60 second expert: May Clee-Cadman, of cake company Maisie Fantasie, on choosing your wedding cake.
You worked on the film Confetti – how many cakes did you make?
I made three wedding cakes, one for each couple – tennis-themed, Hollywood, and Naturist (don’t ask!). I had to make two extra top tiers per cake in case they needed to take the cake-shot again. The whole film was improvised and along with the actors, they had real people in the scenes. I had on day filming with the tennis couple about their cake design. It was a very funny day, very surreal!
Must be very tough mixing with the stars! But what is it that makes wedding cakes so special?
Wedding cakes are steeped in tradition. It would be odd not to have a wedding cake at your reception. The cake isn’t only beautiful it’s also an event. Along with the first dance and the honeymoon, the cutting of the cake is one of the first things newly-weds do together. It’s very symbolic.
Do you have any particular advice for couples when they’re choosing their cake?
For every element of their wedding they should choose exactly what they want and not be influenced by others tastes. If they want a pink polka dot cake, they should have it! It’s also important to sample the wedding cake before you choose a supplier. Ask for a tasting or for a sample to be sent in the post. The cake should not only look great on the outside, it should also taste fantastic.
What is the most traditional type of wedding cake?
The fruitcake is still the most traditional wedding cake but not many people choose that these days. Although having said that, it is still traditional to have the top tier of the wedding cake as a fruitcake that’s kept for the first anniversary or christening. The most popular wedding cakes I make are chocolate fudge cake, a classic vanilla sponge with jam and butter cream, a zesty lemon cake and carrot cake.
Are most people turning to the dark side and going with chocolate wedding cakes?
It is becoming more and more popular. It’s actually a bit of a trend for people to double-up their wedding cake as a dessert. They’re choosing cakes that can be served with cream, ice cream or a fruit sauce – sponge cakes are excellent for this.
How long does it take to make a cake?
For a wedding on a Saturday I start making the cakes on the Monday and they are finished by Friday. Sugar flowers need to dry, icing needs to set. Each stage requires a little time before moving on.
Wedding cakes seem expensive – are they?
They may seem expensive but a lot of work goes into making a wedding cake. A three-tier cake feeding approx 150 guests, costing £665 works out at approximately £4.40 per slice. People perhaps forget that the cake does feed the entire wedding party.
How flexible can cake makers be in terms of the size of the cake?
Wedding cakes can be made in any size. If it’s a small wedding but the couple wants a large cake to display, then dummy polystyrene tiers can be used to give the cake more height. Or if you are having a large wedding but want a smaller cake, a backroom cutting cake can be provided that is given straight to the caterers to cut up and serve with the main wedding cake. This idea also helps if you have a tight budget as the backroom cakes are cheaper than adding another tier to the wedding cake. All sizes and shapes are flexible.
Can people go cheap and still get a decent cake?
If couples are on a tight budget it doesn’t mean they can’t have a beautiful cake. A simply iced cake decorated with fresh flowers is a great way of cutting the cost of the wedding cake. Using fresh flowers on the cake is also a lovely way of tying all the elements of the wedding together. Be sure to check with your florist that the flowers you are using are suitable for cake decoration though.
What’s your personal favourite wedding cake?
My favourites change regularly! But at the moment I love the ‘Audrey’. It’s an ivory cake decorated with chocolate brown polka dots and pale pink sugar bows. Lovely!
You can find out more about Maisie Fantasie at www.maisiefantaisie.co.uk