What’s in a Great Tasting Bespoke Cake?

In a previous blog, click here to read, I wrote about the importance that structure plays in a bespoke cake. For any celebration where a bespoke cake is served it should definitely look the part. I am still amazed at the number of people I meet who comment on a beautiful cake they’ve seen at an event. They then go on to say they’ve have been let down by the taste. In my opinion the most important thing about the cake must be the taste. There is nothing more disappointing than a beautiful cake that doesn’t deliver on taste.

For a cake to taste amazing three things are required. A great cake base,  a complementary filling or coating, and an experienced baker. I’m not necessarily referring to a professional baker. Although the baker must have familiarity with baking techniques and concepts, and has tried and tested recipes within their repertoire.

The Cake Base.

Regardless of whether the cake base is a sponge or fruit cake the overall quality of the ingredients must shine through. They don’t have to be the most expensive but they have to be fresh.  A cake must be moist without being claggy. It must be flavourful without being overpowering, and it must have a light texture whilst still being able to hold its shape when cut. The chosen cake base must also be appropriate for the chosen design, Very soft cakes such as a red velvet or oil based carrot cake will be more difficult to carve into detailed shapes than a Madeira cake which has a firmer structure. (I’ll be discussing the pros and cons of various cake bases as the topic of a future blog.)

l-r (clockwise): Fruit cake, carrot cake, vanilla sponge & chocolate sponge

The Filling.

Unless you are being served a slice of fruit cake, most cakes will more than likely have at least one layer of a complimentary filling. Most common fillings are butter creams and fruit jams/curds or both. For the cake to be at its best upon serving, the shelf life of the filling must be taken into consideration as well as the level of stability required in the end product. Butter creams and jams are much softer fillings than ganaches, which many cake designers are now using as standard, due to the increased stability it provides for a cake, in comparison to butter creams.

Experience of the Baker.

How the cake base and filling are put together will all come down to the level of experience of the cake maker. An experienced cake maker will know which types of cake bases work best for the type of cake being produced. It’s not just about baking and assembling the cake, so many other considerations must be made which will impact every step of the production process. How long does the cake need to be fresh for? How and where will it be delivered? What’s the likelihood of warm temperatures affecting the overall cake, and will changes need to be made to recipes to accommodate this? When all of the above come together the cake is sure to taste as amazing as it looks.