When planning your wedding, once you have the big important decisions made like your date & venue, that’s when the fun begins! And is there anything more fun than planning your wedding cake? From a rustic naked cake to a pretty buttercream cake decorated with flowers, where do you begin? We met the very talented Anjuna from Sweet Fusion Cakes to ask her expert advice for couples on planning what wedding cake to have. Oh, and of course, we had to sample some of her delicious cakes!
How did you start Sweet Fusion Cakes and what’s happened from then up until now?
The idea of baking from home all began back in 2011, when my eldest child turned four. He asked if his birthday cake could be like his favourite toy (at the time) which was a bright yellow dump truck, and if the dump truck could have dirt in the back of it. Following what I thought was an obscure request, and a slight state of panic, I turned to my trusted friend Google looking for ideas and inspiration of how to create this work of art for my little man. Now don’t get me wrong, I had baked cakes in the past, but they were mainly round or square and filled with jam or fresh cream. They were always loved by all who had the opportunity to devour them. But never had I created a carved cake, never made buttercream, never worked with fondant and nor had I created a cake for my little boy – so this had to be some cake!!
The day of his party arrived and as I showed him his cake (before all his little guests arrived); I waited with great anticipation to see his reaction. The look of delight on his little face, as he saw his dump truck cake, complete with edible dirt, sitting on my kitchen chopping board, covered in buttercream and decorated with various sweets and biscuits, was a priceless moment for me. It had made the whole creation process so much more worthwhile. The little guests and their parents were equally impressed and shortly after the party I was greeted with requests to make cakes for friends. At the time, I was thinking about returning back to work, but wanted to find something that was flexible and would work around my children. And so the idea of starting up my own home baking business was born.
Over the next couple of years I experimented with various flavours, baking techniques, fed my boys and husband with cake till they could eat no more, watched many You Tube videos, completed a food hygiene course, learnt about various food allergens and the do’s and don’ts of baking from home and learnt how to create my very own website. Then in June 2013 I registered my kitchen with Barnet Council and received my food hygiene rating and that’s when Sweet Fusion Cakes began.
At first I started with cakes and cupcakes for birthdays. My very first, Sweet Fusion Cakes birthday cake was the Golden Tablet from The Night at the Museum, and I loved creating all the little models that were requested by the client. Slowly I built up my confidence, turned my hand to creating sugar flowers and it wasn’t long after that, that I took the plunge in to creating wedding cakes.
Where do you draw inspiration from for designing your cakes?
For me inspiration comes from everywhere, nature, fashion, stationary, hobbies but more importantly my clients. I love speaking to my clients and listening to or reading the stories they share – this is usually a great starting point for designing my cakes.
What fillings & flavours do you offer?
I have a great selection of flavours on offer. I don’t provide set flavour combinations, what I offer my clients is the opportunity to mix and match cake and buttercream flavours and jam fillings to satisfy their own individual taste buds. After all, a bespoke cake should be bespoke in every way possible.
If there is a particular flavour that they love and they can’t see it on my list, they can always request new flavours. During my very first wedding consultation the groom-to-be happened to mention he loved white chocolate cake (which at the time was not on my list). I mentioned that I would experiment with different recipes and see if I could come up with a recipe that would be sturdy enough to carve and to stack. And after a couple of tries, I now have a divine white chocolate cake on my cake flavour list and the groom was able to have a white chocolate cake paired with raspberry buttercream on his big day. My most popular flavours are chocolate cake with vanilla, chocolate or Oreo buttercream; vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream and raspberry jam; caramel cake with caramel buttercream and lemon cake with lemon buttercream and lemon curd.
What’s your advice for couples on choosing which cake is best for their day?
When it comes to selecting the flavour – remember if you are having more than one tier or are having cupcakes, you have the option of having more than one cake flavour. Think about what flavours you like and then if you are opting for more than one flavour think about what your guests might like. Before you set your heart on a specific baker, because you really love their style, make sure you have sampled their work. After all, having a fabulous looking cake is one thing, but cake is there to be eaten and so it’s just as important that the cake tastes just as good as it looks. Most bakers offer a consultation session, where you will have the opportunity to sample some cake flavours. If you have the option to select the flavours you sample, request flavours that you may decide to choose for your big day. If you meet a baker at a wedding fair, talk to them and try the samples they have on offer. As well as loving the baker’s style and the taste of their cakes you also need to be able to have a connection with the baker, so talk to them.
Regarding the design – you are only limited by your imagination, especially if your baker is open to creating bespoke designs, which is what I love! If one of you prefers, say white on white with lots of flower detail and the other prefers lots of colour or geometric designs – you are not limited to having one cake, have two cakes which take centre stage. Or alternatively have a double sided cake and wow your guests as you reveal the hidden secrets on the other side of your cake. Your cake can tell a story of how you met and the journey you have both been on upon until your big day. If you have shared interests, such as sport, movies, or superheroes all these ideas can be added to your cake. I recently created a double sided wedding cake were the couple had selected a Marvel and Crystal Palace themed wedding. I created little Lego superhero characters to add to the Marvel side of the cake and red and blue flowers, in keeping with the Crystal Palace colours to add to the top of the cake.
You don’t have to stick to common interests; you can add your colour scheme to your cake as well. I had one client who had chosen to have white flowers for their wedding and their invitations were white and gold, but the bridesmaids were wearing varying shades of brown and cream. So they opted to have an ivory cake with brown and cream roses cascading down the cake.
Do keep an open mind when you visit your baker for your consultation, as once discussions commence a whole new world of ideas which you hadn’t even considered could emerge.
However, on the hand other if you have no idea what type of cake you would like, I would suggest you make yourself a cuppa, grab your laptop and just search for wedding cakes. Once you start looking at different styles of cakes which have been created you will soon have a feel of certain designs that you like and dislike. I can guarantee it won’t be long before you have some ideas for the type of cake you like. Armed with those ideas and your personal stories, it won’t be long before your thoughts and ideas are transformed in to the cake of your dreams.
The other bit of advice I would offer is, have a budget in mind and be realistic. Be honest about your budget from the beginning. This way your baker can create designs from the start to suit your specific budget.
Whose wedding cake would you love to make?
I am totally honoured when I am asked to make anyone’s wedding cake. For someone to choose me to be a part of their special day and to be able to create something that they can look back on for years to come is an extremely great honour. Having said that, I would love to hold a wedding consultation for Mary Berry and the Duchess of Cambridge. I think a cup of tea, a slice of cake and chatting about weddings with them would make for an extremely interesting and exciting afternoon!
Which areas do you cover and how long do you advise the couple to contact you before their big day?
I am based in Barnet, so I cover the whole of Barnet, Hertfordshire and North London. However I am happy to travel if required, I have been as far as Reigate so far to deliver and set-up a wedding cake. I have at one point travelled 200 miles with a cake in the car, but that was for my dad’s 70th birthday celebrations. Luckily for me the cake arrived in one piece and everyone loved it!
Most couples usually contact me about 6 months ahead of their big day, although some have contacted me and booked me a year in advance.
Can you make a cake to meet specific dietary requirements?
I have made gluten free cakes in the past. However, as my cakes are baked and decorated in a fully functioning home-based kitchen, when I receive requests for ‘free from’ cakes; I do make my clients aware that all my cakes are made in a kitchen which handles nuts, dairy and gluten. Therefore, dependent upon how severe the allergy is I may not be able to accommodate all free from cakes.
What’s the best part of your job?
First and foremost it has to be my client’s reaction! I don’t always get to see this, but when I do, for me it is a priceless moment! It makes all those late nights, early mornings and that nerve wracking delivery so much more special.
I also love decorating the cakes – when the ideas from my head or that very rough drawing actually start to come alive in my home. This is a special moment for me, because I can see it all coming together.
Finally, we have to ask, what’s your favourite cake?
Well, my favourite cake without a doubt is any cake made by my boys, it may not be neat, it may not be perfect and it may not even be my favourite flavour. But, whatever they create will definitely be packed full of love and taste divine. However, I do love sinking my teeth in to a fresh cream cake or even a zesty lemon cake with lemon buttercream. Maybe the next cake my boys should make me is a lemon cake filled with lemon curd and fresh cream – now that would be heaven!
Thank you so much to the very lovely Anjuna for taking the time to meet with us. We recently worked together on a styled shoot where Anjuna made the most amazing drip cake for us!!! Keep an eye out for some fantastic photos coming soon….