Not yet decided on what cake to have for your wedding? Then you are in for a treat with today’s supplier spotlight: Sylvia’s Kitchen we are chatting to the ever so lovely and incredibly talented Liz from Sylvia’s Kitchen who will be sharing with you her top tips and giving you some important advice to consider when choosing your wedding cake.
- What did you do before you established Sylvia’s Kitchen & how did you get into cake making?
After taking some leave to bring up my three children I returned to work for the law firm I had worked at prior to starting a family. My role was as a PA to the Chief Executive and the Board, which I left at the end of 2011.
- Could you tell us more about what is involved with cake creating & the different types of cakery goods that you offer?
Being a cake designer and running my own business is a lot of hard work – sometimes I’m sure people believe you can just “knock up” a cake in a couple of days, if only it were that simple! With wedding cakes, the first stage is the consultation with the couple where samples can be tried and flavours decided. I always suggest that the couple bring along as much as possible in relation to the wedding, for example, the invites, colours swatches, details of flowers being used, venue details, themes being considered. The more information I have the better – it really helps me to get a feel for what the couple would like for their cake design. I think and sketch designs until the couple are 100% happy that I have designed their dream cake for them. I never copy cake designs, or recreate my own, I feel it’s important for every cake to be unique. Some designs may be very similar, but I’ll always find a way to tweak it slightly to give it that uniqueness. Decorations can be made in advance (as can fruit cakes) but as a general rule the wedding cake will be baked on a Tuesday/Wednesday depending on how many tiers, then torted and covered ready for decoration on the Friday for a Saturday wedding. For this reason I generally only take one commission per week (the exception being “naked” style cakes, or buttercreamed cakes). I also offer macarons, miniature cakes and cupcakes but it is the wedding cakes that I ammostwell known for creating so is the majority of my business.
- What does an average day at Sylvia’s Kitchen entail?
Admin during the morning, catching up on all the email enquiries, responding to existing clients with any queries and of course general emails regarding marketing, wedding fairs, advertising and so on. Some updating of spreadsheets, costs, income and expenditure, ensuring all the paperwork is always nice and up to date. Some weeks I will hold consultations on Mondays and Tuesdays so there are often estimates to write up and get out to prospective clients. Work in the kitchen usually starts late morning/midday with baking or decorations, depending on the day of the week. It could also be making buttercreams, ganaches and cake fillings ready for the tiers later in the week. I have to ensure that I have all the supplies ready for each cake, whether that be sugar pastes, wires for sprays of flowers, posy picks, cake boards, colours, ribbons, it’s quite a long list for every cake and of course they’re all different!
- What do you love most about what you do?
I love the fact that I’m involved in such an intimate and important part of a couple’s life together – it’s the most rewarding job and the creativity of designing a cake that is a dream cake for the couple really fills me with pride. I love having trays of intricate sugar flowers laid out in front of me, all ready to decorate the blank canvas of a three, four or five tiered cake.
- What would you say is most challenging with cake making?
It takes a while to get used to the responsibility – especially on delivery day! You wouldn’t believe how many venues have speed humps – something you don’t consider until you have a wedding cake in the car. You just have to have confidence in what you are doing, but there comes a point of no return on the wedding day. There is no room for error so you have to have everything extremely organised – as everyone in the wedding industry knows, all your hard work is towards that one big day, you can’t turn around and say “oops, sorry, I’ll come back on Monday and finish that off….”
- I know it’s tricky to answer exactly as it really depends on the type of cake design, the size etc. but as a rough starting point for couples what would you advise is a realistic starting from budget for a wedding cake?
Cake makers vary so much on pricing – which is good in some ways as there are many types of couples, budgets and weddings to cater for. As with other wedding industry suppliers, the motto can apply to us all in our various occupations “good cake isn’t cheap, cheap cake isn’t good” – you pay for what you get and unfortunately you hear some terrible stories about cakes being raw in the centre, cakes collapsing, images being used then cakes being delivered that are really not the same as the image (where images has been taken from other websites). All those horror stories are out there because they actually happen. A couple should have complete confidence in their cake maker to do a first class job on such an important day. Starting prices do of course vary from region to region too. I would advise that as a realistic starting budget, couples should be looking at a three tier cake from good reliable and high quality cake designers to be priced from around at least £450.00 upwards, depending on size and design detail. Couples can always let their cake designer know their budget and the cake designer can then let the couple know what they can create within the couple’s budget.
- What would be your advice to couples who are in the process of trying to decide on what wedding cake design to have? Are there any important factors they need to take into consideration?
Some couples are very set on design ideas and will come to you with a mood board, pinterest boards, a whole wedding folder full of ideas, other couples may be really struggling to find their perfect cake and need a lot of advice and guidance. Your cake should really be designed so that it suits and complements your venue – for example, if your reception is being held in a venue with a high ceiling, elegant wall mountings and a large open space it would be best to have a cake that is of a relatively good size that your guests can see when they enter the room (even if you don’t need lots of cake, the cake can have dummy tiers included for extra height and drama). It wouldn’t be ideal to have a small two tiered cake in a really large room. If you have an intimate wedding with a small wedding party in a smaller setting then of course a smaller cake will be far more suitable and fit the setting well. It’s really nice to tie the cake in with your theme if you are able to, whether that be with the flowers, the colouring, using elements of detail from invitation design and transferring those on to the cake with icing, or personalising the cake to fit in with table decorations – it will really bring the look and feel together on the day.
- What future plans do you have for Sylvia’s Kitchen for the rest of 2015 & beyond?
2015 is now almost fully booked with very few dates left and 2016 is filling up which is amazing! I’ve been asked before if Sylvia’s Kitchen will grow in to a larger business but at the moment I am extremely happy designing and creating the cakes myself. I don’t ever want to lose the close relationship that I have with couples and their cakes, it’s really important to me. I wouldn’t want to grow the business and end up spending the majority of my time managing it rather than being hands on and doing what I love which is in the design and creation process. I would like to get to a point where I can do more teaching and pass on skills that I have – even with the rise of interest in baking I do feel that the real skill and art in sugarcraft, royal icing and intricate work is not practiced widely and that is something that I really would like to champion. I’ve just returned from exhibiting in Surrey all weekend at the Squires Kitchen Annual Exhibition alongside some really fantastic cake designers from all over the UK – my cakes appear regularly in their magazine “Wedding Cakes Magazine” and it was interesting to see all the different styles and techniques used. If I can pass that on to budding cake designers at some point, that would be something special.
Thank you to Liz for guest posting on the blog today. If you would like to keep up to date and follow Sylvia’s Kitchen and their gorgeous work, check out the links below:
Naked Cake Image – Dottie Photography
‘Abby’ Cream Cake with sugar ivory peonies and navy ribbons – Nicola Kirk Photography
Wisteria Cake – Matilda Rose Photography
White & Pink Rose Cake – Matilda Rose Photography