The Carys Wedding Cake

Sometimes in this job I feel like the luckiest woman in the world. You get to meet amazing people who want you to make a cake for them and the whole process is fun, interesting, challenging and just exactly what you want from a job. And so it was with Carys and Craig.

I met with Carys and we talked about her wedding plans and ideas. It quickly became clear that she adored her dress so I suggested that we design the cake to reflect that. Once we’d discussed that, no other option even came close. She also wanted the cake to be something that everyone could enjoy, but not too much of a crowd pleaser that it was bland.

The groom loves Guinness and the bride loves champagne so the cake was 2 layers of chocolate Guinness cake with champagne frosting (it tastes just like a chocolate champagne truffle) with a middle tier of champagne cake with chocolate ganache. The cake was then decorated to match the brides wedding dress. She had an Enzoani gown so I sourced a sample of the fabric from Enzoani and the cake colour was matched to the fabric. The dress has a lace overlay, so we replicated that with edible lace on the cake.

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But there was a challenge. Carys and Craig got married yesterday at Lindesfarne Castle. Such an amazing location and I can’t blame them for choosing it, but it meant that the cake had to be transported a long way. Usually we transport cakes in single layers and assemble on site, but this wasn’t an option so we had to do some creative structural work inside the cake and then some very careful packing. I also gave Carys and emergency repair kit, just in case. Oddly, when I delivered the cake to Carys I think I was far more nervous about it than she was! To give you an idea of the packaging…
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Carys and Craig, You can look at a field of Dandelions and see 1000 weeds or a 1000 wishes. Through your married life, may you only see the wishes.

Watkinson wedding favours and Sweet Cardamom shortbread recipe

A few weeks ago Mr Dandelion Bakery and I got married. Almost from the first moment that we got engaged the question everyone asked was “are you making your own cake?”. Well, no. There were a few problems really: How on earth would I choose a design? There are so many cakes floating around in my head that I would love to make and whittling that down to one cohesive design could have taken forever. When would I have time to make it? The idea of fitting in making the cake around all the last minute appointments seemed like such a bad idea. Who would assemble and hand finish it on the morning of the wedding? well, usually that’d be me but I’d be stuck in a chair having hair and make up done, and assembling a cake can take a good hour and I knew I wouldn’t have a spare hour. So that was quickly ruled out.

I did decide, however, that I wanted to bake some part of the day and wedding favours seemed an obvious choice. Our biscuit favours are increasingly popular with brides and their guests, and they can be baked and packaged a few days ahead of time. Perfect!

I knew I wanted simple, easy to assemble packaging so I asked the lovely Kaoru Sato (who designed this website) if he’d mind designing me a sticker, then all I had to do was pop biscuits into cellophane bags and seal with the sticker. Easy. More importantly, quick!

Then I had to choose a flavour of biscuit. That was trickier… do you go for something generic like a standard shortbread, safe in the knowledge that everyone will definitely like it, or something more personal that reflects our own tastes? I consulted Mr DB. Unfortunately his favourite thing to eat is chillis. Really hot chillis. and I thought chilli biscuits might be something of a surprise to our guests! In the end, we chose three flavours of shortbread: lemon as it’s delicious and summery, green tea and stem ginger because it had a gingery kick for Mr DB but a delicacy that I love (and it fitted with the green theme we had. Yes, I know that’s not a good reason to choose a biscuit flavour, but still) and sweet cardamom because it reminds me of a Starbucks Chai latte (my favourite hot beverage) and it also has a warm, spiciness to it for Mr DB.

I love a sweet cardamom biscuit and often just bake them for myself. I can highly recommend them but you may have not come accross them so why not try making them for yourself with our Sweet cardomom shortbread recipe card.

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Top tips for getting the most from your cake budget

Congratulations! You’re getting married! And by now you have probably realised that weddings can be very expensive so I wanted to share a few tips on how to get the most cake for your money.

First though, a quick word on realistic budgets. I’ve been approached by brides who have a budget of £100 for their cake and they have a guest list of 300 people plus extra in the evening. I would usually recommend that you allow 1 portion of cake per guest, so that would mean that you are planning on spending 33p per guest on cake. 33p per portion buys you a basic vanilla traybake with sprinkles from Asda!

So it’s time to be realistic. Cupcake towers usually start at £1.50 per guest and decorated, tiered cakes usually start at £3 per guest. If you don’t have that in your budget, be honest with your cake designer and try some of the tips below.

General advice

You may have already made decisions in these areas, but these are the headlines when it comes to saving money on your wedding and cake budgets.

Consider the off season

If you are able to get married outside the traditional wedding season, you may be able to negotiate a better price. The summer is always the busiest time so if you are getting married from May to August, expect to pay full price. Christmas and Valentines day are also a busy time now so you’re unlikely to secure a discount at those times, but in late January, March and October you may find that your wedding suppliers are able to offer a discount.

Consider a week day

Most weddings take place on a Saturday, which means that a lot of wedding suppliers have down time during the week. If you can get married on a week day you can usually negotiate a much better price. Some suppliers (The Dandelion Bakery included) offer a discount automatically if your wedding is on a week day.

Worried that your guests won’t be able to make it? If you can give people plenty of notice, your nearest and dearest will do everything they can to make sure they are there! Yes, some people won’t be able to make it, but that can also act as a great filter, which brings me to my next point…

Cut your guest list

Do you really need to invite that friend from school that you’ve not seen in 7 years? Or the uncle that your other half has never met? Your wedding day will fly by and you won’t have time to talk to everyone so think hard about whether you really need to invite 200 people and have a huge wedding, or would your day be just as perfect with 100 carefully chosen guests?

So many suppliers work out the cost based on guest numbers so reducing your guest list will allow you to choose a smaller venue and reduce your food, bar and cake bills. It will also reduce your stationary costs, you will need fewer chair covers, linens, centre pieces, wedding favours and your admin will be so much easier!

Your cake budget

So your date is set, venue is chosen and you’ve already sent out the invites – there are still steps you can take to manage your budget.

Be honest about your budget

Be upfront with your cake designer about your budget. Don’t assume that you can go through the design process, get a price and then haggle them down to your budget. A cake designer will always do their best for you but remember that this is how they pay their mortgage so they need to know how much they are likely to get paid so that they know how much time to spend on your project.

Be flexible

If you have a clear idea of the kind of cake you’d like, great. But if it turns out that your budget doesn’t match up to your vision you may have a problem. If you are able to be flexible then your cake designer will be able to help you to come up with some solutions. Are there any new fashions around that your cake designer is desperate to get into their portfolio? If so, they may be willing to make the cake at a slightly reduced rate.

Simple but effective decorations

Most of the cost of your wedding cake will be the decorators time. Choosing decorations that are time consuming to produce, such as sugar flowers, will automatically put the price up. Choosing decorations that can be produced quickly can save you a lot of money but still give you a beautiful cake.

Consider non-traditional options

Good quality sugar paste is a little pricey and covering cakes takes time and skill, so choosing something that doesn’t require sugar paste can be a great way of reducing your costs. Why not try a buttercream-finished cake? Or a cupcake tower? Or a naked cake?
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They can all be beautiful but without the price tag of a traditional iced cake.

Fresh flowers or fruit

Fresh flowers or fruit can be a great way of decorating a cake without the expense of delicate sugar decorations, especially if you stick to seasonal fruit or flowers. Edible flowers are also incredibly fashionable at the moment.

Off the peg rather than bespoke

Having a cake custom designed for you is an expensive process. You are paying for your cake designer’s time, design talent and imagination. You are also paying for multiple rounds of design, review and refinement. If you’re looking for the couture look without the couture price tag, why not look for a designer who offers an off-the-peg option so that you can get a couture cake for a fraction of the expense.

Take advantage of a free tasting

Does your cake designer offer a free tasting and consultation? If so, take advantage! It will allow you to try a number of flavours and work out what you do and don’t like. It will also introduce you to any premium flavours – a champagne cake is likely to be more expensive. You can then make your choices to suit your budget but be confident that your cake will taste delicious.

Delivery and set up costs

Remember to ask about charges for delivery and set up. Choosing a designer who is based close to your wedding venue or who includes delivery for free will all help to keep the budget under control.

Chocolate pistachio cake

Mr Dandelion Bakery recently celebrated a birthday. We had a low key celebration (mostly because we were still exhausted from our wedding!) so I made him a small cake but I wanted it to be something he’d love. He is a big fan of my chocolate cake but I wanted to give it a bit of a twist so I added pistachio.

The cake was our standard 3-layer chocolate cake but the chocolate ganache was flavoured with pistachio extract and I added finely chopped pistachio between layers to add some texture. The outside of the cake was decorated with more finely chopped pistachio and then topped with a crown of pistachio praline shards. Mr Dandelion Bakery is too old to have one candle for every year so we added one big candle!
Chocolate pistachio cake
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Recipe: Lemon profiteroles

Lemon profiteroles are one of our best selling products so we thought it was about time that we shared our recipe with you so you can make them at home. With profiteroles, consistency is key: the choux pastry needs to be thick enough to hold it’s shape but light enough to puff up, the creme patisserie needs to be thick and smooth without setting to a blancmange, and the lemon fondant needs to be wet enough to flow over the profiterole but thick enough to cling to the top of the choux pastry. Once you have the knack for getting the right consistency they are quick and easy to make.

Lemon Profiteroles

The lemon profiteroles are crisp choux pastry cases filled with a lemon curd flavoured crème patisserie and topped with a sharp lemon fondant.
PROD Lemon profiteroles (3)
Makes 30

Ingredients

For the Choux pastry

60g Organic strong white bread flour
5g Caster sugar
50g Organic butter
150ml water
2 large eggs

For the filling

4 large egg yolks
65g caster sugar
15g organic plain flour
20g corn flour
350ml organic whole milk
100g lemon curd. Why not use our lemon curd recipe

For the topping

200g fondant icing sugar
20ml lemon juice

Method

For the Choux pastry

1. Preheat the oven to 200 C. Prepare two baking trays by either lining them with silicone paper or buttering the trays generously. Sprinkle water over both trays, then tip the trays vertically and tap the excess water off. This stage is very important for getting the choux to rise.
2. Place the butter and water in a non-stick pan and heat gently.
3. Take a square of greaseproof paper and fold it in half to create a crease. Sieve the flour and sugar onto the greasproof paper, trying to keep it mostly in the middle over the crease.
4. Once the butter has melted into the water and it’s just started to bubble, remove it from the eat and, using the crease in the paper, shoot the flour into the water in one go.
5. With a wooden spoon beat the mixture vigorously until a smooth dough is formed – it will come away from the side of the pan and form a ball.
6. Allow the dough to cool slightly. Lightly whisk the eggs in a jug and gradually add the eggs to the dough, beating vigorously between each addition.
7. Once all of the eggs have been beaten in, transfer the choux pastry dough into a piping bag fitted with a large, round nozzle.
8. Pipe 30 evenly sized balls onto the two baking sheets. Using your finger dipped in cold water, dab down the peak that forms when you pull away the piping bag to leave a smooth shape.
9. Bake in the oven at 200 C for 10 minutes, then increase the temperature to 220 C for a further 15 minutes. The profiteroles are ready when they are nut brown in colour.
10. When you take them out of the oven, pierce each profiterole with a skewer to release any steam caught inside.

For the filling

1. Place the milk in a large non-stick pan and heat gently, stirring occasionally.
2. In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, flour and cornflour until it forms a paste.
3. As the milk warms up, add a couple of spoonfuls of milk to the custard base to loosen it slightly and start to warm the eggs up.
4. When the milk is warmed but not boiling, pour it over the custard base and whisk thoroughly before returning the custard to the pan.
5. Keep heating the custard until it thickens, stirring all of the time to ensure it doesn’t catch on the bottom of the pan.
6. Once it has thickened to a firm consistency, remove from the heat, transfer to a bowl and chill.

For the topping

1. Place the fondant icing sugar into a small bowl and add lemon juice, a little at a time, mixing until a smooth paste has formed. The icing needs to be thick enough to cling to the profiterole so only add as much liquid as you need.

To assemble

1. Split each choux pastry in half and place the top to one side.
2. Stir the lemon curd through the crème patisserie and transfer to a piping bag with either a plain or star nozzle fitted.
3. Pipe crème patisserie into each choux pastry case base.
4. Using the profiterole tops that you set to one side, top each one with lemon fondant using either a small piping bag or teaspoon.
5. You can serve them individually in a bun case, or stacked into a pyramid.

PROD Lemon profiteroles (2)

If you’d like to save or print this recipe, feel free to help yourself to our Lemon Profiteroles recipe card