Expert advice about cakes

Here is a selection of Q&As from Your Yorkshire Wedding magazine whether it be about flowers, hair and makeup, fashion, wedding themes, health & beauty, cakes, stationery, legal advice. If you would like your question answered by our experts, please email it to


Let them eat cake

Let them eat cake

Q. We'd love a real showstopper of a cake. What's the latest trend that we should opt for to get the wow factor?

A. Karen Willis says: If you want a cake that'll be talked about long after you return from honeymoon and settle into married life, then forget last season's naked cake. This year it's all about hand-painted designs. Whether you choose a fine-art inspired brush-painted cake or a contemporary bake painted with a palette knife, your cake is sure to make a statement. We're proud to be leading the way with this trend, and we believe it's here to stay.

Couples are still loving the indoor-outdoor look this season, and with Yorkshire boasting an array of beautiful venues in stunning locations, it's no surprise that our woodland styles and English country garden-themed cakes are very popular.

Our hand-painted designs are totally bespoke, so we can create a cake that's personal to you and a real work of art.

Karen Willis


Colour pop!

Colour pop!

Q. We're having a bright and bold theme for our wedding. What options are there to incorporate colour into our cake design?

A. Sophia Saleh says: There are many ways to add vibrant tones to your cake. The most popular way is through the addition of flowers. Cakes decorated with blooms and foliage are undeniable showstoppers and have been a staple of weddings since traditions began. There's an abundance of flowers to choose from so you're really spoiled for choice. Try a pop of colour with a small cluster of florals or have them cascading from top to bottom.

A good cake designer will also be a skilled sugar florist and can replicate almost any flower in sugar form. The best thing is, they won't wilt on the day and can be kept almost indefinitely as a keepsake if looked after properly.

If you're more daring, why not have your cake finished in a bright hue? The bake can be covered in traditional fondant icing, buttercream or even ganache that's been dyed to a specific colour. The current trend for buttercream art and painted cakes is growing and would work perfectly!

Sophia Saleh


A slice of the action

A slice of the action

Q. We want a real showstopper of a cake; what styles do you recommend to give impact?

A. Heidi Banks says: The modern wedding cake is often one of the main talking points of the day, and there are lots of decisions to be made about styles and flavour options. The question is: what gives a cake the wow factor?

To ensure an impressive and dramatic look, we believe each tier should be at least five inches high and the edges on a fondant cake need to be sharp and clean. This modern four-tier creation is the perfect example; the tiers have no decoration other than the rings of gypsophila, yet it looks stunning when in situ at the venue. Attention to detail is vital on a design like this, and we always make sure we exceed the expectations of our customers.

It's important for your bake to taste just as good as it looks. There are so many delicious flavour combinations available to impress friends and family with, and we work closely with our brides and grooms in tasting sessions to ensure they have the perfect cake to suit their special day.

Heidi Banks


The language of cake

The language of cake

Q. We've started looking at wedding cakes but we're totally baffled by some of the terms involved. Help!

A. Debbie Gillespie says: With so many decisions to be made regarding size, portion count and design, the language involved can make things all a bit confusing. To help, I've created a glossary to make the process a little easier:

- Buttercream. A delicious combination of butter and icing sugar (American style) or butter, icing sugar and eggs (Swiss meringue style). It can be flavoured and coloured and used to fill or coat your cake. Buttercream doesn't withstand excessive heat so it's not suitable for hot and humid conditions.

- Dowels. Internal supports placed in each tier to prevent sinking and give vertical support, as the cake alone is not strong enough to support the weight of tiers above it.

- Dragees. A fancy name for small, hard sugar balls. They're commonly found in silver or gold and available in a range of sizes.

- Embossing. The technique of imprinting a pattern into sugar-paste icing. Diamond and cushion patterns are particularly popular.

- Flower paste or gum paste. Icing that is rolled very thin and is perfect for making sugar flowers. It's edible but not particularly palatable as it dries to a hard, brittle finish.

- Fondant or sugar paste. A soft, sweet icing that can be rolled and applied over a buttercream or ganache base to give a clean, smooth look. It can be embossed, moulded, draped and modeled for a range of decorative effects. Perfect for extreme weather conditions as it doesn't require refrigeration.

- Ganache. Chocolate is added to heated double or whipping cream to make a thick fudge-like icing – perfect for a crisp, clean look underneath fondant or on its own. It can also be whipped lightly for use as a filling.

- Lustre. A beautiful sheen, which can be applied to icing for a soft glow. It comes in the form of edible lustre sprays or dusts painted directly onto sugar paste.

- Naked cake. A bake without any buttercream or ganache covering so that all layers are fully visible.

- Semi-naked cake. Similar to a naked cake but with a thin layer of buttercream or ganache so the layers are just visible. It gives a rustic look but the slight covering provides a degree of protection to maintain the cake's moisture.

- Ombré. A technique where colours graduate from dark to light or vice versa.

- Rosette. A technique using frilled strips of sugar paste to create rose-like decorations.

- Royal icing. A soft icing, which can be spread or piped and dries to a hard finish – remember the teeth-cracking Christmas cakes with spiky icing? Used for delicate patterns, dots and intricate lacework.

- Tier. An individual cake level, made up of layers. Each level then stacks on top of each other.

Debbie Gillespie


Let them eat cake

Let them eat cake

Q. The world of wedding cakes is amazing but also pretty daunting! What do we need to look out for when choosing one?

A. Lisa Bradshaw says: When investing in your perfect bake, there are plenty of pitfalls to look out for. Here are my top five mistakes to avoid:

- Flowers. You may have seen incredible designs incorporating fresh blooms, but before you request the same, make sure they're non-toxic. Some organic farmers are now growing flowers specifically to safely decorate cakes. Also, check if your chosen florals are available on your wedding date? If not, you could opt for sugar or edible paper flowers instead.

- Choose a professional designer. Auntie Betty or the lady down the road may make lovely cakes, but can they create what you want? A professional will know how to stack a five-tier creation so it doesn't collapse. I've also heard of people getting so stressed before the event that they pull out the week before. There will be so many photographs taken of it that you want to make sure it's perfect.

- Setting up. You've given the design so much thought, but overlooked the set up on the day. Many cakes you see on Pinterest or in magazines are from styled shoots that have taken hours to photograph with props and custom-made cake stands. Display your bake for maximum impact with foliage, other sweet treats, and quirky signs to complement your theme.

- Try before you buy. Most professionals charge a small fee to cover the cost of their ingredients and time for a consultation; this is money well spent. It gives you a chance to discuss your likes and dislikes and get to know your supplier. Many companies will deduct the consultation fee from your final bill if you book them.

- Delivery. Some couples decide to collect the cake themselves to save money. However, for a small amount extra your designer will personally deliver your beautiful cake and set it up at your venue. You may think your best friend can do this, but a professional knows how to transport and store a cake to ensure it arrives in perfect condition. Paying for delivery means one less stress on the day.

Lisa Bradshaw