The perfect dessert table
At a glance, this cake may just look like a standard birthday cake lavished with edible jewels and trinkets.
But.... it is not, because what makes this cake special is that it winds up like a real musical box, plays music, and the handmade sugar ballerina spins. Yeah you heard right, she twirls around to the music. But if you do not believe me, watch this video to see it in action.
So here's the story of how this came about.
For three years now, I usually will see the same delivery people, whether its Amazon, Parcel force or Hermes.They always ask me what I am baking today, and one of the delivery ladies always knows when I'm not baking, on the days that there isn't the heavenly scent of vanilla wafting through the door.
In May, I had a knock at the door, and it was the guy from DPD who kindly delivers a lot of my cake products, and he said that his wife was after a birthday cake for their daughter.
So his lovely wife got in touch, and explained that their daughter is turning 40, and one of her most treasured birthday cakes from the past, was this treasure chest box.
The family, wanting to surprise Nicky with a similar cake to that from her childhood, had planned topurchase jewellery and fill up the draws of a trinket cake box with it.
Nicky's mum did say to me, that if I could make the ballerina spin, and the cake play a tune that would be amazing, but given the time strain and the fact that I knew I would have to ship in a special mechanism from the US, I said it wouldn't be possible at this time.
But then, upon thinking about it, I just knew it would be amazing if I could pull this off. I checked the calendar, and got in contact with stackedcakes.us . The delivery time on the motor was two weeks, so it was perfect.
I started sketching and planning out how I would structure the cake, where the box for the mechanism would be, how it would all lock in, and then what part of the design would be cake, and how to fit everything together so it looks like one complete piece.
The lid needed to be secure, but I wanted as much of this design to be made from cake and sugar paste. So I lined the entire lid with sugar paste, paying attention to all the fine details.
The ballerina was very small, just 4 cm tall. I had her tying up her ballet shoe.
I loved creating this cake, it was another chance to challenge myself, and push the boundaries of cake design.
This month I have a million and one projects going on, and it really does feel like a 'flying by the seat of my pants' month.
It has come to the point where I have said yes to every opportunity that has come my way, along with needing to fulfill orders, secure new booking for 2017 and 2018, and also find time to develop the product range, whilst also putting out fun new content. It is mad, I love it, but I also do not know where my head is sometimes.
So in the last week, I managed to do two things that I have been planning for a while. First, make a flamingo themed birthday cake, and second, create a Kransekake.
My mum's birthday provided the perfect opportunity to put these two creations together.
The Kransekake is a Scandinavian treat, typically made from an almond biscuit, hand shaped into wheels of dough and baked. It is then traditional to stack these into a tower and can be finished off with royal icing and flowers. Here is just one take on a beautiful design.
I am happy to add this to the wedding cake portfolio, and you can now order these freshly baked towers for weddings and other events. They can be baked taller than that featured here.
They are great as a centerpiece, and I have definitely fallen in love with these.
The flamingo cake was a must! These pretty birds are everywhere this season, and of course, this was perfectly fitting for a club Tropicana themed party. Featured is a rich chocolate sponge cake layered with ganache, fresh raspberries and a fresh raspberry and rose water Swiss Meringue buttercream.
Hand made sugar frangipans finish the cake along with violet and pink hydrangeas. I added a floral crown to the flamingo to make it more boho.
This cake lasted in freshness up to one week after being baked without loosing any moisture, and a little trick I learnt kept the raspberries extra fresh. I bake a lot of cakes, and most often turn down a slice due to being around cake all the time. But when it comes to experimenting with new flavour combos, even I couldn't stop eating this one.
Nothing says birthday celebration better than this photo!
So after a hectic week, it was time to set off on a spontaneous break to the New Forest (Southampton) with my mother. Where we had a lovely girly retreat, filled with cycle rides and afternoon tea at The LimeWood Hotel.
And my, what a place that hotel is! Absolutely heaven, surrounded by a meadow, herb shed, bee hives, smoke house, botanical rooftop garden... must I go on. We didn't book a stay at the hotel unfortunately, but of course booked an afternoon for tea, and it was perfect!
Me and mum on our holibobs!
It was the perfect weekend break to take time out and reflect on the start of this year and all the great projects I have had a chance to work on. Being a business owner is tough, and we are always the hardest on ourselves. This weekend helped me to be so appreciative of how far Cake Me By Surprise has come, and to be even more excited about where it is going.
Saying thank you to your guest at any event is always appreciated when its in the form of an edible experience. I love the edible favours you get at a party or wedding. Let's face it, we all go to these events to dance and eat!
These delightful little treats offer your guest an individual cake of their own, perfect for the fruit cake lovers who have not been catered for in your main cake. I always think of Marie Antoinette when I create these, they are opulent in design and really eye catching. What guest wouldn't feel special when presented with one of these.
Another option is to offer iced biscuits, mmmm..... biscuits ( said in a Homer Simpson Voice)
I thought maybe we had seen the back of cake pops.? But these are still hot on demand from a lot of the couples that I meet at wedding shows. These playful pops are perfect to store in mason jars or milk bottles on each table, and can be dipped in a coloured chocolate of your choice. They are great for the kids and adults, and if you want to be really adventurous you could always have them made as miniature creations of your actual wedding cake! This is what the lovely Shelley and Brian did for their wedding last year.
If you love strawberries dipped in chocolate, these could be a great option to have set on each place setting. I am seeing rising popularity in this choice of favour. Just be aware that on a hot day, these little treats can become a little messy.
So, a fun fact about my husband and I, is that we tied the knot on his birthday. So traditionally, we celebrate the day we met as our anniversary, and then I dedicate our wedding anniversary to his birthday. He is a huge fan of dragon ball, and so of course, I challenged myself to model a cake around the popular Japanese animated show.
As an avid collector of Dragon Ball figurines, I wanted to create something in sugar that no one else had. Alongside, having to pay attention to getting the faces and clothing of these characters spot on. I had this really cool idea, that what if, Chi-chi was holding a birthday cake for Goku, and he could look on in awe at his surprise.
To finish I hand painted scenery from the show around the whole cake, and added swirls of clouds to finish the cake board.
My husbands reaction was perfect, and made the whole design process worth it. This cake pushed my modelling skills, and it was a complete joy to take on a new challenge with such a memorable reward.
There is some controversy around the use of fresh flowers vs sugar flowers on a wedding cake. Ascetically, both can look equally as beautiful, and often enough, I advise brides that it comes down to their budget and visual preference, in regards to which option they choose.
However, one area that is not often highlighted to brides is the food safety risk of using real flowers sourced by your florist.
Many flowers are toxic, and this does not just involve direct consumption, but also many flower stems, and leaves have a sap or threads, that if exposed to food products, may leave a residue, and thus there is a huge risk of these being ingested by your guest.
This can cause extreme sickness, and is certainly not something you would want for your wedding party.
Wedding florist are not in the business of food safety, and artisan cake bakers are not horticulturalist, so where your florist will typically be the one who decorates your wedding cake with fresh flowers, there will not always be a knowledge of what can, and cannot go on the cake.
To help guide you when talking to your florist about decorating your cake with fresh flowers, I have put together a Pinterest board listing a range of non toxic flowers https://uk.pinterest.com/cakembsurprise/edible-flowers/
Now, it is not all doom and gloom, there are ways in which we can assist in reducing cross contamination. For example, the use of florist picks is ESSENTIAL if a rose stem, for example, is being plugged into a cake. (Please, if you, or a family member are decorating your own wedding cake, never stick fresh flowers directly into a cake).
Oasis trays ( these are little trays with beads/foam in to keep the floral arrangement hydrated) can be used to sit floral arrangements on top of a cake, and this allows for the flowers not to come into contact with the cake at all.
However, the important thing to note, is that typically flowers from your florist will not be organic. They will have been sprayed with pesticides to help preserve their shelf life, and kept in water that will harbor bacteria. For your general wedding floral arrangements, this is absolutely fine. But of course, we do not want this coming into contact with your cake.
Another option, is to go down the route of having your cake baker source organic edible flowers. I used these last year on a wedding cake, and it adds such a gorgeous finish to the cake.
Ok so the big debate, is using 'babys breath' or gypsophilia on wedding cakes. Yes, it is toxic. The symptoms are often 'mild', skin irritation, or sinus problems.... but lets be serious, anything that causes a potential reaction to humans, is just not to be added to a wedding cake. If you really have your heart set on gypsophilia, this can be created out of sugar ( if your cake artist is really smart, they will know how to do this) or your can purchase artificial gyps.
But... as a complete advocate for the art of sugar floristry, if you have the budget then why not go for a cake complete with sugar flowers. They can be created so that they look incredibly realistic. They can be preserved as a keep sake after your wedding, and you can hold onto these for years to come. There is also the freedom to have any flower you wish, as they will always be in season, and of course not difficult to source (we just make them!). Last of all, they can be created in your choice of colour.
So here its is, sugar flowers vs real flowers. Post in the comments below what you are having on your wedding cake, if your having flowers at all?!
Before becoming an artisan cake designer, I never understood the value of a wedding cake. When planning my own wedding I accounted for the prices of the ingredients, butter, flour, sugar, eggs, some vanilla extract I thought... a wedding cake must be around £100 - £200 right?
Then I came into the business, and there were a gazillion cost I would never have accounted for.... that's when it occurred to me that these items are never set out clearly when you are searching for someone to create your dream wedding cake. Its very hard to imagine the skill and time that goes into a cake, until you start baking one yourself and realise... 'man! is this ALOT of work!'
Often, clients believe that a wedding cake price is inflated , purely because it is for a wedding. I can certainly tell you this is not true at all, and that would be an awful practice if it were true. Lets take a look at what you are really paying for;
Hours spent creating a wedding cake
Ingredient shopping 30/40 Mins
Lining tins 15 mins
Baking various sponges and making the fillings 2 hours (on average)
Washing up/Packing 1 hour
Level and torte cakes 35/40 mins
Fill and cover cakes 2-3 hours
Dowel and stack cakes 30 mins
Decorate cakes (dependent on design) 3-8 hours
Flower work/Cake toppers and other decor 4-8 hours
Paper Work 1-2 hrs
Ordering specialist equipment and tools for specific cake design 20/30 minutes
Research 40 minutes
On average 15 - 18 hours are spent in total on a wedding cake, and that is just creating it. There is also the time it takes to pack the cake safely, transport it, and negotiate crazy stairs and inclines to finally set the cake up at the venue.
Included in the cost, is the price of flour, sugar, butter, free range eggs, extracts, jams, spreads, a high quality fondant to finish the cake, the cake boards, and cards, sugar paste ( this is a very costly ingredient used to make sugar flowers), florist wires, florist tape, florist tips, royal icing, dowels, electricity for the use of the oven, extended use of mixers and the running of additional refrigerators, and a percentage of the water rates.
On average we use up to 30 eggs for each cake, 15 sticks of butter, and 2.5 kg of sugar.
So where does the artisan come into all of this you may ask?
Unlike M&S, Waitrose and other big chains, we are far from a corporation. That is why we ask for a 50% deposit upfront, because this job is our only income, and that deposit is a guarantee that we can now pay the bills and put food on the table this month. When customers miss their agreed payment dates, we go without. Prices reflect the cost of the ingredients, power, water rates, the insurance coverage and most importantly the labour to create the beautiful piece of art that is a wedding cake.
Everything you see is handcrafted. Therefore, economies of scale does not come in to play. The more mini cakes, for example that are ordered, the more labour time involved.
To smartly give our customers a great price for the value of work they are receiving, I shop around constantly for the best price on ingredients, and supplies. So, when orders are cancelled last minute or changed, we are left with additional stock that may spoil, or is so specific to the desired order, that we cannot recuperate these cost in the form of any other sale.
So there it is... a true outline of the cost of a wedding cake. Hopefully for those reading, it will help you not to have mild dizziness, if you ask for a quote on that gorgeous 5 tier floral cake with gold embellishments, that you have seen on Pinterest.
In November, I was asked to create a traditional four tier cake, styled with Grecian pillars for a very lovely couple. However, this cake was to have a twist. With their wedding venue being the Islington Metal Works the cake had to be quirky and fun.
So.... between the burgundy, and scarlet sugar roses, I included roses with whimsical faces, and a handcrafted antique Pocket watch.
Of course, included was a little 'garcon' rose too.
Want to watch just how I achieved these whimsical sugar roses.... check out the video below.
Included in the design were hand cut sugar paste lace motifs and the couples monogram hand painted directly onto the cake.
What was so wonderful about this cake, is that we actually used the pillars from the bride's grandmothers wedding! And I love the topper she supplied.
To complete the wedding table, we also created yummy pocket watch biscuits.
This July we helped Emma and Billy celebrate their wedding at Bradbourne House in Kent. The set up of their wedding cake was as close to the wire as we have ever had to deliver before, due to the wedding event having to be drawn inside due to torrential showers.
With the amazing help of the site team, and the lovely 'Florist in the Forest', we set up with ease, and delivered this mauve buttercream wedding cake.
Billy and Emma went for a carrot cake sponge with orange citrus buttercream, a salted caramel sponge complete with vanilla buttercream and salted dulce de leche, and a delectable chocolate sponge cake with a strawberry filling. The cake was completed with edible flowers that were placed to look as though there were growing on the ledges and side of the cake. Whilst we topped the cake with these gorgeous hand crafted wood slice toppers, provided by the bride.
I have to say a special thank you to James Grist Photography for taking these beautiful pictures of the set up.
Too busy to make a wedding cake tasting appointment ? Or do you really want to try our cake samples, but our kitchen is not close by. Well no problem. We have just launched our beautifully packaged cake sample boxes, which include some of our most popular sponges and velvety smooth buttercream fillings.
Contact us for more information.
With a new year, comes new wedding cake designs, and I had to created a wedding cake with sugar crafted pansies. The array of colours in these delicate little flowers make for such a fun and exciting design.
Of course a band of edible 24ct gold had to be added to really make the cake pop, and with metallic completely on trend this year, it was a must.
The finished cake turned out just how I had hoped, and I am very excited to add this to our 2016 portfolio.
Next, it was essential that I payed homage to this next trend. With applique lace, and 3D flower designs intending to stay, we will see a lot of layered flowers being used on runway this year.
Given that this year we celebrate the Queens 90th Birthday, it was most fitting that Helen and John would be celebrating their nuptials with a British themed wedding. The story behind this cake was fantastic. Helen, (the Bride) was to take on John's surname 'England', thus become Mr and Mrs England.
I love coming up with new wedding cake designs, and if I could take one year off I would certainly spend it making every cake design idea that has entered my head, and have a room full of these all on display. Of course, whilst also working on clients orders this is not at all possible, so I really have to scale it down and chose which creations I want to show case carefully.
This design was inspired by the beautiful muted tones and taupe colour that would typically appear in a very elegant, and almost understated setting. The wedding cake should be the center piece of your setting. It is the ultimate photo opportunity, and where the cake complements the Brides gown, it can really enhance the photo.
Of course I absolutely love creating flowers out of sugar, so the design had to allow for a posy that was in full bloom.
Last year I received a phone call from a lovely client, requesting a Christening Cake with a twist. On the day of their beautiful baby boy's christening, both parents were going to surprise their family with the renewal of their vows. I was completely taken with their story, and could not wait to create the perfect Wedding/Christening Cake, ( as it was often referred too).
So of course, there had to be a 'Lace Design' on the cake, delicate piping and little pearl drops. The ornamental cross was dusted with an edible navy glitter so that it really popped, and this also picked up the glitter on the bride's shoes and on her dress. I added the building blocks and teddy bear to give the cake a soft and child like feel. But most importantly, to really tell this story, the cake needed animated toppers.
This cake was all about the love and joy that little Charlie was to bring to this family, and the animated cake toppers were to be the 'cherry on to of the cake'.
Finally the cake was delivered on 6th February 2016 to The Bromley Court Hotel.
I have added some final close up shots below.