Vows and dress aside, the wedding cake is a central part of any couple’s big day. From what baker to work with to which flavours and what design to choose, the perfect wedding cake requires a good deal of planning. However, it needn’t be a stressful experience thanks to wedding venues such as The Lodge at Ashford Castle that are delighted to help guests with recommendations for the best nearby bakers. These trusted cake makers will work with each couple every step of the way in order to achieve their dream cake. Here, Yvonne Murphy of award winning Devour Bakery in Ballinrobe shares her expert advice on what makes a great wedding cake.
Devour Bakery is famous for its award-winning wedding cakes. How did you get started in the industry?
I trained as a Professional Chef and specialised in Pastry. While training I was awarded a number of national Accolades for desserts and decorated Gateau, sugar work and chocolate exhibition work. When I started Devour over 7 years ago it was very clear that the Wedding Cake side of the business was one I most excelled in. We’re known for our ability to create bespoke designs for couples and we strive towards innovative designs and flavours.
What’s been the most challenging cake you’ve ever made for a wedding?
When it comes to challenge it always boils down to the stability of a cake. We’re rarely challenged by a design, the Devour team’s ability is vast and there is very little we cannot do, but one must remember we are working with food and external elements can and will always effect food. Hence why the stability of a cake can sometimes challenge us, but at this stage we have learnt a lot of ways to combat this.
How far in advance should you order a wedding cake?
We like to have a wedding cake on the books 6 months before the wedding date to ensure we are able to develop a good relationship with the client and understand what their expectations are.
What are the most important factors to take into account when designing a wedding cake?
I would say the most important factors to take into account are flavour, stability and to work within your budget. Try to be realistic with your expectations depending on your budget.
What are your favourite decorations to use on a wedding cake?
I personally love the traditional iced wedding cakes because they really showcase our hand piping skills.
In recent years, there’s been a growing trend for ‘naked’ wedding cakes (presented without the outside layer of icing). Have you noticed any other trends developing, and if so what are they?
The naked cakes are very popular, Semi Naked cakes are also becoming a hit as are buttercream cakes as well as a mix of a few elements together.
Devour Bakery offers some imaginative flavour and frosting combinations, including a chocolate cake with a Coca Cola chocolate frosting. What is your favourite flavour and frosting combination?
I love the lemon drizzle and the old time favourite Chocolate Biscuit cake
Have you ever had any wedding cake disasters? What are you tips for avoiding baking catastrophes?
Luckily, we have never had a situation that we have not been able to rectify! My tips are to stick to recipes that you’re familiar with and only commit to a design when you are sure that it will work.
What are your recommendations for couples who want to make their own wedding cake at home?
As a professional cake maker, I cringe when I hear of a home baked cake! Mainly because there are a number of risky factors to consider. Allergens are becoming a real concern for establishments and it’s much harder to manage this with a home baked cake. On a health and safety note, cakes should only be consumed by the public when baked in a registered kitchen with the HSE, it’s a potential disaster for any wedding couple if the cake makes their guests sick. I also often feel that non professional cakes are sometimes structurally compromised and don’t give a professional look. If you wouldn’t hire an untrained photographer to take your wedding pictures, why would you allow a non professional to make your wedding cake?
What are your thoughts on more unconventional wedding cakes, such as cheese towers or doughnut stacks?
We welcome all designs and love trying out all the new concepts coming on board, it’s becoming very common to think out of the box and create a day for your guests that’s a bit different. My advice is to go with what you want and stop trying to please other people.
From flowers to transport and entertainment, The Lodge at Ashford Castle’s wedding planners are well equipped to help couples with every detail of their wedding day.
Image Credits: main image © Elizabeth Toher. All other images © Instagram/devourbakery