I am a professional “caker”, with over 30 years’ experience. More than half of my career has been spent working here on the Costa del Sol. I am completely self-taught and typically, my skills haves been honed the hard way. I’m really passionate about my work and consider it a privilege to be commissioned to bake for someone’s special day. I love developing new flavours and seeing the reaction from my clients when the taste is something they didn’t expect.
I’m always excited to pick up different styles and trends; it’s fun to try something new. Sometimes they are fabulous and I happily incorporate them into my own styles, and sometimes I try them out and I know they are just not for me.
This year my couples are leaning strongly towards rustic and semi-naked cakes, often decorated very simply with sprigs of olive tree and rosemary, with scatterings of the daintiest flowers and berries.
It’s a softer, more natural style, which is perfectly in keeping with the relaxed feel we are blessed with on the coast.
The most difficult part of this style of cake is not allowing them to be affected by the heat. They have a buttercream finish and therefore don’t have the rigidity and protection that fondant affords. I’m careful to add extra supports to the infrastructure so there’s no chance of them collapsing in the heat. They also need to be kept cool and delivered as late as possible to ensure that they don’t melt in our unforgiving climate.
All the flowers and foliage have to be specially treated to ensure there is absolutely no contact between the cut stem and the cake. Many of the most common bridal flowers are quite toxic, so great care must be taken when adding fresh flowers to cakes.
Keeping to the rustic theme, tree-bark cakes have also been very popular this year. These beautiful cakes look just like tree stumps, often including handmade flowers, birds and insects as part of the decorations. A great deal of work goes into making these cakes. I start about three weeks before the wedding, creating and painting the dainty decorations.
The cakes themselves are started two days before the wedding, building up the layers of colour, which need to be left to dry overnight before the delicate bark work can begin. Once the birds, insects and flowers are hand-painted and dried they can be attached to the cake. I prefer to do this in situ as these elements are fragile and can be damaged very easily during transit. All of my tiered cakes are put together on site as speed humps and campo roads are not good for cakes and can cause defects in the fondant.
Hand-painted text and illustrations are another strong trend for 2019. This takes a great deal of time and care. I love to paint, so I really enjoy these styles of cakes. Many are inspired by books, another great passion of mine, so pulling an illustration from a well-loved story and then making it look like a page from the book is such a beautiful thing for me to be able to do. This is achieved by painting onto super thin sheets of fondant then applying it to the cake.
Victoria sponge is still the most popular flavour for wedding cakes. However, I get my couples to try different flavours which they hadn’t considered, at their tasting session, and they are often surprised at how much they like them. The most surprising is cardamom and rosewater, which is my most popular wedding flavour along with lemon and raspberry.
I always ask couples to put a lot of reflection ordering chocolate. My advice is this: if you have young children at your wedding I can almost guarantee you’ll end up with a chocolate handprint on your beautiful dress – avoid chocolate.
Secondly, if you are not serving your wedding cake as dessert, consider that your guests will have eaten a three-course meal, drunk a fair amount of bubbles and sat around for hours. Eating chocolate cake, which is rich, indulgent and very hard to digest especially, when the weather is hot, on top of all that went before it – well, you get the picture. Avoid chocolate!