24 September 2009
Eastnor Castle Wedding Cake
It's always a pleasure to work with local suppliers over many years. To build up a sense of trust and come to understand the expertise which they bring to their work. One such company is Special Ice which is run by a mother and daughter team of Sarah and Sheila. They have been making cakes for well over 30 years and offer our brides some fantastic advice for this very important part of any wedding. The following interview with them both will, we hope, help to explain a little more.
Q. First of all does the bride need to meet with you to decide on her cake?
A. Not at all. It's obviously ideal for her to visit, taste some of the options and discuss the decorations. However we have made many cakes without meeting the bride until the wedding day.
Q. How do you decide on the size of the cake?
A. There is so much to take into account, for instance when will the cake be offered as part of the meal, as evening refreshment or as a pudding. Also will the cake be needed for absent guests or maybe you will want to keep a layer for a Christening? Also if it's a small wedding we can use iced polystyrene to change a small cake into a very large one!
Q. Do you get requests to add heirlooms to a cake?
A. Oh yes. We have placed silver horses, china cows, antique model cars and other sentimental items on our wedding cakes. We have also used a mother’s 30 year old plaster pillars on her daughter’s wedding cake.
Q. Can you offer any guidance on how the cake should match with flowers or the bridal gown and so on?
A. The cake is designed with many of the other wedding details in mind. If colour is to be used it is a good idea if the bride lets us have swatches of the her bridesmaid's dress materials or any ribbons. Fresh flowers used on a cake should be identical to those in the bride’s and bridesmaid’s bouquets because the bouquets should ideally be placed on the cake table during the cutting of the cake – this adds to the photographic presentation. Pipework can be done to imitate lace used on the bride’s dress. Pearls, crystals and sashes can also be made in icing.
Q. Please tell us a little about the different types of icing.
A.Royal icing seems to be a thing of the past and although we can produce this kind of finish, it clearly adds to the cost. Fondant is now the preferred cake covering because it is easier to cut and eat. Chocolate cakes can be covered with chocolate fondants, chocolate cigarillos or just buttercream if a rustic look is required. The temperature in the castle doesn’t really get too hot but if it did the chocolate cakes could suffer, so using very high chocolate content can be a problem.
Q.How far in advance should the bride order her cake?
A.It is advisable to place the order for a cake as soon as possible. When some of the decisions about the wedding theme have been made a phone call to the cake maker with the date of the wedding is helpful. We then recommend a visit to our cake studio where our cake designs portfolio can be viewed and ideas discussed. This gives us the chance to get a feel for the design of cake required and offer some inspiration. At this stage some brides come to us without a clue, whilst others have everything mapped out already. An average consultation takes about 1 ½ hours in which time we aim to find out as much detail as possible in order to be able to produce a quote which we send out in the following week. There is no rush to make decisions, ideas can be slowly developed over the weeks leading up to the day.
Q. I guess that the bride will also need to think about the cake stand and what to cut the cake with?
A. Yes, this is important and often gets forgotten. We have a range of stands all of which are available for hire. The Victorian Stand is particularly suited to Eastnor Castle because of its enormous size and antiquity. Also included with the stand is a large silver cake knife which has a history of its own. According to an old wives tale the cake should be cut with the knife upside down. Looking at our knife you can not decide which side is which therefore you can’t go wrong on this matter! Sometimes there is a family heirloom knife which can be used. Our cakes have also been known to be cut using a sword.
Q. Do you use additives in making the cake?
A.Because we use time-honoured recipes there are no additives, artificial flavours, colours or preservatives in the cakes. There is plenty of brandy, whisky and rum all of which are used in various types of cake.
Q. What do you use to bake the cake?
A.All our cakes are baked in our farm kitchen, our Rayburn is not reliable enough to cook such important cakes so we use a wonderful NEFF oven or two Electrolux ovens. Timing is exceptionally important and a constant reliable heat is needed.
Q.What are the most popular colours for a wedding cake?
A. The majority of the cakes we make are covered in either white or ivory icing. This choice is often based on the bride’s dress or her colour scheme. We have however made pink cakes, pale green cakes and chocolate wedding cakes.
Q.We have seen a great variety of cake decorations. What advice would you give to the bride?
A. Simplicity is the keyword in wedding cakes at the moment and therefore a perfect fondant covering is essential. Brides want little fuss in order to create the most elegant and uncluttered look. None the less, you can never go wrong with fresh, silk or handmade sugar flowers as well as ribbons and iced beads.
Q. Sugarcraft seems very popular at the moment?
A. Yes, it is. Sugarcraft is a vast subject to discuss quickly because it ranges from covering the cake with all types of icing to the most delicate handmade sugar flowers. In between we cover model making, pipework, embossing, cut-outs, flooding, hand painting etc. No two cakes will ever be alike, we cope with whatever brides dream up next. It really is the challenge of their new ideas which fuels our creativity.
Q. How do you get the cake to Eastnor Castle?
A.Delivery to the castle is part of our service since it is well within our delivery radius. Because of our locality, we feel that cakes are at very low risk whilst in transport. We aim to be at Eastnor 2 hours before the wedding but will time our delivery to coincide with the florist when using fresh flowers. We will happily liaise with the florist if required.