If you think of wedding cake, your mind probably goes to a very traditional wedding cake: the same one you’ve seen in family photographs for generations. But if you think about the kind of cake you like to eat on a normal day, would this be the same? We’re going to guess not! With that in mind, and because wedding planning should be about what you want rather than what you feel you should, today we’re donning our berets to give some wedding cake myths their marching orders, and show you what’s really possible for your wedding cake.
1: “You must have fruit cake and not only that it has to be your base tier
The ultimate wedding cake myth. You can have fruit cake if you fancy it, but you don’t have to!
Don’t get us wrong, we love a boozy fruit cake (we lovingly feed ours with 3 year aged brandy, for a lip-smackingly good flavour.) The first of these wedding cake myths comes from a good place, because fruit cake can be delicious. However, it’s rare that we make one nowadays: most couples choose one of the sumptuous sponge options we have on our menu instead.
What’s most important when deciding on your wedding cake is what your favourite flavours are. Why not go for delicious carrot cake, triple chocolate or salted caramel? Or, perhaps you’d prefer something more left-field, but no less divine – we also have flavours such as orange blossom & almond, tipsy strawberry and champagne, and our personal favourite, coconut and blueberry.
All of this to say: just because a traditional wedding cake means fruit cake, doesn’t mean all wedding cakes have to be. But, if you do want to have a fruit cake, let’s get one thing clear, you can have fruit cake on any tier of your wedding cake as long as your cake is properly structured.
We regularly see wedding cake makers (not us) saying that if you’re having a traditional rich fruit cake, you can only have it as your base tier or as an extra, separate cutting cake. This simply isn’t true!
The reason some people say this is because fruit cake is dense, packed with raisins, currants and sultanas which makes it a heavy hitter. However, as long as your cake maker knows how to stack a cake properly, it will be fine for any tier. We always use cake dowels so no tier is actually stacked directly onto another cake. Instead, they rest on the internal structure, which ensures your wedding cake is level, steady, and not at any risk of collapse. Yes, even if your top tier is full of fruit.
In fact, if you do want to honour tradition and have a fruit cake, we recommend having it as the top tier. If you know that most of your guests will choose the sponge option instead – or maybe you’re going for a traditional wedding cake because you want to save the top tier for your first wedding anniversary – the top tier is usually a pretty perfect amount.
2. “Ew, fondant icing!”
We actually think fondant icing is one of the best finishes! Here’s why…
One of our favourite wedding cake myths that we hear time and again is the idea that fondant, a traditional wedding cake icing, is horrible. But that couldn’t be further from the truth!
Pesky supermarket cakes covered in super thick, mass-produced fondant finish may give it a bad name: but we actually recommend proper fondant icing for every cake we make. The gossamer-thin, lightly sweet fondant icing, layered on top of our homemade, decadent Belgian white chocolate ganache, ensures a smooth, flawless base for any delicate design work. To this you could add edible lace designs made to match your wedding dress, or perhaps intricate hand painted details. All of which work best on fondant icing.
3. “No one eats the wedding cake anyway”
Yes, they do, we promise you…
“We just wanted to say a huge thank you for the cake! It was absolutely amazing! It was a real hit with everyone and every single bit of it was eaten!”
Sandra and Steve, The Lost Village of Dode
First things first: of course, we’re not saying that every single guest will eat a slice of your cake. Of course, it’s a shame – for them and for us – but not everyone has a sweet tooth, and that is a-ok! But even factoring those guests in, the days of traditional wedding cake slices sitting there going uneaten are long gone. In fact, more often what we hear is that guests got to the cake so fast the couple didn’t end up with a slice of their own. We want to avoid both of these possibilities and end up in the happy middle ground, where everyone who wants some gets delicious cake!
If you’re planning to cut and serve your wedding cake at your evening reception, we recommend aiming to serve 75% – 80% of your guests, to avoid too many leftovers. Wedding cake is usually cut into small squares and not gateaux style (aka, the kind of wedge slices you’d think of if you were ordering in a cafe), but as each tier of your wedding cake is about 5” deep, this is still a decent portion of delicious wedding cake.
Alternatively, you might not want to serve all of your wedding cake during your reception: you might be having a party with family the next day or you might even want your guests to take a slice home with them. Whatever your plans, we can suggest the wedding cake size that we think most suitable.
“Ollie and I just want to say we were absolutely blown away by this cake….we could not have asked for more and we received so many comments on how fantastic it looked; and tasted just as good, we had no leftovers!!!!”
Deborah and Ollie, Mount Ephraim Gardens
Next in our list of wedding cake myths that we want to give their marching orders:
4. “Wedding cakes dry out”
Another hangover from traditional wedding cake that wasn’t treated right is the idea that wedding cakes dry out quickly. And while we may all hate the word itself, we do all want our cake to be one thing: moist. And again, when made correctly, this is exactly how your wedding cake should, and will, be!
Though it does take a few days to make a wedding cake – from baking, buttercreaming, ganaching and icing – it’s all timed to perfection, to ensure delicious taste and texture as well as enough time to make the stunning artwork which will adorn it. The way your cake is covered (in a generous layer of our homemade Belgian chocolate ganache) seals in moisture, preventing it from drying out and ensuring it’s perfect when you come to cut and serve it.
5. “Dummy cakes are cheaper”
Dummy tiers won’t save you as much money as you think.
Dummy tiers are something we often hear advised as a cost-saving measure, but – you’ve guessed it! – this is simply another wedding cake myth, that never seems to quite disappear.
Most of the cost of any wedding cake is in the design and decoration. Consider two tiers of a cake, one a very plain, real iced cake and the other a highly intricate fake tier filled with handmade sugar flowers. Despite it being a dummy tier, the second one will cost more!
So why is this? The delicate sugar work on your wedding cake, which might include hundreds of handmade sugar flowers, is what sets it apart. Every sugar flower is made petal by petal, a labour of love to bring your wedding cake to life. This detailed design is where the true expenditure within your wedding cake lies, so it’s worth keeping that in mind when you think about dummy tiers.
If you’re considering having extra dummy tiers as part of your design, why not take a look at our blog: Faking it! What are dummy tiers and do I need one?
So, there you have it! 5 traditional wedding cake myths, given their marching orders.Now you know the alternatives to what you might think of as a traditional wedding cake, we hope you’re really excited about your wedding cake and what’s to come! We’d love to chat to you about your ideas – you can get in touch here.
Bluebell Kitchen are mother and daughter team, Erica and Charlie Bell. We’re Kent based cake makers and sugar flower specialists, creating bespoke wedding cakes and macarons in Kent, London and the South East. Get in touch to see if we can help you bring your cake design dreams to life! Join The Cake List to be the first to know more.
*Answer to which tier on the ombré macaron wedding cake was the dummy tier…the base tier of course!