Calling On Uk Bakers

Decorating By MyDiwa Updated 7 May 2010 , 5:13pm by jayne1873

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MyDiwa Posted 3 May 2010 , 10:17pm
post #1 of 23

So a very dear friend is getting married soon in the UK and wants me to decorate her wedding cake for her. I live in the US and have learnt the US way of doing professional cakes, which results in a few hiccups for us (e.g. I've never made a fruit cake in my life!). So she has said that you can buy fruit cakes already covered in fondant from Marks and Spencer. The idea is that she would buy those and then I would decorate them. Here are my questions though:

- Have any of you heard of anyone who has successfully done this? Do the cakes taste good? I don't live in the UK so there's no reputation at stake really, I'd just like to be sure this is a good idea for my friend's sake.
- The M&S website says the cakes are all 5.5cm high, which works out to about 2". The standard height of a tier here is 4". I'm not sure if the website is correct. It seems a little odd because I'm thinking even a homemade cake would have 2 layers which I'd think would make close to 4". If anyone is familiar with their (M&S) cakes, could you please confirm that for me. I usually use the SPS system for tiered cakes and would have liked to buy that and take it over but it won't work if the tiers are 2" high.
- Are there reliable suppliers of gumpaste flowers, in case I don't get enough time to make all the flowers she needs.
- Where can I buy cake dummies?

TIA for any help, ideas and information.

22 replies
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Cakechick123 Posted 4 May 2010 , 9:32am
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from what I've heard those cakes are not deep enough to give a nice visual look, I lurk on the bsgukorg site and there has been loads of complaints about that.
Fruit cake doesnt have layers, its just a solid cake. Doesnt the bride have an aunt/granny that can bake her the cakes to your specifications?

alternatively also sells fruit cakes, maybe contact them and check how tall theirs are.

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cakesbysammie Posted 4 May 2010 , 10:18am
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Hi, I'm in the UK. I haven't actually seen a M&S wedding cake before so I can't really advise you on those. I know they do them but not sure on the depth.

Are you going to be coming over to the UK to decorate it? If so, it might be worth you checking out this site:

I order a LOT of stuff from them. You can buy ready made cakes, but they don't come covered so you will need to do this yourself. It doesn't state the depth of the cakes on the website either but you could contact them to ask?

They also do cake dummies and gumpaste flowers. They pretty much stock everything you could need icon_smile.gif


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janeoxo Posted 4 May 2010 , 10:28am
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Where are you coming to the UK? I would be happy to make the fruit cakes you require.

If you go to the link you will see a prize a won for it. Once you get on the page, click the boxes tab and it is in there.!/PapillonCakes?v=app_2347471856[/img]

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Bunsen Posted 4 May 2010 , 10:42am
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Just a thought on using the SPS system with fruit cake, from what I've seen of SPS (only pictures, it's not available here!) it looks like the support that is pushed into the cake is quite thick - fruit cake is extremely solid and dense and I don't think it would be possible to push the supports in. Dowels work really well in fruit cake as the cake is so solid they won't rip through like they can in lighter cakes - you would probably want to assemble on site any way as the 3 tiers of fruit cake (plus marzipan and fondant) is extremely heavy.

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valha Posted 4 May 2010 , 3:51pm
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Originally Posted by Bunsen

you would probably want to assemble on site any way as the 3 tiers of fruit cake (plus marzipan and fondant) is extremely heavy.

Oh yes, MyDiwa, don't forget fruit cakes are traditionally covered in marzipan and then fondant (sugarpaste) on top of that in the UK. Apologies if you knew already, but I thought it couldn't hurt to mention this, as it is quite a difference between the US and UK. Even sponge cakes are sometimes covered in marzipan AND fondant (Peggy Porschen does this).

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MyDiwa Posted 4 May 2010 , 6:38pm
post #7 of 23

Guys thank you soooo much for all your responses.

The plan is for her to buy ready made cakes and then I would decorate them once I get there. Bunsen and valha, thanks for pointing out what you did because I knew but really hadn't thought about that. I think either way I will have to go with dowels.

Cakechick123 and cakesbysammie thanks for the links. I'll pass on the information to the bride and see what she thinks about the alternatives for cakes and I'll have a look to see what I can get that will eliminate me having to bring stuff all the way from here. I really do appreciate the note about the complaints because I was worried about that.

janeoxo, I believe my friend lives in/near Birmingham. It's so sweet of you to offer to make the cakes. Are you near where she is? Also, could you let me know what you'd charge for each of the various sizes of cake (from 6" to 14" - she wants a massive cake).

Please if you think of anything else, or something you think I've forgotten, PLEASE give me a shout!

Thanks so much everyone.

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bashini Posted 4 May 2010 , 7:35pm
post #8 of 23

Hi there, you have to avoid M&S cakes!!!!! The hieght of those cakes are not even 3" and you won't get the portions you want.

Sweet Success do cakes. The taste is ok but its not as same as home baked cake. Here is the link for you,

Apiece of cakes have cakes as well.

I use dowels when I stack cakes and put a tiny blob of RI under each tier.

For sugarflowers, Surbiton art do them, but I don't know the quality of them. Here is the link anyway,

HTH icon_smile.gif

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Lyndseyb52 Posted 4 May 2010 , 7:39pm
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I have decorated a Marks and Spencer ready iced cake before, the bride bought 3 thinking it would be easy to stack and decorate herself and got a shock!!

I was not impressed at all with the cakes, they were very uneven which made it hard to stack them. They had a small piped scroll around the edge which was all off centre so I had to shave it off and do it again. Also the bride wanted them stacked with no tiers and they come on thick cake boards an inch or so bigger than each cake. I ended up sliding them off the original boards and buying new.

If you have a choice I'd ask a local cake shop how much they charge for their plain iced fruit cakes.

Good luck

Lyndsey xx

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jayne1873 Posted 4 May 2010 , 9:33pm
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You would really need to stack that monster cake on site as you certainly wouldnt be able to lift it. If you made a fruit say 12" cake then marzipaned, iced and then made 10" and 8" tiers in sponge it would be really heavy so no way are you going to manage that many tiers in fruit it would just weigh a ton!

Also you have to think about how long it takes to bake a fruit cake. A 10" round takes around 3-4 hours plus it then needs to be allowed to rest and have extra alcohol put on it for at the least 6 weeks to make it nice and moist.

I think your best bet would be to ask local cake shops if they would make the cakes, marzipan and ice for you. I live in Coventry which is about 1hrs drive from Birmingham and if you wanted to get some prices from shops in Birmingham. PM me the details if you want x

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MyDiwa Posted 5 May 2010 , 7:09pm
post #11 of 23

I actually gave you all wrong information. My friend actually lives in Nottingham, not Birmingham (well, I got the last syllables correct, right?) Sweet success is actually in Nottingham so that's definitely a consideration.

Thanks for the tips on the weight. I've never made a fruit cake so i just didnt even think about it but I do still have some left over from my own wedding and yup, that sucker is pretty heavy! I'll definitely need to plan well to have reliable transportation and enough lead time to set up.

I've also never worked with marzipan (except for modelling figures) so I'm reluctant to try and be learning that on someone's wedding cake! I've only ever worked with buttercream or ganache under fondant. Would you simply knead and roll out the marzipan just like fondant? I'm hoping the bride will agree to use a local baker or janeoxo if she's local and hopefully they'll also be able to marzipan and ice for me. She seemed hesitant when I broached the subject because she's worried about price. I know this really must be a silly question, but is it possible to marzipan the cake and then leave it and put the fondant over it later?

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janeoxo Posted 5 May 2010 , 7:13pm
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Yes you just knead and roll it out but rather than try and do it whole like you would with fondant you should do the top and sides separately then stick them together with a small amount of water. Don't orget you need to put a thin coating of jam on the cake first so the marzipan will stick. The jam should be heated first to thin it. Most people go for apricot due to the colour but I actually use seedless raspberry very thinly and I have never had any complaints.

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Cakechick123 Posted 5 May 2010 , 7:31pm
post #13 of 23

marzipan is not as pliable as fondant, so its a little more difficult to cover a cake with, but it gives a beautifull finish to the final cake!

Its better to leave the marzipan to dry completely before putting the fondant on, so ur suggestion of getting someone to do that for you should work fine. You will just have to get the timing right, so that the baker maripans it say 2 days before you need it.

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MyDiwa Posted 5 May 2010 , 8:48pm
post #14 of 23

Ok, so maybe I should try this out first. She hasnt quite settled on a design yet, so there's a chance she might pick something that needs the fondant to be soft for making impressions. Can you use marzipan on a regular sponge cake or will it be too heavy with the fondant on top? And the jam, do you just warm it or do you add a little water to help thin it out?

Janeoxo - where in the UK are you? Are you near Nottingham?

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septfairy Posted 5 May 2010 , 8:59pm
post #15 of 23


I think that hight sounds about right - i am not sure uk wedding cakes are as tall as yours, (or at least the ones i have seen aren't)

I also belong to a wedding forum and a few girls have had m+s cakes and have all loved them. another place to look is waitrose.

there are alot of local shops that could make the cakes and plain ice them to your specs for you. where is the wedding??

if you need any thing else please feel free to pm me - sorry if the reply will be late i am not around much the next 3-4 days


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kizrash Posted 5 May 2010 , 9:25pm
post #16 of 23
Originally Posted by MyDiwa

So a very dear friend is getting married soon in the UK and wants me to decorate her wedding cake for her.

TIA for any help, ideas and information.

I'm in U.K, you can leave a marzipanned cake a week before you decorate it. The marzipan needs time to dry out before adding icing or the oils from the marzipan can discolour your icing so that wouldn't be a problem for you. IMO marzipan is so much easier to apply than fondant. If you look in my photo's, the Christmas cake was a traditional fruit, marzipan and royal icing, stacked with dowels and traveled three hour journey to my sister's for Xmas. ( it was a Xmas present to her) Arrived absolutely perfect. I started making traditional Christmas cakes about 30yrs ago so if I can advise in any way please p.m me. HTH

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janeoxo Posted 5 May 2010 , 9:35pm
post #17 of 23

MyDiwa I'll PM you, if you don't get it let me know.

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Cakechick123 Posted 5 May 2010 , 9:47pm
post #18 of 23

If it needs impressions I would suggest getting the person baking the cake to marzipan it. You can then add the fondant and do the impressions while the fondant is still soft.
I have never done marzipan and sugarpaste on a sponge, but I think there are people that does it, maybe do it a little thinner that you would do normally, so the two together is about the thickness of normal fondant.
You just heat the jam in the microwave, no need to thin it with water.

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MyDiwa Posted 5 May 2010 , 10:41pm
post #19 of 23

Janeoxo - got your pm. Thanks.

Depending on whether bride agrees to take my advice or not and what design she ends up picking, I think I'll recommend getting a local baker to bake and marzipan for me and then I'll cover with fondant and decorate.

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Relznik Posted 5 May 2010 , 10:59pm
post #20 of 23

Hi there

I always marzipan my sponge cakes, as I think you get a better finish on the fondant.

Please - avoid M&S fruit cakes. They're so shallow and not a good finish!

A previous poster said you have to allow marzipan to dry before covering with sugarpaste. I never leave mine and have NEVER had staining from the marzipan onto the fondant (called sugarpaste in the UK... fondant is something else - you heat it and then pour it over pastries and fancies! icon_smile.gif )

If I can help in any other way, please feel free to drop me a PM.

Best wishes

Suzanne x

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jayne1873 Posted 6 May 2010 , 4:42pm
post #21 of 23

You can knead and roll marzipan the same as fondant (sugarpaste) and place on the cake in the same way.
But you have to remember to fill in any gaps around the fruit cake so no air gets trapped in the cake then marzipan, will be more complicated for you.
I would suggest getting someone to bake and marzipan for you. It is fine to leave the cake with just the marzipan covering on without problems for at least a couple of weeks. I always do mine a week before covering with icing.

Gosh this sounds like a total headache for you I hope she is a very good friend, and good luck x

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MyDiwa Posted 6 May 2010 , 11:55pm
post #22 of 23

Ok - based on what you guys have told me, I definitely don't want to tackle messing around with marzipan on someone's wedding and risk the cake being memorable for the wrong reasons! She is a childhood friend and definitely worth the hassle but hopefully after the wedding we'll still be friends icon_biggrin.gif !

I might try the marzipan on like my own fruit cake for Christmas - something I've been saying I'm going to do every year since ... well,...

SO for now I'm focusing on getting her to go with a local baker who will marzipan and fondant or at least marzipan, depending on whether or not she picks a design that needs impressions on the "sugarpaste' (see I learned something else today!) And then maybe also take a look at suppliers of gumpaste flowers coz it does sound like she wants tons of flowers on her cake and I may not have enough time to make all of them.

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jayne1873 Posted 7 May 2010 , 5:13pm
post #23 of 23

Sounds like a good plan, hope it all goes well for you.

If you decide to make a cake for Xmas bake it middle of Oct and put a post on and we will 'talk' you through it if you need help x

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