When you first think of buttercream you probably think of butter and icing sugar beating till it's light and fluffy. Quick to make but oh so sickly sweet! This is what cake designers and pastry chefs call American buttercream. It's often made with a blend of butter and shortening (solid white vegetable fat) for added stability, and sometimes no butter at all. It tends to have a grainy texture from the icing sugar.
There are many other types of buttercreams (See our FAQs) but the best for wedding cakes are the meringue-based buttercreams. The most commonly used is Swiss meringue, which is made using a Ban Marie to slowly cook the egg whites (or aquafaba if you're vegan) whilst gently whisking before making your meringue for your buttercream. We, however, opt for the Italian version, made by slowly pouring a very hot sugar syrup into beating eggwhites while they whisk, the meringue is then beaten until it cools to room temperature before beating in butter, and of course a good helping of Madagascan vanilla.
Italian meringue buttercream is delicate, soft and just melts in your mouth. It also has a fraction of the sugar that you would find in an American buttercream, just 30% rather than 70%. The other added bonus that it has over even the Swiss meringue buttercream, and particularly the American is how well it holds up in the heat. Which makes it perfect for painting and piping delicate decoration. But more importantly, it won't collapse on a hot sunny day in a warm marquee, as I've seen many American buttercream cakes succumb too. I doubt you want the Leaning Tower of Pisa for your wedding cake? And even if you do maybe not the fallen over tower! Just don't expect it to survive in a sunny south-facing window, as that it just madness!
All in all this does involve a lot more time and effort to make but by god, it's worth it! YUM!!
Naked, Semi-Naked and Fully Iced Cakes.
What's the difference?
Naked (far left) cakes have filling in-between the layers of sponge only. Nothing around the outside. You can opt for a rustic style where the filling oozes out a little or a slightly more elegant finish where the buttercream is swept around to give a more polished look depending on what you like.
Naked cakes are a great option if you're on a budget but you want something that will taste and look impressive. The main drawback is that the sponge is exposed, so the cake can start to dry out if it's sitting around all day.
Semi-naked cakes like the vegan cake to the left have a thin layer of buttercream around the outside of the cake but the layers of the cake
are exposed, this extra buttercream
helps lock in moisture.
Fully iced ganache or buttercream cakes have a thick layer around the outside of the cake, built up in layers so as not to show any crumbs in the final finish. Because the cake is set before each coat is added you can have a different buttercream inside your cake to what you have on the outside.
All of our cakes are finished in one or a mix of these finishes. We don't ice our cakes in fondant at all!
Over the last couple of years, buttercream has had a huge reinvention. Painting and sculpting with buttercream has become increasingly popular the world over. It's easy to understand why, as you can have a beautiful modern cake that tastes amazing even down to the decoration!
Buttercream is a great medium for handpainted flowers, that can be intricate or abstract. We can recreate your wedding bouquet on your cake or paint a wildflower meadow. We can create wonderful ocean sprays, pipe macrame or Mexican embroidery. Or even just add abstract splashes of colour or washed out ombres.
Romantic silhouettes look wonderful in buttercream too. If it can be painted with oils or acrylics then we can do it with buttercream! We're always adding more designs to our gallery so why not have a look for further inspiration.
Real Flowers & Your Wedding Cake
Making sure they are safe!
We love decorating our wedding cakes with fresh flowers. The trouble is most flowers available are not safe for human consumption sadly.
They may be toxic or poisonous. These flowers are to be completely avoided, even when they are inserted into your cake with the utmost care, using flower picks, or food-safe wax to seal the stems. Parts of the flower will still likely touch your cake, and sap, pollen or hairs from the flower may end up on your cake. And we wouldn't want you or your guests getting ill on your big day.
The second problem that we come across when decorating cakes with fresh flowers is the use of pesticides and fertilisers. Flowers grown for the floristry industry are just not grown for human consumption, even edible species such as roses. Because of this, we do not recommend asking your florist to supply extra flowers to decorate your cake with. They will have been sprayed and they will have been stored in a manner that promotes bacterial growth.
This does not mean that we can't decorate your cake with fresh flowers however. Edible flowers that are grown for this purpose are available from a great organic Devonshire farm. Yippee! They supply dried petals, fresh petals, whole flowers, edible leaves, herbs etc. These flowers are seasonal, but there are lots of varieties including roses, calendula, cornflowers, dahlias, daisies, daylilies, elderflowers, gladioli, honeysuckle, pansies, pinks, sunflowers, violas, tulips, as well as many wildflowers and herbs too.
If you do choose to go with a different cake decorator in the end, we do recommend that you verify that any fresh flowers used are non-toxic and that they have been grown without the use of pesticides and fertilisers that are harmful if consumed.
Fruit & Flower Decoration Styles
From classic summer berries to more contemporary autumnal fruits such as fresh figs, pomegranates and citrus slices. We can air dry fruits and flowers or decorate in fresh edible flowers, leaves or herbs.
We can also decorate your cake with an array of other decorations including:-
- Chocolate drips
- Caramel drips
- Gold or silver leaf
- Metallic paints
- Meringue kisses
- Cinnamon sticks & pinecones
- Oyster shells, mussels or other real shells
- Handmade chocolates and shards
- Peg doll cake toppers
- Chocolate or isomalt sails
- Wafer flowers
- Piped flowers
- Dried & died pear or apple slices