I know there's a lot of advice out there in wedding mag/blog land that says a lead time of 4 months for the cake. But don't listen! This isn't long enough. A good cake maker gets booked up just as far ahead as a good venue/florist/dress designer/DJ. I regularly get bookings up to two years ahead . So start looking at a cake supplier when you're looking for all your other suppliers. And when you find one, get the deposit paid. Most cake makers need a deposit to secure your date. Even if you've not decided on size or design, get your date secured.
Once you've drawn up a guest list, then it's time to work out how big you need the cake to be. I've a helpful chart to help you do that.
Then consider a couple of dummy tires.
Then how about some sheet cakes of the same flavours for the kitchen to cut up and serve.
Yes. You can have each tier a different flavour. And you can mix sponge cake and fruit cake. However as fruit cake is much heavier than sponge, it's best to have the fruit cake as the bottom tier.
There are basically three main options for the outer coating of your cake. Fondant/sugar paste, buttercream and royal icing. There are pros and cons with each.
Fondant: Sometimes called sugar paste. This is the most popular covering for wedding and celebration cakes. It's very versatile, can be tinted any colour and is easy to manipulate. The disadvantage is that it can make a large cake very heavy.
Buttercream: The most popular cake filling, but it can also be used as the covering. It can be tinted most colours and it's possible to get lots of textured effects with it. The disadvantage is that it's less stable than fondant, and in very hot conditions will melt. It also has a much shorter shelf life than fondant.
Royal: Probably the least commonly used these days. It sets rock hard and so can be hard to cut through. It's also very time consuming to use which will bump up the cost a fair bit. However, it's great for piping fine detailed decoration.
When you're deciding on where the cake will go, there are a few things to consider.
Often cake tables are in windows. This isn't actually a good idea, especially on hot and sunny days. Cakes are made of sugar, and the big enemy of sugar is heat and moisture.
With this in mind, marquess are the enemy of cakes too. If you must have the cake in a marquee in summer, please think about having a fan trained on it, or you might have a sticky puddle! I've had a cake literally melt in a marquee.
Fresh flowers are very popular as decoration on cakes. However, there is a lot to consider when using them.
There are many flowers and plants that are regularly used in floristry that are poisonous. So it's vital you check with your florist that any flowers ordered for the cake are non toxic. You must tell your florist they are to go on a cake. The best option is to source the cake flowers from an organic grower, as many commercially produced flowers are sprayed with all kinds of things. It's not allowed in this country to inset stems direct into the cake, cake picks are used (amongst other things). This prevents sap getting into the cake, but won't stop petals and calyx touching the surface. I would advise using edible flower varieties if at all possible.
I cover these in my Ts&Cs because there are certain issues with a naked cake you need to be aware of.
They are adorable, there's no doubt. In general they are cheaper too, and this makes them an attractive option. However, they don't last long. It's basically like being naked and made to stand outside all day. No protection means the cake is open to the elements. To heat, humidity, dust, bugs, being breathed on. The main issue is that a naked cake will dry out really quickly. Think about when you cut a slice of cake, the exposed cake starts to dry. A naked cake is like that all over. So if you know you will need your cake to sit on display for hours, a naked cake might not be the best option. Unless you're only using it for photos. I don't do fully naked cakes, but I can put you in touch with cake makers who do.
There are many ways to cut a cake, but in the industry we tend to use the cube method. This will give you more servings per cake. There are lots of cutting guides on the web, and I can print one off for you. Please note that stacked cakes have dowels. These support the weight of the upper tiers, and must be removed before serving.
You may have ordered a larger cake than you need in order to have some left that guests can take away. If you think there is a chance you'll have cake left then you'll need some cake boxes. I don't provide these unless specifically asked. I have my boxes for transporting cakes, but these will not be left at the venue unless you have asked me to. The best way to deal with leftover cake is to wrap in cling film and then tin foil. This will stop the air getting to the cut surface and drying the cake out. Cardboard absorbs moisture, and so even if you have boxes, it's still best to wrap it first.