"I won't want to cut it!" is a frequent exclamation I hear and one that is flattering as it demonstrates that someone loves the outside of their edible art so much they don't want to 'spoil' it. People also often ask me how I can bear to see my creations taken away and reduced to crumbs over the course of a day or birthday party.
The answer is that I LOVE people to cut my cakes. In fact, I'd be devastated if I heard they hadn't been cut and eaten pretty soon after they leave my kitchen. The reason being that the inside of the cake is just as much an art as the outside.
We've all eaten cake that's ok, but isn't really worth the calories, as Prue Leith would say. When you buy a custom luxury cake, it should be next level to your tastebuds as well as to your eyes. It should be worth the calories and worth every penny. It's what you're buying. Not cutting the cake is like buying a car and never driving it. Yes, driving it off the forecourt immediately depreciates it by thousands, but it's there to be experienced, not just observed.
"What the heck did you put in the icing? Crack cocaine? You are an actual genius." This is a text I received at the weekend from someone who had just had a slice of the knitting cake you may have seen me post. This response is exactly why you SHOULD cut the cake! It doesn't matter if it's shortlived. It doesn't matter if it's going to mean the outside can't be admired any more. It is an experience that is so amazing that you won't forget it. Life is made up of those and we all consider them to be worth it. Aaaand, for me that's why taking a good picture of the cake is so important. To be fair, I wouldn't want anyone to cut a cake before I'd got a photo!
Most of us who own cake businesses got into it because we liked baking things, not making things out of fondant. We started with the taste and the flavour and then wanted to make them look pretty on the outside (incidentally, this is why most people come to my classes. They're confident they can whip up a delicious sponge, they just want it to look appealing too). So for us, our raison d'etre is the inside of the cake.
If someone doesn't cut the cake at the event or soon after and instead waits for days, the quality of the sponge will be diminished. There is then a risk that if someone eats that 5-day old cake (bearing in mind that the cake will have been baked at least a couple of days before it is collected) then our name is put to a mediocre product. This isn't fair on any cake maker. In order for people to truly know what product is on offer, a cake should be cut on the day it has been sold for. This is why we are so keen to know when the cake will be eaten as well as when it will be collected. So we can plan for freshness accordingly.
When I set up Three Little Birds, my first strapline was "Cakes that look as good as they taste", because I wanted to subvert the idea that you admire the outside and hope that the inside will live up to your expectations. My cakes are the real McCoy. You buy them because you know you are guaranteed a taste experience that you cannot buy elsewhere.
I have made Victoria sponge a multiple of different ways over the last 15 years. I have baked it at different temperatures, for different times. I have used different mixing techniques. I have added the ingredients in different orders. I have used different tools and so many types of butter and margarine I've lost count. I know the way I make it is certified delicious. In fact, another comment I received at the weekend was that two catering lecturers had declared my Victoria sponge "spot on" and "gorgeous". I'm so glad I didn't know it would be tasted by them beforehand, by the way...
My chocolate cake is the chocolate cake that converts people who don't like chocolate cake. No dry cocoa-ey crumbs here. Good chocolate cake is by no means a Victoria sponge with the flour replaced with cocoa. It should be rich, moist and oh so chocolatey (and my recipe is secret, I'm afraid!). The first time one of my key clients ordered from me she emailed me at 6am the next day: "Oh my goodness... that chocolate cake is the best I've ever tasted.... please can I change my next cake to chocolate."
THIS is just as much what custom cake is all about as fancy sugarwork.
We all remember some of the nicest meals we've ever had. We remember an evening in a top-notch restaurant. And we remember the best cake we've ever eaten.
When you buy from me, you are not just buying a centrepiece to be looked at. Every part of it is made with high levels of skill and experience. Every part of it is there to amaze you and your guests. I've heard wedding venues tell me they throw away so much wedding cake. Well, I've had the opposite - I've had two sets of brides and grooms order the same flavours from me after their wedding day because the cake all disappeared so quickly!
Shop small, shop handmade. Choose quality over quantity. Because who needs crack cocaine when you have Swiss meringue buttercream. Now CUT THAT CAKE and enjoy every mouthful!
I'd love to hear your comments about what your favourite flavours of Three Little Birds cake are - you can find them here, and whether you'd like to see some new ones!