Deciding on your wedding cake is one of the best things about planning a wedding. It’s the perfect excuse to try different flavours and frostings – all in the name of research.
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And it’s a process that Judy Cook, of Cakes by Judy C in Brisbane, loves to be part of.
Judy opened her popular shop nine years ago but has been making wedding cakes for more than 25 years. “I come from a family of professional cake bakers,” she says. “I started dabbling in my late 20s, and the business started from there. I love making wedding cakes. It’s really important that my brides and grooms are happy. I don’t pressure sell.”
The cake connoisseur says there are 10 main factors for couples to consider so they end up with a truly delicious confection suited to their special day.
Think about portion size
Some people serve their cake as dessert, others serve a smaller portion with coffee, and still others give guests a slice to take home. And all influence the style you go for. “The number of people you want to serve, and the serving size, will narrow down the number of designs you have to choose from,” says Judy. “These days it’s most common for people to serve the cake as dessert, or with tea and coffee at the end of the wedding. We don’t have many people doing the traditional thing of packaging up the cake for guests to take home.”
Trust the experts on design
If you go to a reputable cake maker, they should have plenty of examples of different styles and designs to choose from. This is a great way to start a collaboration. “Sometimes people bring in a photo of what they want, and that’s also fine,” Judy says. “We want people to be completely satisfied, and to get exactly what they wanted, so we need a clear idea of what that is.”
Think of how it will suit your venue
“One of the first things I ask couples is whether their venue has air-conditioning,” says Judy. “It might not be something they have considered but it is important to the cake. For example, a naked cake will quickly melt if it is left in the heat. We find out exactly what conditions the cake will be in, in advance.”
Do a taste test – both of you!
“We do 10 tasting nights a year, with three sittings per night, and on those days we bake all our flavours fresh,” Judy says. “We find grooms, in particular, are very fussy about the taste of the cake. They might not care as much about the design, but they do care about how it tastes!”
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Consider alternative flavours
Wedding cakes have moved beyond the traditional fruit cake, or the chocolate mud cake, so make sure you get a taste for what’s out there. “We have some amazing cake flavours and they are very popular, for example hazelnut and Frangelico, orange and Galliano, and coffee espresso mud cake. We encourage couples to mix it up, for example having one layer of mud cake and one layer of orange and Galliano. If you’re serving it as dessert, it can look nice to have two alternating flavours. We can also marble two flavours together,” Judy says.
Remember that you will have photos taken with the cake
When you have your consultation, it might be worth taking photos of the wedding gown, flowers or even reception venue to show your cake supplier. This will help ensure you end up with something that compliments your look. “I have a certificate in floristry as well, so I can match the flowers in a bouquet if that is what the couple want,” Judy says. We basically just want to make sure they are getting exactly what they want.”
Ask about inclusions
Many suppliers will charge extra for items such as figurines, delivery and cupcake stands, so make sure you find out exactly what the price includes so you can allow for it in your budget.
Get a few quotes….
… but remember that with wedding cakes, you usually get what you pay for. “If you do come across a very cheap quote, there is a chance you will be getting a factory-made slab cake that someone has assembled and decorated,” Judy says. “I am a firm believer that a cake should taste as good as it looks. We bake everything fresh, none of our cakes are ever frozen, and you can definitely taste the difference.”
Don’t worry if you’re not cake people
“We do very popular dessert bars that include goodies such as brownies, macarons, cupcakes and lemon tarts,” says Judy. And certainly, this kind of sweet station is proving very popular at modern weddings. “There is definitely a huge variety of baked goods to choose from if you don’t want a traditional cake.”
Don’t forget allergies.
It may not be possible to cater to every food preference/intolerance, but you should know exactly what is in your cake so you can let guests with allergies know if they need to avoid it. “Of course we can tell a couple exactly what is in their cake,” Judy says. “And we can do individual gluten, nut or dairy free cakes if they are needed. It’s a lovely touch for guests to know their dietary requirements have been considered.”
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