I am a huge supporter of small businesses and the more often than not, the personal approach that is taken with each individual client. As you can see from the stamp above, the wonderful Cathy Paton, founder of The Stables Pantry, has gone from strength to strength in turning her passion into a sustainable business. Having worked for large companies prior to branching out on her own, she has some incredibly valuable insights and tips for our Wise Brides! Cathy is one of our recommended suppliers and its not hard to see why when reading the below...... Cathy knows cakes!
CP: I have been baking for the past forty years. Always looking for new and inspirational bakes and ideas, but it wasn’t until I was made redundant in 2008 that my baking took me on a whole new and exciting journey. It was my youngest son who suggested I took up baking and cake decorating for the “public”. I really didn’t think anyone would want to pay good money for my efforts. His (then) girlfriend asked me to make her 21st birthday cake and slowly but surely the word began to spread, mainly through recommendations and social media.
At first, my cakes were for special celebrations such as birthdays, christenings etc but after about a year, I took the plunge into wedding cakes !! Eek! Such a giant step for “little old me”…………however, I am loving every minute and have never looked back.
Wedding cakes, or should I say Brides, are evolving all the time with exciting new designs and concepts. Gone are the days of all white royal iced cakes on pillars with a few plastic flowers on the top. Today we have naked cakes….semi-naked cakes…… hand-painted cakes…rustic cakes…. cakes with edible flowers…….iced cakes in a multitude of colours……the list is endless.
When I hold my cake tasting days, one of the best things is when the happy couple show me their ideas of the design they would like. We then discuss which flavours would suit that particular design. This might sound a little odd but believe me, a rich fruit cake would not be suitable (or taste very nice) surrounded with loads of butter-cream, as it would have to be in the case of semi or rustic iced cakes.
Rustic / semi iced / naked cakes all taste better with light, fluffy sponge cakes and in my repertoire of cake flavours my couples have loads of delicious ones to choose from. These include fresh lemon with tangy homemade lemon curd, luscious coconut with homemade pineapple, mango and passion fruit preserve, rich fair-trade chocolate and vanilla with homemade strawberry preserve and many more. I make all of my jams and preserves and try to buy local produce wherever possible. We have our own free range chickens so I know that the eggs I use couldn’t be fresher.
The date of the wedding can also influence the design of the cake. For instance, for a summer wedding I would suggest lighter, fruiter flavours and lots of couples chose to have a naked cake. These cakes have no sugarpaste , which some find too heavy and sweet, and are just decorated using fresh fruit and flowers (bearing in mind to always check that all flowers used are non-toxic). Semi-naked cakes with just a smearing of buttercream on the sides are also a very popular summer design. The positioning of these types of cake at the venue is very important as they cannot be placed in direct sun light or in front of a door open to the outside. No-one wants to see their centrepiece reduced to a melted mess covered in insects !!
The design can also be influenced by how many portions are required. Most cakes are three or four tiers which can easily take bold patterns or large sugar-flowers, however, put this onto a two tier and the cake would be overwhelmed. Sometimes, with more intimate weddings, the couple may only want a small amount of portions but still want a bolder design. We get around this by offering, say, the bottom two tier as real cake with the top two tiers as “dummy” cakes !! This can also work out slighter less expensive for those on a tighter budget but who still want the wow-factor of a taller cake.
Some cakes are used as the dessert course at the wedding breakfast and so, again, the flavours chosen should compliment the preceding courses.
I think all wedding cakes should be presented on a cake stand in order to show it off to it’s full potential. These range from expensive milkglass pedestal ones through to inexpensive rustic tree slices. The stand should be stable, as should the floor, we don’t want any disasters to occur when the dancing starts !
As said previously, the position of the cake at the venue should be top priority. Make sure that it’s in a prime, brightly lit area where all the guests can see it and not stuck in a dark corner !!
Even though wedding cake designs change with every new year sometimes the old traditions stay the same. It used to be that nearly all wedding cakes consisted of three tiers. The bottom tier was cut and eaten on the day, the middle tier taken home and distributed to those who were unable to attend the actual wedding and the top saved, untouched, so that it could be used at a later date as a Christening cake. Most cakes then were made of rich fruit and so keep easily until required, usually within the first year of marriage !! Nowadays, we have freezers !! Just wrap it securely with clingfilm, place in an airtight plastic container and pop into the freezer. When required and de-frosted the sugarpaste (if used) would be best removed and then re-iced but the cake underneath it will be perfect.
My top tip for anyone thinking of ordering a cake for their special day is to “meet the baker” beforehand. Make sure they are fully registered with the council and environmental health. Ask for a cake-tasting, after-all their cakes may look fantastic but taste like cardboard! Build up a good working relationship and don’t be frightened to ask questions. Don’t let your cake be “the poor relation”…..it’s just as special as that designer gown !!!! Remember “ Good cake isn’t cheap…….cheap cake isn’t good”
For more information about Cathy and her wonderful cakes please visit her Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/thestablespantry/?fref=ts