“How do a wedding cake tasting work?” is one the most frequent questions that couples who are planning their wedding ask.
It makes complete sense: Most couples get married once, maybe twice. So wedding cake tasting is not something you are meant to know a lot about if you think about it. Here I have tried to list all the cake tasting related questions me and a group of fellow wedding cake makers could list – If you spot something is missing from this post and couple be useful to add, please let me know. You can email me, pop a comment on my Facebook page or send me a Tweet if you prefer. Thanks in advance for your input, and I hope the below is useful.
What happens at a cake tasting
Sounds obvious doesn’t it. You…..eat cakes? Yes you do. But you eat cake a different way that – you pay a lot more attention. How does it taste? Is it moist enough? Are you enjoying the balance of sponge and filling?
It does sound a lot like judging the Great British Bake Off contestants, but I promise you it’s true and it’s important. You don’t want to serve a cake that’s all style above susbtance at your wedding, leaving your guests a little underwhelmed.
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For a cake to taste great, it needs to have the right quality ingredients, made with the right methods and assembled in the right proportions. It’s simply the truth. Use a fantastic buttercream and a pillowly light sponge with too much sponge and too little buttercream and your cake might taste a little too dry. Do the opposite and it might not cut very well, oozing filling. You don’t have to think about all those points one by one, but you’ll get a good feel for whether your cake samples are spot on if you take your time trying them with all this in mind. Best tip? Try sampling them with your eyes closed. It will help you focus on the taste.
Besides tasting your cake samples, a tasting is also a great way to get to know your cake maker better to see if you both “click”.
It’s also a great time to talk about design – so bring any pictures, fabric swaches, or inspiration you have collected already with you.
When choosing which flavours to taste, you can always follow this handy rule…
Where does it happens
Generally either at your cake maker home or studio or shop, or at your home.
I like to travel to my clients. Depending on where the tasting happens, your cake maker might take out some of their exhibition cakes or at least dummy cake tiers to help you picture your cake design options and cake height (it’s important to visualise the size of your cak to help you decide how tall it should be. I have more tips and advice on this topic HERE by the way).
You should always have clear confirmation from your cake maker about any additional charge might apply if they travel to you, and whether they are refundable against your order or not. For example, I happily travel locally at no charge as I see if as part of my service – however for further destinations I might charge a flat mileage rate to cover my expenses.I’ll always make this clear before the tasting.
How do you choose the cake samples your want to taste
Oh that can be so difficult! I’m slightly joking but depending on the amount of choice your wedding cake maker offers, it might take a little time to decide. For example,
Pudding Fairy’s cake menu is ….5 pages long, and that’s without any bespoke recipes (I regularly develop new recipes based on my client requests too).
Start by checking how may samples you can try:
- Some cake makers offer 3
- Some don’t cap at all
- I personally offer 3 or more. 3 choices being deductible from your final order.
Once you’e established how many cake samples you can have, if in doubt, you can always follow this handy rule:
- 1 traditional cake recipe (Victoria sponge for example or a classic milk chocolate ganache sponge)
- 1 citrus flavour– they always are very popular, especially at weddings after a full meal, canapés …..Something like a Lemon Zing or an Orange and Almond cake perhaps. You can also make it more fruity (I love fresh fruits in cakes) with a lemon and blueberry for example
- 1 quirky one – carrot, pineapple and coconut is a big best seller at Fairy HQ; White chocolate, passion fruit, raspberries is a winner for many people; a decadent chocolate recipe might also be your quirky choice, especially if you marry it with praliné (hazelnut and caramel paste) buttercream! You could also get inspired by your favourite drink: Rum, orange and pineapple is delicious. Chocolate, Guinness and blackcurrant (inspired by this Nigella Lawson recipe) makes for a real treat married with a tangy cream cheese and vanilla buttercream.The sky is the limit!
How much does a tasting cost
Again this varies from a cake maker to another. I have asked a group of cake makers to figure this out better. Here’s what they say:
Some of the more established wedding cake makers, and the ones who have a lot of orders on and bake everyday, don’t charge at all. I can undertstand how they can absorb the time and cost of making fresh samples for you within their running orders.
Others, like me, charge a small fee (generally £25.00). It covers ingredient costs and some of your cake maker’s time. Often this cost will be deductible from your final order upon booking but do check it’s the case.
Who can you bring to your cake tasting
Most of the time it will be you and your other half at the tasting. Sometimes only one of you can come due to work or other commitments, or maybe only one of you is in the country at the time. You might want to bring one or both set of parents, or your Chief Bridesmaid or Best Man. From what I have gathered from other cake makers I spoke to, we all generally make enough for 4 people to share each sample (it might be different with London cake makers or samples which are mailed to you so do check).
It’s really worth asking your cake maker ahead about this. Your cake tasting is a really fun part of planning your wedding, so inviting your mum or someone who’s special to you and your big day can be lovely and make your experience even nicer.
This final point is a REALLY IMPORTANT one…
How long does a tasting last
Generally an hour.
What about allergies and special food requirements
If you have any special requirements, you will most likely have discussed them with your cake maker before coming to taste your cake samples. If you haven’t, make sure you explain any allergies and intolerances at the time you select your samples.
How to make the most of your tasting ahead of meeting your cake maker
Your cake tasting might be the only time you see your wedding cake maker in person. I find it’s often the case with most of the couples I have designed cakes for.
- Bring a list of questions you have about your cake – recipes, recipe combinations, design, cost, delivery, cake stand, …
- Bring pictures with you if you have a specific style in mind
- Bring contact details for your caterer, venue and florist if you want fresh flowers or foliage on or around your cake. That way your cake maker can liaise directly with all your suppliers, saving you time.
What if you don’t like one of the cakes you taste
This is a REALLY IMPORTANT point. If there’s something you don’t like about one of the samples you taste, but you like your cake maker, do say. It might sound uncomfortable, but that’s exactly what your tasting is all about. I never get offended when this happens.
It does happen, especially with new recipes. Also because most people have a different level of likeness for sugar. I like cakes that are not too sweet at all, so the flavours can really come through. However I totally understand that you might like your cake sweeter. For example, I met a couple who had lived in New York for a long time before coming back to the UK. When they tasted my Red Velvet Cake, the filling wasn’t sweet enough for them initially. I can always tweak my recipes to suit your palate and your preferences.
What questions do you have about your wedding cake tasting or recipes? Use the comment box below to post your question.