Supplier Spotlight – Amanda Earl Cake Design
The Wedding cake, though not as we know it today, dates back as far as the 16th century. In those days, according to Food Historian Sam Bilton, “it was bride pies rather than cakes that were most popular at wedding feasts. Fillings included egg and dried fruit (rather like mincemeat); prawns, cockles and oysters”. Cakes have definitely come a very long way since then. Thankfully they are now more likely to be sponge which sounds much more appealing!
Today’s wedding cakes combine a wonderful choice of flavours with stunning, bespoke designs to match a couple’s overall theme. They are artistic and individual with many intricate elements lovingly handmade. That’s certainly true of our latest Supplier Spotlight participant, Amanda Earl who is based right here in Harrogate.
Although not able to meet in person right now (a shame as we were hoping for cake!) we caught up with Amanda for a chat. Grab a cuppa and something sweet to eat for this one. There are some stunning pictures of cake coming up that will definitely make you crave some sugar!
First of all, tell us about you and how you got into the weddings industry
I set up my business in 2009, originally supplying cupcakes to farm shops and local cafes etc. However, in 2010 I decided that for my business to be sustainable, and to fulfil my creativity, I needed to move away from wholesale and provide cakes direct to my own clients. At that time I catered for all milestone moments but eventually chose to specialise in wedding cakes. Always having been artistically inclined, initially pursuing ceramics, I now apply similar techniques to sugar as I once did to clay but my clients get to eat my work!
What are your predictions for trends in wedding cake for 2021/22?
Although I don’t tend to follow trends strictly when designing bespoke cakes for my clients, preferring to be led by my couples to offer them a cake unique to them, of course couples are likely to be influenced by the art around them. Therefore I envisage:
– As interiors trends are currently adopting a more cosy, warm and colourful palette, wedding trends will respond likewise, with more colourful cakes perhaps incorporating navy, ochre and botanical greens.
– As fibre art is currently popular in interiors, such as woven wall hangings and macramé, and patterns are currently more in vogue than plains I suspect we will see this reflected in textural and patterned wedding cakes. You can see in the images on the left below my ‘Luna’ design with hand piped macramé
– Floral cakes will always be popular so this style will undoubtedly continue – in the form of both everlasting sugar flowers in less formal and more natural free-flowing arrangements and their 2d counterpart of hand painted flowers. You can see in the images on the right below my ‘Tamsyn’ design with sugar and painted florals
– I also anticipate that couples will move away from towering cakes of five to eight tiers to more modest sizes of perhaps three tiers, and a maximum of four tiers. I have always encouraged my couples not to bow to the pressure of having a huge cake incorporating faux (polystyrene) tiers. Whilst I do receive requests for such, I don’t provide them as they don’t reflect my eco-friendly ethos and I do think these requests will decrease as couples move towards more ethical, environmentally friendly choices to protect our planet and future generations.
Any standout wedding cakes for you that you particularly enjoyed working on? Or perhaps your favourite cake?
It’s difficult to choose a favourite cake overall as I tend to focus on the detail and favour different elements of various cakes. For example:
I like my ‘Rebecca’ wedding cake as I love a lace wedding dress and enjoy replicating that lace for the bride on to the cake. Favouring sugar flowers with many petals, I like the delicate sugar ranunculi plus the curve of the stem and the speckled leaves in the sugar floral arrangement of this design too.
Whereas I like my ‘Jessica’ cake as the colours are so ‘me’ and they complemented the venue perfectly. I also loved its combination of botanical and opulent elements. The bride loved them too – even choosing to have her sugar foliage and flowers framed so she could display them forever at home.
Finally, although I can appreciate the beauty of both pastel and bold designs I am drawn to bold colours – which is why I like my ‘Olive’ cake.
As for standout cakes, it has to be my ‘Kulthoum’ cake (inspired by my ‘Lily’ design). It has attracted more lovely online feedback than any other throughout my 11+ years in business. Although all my wedding cakes are bespoke, I always ask prospective clients to view my portfolio for inspiration and it is this cake that always gets a favourable mention.
With photographs by Amanda Manby Photography
with Lily, the inspiration for Kulthoum, on the left
Ever had any cake disasters that you’re willing to share?!
It’s worrying answering this question as I really don’t want to tempt fate! I am very careful, organised and methodical in my work in order to avoid disasters on the day but I’ve had many disasters in the process of making sugar flowers, they are so fragile. As they are all made in advance they’ve never impacted the design on the wedding day. However, there was one standout potential disaster moment, caused by the heatwave of 2018. I got up very early to avoid the heat and used a tilted turntable to add intricate royal icing decoration. The gradually increasing temperature in my kitchen caused the white chocolate ganache coating (normally firmly set) to soften. This made tilting each cake pretty precarious and the hand piped decoration work so challenging.
Thankfully I stayed calm and finished the design. It was so stressful and prompted me to invest in an air conditioning unit so I never had to go through that again! Despite the challenges caused by the heat the cake turned out fine and the couple were none the wiser.
Can you tell us more about a specific wedding cake you’ve made for any Sun Pavilion couples?
Firstly, I’ll refer back to my ‘Jessica’ design mentioned above. This design was initally inspired by my ‘Esmée’ design. As every cake I make is bespoke, we adapted that design significantly in order to create a cake that reflected the couple perfectly. Theirs was a celebration in two parts. Firstly, a destination woodland wedding in Maine, USA for which I created a single tier fruit cake with a sugar foliage and pine cone wreath. And, secondly their four-tier cake for their UK wedding blessing and celebration at The Sun Pavilion. As with their earlier single-tier, their second wedding cake featured eucalyptus foliage and delicate blossoms. I also added in other foliage, seasonal sugar flowers and sea holly, complementing Valley Gardens at that time of year.
My ‘Rangi’ design, a vibrant wedding cake for another Sun Pavilion couple. It was inspired by the fresh florals and featured design elements from both the wedding dress and bridesmaid dresses. The Rangi also featured on my blog.
Finally, not a cake for a specific couple but my ‘Topaz’ Art Deco style display cake, inspired by The Sun Pavilion’s glorious stained glass dome. It features hand piped and hand painted stained glass-inspired decoration. Along with rambling sugar flowers and foliage in a matching colour palette, plus seedheads to reflect the architecture. My ‘Topaz’ design has already provided inspiration for a couple marrying next autumn and I hope it inspires many more.
What are your tips for couples currently searching for their dream wedding cake?
First and foremost, find a wedding cake designer you are in tune with and whose style matches yours. As opposed to finding a wedding cake you like and asking a designer to replicate it. A good cake designer will intuitively design a cake to complement your style and elements of your wedding. This is the best way to achieve the cake of your dreams rather than a copy of someone else’s. My service is bespoke as standard so I will always start with a blank canvas. My client is my inspiration.
What’s your biggest career highlight to date?
My biggest career highlight to date is winning two design awards in February 2020 at The Cake Professionals Awards. I never generally take part in competitions but, given the high-calibre industry-leading judges, I couldn’t resist. Entries were judged blind on four criteria: design, execution, originality and overall impression. Entries had to be real cakes provided for real clients for real weddings (as opposed to display cakes for photoshoots). I was delighted to be awarded the title of Regional winner in both the Small and Large Wedding Cake categories. The accolades were for my ‘Kulthoum’ and ‘Charlotte’ designs. I couldn’t have won these awards without my lovely clients inspiring the designs.
Find out more about Amanda Earl Cake Design
Huge thanks to Amanda for taking part in our Supplier Spotlight. You can find out much much more about Amanda’s wonderful cakes on her website. You can see cake flavours, view more drool-worthy images and even check out Amanda’s own blog. You’ll also find Amanda on social:
View more supplier spotlight pieces on the blog