I’m often asked ‘how long does it take to make a wedding cake?’ and, more often than not, people are surprised by my answer. There is a common misconception that a wedding cake can be whipped up in just a couple of hours or perhaps a day. After all – it’s just a piece of cake, right? Though this can be true in some cases, it certainly isn’t true of the majority of professionally made cakes – especially not artistic wedding cakes. So how long does it take to make a wedding cake?
Before any tins come out or aprons get put on, all professional wedding cakes will start with a consultation. Depending on the cake designer, the consultation process can vary from just a simple email or phone conversation, through to video chats or face-to-face meetings. The total time the consultation process takes will also vary depending on the designer, the occasion, and the cake. It could be easy to disregard the consultation time when working out how long it takes to make a wedding cake – but as the consultation is an integral part of any professional wedding cake, it’s time that should not go unaccounted for.
Most cake designers will also offer a cake tasting, in one form or another. I like to offer Sample Boxes as I know you are busy and a Sample Box, delivered to your door, allows you to try your flavour choices in your own time. Other cake designers might offer a tasting at their premises, perhaps during a face-to-face consultation. Either way – the cake designer will have spent time sourcing the ingredients, baking the samples, and wrapping the selection (if creating a sample box).
I’m a cake designer and artist, which means I don’t just bake, design, and decorate each cake – I offer a truly bespoke service and create really style focused, artistic, and modern wedding cakes in Surrey, and the surrounding counties. Before any hands on decorating can begin, however, the cake design must be decided – usually with the help of a sketch. At Brambleolai I like to offer my clients more than one design to choose from, which means finding inspiration for, and creating, multiple sketches. The practicalities such as size, number of tiers, and flavours have to be considered, and many cakes involve a calculation or two (whether to ensure enough portions or check the measurements of a design).
Depending on the cake designer, the client’s brief during consultation, the intricacies of the design, any logistics that need to be thought through, and any tweaks that need to be made – the entire design process can take anywhere from one hour, to a couple of days.
As I mentioned before with tastings – ingredients have to be sourced, as well as the other materials needed to create a wedding cake, such as boards, boxes, and dowels. Most cake designers will hold some items and ‘store cupboard’ ingredients in stock ready, but (especially for small independents who only take on a limited number of orders per month) fresh items, and materials specific to a single design, will be sourced on an individual basis.
THE DECORATIVE ELEMENTS
When a cake design involves many handcrafted decorative elements such as sugar or wafer flowers, they are often made before any cakes have even entered the oven. Many need to be created in stages, allowing for drying/setting time, and if they are then to be hand-painted or decorated further it can take up to a few hours, in total, to make each individual one.
Obviously each cake recipe will require different preparations and bake processes, and the size of a cake will also greatly affect the time in the oven – but (unless you are wanting a ‘raw’ cake, which I highly doubt) all cakes need to be baked. Most professional cake designers will have fine-tuned their preparation and baking process, through hard-earned experience, to be as efficient as possible in the kitchen. A quality bake, however, requires care and time and can’t be rushed. Most wedding cakes require between half a day and two days of staggered preparation and baking time (taking into consideration multiple layers and tiers) – not to mention the clearing up!
Once baked, cooled, and sliced – cakes destined to be iced and decorated need to be filled, covered, and levelled. Varying techniques exist but some, including my preferred method at Brambleolai, involve stages that must be followed in a precise order and with enough setting time in-between in order to achieve the finished result. When covering multiple tiers this can easily add up to a full days work (if not more) spread out over a couple of days. Then, for multi-tiered cakes – dowels have to be carefully measured, cut, and inserted to create a strong support within the cake structure.
As a cake designer and artist, my cakes always have a style focused design with artistic decoration. You will never see a naked cake in my portfolio, and I don’t offer plain iced cakes either. Whether a botanical wedding cake, a hand-painted wedding cake, or a textured wedding cake – I always use artistic techniques to add interest and personality to my designs. These methods often take time to create well. A hand-painted design, for example, can take upwards of three hours to complete.
Not all cake designers offer delivery but I personally deliver all Brambleolai cakes, to ensure their safe arrival and set-up. The journey time (including the return journey) will obviously depend on your venue, and the set-up will greatly depend on the cake design and requirements. Most of my cakes have to be stacked together and finished before leaving the Brambleolai kitchen, which makes them slightly more vulnerable during transport (a major reason for delivering myself) but does reduce the set-up time at your venue. Depending on the venue, a cake designer might have to wait for the room and cake table to finish being styled and arranged before they can set-up. It’s another (often overlooked) part of how long it takes to make a wedding cake, that shouldn’t be forgotten.
THE OTHER STUFF
Lastly there are some other bits and pieces that a professional cake designer has to complete in relation to each cake, which all take time. Some are determined by each designer (depending on their level of service and professionalism) others are legal requirements, such as food hygiene, bookkeeping, allergy and additive advice, and traceability of ingredients.
So as you can see there is a lot of time and effort involved in making a wedding cake. Many of my wedding cakes take a total of one to two weeks to create – from concept to delivery. Granted many of these steps might be rushed (or even completely overlooked) by someone who doesn’t create cakes for a living but, none the less, wedding cakes are not just every day cakes and they take care and time to create.