Known for stunning cakes inside and out, Isobel Bakes is one of our favourite wedding cake makers. Working closely with you from the very beginning, Isobel draws from the design, colour, and feel of your wedding to create a wedding cake that is entirely bespoke to you. Favourites include; pistachio and lemon sponge with fresh raspberries and pistachio cream, vanilla and lemon drizzle sponge with lemon curd marbled buttercream, and chocolate sponge with hazelnut buttercream and salted caramel and toasted hazelnut brittle. Personalised adjustments are welcomed. If you want your lemon cake extra lemony or your buttercream extra fluffy Isobel Bakes will make it happen.
What led you into designing wedding cakes?
I worked in Tom’s Deli in Notting Hill during my early twenties. I knew that I wanted to work in food, but didn’t know which direction to take. I entered a baking competition in a national newspaper around the time of the first Royal Wedding, and was amazed to come second. I had so much fun coming up with the concept and design that I thought maybe it was something I could get into. Just by chance, after this a friend of mine asked if I would make her wedding cake. The rest is history.
How would you describe your signature style?
It’s definitely one of abundance: I like to create a visual feast with seasonal flowers and fresh fruit, reminiscent of a still-life. But this is artwork to be eaten, not just to be admired and it’s important you can see the maker’s hand – from the lick in the icing where the palette knife has left its mark to the individual touches that make the cake theirs. For example, one of my early cakes was for a couple called the Honeys, who wanted me to incorporate a bumblebee. I sourced a set of bees embroidered from an embroidery shop and used gold wire to give the impression they were flying above the flowers.
How long is the process of making one of your wedding cakes?
I am in touch with my couples months before the wedding, talking flavours and design. I’ve sometimes had a back and forth of up to 60 emails! Then there’s the tasting, which usually happens in my kitchen in East London, where I work. The making of the actual cake can take up to three days. Then, on the wedding day, I always make sure I have at least an hour to set up the cake ahead of the reception to ensure it’s as fresh as possible.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
Art and design were my first loves, and still play a big part in my life – from the interiors in my home to my travels and, of course, my food styling. With inspiration coming from everything from the Bloomsbury Group and Marimekko to photographs from retro baking books, I love the play of colour and texture (as anyone who has seen my Instagram will know!). In terms of flavours, I draw from the experiences I’ve had. For example, my pistachio, raspberry and lemon cake with pistachio cream is inspired by trips to southern Italy.
The biggest wedding cake trends for 2023 are?
Colour! People are becoming bolder with their wedding choices. They’re stepping away from tradition and expressing their personalities through their choices, from the flowers to the table settings to the cake! Weddings should be all about fun, so it’s great to see people having fun with their choices, whether that’s bold colourful floral designs or coloured icing.
What is a big no-no when it comes to wedding cakes?
A big no-no for me as a cake-maker is a lack of flavour or texture in the sponge and the filling. It’s so important not to lose sight of the fact this is a cake to be eaten, not just looked at. I use fruit curds and compotes, brittles and caramels to elevate my cakes from an everyday sponge to something you’d order as dessert.
What are your suggestions for couples who want something different to a traditional wedding cake?
People shouldn’t be constrained by the traditional idea of tiered wedding cake. Recently, a bride asked for a table of cakes inspired by the film Marie-Antoinette – there’s an iconic image of Kristen Dunst surrounded by a table groaning with cakes. I created a tablescape with five single-tiered cakes of varying sizes decorated with peachy-pink buttercream and scalloped piping, and topped with fruits and flowers. Never be afraid to suggest your creative ideas with your baker.
What was your own wedding cake like?
I had a three-tiered buttercream cake covered in my favourite flowers – Icelandic poppies and peonies – alongside smaller, intricate blooms with apricots nestled in between. The icing was studded with gold Sixties applique flowers. The sponge was dark chocolate soaked in a ginger syrup and layered with stem-ginger cookie buttercream. It was a recipe based on a favourite childhood dessert that I used to make with my sisters. I made my own cake. We got married at Hauser & Wirth in Somerset and, while everyone was rushing around preparing the final touches to the day, I stood quietly in the dining room of the farmhouse decorating my cake. I was in my own little world and it was perfect (but I did have to close my eyes when the chefs carried the decorated over the restaurant across the courtyard).
Whats next for Isobel Bakes?
Isobel Bakes is a one-woman band and it’s important to me to ensure I have the freedom to create and explore new ideas. I want to keep developing my recipes and designs and providing a bespoke service to my couples. I love being part of such an important day in people’s lives.I’m also looking into ways to share my bakes with a wider audience. I’ll be launching a range of different-flavoured Babkas this autumn via my website, which anyone can order as a treat for themselves or as a gift. Watch this space!
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