Gareth Jones at Odiham Cake Company
- Credit: Archant
Gareth Jones at Odiham Cake Company has got something of a cult following…Natalie French goes to discuss the latest wedding cake trends - from drip cakes to edible flowers and even something for the boys
Tucked away on a little trading estate in Odiham, Gareth Jones is busy applying arms to Olaf, for yet another ‘Frozen’ birthday cake. After a few years of taking over the family kitchen, Gareth and wife Emma made the big decision to move Odiham Cake Company to its own premises in 2014.
The business has continued to flourish and, at the beginning of the year, the couple appeared on BBC2’s ‘The Millionaire’s Gift Guide’, showcasing Gareth’s biggest and most intricate cake, costing a whopping £10,000, for an extravagant children’s party.
The colossal cake, complete with frosting and fairy tale animals, was a replica of the Aynhoe park - a private stately home in Oxfordshire. Not only did Gareth need to block out a whole month for the project, he also needed vast volumes of ingredients including: 10 kilos each of flour, sugar and butter, 8 kilos of Belgium chocolate, 40 kilos of fondant icing and 200 eggs!
“It was really hard work,” explained Gareth, “I worked over 200 hours on the cake itself, but there was a lot of research beforehand too and plenty of measuring and re-measuring!”
“It was an amazing event and a once in life time opportunity,” says Emma, “Plus we were invited as guests to the party, so our children could enjoy the magic, whilst we treated ourselves to a well-deserved gin sling!”
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Back to regular life and wedding cakes are a huge part of the business. Gareth is already seeing the emergence of new trends for 2016: “Last year was very heavy on the gold, silver and lace, but this year it will be toned down a little bit – more vintage colours and a little bit of pearlescent. Vintage flowers are still a keeper though.
“Something else that is coming in is the drip cakes: butter cream cakes with chocolate ganache down them. For wedding cakes we tend to keep the colour nice and plain, but add chocolate, macarons and chocolate crisps or discs – all in the colour scheme of the bridal party flowers and colours. Adding edible and real flowers is popular too,” says Gareth.
One for the boys
“Groom cakes are very popular at the moment,” says Emma, “it started a few years ago when the bride would surprise the groom with a cake.”
Whilst Gareth and Emma try to deal with both the bride and groom, to ensure they get the groom’s perspective, they quite often find it’s the bride, or the mother of the bride, that lead the design process!
“The bride might be specific in what she wants, so we can always make a smaller cake just for the groom - which is nice if they have a hobby like football, rugby, or fishing. Most blokes are really laidback and go with the flow, so it’s nice for them to get a nod!” says Gareth.
Gareth is more than happy to accommodate Star Wars fans too: “I loved doing the Millennium Falcon birthday cake and it went down a storm! It actually went viral. Now that would make an excellent grooms cake!”
When it comes to size, Gareth has his own rules: “A standard wedding cake tends to start at three tiers - I like four tiers myself. I know it’s an even number, and we usually tend to go for odd numbers, but it’s not an ostentatious 6-8 tiers, or a standard three tier – it’s somewhere in the middle looking elegant and nice.
“The biggest I’ve made is a six tier cake, which was huge - plus a topper! You have to deliver it in parts and this particular cake was covered in thousands of silver balls, so we had to finish it off at the venue.”
One of Gareth’s favourite cakes was inspired by the bride’s dress design: “It needed to match the lace and sash of her dress, so I had to make all the individual flowers and stick them on. There was a lot of work as it came with cookies and macarons, plus it took a good two and half days just for the flowers.”
Gareth has also seen his fair share of random wedding cakes: “One of my favourites was a Halloween style wedding cake with two skeletons in bridal get-up as the topper.
“Another couple had a quirky hidden Disney theme,” says Emma, “so all around the cake Gareth had to pipe Mickey Mouse ears and nose. You wouldn’t notice until somebody told you what it was!
“We do get lots of random requests for birthday cakes, but wedding cakes you do want to keep it subtle, because you’ll look back and if it’s a silly idea, you might regret it,” advises Gareth.
Let them eat cake
Whilst most people know exactly what they want the cake to look like, some forget to consider the taste. “I’m a chef by trade and started my training a long time ago when I was 16-years-old, so I was always taught flavour is key! The cakes have to look good, without a doubt, but if they don’t taste good I will throw it in the bin and start again!”
“He does!” Emma agrees with a knowing nod.
The three most popular cakes are chocolate, vanilla and lemon, explains Emma: “The older generation tend to like a lemon cake. Fruit cake, for a wedding, seems to be phasing out now. It used to be tradition and we do sometimes get mother of the brides who insist on a fruit cake!”
MOB’s aside, what is it like working with the brides themselves?
“We are lucky we haven’t had any bridezillas!” laughs Gareth, “we’ve had strong-minded brides that know what they want and that tends to lead to a quick and easy meeting. I will try to add questions just so I can understand why they want a particular cake and on occasion, we may change their mind on some aspects of it.
“Other couples have no idea and we throw ideas at them and eventually they’ll fall in love with one of them,” says Gareth.
“It’s nice because you get quite attached,” explains Emma, “that might sound quite silly, but they come in for their first meeting and we meet them a few times after and we get quite a rapport going - with the parents as well sometimes.”
A normal weekend for Gareth and Emma is spent driving up and down the M3 delivering and setting up cakes at wedding venues. “The bride will be busy getting ready, so sometimes we have the mobile number for the mother of the bride and we can text them a little picture of it all set up – which they love!” says Gareth.
“Although sometimes we do get brides who run down in their dressing gowns, hair and make up half done, obviously a glass of fizz in their hands!” says Emma, “so that’s lovely and we can walk away smiling then, knowing our job is done!
“After the event, when they’ve gone on their honeymoon, chances are the parents will come in and say thank you and show us photos on their phone. It’s really magical and nice to be a part of.”
“It is really rewarding but you’re always weary,” Gareth chips in, “because it’s their biggest day, and it has to be perfect - and so to be involved in something so big and special is really nice.
“For me, the most important thing is: did it taste right? It’s really nice when they come back and say it was delicious! It’s good to get closure on the cake, but sometimes it can take a while to find out, as they won’t eat it until they come back from honeymoon!”
Find out more about Gareth and Emma at www.odihamcakecompany.co.uk or call 01256 703200
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