Wedding cakes are tricky business. A crucial part of the whole wedding shebang (your nan wants photos of you cutting your cake, dammit!), whether you like it or not, the cake you choose says something about the type of wedding you want to have (and, some would argue, the type of couple you are). Pressure!
Luckily, The Cake Tree, a beautiful cake business in Brisbane, has this whole wedding cake caper down pat. We caught up with owner, Nat, to chat about popular wedding cakes, trends, and advice for brides and grooms.
TUL: Tell us about The Cake Tree. How did the business come about?
Seven years ago I became a mum to a beautiful baby girl, Isabella. 2 years later, my second daughter, Lilyth arrived. Like most new mums, I wanted to make their first birthday cakes, however, I didn't want the usual sprinkles and candles. With a background in graphic design, I set out to design something amazing, then I had to research and teach myself how to make it! A few birthday parties later, and with the support of some wonderful friends, The Cake Tree was born.
TUL: What do you love about cakes?
I love the look on the recipient's face when you carry in their cake and it is everything and more that they ever imagined a cake could be. A simple sponge cake can be transformed into a magical tiered wedding cake with the addition of fresh flowers, twine, doilies, and a sprinkle of icing sugar. Or you can create a modern, fashionable piece of edible sculpture with chocolate, fondant, and edible diamonds, which challenges the laws of physics!
TUL: What inspires you?
When I first talk to a client about their wedding day, I aim to get a true feel of their dream day. I find inspiration in everything from their wedding location, bouquet, invitation, place settings, and gowns.
TUL: What are the most popular cakes you make for weddings?
Trends are moving away from the traditional fruit cake with fondant and onto one-of-a-kind, multi-flavoured designs. The Cake Tree's dark chocolate mud cake with rich chocolate ganache is the most popular at present, however, most couples choose a different flavour for each tier of their cake, with caramel and white chocolate mud cakes following closely behind.
TUL: What are the current trends in wedding cakes?
Vintage themes are HUGE at present. Think doilies, twine, soft, natural lines and shapes, fresh blooms in pale pinks and ivory surrounded by twinkling fairy lights strung around open fields. The locations chosen by our couples are always breathtaking and we aim to match our cakes to these. Another popular trend is dessert tables. Beautifully designed tables filled with cakes of different flavours, decorated sugar cookies, delicious macarons, tarts, and cake pops. I especially love dessert tables as you can incorporate so much detail from other elements of the couple's day and create a centrepiece that will wow your guests.
TUL: Any advice for brides and grooms when choosing a cake for their big day?
I recommend that couples research and determine their theme prior to choosing a cake. Collect images of cakes you love from bridal magazines or the internet as well as dress, bouquet, and invitation designs. A wedding cake can tie an entire room together if designed to incorporate elements, no matter how small, used to create the look and feel of the day.
TUL: How hands on are you in the business? What are you involved in?
I design, bake, ice and decorate each and every cake personally. Choosing a cake for your big day should not be stressful so I liaise with each couple's florist, venue, and event planner to ensure that everything runs smoothly. I also offer an invitation design and dessert table styling service. My degree in graphic design allows me to design everything from place cards, seating arrangement charts, programs, and custom bomboniere. I have a talented partner who handles my marketing and photography and two little girls who are always eager to taste test when I am experimenting with new flavours.
TUL: What's the best part of your job?
I am often not around when the lucky couple cut into their wedding cake, however, the photographs and emails of thanks, to know that you added something truly magical to someone's big day, is very heart warming.
TUL: What's the worst part?
Late nights/early mornings! Some cakes can take days or even weeks to make. I once made sugar roses every evening for a month prior to a wedding. Luckily, it was for two of my oldest friends so it was worth every ounce of sleep deprivation!
TUL: What does a typical day look like for you?
Baking, cooling, icing, and decorating cakes can take days, depending on their size and the complexity. I prefer to bake by night and decorate by day. When the cakes are baking, I respond to emails, make sugar decorations, or design place setting, name cards etc. In the morning, once the cakes have cooled, the filling and decorating begins.
TUL: When you're not making cakes, what are you likely to be doing?
I am lucky to live near the water, so on the weekends, when I am not working, I spend as much time with my family as possible. I love watching my two children learn and grow so we ride our bikes along the foreshore, bake cupcakes, play bocce, and have BBQs at the park. I love reading, so at night when the ovens aren't on, I am either engrossed in terrible, addictive chick lit or improving my business plans and dreaming of a cake-filled future.
TUL: What's next for The Cake Tree?
To date, we work from a kitchen without a store front. Over the next 12 months, our goal is to open The Cake Tree as a café, selling cupcakes daily alongside a design studio for one-of-a-kind wedding, corporate, and special-occasion cakes.