Take a step into the world of couture wedding cakes

Jo Haywood cuts into the world of couture cakes to find out what trends are heading for the catwalk (or should that be cakewalk?)

Fashionable flavours

Chocolate is so-o-o-o last year. Okay, chocolate is never actually going to go out of fashion (as black is to fashion; chocolate is to cakes), but there are some incredible, cutting-edge flavours set to hit cake forks in 2012.

Here are some of our favourites: orange marmalade and lemon; apricot and hazelnut praline; candied ginger and green tea; pink champagne; butterscotch spice; peanut butter; raspberry and mango cream; toasted coconut and pistachio; spiced apple; and pumpkin espresso

We all like a good rummage in a high street bargain bin, but not when we’re searching for our dream wedding dress. So, why have Primark when you can have Chanel when it comes to your cake?

A new breed of cake designer is bringing a slice of style to the top table, with 2012 already looking set to be the year of couture wedding confectionery.

‘Brides want much more from their wedding cake than traditional white layers,’ said Victoria Watkin-Jones of Sheffield-based Victoria Made, specialists in designer wedding cakes. ‘They want trend-led cake creations that are as individual as their wedding dress, reflecting catwalk trends and providing the wow-factor at the reception.

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‘I’d say brides are definitely getting more cake-savvy.‘They don’t just want something pretty, they want an eye-catching creation they can use as a decorative centrepiece for their celebrations.’

So, what exactly is a couture cake? Well, it must be completely bespoke, capturing the mood and design of an individual wedding, handmade from scratch and hand-decorated using real craftsmanship (not just a bought-in packet of confectionery flowers and some squeezy icing).

‘The finished cake should be more like a sculpture or a work of art than a cake,’ said Victoria, who delivers throughout Yorkshire, the North West and the Midlands.

When choosing your couture cake designer, it’s important to ensure you opt for the person whose individual style most suits your needs. In the fashion world, if you’re a dyed-in-the-wool Betty Jackson kinda gal, you probably should give Vivienne Westwood a wide berth. And the same rule applies to cakes: ethereal, elegant brides and designers with a penchant for high drama could leave an unpleasant taste in the mouth.

Once you’ve found your dream designer, talk to them at length about your big day so they can accurately reflect your ideals in the finished cake. And, whenever possible, ensure they will be your contact throughout the whole process from initial sketches to the final slice.

If you’re not sure which high-end style suits you, try creating a mood board, as you would if you were redecorating, by snipping out bits and bobs that capture the atmosphere you want to create from your favourite magazines (hint, hint).

And, if in doubt, consult with your designer about what’s going to be bang on-trend for your big day. And with that in mind – what is going to be hitting the couture catwalk this year?

‘I’m thinking of experimenting with a series of ultra-modern, almost punk-style cakes for the more adventurous rock’n’roll bride,’ said Victoria. ‘Although generally I believe less is more when it comes to design and try to keep my cakes relatively simple, creating impact with dramatic textures.

‘My aim is always to be as original as I can, whether it’s for a huge, five-tier cake or the tiniest of cupcakes.’

Top tier

Amanda Bentham left school just two years ago, but she’s already proving she’s got what it takes when it comes to couture wedding cakes.

She left Mexborough Comprehensive School in 2009 with A levels in psychology, health and social care and general studies. University and a career in social work beckoned, but she couldn’t shake the nagging feeling that her talents actually lay elsewhere.

‘Throughout school there was always pressure to attend university and make something of your life,’ she explained.

‘But I decided I wanted to follow my passion for cakes instead.’Amanda started baking as a child with her mum and, as an adult, has refined her skills with a cake decorating course at Sheffield City College and two intense London-based sessions concentrating on cake toppers and couture lace wedding cakes.

She now runs her own business, Amanda’s Cakes, working in a separate, purpose-built kitchen at her family home in Mexborough, South Yorkshire.

‘I thoroughly enjoy each and every wedding cake I create,’ she said.‘I love interacting with Young Mexborough cake designer Amanda Bentham brings a client’s ideas to life, and left: Amanda aims to inject modern flare into all her creations from five-tier cakes to individual favoursmy clients and turning their ideas and inspirations into their dream wedding cake.

‘I think my cakes are different because I have modern flare and my designs are all young, bright and personal. Most of all, all my creations are made with love. And that’s all you need, isn’t it?’

Cutting-edge cake ideas

Punk-style cakes complete with safety pins and tartan icing might not be up your street (unless of course you actually are Siouxsie Sioux and you’re marrying a Banshee), but that doesn’t mean you can’t be adventurous when it comes to choosing the design of your wedding cake. Here are a few other trend suggestions to bear in mind for 2012.

Nice ice, baby Designers are now able to imitate dress designs, including drapes, ruffles, quilting, pleats and buttons, in icing. They can even mimic bows and brooches if you ask them nicely.

Big is beautiful Deeper tiers and multiple layers mean cakes look set to be a whole lot taller in 2012. Among the many ideas raising the roof will be dummy tiers and extra-tall top tier arrangements to add a few precious inches.

Feeling fruity No, we’re not talking heavy, traditional, granny-scented fruit cakes here, but light spongy layers jazzed up with fruity flavours of lemon, apricot, mango and raspberry.

A fine vintage Hand-painted, vintage florals – think Kath Kidston on a cake – are likely to be big news (in a quiet, unshowy way) next year, especially if the design is reflected in the invites, table linen and venue decorations.

Elegant eats Sleek black and white designs embellished sparingly with timeless pearls will be at all the most elegant weddings in 2012.

Mother knows best Designers will be taking their inspiration from Mother Nature throughout the year, but especially in spring and summer, incorporating butterflies, orchids, wild roses and magnolias into their cake creations.

The print version of this article appeared in the February 2012  issue of Yorkshire Life 

We can deliver a copy direct to your door – order online here