will tell you that most people do not eat fondant icing. They peel it off to get to the cake and filling. Buttercream cakes obviously don't have the fondant covering. They are covered in a thick layer of smooth or textured plain vanilla or flavoured buttercream. Any decoration is piped or they may be dressed with fresh flowers. Buttercream cakes are usually cheaper, as a full design is quicker to achieve.
  • What style of cake should you have? Good question. Start with your venue. Is it formal and elegant? rustic? urban? A contemporary cake, with a clean finish and possibly some geometric or linear detail, or decorated quite sparely with fresh flowers will suit a smart city venue. A bolder approach would be to opt for a trendy watercolour or marbled cake finished with touches of gold leaf. This can be achieved in buttercream or fondant.
  Buttercream water colour cake by Emma Page Buttercream Cakes London. The gold leaf and elegant flower sprays dress up this contemporary finish


Buttercream water colour cake by Emma Page Buttercream Cakes London. The gold leaf and elegant flower sprays dress up this contemporary finish

 

  • A fresh flower decoration will also suit a country-style wedding, but here a more rustic, textured finish would be more appropriate and the flowers could be more abundant and casually placed.
 Sprinkle cake by Emma Page Buttercream Cakes London. This was delivered to MC Motors in Dalston, an industrial-style venue in London

Sprinkle cake by Emma Page Buttercream Cakes London. This was delivered to MC Motors in Dalston, an industrial-style venue in London

 

  • If you've chosen a venue with a quirky feel and lots of character, consider a fun drip cake piled high with meringues and flowers, or even a sprinkle cake.
 A simple rustic buttercream cake dressed with fresh flowers by Emma Page Buttercream Cakes London. Garlands of foliage create movement between the tiers

A simple rustic buttercream cake dressed with fresh flowers by Emma Page Buttercream Cakes London. Garlands of foliage create movement between the tiers

 

  • What about colour? This will most likely be informed by other choices you've made: the bridesmaids' dresses, bride's bouquet, table decorations and so on. It's very important that your cake brings together these colours accurately. If you get the chance to sit down with your cake maker, take any fabric swatches or pictures of flowers that will help them achieve an exact match in your cake decoration. You'll most likely be advised by them, and your florist, to avoid primary colours (too corporate) and two colours that oppose each other on the colour wheel, because the contrast will be too great. If you opt for a multi-coloured design for your cake, stick to a palette of five complementary colours. Pastels will always be more popular than dark or bright colours for wedding cakes, but I'm, definitely seeing more of an interest in black or very dark blue cakes for winter weddings. This can look super dramatic, but if you're having a buttercream finish make sure your cake maker starts with a dark chocolate buttercream and adds a little black. Taking white icing to black with food colouring alone will stain your guests' teeth and taste bitter.
  • If you opt for a multi-coloured design for your cake, stick to a palette of five complementary colours. Pastels will always be more popular than dark or bright colours for wedding cakes, but I'm, definitely seeing more of an interest in black or very dark blue cakes for winter weddings. This can look super dramatic, but if you're having a buttercream finish make sure your cake maker starts with a dark chocolate buttercream and adds a little black. Taking white icing to black with food colouring alone will stain your guests' teeth and taste bitter.
 Black chocolate buttercream cake with embroidery piping by Emma Page Buttercream Cakes London

Black chocolate buttercream cake with embroidery piping by Emma Page Buttercream Cakes London

 

  • Do you need a huge cake? Generally speaking a three tier cake (of 6in, 8in and 10in tiers) will feed around 100. Conventionally, a finger portion will measure 1inx1in on the top and will be the depth of a tier (so, roughly 6in these days). This gives you a cake that is18in-20tall. This is quite a big cake, but if you have chosen a venue with high ceilings and huge architectural features, you may want to add a dummy tier at the base to give it more presence.
 Dummy tiers can add height. Cake by Emma Page Buttercream Cakes London

Dummy tiers can add height. Cake by Emma Page Buttercream Cakes London

 

  • If you are having an intimate celebration with just a handful of guests, maybe opt for a little two tier with a fun topper to give it some height(see previous blog post on these), and serve it as pudding. Give it some character by choosing an unusual flavour - matcha tea or lavender and have it frosted to match.
  • The devil's in the detail. Is there an element, image or theme emerging in your wedding plan that you could use to inform the design of your cake?
  • Most commonly, couples come to me with their invitation and ask for it to be replicated in piping on their cake. This always works well, especially if the same elements have been used in the design of the seating plan and place cards.

 Piping to replicate the Dutch design of an invitation by Emma Page Butterceam Cakes London

Piping to replicate the Dutch design of an invitation by Emma Page Butterceam Cakes London

 

  • But I've also recreated a stained glass lampshade that was made by a bride's father when she was small, the lace of a bride's veil, scrollwork that appeared in the stone mantel of a fireplace and the embroidery of a favourite bag. A captivating design will always be attractive, even if it's the print on a shower curtain. If travel is the thing that binds you, why not opt for a cake that combines maps and landmarks of the places you have visited like a sketchbook? A good cake maker will be able to work up a design from literally anything you suggest.

Man cakes

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I've come to realise that cake may be the very last medium to challenge gender stereotypes: a realisation compounded by this:

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 Customers looking for a cake for a husband, father, son or boyfriend come to me empty-handed when it comes to ideas, unless therecipient is a football or golf fan. Then at least we have a ball to play with. Of course, a talented fondant baker would be able to craft a seaworthy catamaran. I’m not a fan of novelty cakes, so would recommend a fun drip, like the one above, or a concrete finish. 

 

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Here I was compelled to include a rugby ball, but it’s chocolate so didn’t involve any modelling, and it doesn’t look too cartoony. You can throw all sorts of fun stuff on a drip cake: macaroons, meringue kisses, rainbow popcorn, sweets, cookies, chocolate sails. The more the better. Sparkler candles add a bit of theatre, or a fountain candle, but check with your venue as they can set fire alarms and sprinklers off.

 

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Concrete cakes are brilliantly versatile. They can be given a feminine finish with fresh or piped flowers, but with a metallic chocolate sail and glossy drip they’re super man-friendly.

A more elaborate cake could be achieved buy going down the geode route. Don’t expect this to be cheap: sugar crystals take a week to grow and the edge really needs to definition of a gold or copper leaf. But they look brilliantly dramatic in a dark colour and suit a grown-up venue.

 

 

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Another idea is to go down the retro route. Fondant didn’t always dominate celebration cake design. We all grew up with clumsily piped but irresistibly delicious buttercream birthday cakes, topped with Subutteo footballers or a Sindy torso. If you want to make your own man-cake why not buy one of every item in the confectionery aisle and build a Swiss roll train pulling wagons piled up with jelly babies and Liquorish Allsorts?

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I recently found a 1970s cake book full of ideas for animal cakes, all created from a rectangle. This lion is my favourite, and went down a storm at my 19 year old son’s birthday, until everyone realised the frosting wasn’t Caramac flavoured. So ungrateful, but an important lesson learned: don’t replicate the colour of a well-loved product in buttercream without going the whole hog with the flavour as well.

 

 

 

Designing a stained glass wedding cake

So lovely Sydney sent me a message. She’d seen an image on Pinterest of a stained glass cake I’d made while training with Queen of Hearts Couture Cakes 100 years ago and wondered if I could replicate the design of a glass lampshade her father had made when she was little. 

 

 This is it

This is it

Here are the sketches I drew for them. The design was fairly straightforward; not too much detail, which is good, because this type of finish is achieved by working with piping gel on a soft buttercream background and the gel has to be coaxed about very carefully. 

 

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The biggest challenge with working on a buttercream base is that, even when it has crusted, it remains soft under the crust and it’s really easy to gouge. Also, with a smooth cake, there can be no bumps or bands of piping between the tiers because there’s no piped detail to conceal them. 

I find transferring a tracing of a design onto a cake, using a piped outline traced on parchment and then pressed onto the cake, quite stressful. If the paper slips you get an ugly blurred line that will be impossible to cover up. Also, once the icing has crusted to a stage where you can work on it, the piped image won’t adhere to it at all. So I just go for it freehand, describing the outline tentatively in gel and then filling it in in stages. It looks shocking at this stage, really ugly, but once you start piping the black outlines itn comes together really quickly.

 

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There you go. If you can recreate stained glass with buttercream the sky’s the limit really. 

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Top it off!

With rustic buttercream cakes on trend, couples are returning to toppers as a fun and personal way of dressing their centrepiece. Let's be clear, we're NOT talking about those little clay cartoon figures that wouldn't look out of place in a Playmobil fire engine. Toppers now include tiny balloons, witty glitter exclamations, light bulbs and gold dinosaurs. A couple I made a cake for recently had a 3d printout of themselves made to top their wedding cake. It was around £200. Not everybody's taste but a fantastic and spookily detailed keepsake.

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This is a favourite . Little foil balloons add humour and glitz: perfect if you've got gold accents in your theme, and way more affordable than adding edible gold leaf to the cake itself.

Pretty tassel toppers (look on Etsy) will bring a range of colours together to enliven a rustic cake, with or without flowers. Mix metallics and pastels when thinking about styling a marquee with pom poms and fringes and duplicate the effect in miniature on your cake.

Bang on trend, this an urban geometric heart is handmade and featured on the-little-wedding-corner, a German wedding blog. Pinterest is choc-a-block with ideas and tutorials for wire decorations and accessories; any of them can be scaled down with florist or craft wire. Perfect for a winter or candlelit celebration, and a grown-up take on introducing metallics. Don't like the fondant triangles though.

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For a neo-industrial look, how about these quirky lightbulbs, found on ruffled.com? Brilliant foil to the blowsy anemonies and peonies arranged around them.

 Mirabel Photography

Mirabel Photography

If you fancy a bit of script, make it witty and unique, rather than Mr and Mrs whatever. 'Light of my Life' works well here because of the irony but would seem a bit lame without the lightbulbs.

I quite like 'Finally' here, but it's a bit hackneyed now. As a guide I'd avoid any topper on Etsy that comes up as most popular. Make up your own if you can. Maybe a fragment of a song or something.

Why not make your own? Or ask your cake maker to. We all love a challenge and sometimes it's fun to make stuff that doesn't generate washing up. This simple heart would look perfect topping a rustic buttercream cake. It's rustic but delicate, and the tiny leaves of the evergreen thyme won't wilt. Your florist could do this for you if a family member is making your cake. The thyme could be repeated in sprigs between the tiers to bring the design together.

Something fun that could be made in advance: plastic dinosaurs sprayed with gold Plasticote and dressed in their wedding finery: perfect for a pair of archeologists! These two are from Etsy but it's an easy DIY. Have a look at my Pinterest board for other ideas https://uk.pinterest.com/emma0262/cake-toppers/.

The best ever wedding cake

If there's a wedding cake to suit every couple, every venue and every budget it has to be a simple three-tier rustic buttercream dressed with fresh flowers. The frosting provides the perfect foil for statement blooms or modest meadow flowers, but unlike the pure polar white surface of smooth fondant, it has a character of its own.

This is a cake dressed with soft blush and dusky pink roses by Amanda at Distinctly Floral that we displayed at Chiddingstone Castle Wedding Fair.

Here's a real stunner - a rich chocolate, Madeira and lemon cake frosted with crusting vanilla buttercream and dressed with beautiful David Austin roses and trailing jasmine. This was another joint effort, with florist Miranda Andrews, who supplied the flowers and showed me how to wire and tape them correctly, so that they would remain fresh, food safe and in place until the cake was cut at this Port Lympne wedding.

 

The cake complemented the table arrangements and the bride's bouquet perfectly. The couple are South African and wanted to use King Protea flowers as centrepieces, as they're the South African flower.

You don't have to play safe with a neutral background. Look how effectively this hot pink buttercream rose swirl complements the pinks of this contemporary arrangement put together by local Westerham florist Jo Anne Hardy (of Posy & Wild). This shape can be achieved by stacking a cake dummy between two cake tiers so the flower stems can be inserted into the polystyrene, leaving the cakes intact.

Or you could use an ombre effect to link your colours, like this American design here. For this to work, the frosting needs to be very carefully tinted so that the flowers and foliage are accents, rather than merely adorning an ombre cake.

The strength in this design is that it reinforces the green of the ivy at the base and the pink of the roses on the top. If you can imagine a couple of pink blooms at the base, you'll probably agree that this would have completely confused the design, which would have had a stripy rather than ombre result. Very clever.

I supply cakes to venues and florists to be dressed on site. Most florists will have dressed cakes with fresh flowers before, and will confidently tape the stems or insert them into plastic flower picks so that none of the sap can reach the cake itself. Obviously buttercream is soft, unlike fondant, and this poses a few challenges, particularly when draping foliage between tiers, but often all it needs is careful pinning. Never instruct a florist, events manager or caterer to dress a cake with barestemmed fresh flowers. Some cut flowers are toxic and all have to be properly prepared to ensure that they are foodsafe.

http://www.distinctlyfloral.co.uk/

http://www.mirandajayneandrews.co.uk/

http://posyandwild.co.uk/

 

 

 

Easter Bake Off!!

So chuffed to be asked to judge the Churchill Primary School Easter cake competition. After having children at the school for 15 years, it's a pleasure to go back and visit. They made me feel like a proper celebrity - was allowed to draw the raffle and everything. And look at the cakes!!!

This carrot patch masterpiece was made by a little dot in reception! All the carrots and the strips of lawn are piped in buttercream. Love the carrot tops piped with a star nozzle, and the chocolate soil. Very clever.

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More piping and meringues! I made some bunny cakes a bit like this last year but didn't think to use meringues for the bottoms. Lots of skill here. Very cute.

This must have taken ages. Lovely white clean fondant with no holes or chocolate finger prints!

Piping again! Love this: full of character. Really brilliant design.

Year 5 was the hardest group to judge. They'd all gone to such a lot of trouble. The designs were fantastic and they all looked delicious.

One pupil even managed to produce a gravity-defying design with hundreds of mini eggs pouring out of a magically suspended Easter egg!

Another ambitious design, from a year 6 pupil who's made three cakes of different colours, carefully cut them into cubes and painstakingly reassembled them to create a chequerboard pattern. Surprise inside cakes are very on trend so it's good to see the children of my town are out there pushing the boundaries of cake design!

What a treat. Love them.

 

Chaos

I've been working on a lot of these recently. Tall buttercream covered tiers topped with a glossy chocolate drip and piled high with meringues, macarons and chocolate shards. Inspired by Sydney bakers Katharine Sabbath and Cakes by Cliff, these quirky designs are full of fun and character. They can be dressed up with fresh fruit, handmade chocolates, buttercream roses and touches of gold leaf, or taken to the party max with coloured popcorn, sprinkles, lollipops, sparklers and popping candy.

 Gold leaf adds a touch of sophistication to this ombre wedding cake

Gold leaf adds a touch of sophistication to this ombre wedding cake

The style of these cakes is chaotic, but the finish has to be immaculate. Think about height - this can be created with chocolate sails; simply spread melted chocolate over a sheet of greaseproof or waxed paper and slide a couple of rolling pins under the paper to produce an undulating profile. If you use Candy Melts there's no need to temper the chocolate, but you won't be able to add past colour without the candy seizing up. Use gel colour, or add a few drops of Wilton FloCoat to a paste colour to avoid this.

 Add piped buttercream roses for a whimsical rainbow effect.

Add piped buttercream roses for a whimsical rainbow effect.

 

Meringues are tricky, The Meringue Girls add hot sugar (120g) to whisked egg whites (2), a spoonful at a time, to stabilise the egg and produce a smooth finish. I've had mixed, overcooked, results with this method (possibly because the oven was still too hot from heating the sugar) and have gone back to using cold sugar, still adding it very slowly, and stopping the mixer as soon as the mixture becomes stiff and glossy. Create stripes on your meringues, either by painting lines down the inside of your piping bags, or just by swirling colour around the bowl of mixture with a cocktail stick. Bake at 90 degrees C for an hour.

 

 Glossy fresh cherries and freeze-dried raspberries add depth of colour to this pink two-tier cake.

Glossy fresh cherries and freeze-dried raspberries add depth of colour to this pink two-tier cake.

A ganache drip needs to be glossy but not so liquid that it runs down the sides of the cake to the bottom. Put your frosted cake in the fridge and pour 100ml of hot whipping cream over 100g chopped plain chocolate (Sainsbury's Basics is perfect and 35p!) and whisk until smooth. When it's cooled down to room temperature, carefully drop teaspoons of the ganache around the edge of you cold cake and coax it over the edge with the side of the spoon every couple of centimetres. When you've gone all the way round you can fill in the middle and smooth it over with the back of the spoon.

 Steer away from using too many colours on a single tier. I'd stick to one side of the colour wheel. the contrast should come from the different textures

Steer away from using too many colours on a single tier. I'd stick to one side of the colour wheel. the contrast should come from the different textures

Pop!!

Really thrilled with the images from the Colour Pop photo shoot organised by Creative Brides in September for Wedding Ideas magazine. I love working with romantic imagery and faded vintage hues but it was so fun to work with some bright colours for a change.

Sometimes I think couples associate bright colours with a contemporary setting, but see how well they work against a rustic backdrop! A fun cake topper like this star bunting from Pop Pop Papier is a really brilliant way of picking up the colours in your décor without replicating them on the cake itself. Sprinkle cakes go with any scheme and can be made in confetti sponge (Madeira with sprinkles actually running through the cake) for a sweet surprise crunch.

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Rainbow cake is a fun idea if you're opting for one tier. A plain rustic frosting is fine but really needs the addition of a topper to have some presence. Think about paper pompoms, tiny balloons, bunting (all available from Pop Pop Papier) or a perspex and glitter topper.

These neon pearls are devilishly difficult to get hold of, but worth the search. They're an inspired mix - flouro pink, orange, grey, pastel green, red and black - which I would probably never have put together myself, but look how the colours pop against the white frosting!!

Thanks to Creative Brides for organising, (www.creativebrides.co.uk) Kelly and Sara at Not Your Average I Do for styling (www.notyouraverageido.com),  and Matilda Rose Photography (www.matildarosephotography.com.)

Decorations supplied by Pop Pop Papier (www.poppoppapier.com) and flowers by Wild Coco Floral Design (www.wild-coco.com)

Design

A cake design can be worked up from a fragment of material or lace, the flowers of a bouquet or even an architectural feature of a venue. The bride who rather shyly presented me with this fabulous sketch wanted me to interpret the lace pattern of her wedding dress bodice in piped buttercream but knew that this level of throughout the three tiers would take the cake over her budget. I can't take any credit for her idea of covering the bottom tier in a simple rose swirl: a quick finish that combines a romantic shape with a contemporary rhythm, but I was thrilled with the coherence of the result. It demonstrates how the spirit of a design can be captured without duplicating it in full.

Wedding cake sketch.jpg

This cake was made for a textile designer who has won several awards for creating a fabric design that is used for upholstery on yachts. The sketch is her initial draft of the design. I copied and piped the buttercream in a stitch pattern to give it an embroidered look.

Solar fabric

It's hugely helpful to start the design process with a fragment of fabric or a sketch. I've even worked up a wedding cake from a pillowcase design!