Lucy Burton is a consummate foodie. Her blog, Pudding Lane, is fast becoming a favourite and barely a week goes by when I don't see one of her recipes featured online or in a magazine.
When she's not writing about food you can guarantee she's making it! And wedding cakes are a particular passion. Lucy loves working with couples to design their dream cake and, being a recipe-developer, her flavour creations are amazing!
I met Lucy earlier this year when we were students together at Leiths School of Food and Wine. It has been wonderful to watch her progress and I can't wait to work with her on a wedding!
Tell us a bit about yourself and your wedding cake business.
Baking has been in my blood from an early age, but I’ve been making wedding cakes for two years. It all started when a friend’s sister asked me to make hers. I was incredibly nervous, but found the creative process of designing, making and building a show-stopping cake really exciting.
I started my baking blog, Pudding Lane, when I moved to London after university, and that eventually led me to start taking on food styling projects and writing recipes for magazines and brands. Everything was self-taught until this year, when I enrolled on a professional course at Leiths School of Food and Wine. It was invaluable to master classical techniques and learn the efficiencies of a professional kitchen and to apply these to my own cooking.
All of my cakes are bespoke, and designed in partnership with the bride and groom. I love that each one is a new project and a new challenge too.
What is it about baking that you love so much?
I find baking incredibly cathartic. When I’ve had a rubbish day or I’ve got a lot on my plate, I’ll head into the kitchen and start tinkering around with ingredients. I love how rewarding it is - a few minutes of concentration and a bit of mixing later, and you’ve achieved something.
Where do you find your inspiration for your cakes?
My inspiration often comes from the bride and groom! Some couples have a really clear idea of what they want, while others might just have a look, a flavour or a mood in mind. I’m also led by seasonality; so find myself drawn to brighter florals and soft fruits in summer, and richer flavours and foliage in the winter.
There are so many amazing people doing great things in the food industry at the moment. To name just a few inspirations - Claire Ptak of Violet Bakery (who taught me so much when I worked for her), Fiona Cairns and Prue Leith, who have all grown successful businesses out of a passion for food. I read Nigel Slater’s books before I go to bed - the seasonality and the poetry of his introductions and recipes is utter genius. Oh, and Nigella, of course - I can only dream that one day I will manage to be as glamorous as she is during a late night fridge forage!
Do you have a favourite cake flavour?
I'm very fond of my almond sponge cake filled with slow-roasted rhubarb and orange blossom buttercream. It's perfectly sweet, yet sour at the same time. I love natural ingredient-led decoration - soft swoops of icing and gorgeous seasonal flowers, foliage and fruits.
Which wedding cake are you most proud of?
I made a hexagonal wedding cake earlier this year, which was such a different challenge. I had a few sleepless nights worrying about the fondant, but luckily it all came together on the day!
What is it like to work with you? What's your design process?
I always start with the size and then think about flavours and decoration. I sketch out each of my cakes, and often create mood boards so that couples can show me what they like (or don’t like!) to help guide the design.
Once we’ve agreed on all this, I’ll work with the florist to match my icings, foliage and flowers to the colour and floral scheme of the wedding. I am very much a one-man band, so it is me who makes, decorates, packs, drives and builds the cake on site.
Many couples underestimate how much work goes into making a wedding cake. Tell us what it's like in your kitchen before a Saturday wedding?!
This depends a lot on the size and flavours of the cake - I tend to make fruit cakes a couple of weeks in advance, so that the flavours can mature and the cake can be fed with lots of brandy! I make any fillings that can be pre-prepared - like jams, curds, drizzles and caramels - ahead of time.
Some sponges can be baked on the Thursday evening (denser and moister cakes like carrot, butterscotch and chocolate), then brushed with syrups and packed up so they stay fresh overnight. Lighter vanilla or chiffon sponges need to be baked on the Friday.
On the Friday it’s all systems go. I always have a very detailed (and timed!) prep-list, to ensure I don’t forget anything! Friday morning will be spent baking and cooling the cakes, with filling and crumb-coating taking place early afternoon. I’ll then ice in the evening, or first thing on Saturday, depending on the decoration and how far I have to travel.
Can you give couples some advice about choosing their wedding cake?
The cake is a nice opportunity to have fun and be adventurous! If you like fruit cake, fabulous, but if not, why have it? Choose flavours you love - it’s your day so you should enjoy it!
What do you think will be the biggest cake trends in 2018?
Generally speaking, I’d say that couples are increasingly knowledgeable about cakes and the different styles available. I’m getting a lot of requests at the moment for metallic accents and colour schemes. Gold and silver leaf, personalised wire toppers and gilded foliage are all very popular.
I can help you find suppliers who dream as big as you do. Sometimes they go under the radar and so that's where my network really comes in. Not only do I make suggestions, but I can check if they're within your budget and available on your wedding day. This could save you hours of painful admin and wasted enquiries. For more information about the services I provide, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To read Lucy's blog, or to find out more about her wedding cakes, please visit her website www.puddinglaneblog.co.uk or follow her on social media @puddinglaneblog.