zoe clark cake
Pastry chef turned cake designer Zoe Clark may have stumbled into her trade by accident (after trying her hand at the cake for her own wedding in 2005, she decided to turn her passion into her profession), but hundreds of brides are certainly glad she did. Known for her personal touch and intricately detailed designs – think elaborate lace patterns, sweet sugar flowers and pretty bird-cage styles like the one shown here – she’s now one of the most talked-about names in cake design. To celebrate the publication of her first book, Cake Decorating at Home (£14.99, D&C), we asked Zoe to share her advice with brides on the hunt for the cake of their dreams.
Come to your consultation armed with inspiration.
“You don’t want the cake to feel random, so show us as much as you can about your theme. Whether it’s a swatch from your dress, a really cool stationery pattern or a picture of the amazing woodwork on your venue’s ceiling, we can carry that through to the cake design.”
Don’t decide on a final design too soon
“Committing to the actual look of your cake should be one of the last things you do so it really fits in with your day. Often, brides are unsure about their flowers or colours early on in the planning process, so book your cakemaker six months in advance, but hold off on finalising the plans until a few months before.”
Play with flavour combinations
“If you’re having four layers – my average size – try a small one of fruitcake on top for tradition, a layer of classic vanilla with raspberry jam filling, then one or two more alternative flavours so there’s something for everyone. Banana and passion fruit, white chocolate and lemon, and apple and cinnamon are quirky options to try. Remember, too, if you want fruit anywhere in the cake, it ideally needs to be baked two months in advance so it can mature a bit.”
Consider different colours
“All-white, lace-inspired cakes have been really popular this year, but I’d love to see more coloured cakes with patterns on top and traditional sugar flowers. It’s also fun to add colour to the fillings. Raspberry jam, strawberry buttercream or even a vanilla/chocolate marble effect look really nice once cut and served.”
It’s hip to be square
“Right now brides only seem to choose square cakes for practical reasons – they think its easier to cut – rather than for creative reasons. Some designs look totally fantastic square-shaped, yet 90% of the cakes I do are round, which is a shame!”
Location, location, location
“I once had an order for really modern, pretty pink and blue mini cakes, and when I got to the venue, it was a red and gold castle. They just looked so out of place. So think about where your cake is going and what’s going to be around it.”
Dare to dream
“When choosing a wedding cake, couples generally want to be safe more than they want to be wacky, and can get a bit scared if I suggest something a little more wild. People tend to order what they see, so if there isn’t a past example of a design in my portfolio, they have a hard time visualising it, or imagining it in a different shape. My advice is, don’t be afraid!”
For more information about Zoe’s shop, visit cakeparlour.com or zoeclarkcakes.com.
More ‘How To’ guides: How To: Update the Traditions.