Today I'm pleased to welcome Natalie from Yummy Little Cakes who creates bespoke wedding, birthday, anniversary, christening and 'just because' cakes. Natalie is very creative and is clearly committed to providing her clients with high quality and taste. Having sampled her cakes on many occasions (I LOVE cake!) I can tell you that they are both yummy by name and yummy by nature!
Over to Natalie
I've been designing and creating wedding cakes for about 3 years. It started with a cake for my little boy, 5 years ago and snowballed from there really. I am completely self-taught - learning quickly through error and passion. It's that passion that brings me to share some tips today - that combined with frustrations on hearing terrible stories of all kinds - from cakes that are wonky or even collapse, cakes that taste awful through to terrible customer service and even cakes that at fall to very bad service from the supplier even cakes that don't turn up at all!!
So here are a few tips to help you choose a professional cake designer:-
Go on recommendations from friends and venues. It's a really great starting point. Have a close look at the finish of the cake designer's cakes (dummy and real ones). Google them (see what you find both in terms of images and links). Have they been featured on blogs? Who have they worked with?
Read testimonials and reviews - It takes time and effort for a client to share their experience. Really ‘listen' to what you read about them. Is it all one thing - tasted amazing - looked amazing - or do they have great service, attention to detail, passion as well as the obvious.
How do they make you feel (go with your gut instinct) - even though its ‘just cake' you need to feel as though they get ‘you' and ‘your' vision. Do you get excited about their ideas and vice versa? If it feels a bit wrong or awkward - ask yourself are they the right cake designer. How passionate are they? It's the passion that will drive them to deliver above and beyond your expectations. Do they get excited about the little details?
Do they offer ideas that you may never have thought of? Do they sketch the design to give you a visual idea? Do they listen and interpret your ideas too? Are they an expert? (Do they do this one thing well or lots OK?)
How many portions you require can determine the size of your cake. If you need 30 portions you are not going to NEED 4/5 tiers unless for design reasons this is your choice. Likewise a small 3 tier cake is not going to feed 120 guests - no matter how delicate the portions are cut!
How many tiers do you envisage? Do you only need 30 portions but had your heart set on 4 tiers? How about dummy tiers?
What type of finish would you like? - buttercream, sugar paste or naked? - As trends come and go so do options for cake finish. Sugar paste is traditional and gives the immaculate finish and what we eat on celebration cakes. Buttercream is the frosting you have on top of a cupcake and is becoming more and more popular as lots of people don't like sugar paste. Then there are ‘naked' cakes - no icing at all and these can be as rustic or as pretty as you like.
Use Pinterest for inspiration and as a reference for your designer. It gives the designer a great sense of your style and is a perfect starting point. Be careful not to go overboard though and keep it realistic.
Collect images from magazines (what you love and hate) - an ‘old fashioned' way but very tactile. Fold corners or make a scrap book - There's nothing more frustrating than knowing you saw it ‘somewhere' and then not being able to remember where!
Colour reference (swatches, paint charts) - If you have a set colour, try to have a reference for your designer. Coral is not just coral and there are a million ‘pinks'. Paint charts are a brilliant way to be accurate. Be creative and a little brave (if it's personal it will be timeless).
Getting married shouldn't be a competition. Try not to be fixated on what is ‘in' or what ‘Lucy' or ‘Grace' had. Keep it as personal as possible but be creative or listen to ideas of the designer. This is what you are paying them for. Yes lots of cake makers can replicate each other's cakes and yes sometimes you just fall in love with a design, but isn't it more special to have a cake that is unique to you?
If you have to work with a budget, be flexible on design. As a designer we know what process takes the longest we also know what process are the simplest way to create with the biggest impact too. So if you do have a budget that you need to stick to, be honest about what the budget is. Be flexible on the design and this will get you the best design for your budget.
Ask for a list of flavours they offer - is the list set or can you have an alternative? Each tier can be a different flavour (it's exciting for guests to have a choice) - It doesn't have to be vanilla. Have a different flavour for each tier - if I were a guest at a wedding and there was a choice, 1 - I'd be excited and 2 - I'd have them all!
All cakes should be structured with supports used in all tiers to take the weight of each tier.
Taste the cake - even if there is a small charge (most cake designers will reimburse if you book with them) - Taste at shows, when you meet or if you can't meet ask for some to be posted - even if you have to pay. Do this BEFORE you pay a deposit.
Set up at the Venue
You pay all that money for a cake then it gets pride of place in the corner on a table all on its own looking lonely and sad! I may be biased but I think the cake deserves to be centre stage. Think about the visual impact of your cake table (it will be photographed) and be open to ideas from the designer and venue.
Back drops, table runners, signage, pretty stands and flowers, are all easy ways to create additional impact. Discuss with the venue where the cake will be displayed and make sure all involved know the plan.
Great advice Natalie! Thanks.
You will be able to see and possibly taste some of Natalie's Yummy Little Cakes at the Open Weekend so grab your FREE SamiTipiOW tickets now!