Expert advice about cakes

Here is a selection of Q&As from Your North West Wedding magazine whether it be about flowers, hair and makeup, fashion, wedding themes, health & beauty, cakes, stationery, legal advice. If you would like your question answered by our experts, please email it to


Oh crumbs!

Oh crumbs!

Q. My wife-to-be and I love strong flavours and want something unusual for our cake. Do you have any suggestions?

A. Suzanne Thorp says: For something unexpected, woody herbs such as rosemary, thyme and lavender work well when teamed with more familiar citrus flavours. If you're having a tiered wedding cake, you have the opportunity to mix and match. You could opt for a one or two-tier design in a classic flavour and team it with something unusual.

The season in which you're getting married may inspire you; think pears, pomegranates, maple syrup, figs and ginger for an autumn-inspired bake or strawberries, basil, rhubarb and lemon thyme for spring creations.

One of our favourite combinations is an orange sponge cake with spiced cinnamon and cloves with a creamy and nutty tahini buttercream – yum!

Suzanne Thorp , The Frostery


Festive favourites

Festive favourites

Q. We're having a winter wedding and would like to incorporate our theme into our cake. Do you have any suggestions?

A. Kerri Thompson says: - A white-on-white cake would look elegant and tie in with your theme. Add white textures and a bit of sparkle to create a glistening showstopper.

- If you want to create a frosty feel, incorporate edible silver or white sprinkles.

- Strong hues are bang on-trend right now. Opt for a rich red or navy blue design decorated with light-coloured sugar flowers.

- Flavours are also a great way of incorporating your festive theme. Peppermint and gingerbread are great examples that can be used in several of your tiers.

Kerri Thompson


What's your flavour?

What's your flavour?

Q. My wife-to-be and I love strong flavours and want something unusual for our cake. Do you have any suggestions?

A. Cheryl Shields says: - If you're having a tiered creation, then choose a different flavour for each layer. This will give your guests more choice and ensure that both your favourites are included.

- Most couples don't want a traditional fruit cake, but I suggest you give it a try. A rich version studded with juicy dark fruits and seeped in matured brandy will create a strong flavour that's sure to appeal to most of your friends and family. You could pair this with a salted caramel, red velvet, gingerbread and cinnamon or coffee liqueur sponge.

- A sampling consultation is a must! It will help you to decide which flavours you want incorporated into your design.

- It may be worth considering what dessert you're going to be serving at your wedding breakfast. If you choose a lemon tart, for example, you wouldn't also need lemon in your bake.

Cheryl Shields


Sweet sensations

Sweet sensations

Q. How can we incorporate autumn themes into our big-day cake?

A. Cheryl Shields says: Burnt oranges, coppers and neutral shades emerge when the trees begin to lose their leaves. These beautiful colours can easily be incorporated into your cake.

- If you're having a rustic theme, opt for a semi-naked design adorned with fruit such as blackberries, figs and raspberries. Decorate it with foliage and seasonal flowers.

- Alternatively, an iced creation with a wooden-effect tier, sugar blooms and leaves in burnt orange and copper accents would look fabulous.

- A more formal option would be to cascade sugar flowers and add rich red berries and dark foliage.

- Marble designs are on-trend. Create a deep red tier and add touches of copper and gold. Embellish it with large whimsical sugar flowers and copper leaves.

Cheryl Shields


Just one slice

Just one slice

Q. We'd love to have a luxurious cake on our big day, but we're worried about the price tag. Do you have any ideas for keeping the price down?

A. Claire Houghton Byers says: - Be clear and honest about your budget with your chosen supplier.
- Consider using fresh flowers instead of sugar versions. These involve less work and are cheaper.
- Compare the price of different flavours. For example, fruit creations cost more than sponge bakes.
- Look at the number of guests attending, and remember not everyone will want cake. We suggest you cater for 75 per cent of your friends and family to avoid waste.
- Substitute one tier with a dummy layer. This will make the finished product look taller and help reduce the price.
- Serve finger-sized portions instead of dessert sizes.
- Keep the design simple and avoid lots of detail.

Claire Houghton Byers


Piece of cake

Piece of cake

Q. We're having a Christmas-themed wedding with a red and gold colour scheme that we'd like to incorporate into our cake. Do you have any suggestions?

A. Suzanne Thorp says: - If you want to create a bold look, make the bottom tier a deep red and decorate it with ruffles, sugar flowers and edible gold leaf.

- Opt for sophisticated gold detailing, lace and a monogram to make it stand out.

- If you want something more delicate, cover the cake with textured white icing and embellish it with red berries, pine cones and mistletoe.

- Alternatively, a gold colour scheme would look fabulous. Look at the oh-so popular reveal cakes, these are a great way of incorporating your chosen theme. Create a gold base that reveals a white layer beneath decorated with red sugar flowers.

Suzanne Thorp


Festive chic

Festive chic

Q. We're having a winter wedding, and we want to incorporate the season into our cake. Do you have any suggestions?

A. Lucie Phelps says: There are lots of ways you can incorporate the wintry season into your big-day cake.

- Add a touch of sparkle to your bake. This can be done using edible sequins, sugar or glitter.

- If you want to create an elegant feel, then opt for an all white creation. Add ruffles, sparkling sugar and a hint of blue to make it more festive.

- Alternatively, you could choose warm reds and golds. These indulgent colours will create a romantic and luxurious atmosphere.

- The rustic look is popular right now. Look at semi-naked and buttercream bakes finished off with evergreens and berries.

- A chocolate drip cake with gingerbread decorations would look fabulous.

- Remember the flavours you use are just as important as the embellishments. Opt for festive options such as ginger, cinnamon and chocolate.

Lucie Phelps


Cake expectations

Cake expectations

Q. My hubby-to-be wants to incorporate his love of comic books into our wedding cake, whereas I want a more traditional design. Do you have any suggestions for how we can include both our personalities?

A. Sharon Callaghan says: It's important you decide on a theme for your cake so that it doesn't become too mismatched and confusing.

- Opt for a traditional option and incorporate subtle nods to your hubby-to-be's favourite comic book characters.

- You could add a reveal tier and use bright colours on the back or side of the bake. This is becoming a popular trend, especially for grooms who want to be more involved in the planning process.

- Alternatively, you could choose a traditional design and ask him get creative with the toppers.

- Take a look at individual groom cakes. These are a great way of incorporating both your ideas and personalities.

Sharon Callaghan


Ready, set, bake!

Ready, set, bake!

Q. We're having an autumnal wedding and want to incorporate the season's colours into our cake. Do you have any suggestions for how we can achieve this?

A. Louise Rowley says: Autumn is a great season, and you can easily capture the essence of it through your colour scheme.

- Have simple but elegant sugar flowers cascading down the side of the cake in rich autumnal colours.

- Bark epitomises the season, and it makes a beautiful addition to any bake.

- Fabrics such as hessian and twine lend themselves well to this time of year, so why not incorporate some of these into your design?

- If you prefer a simple design, you could look at the oh-so popular naked bake and decorate it with seasonal fruits.

- Try to get creative with the flavours too! Look at sticky toffee pudding or opt for chocolate orange – yum!

Louise Rowley