SPOTLIGHT ON: Cakes for All Occasions

The Suffolk Weddings Guide is delighted to shine our spotlight on Suffolk cake maker Sharon Castro from Cakes for All Occasions who has been kind enough to invite us into her world of wedding cakes and share her top tips
Cakes for All Occasions

So Sharon, tell us a little about Cakes for All Occasions...
“I had always been interested in cooking in general but not particularly baking. When I lost my partner suddenly in 2000 my parents and I decided to move to Norfolk from London. I got to hear about a local sugar craft class, went to one, not really knowing what it was all about and loved it, so I started making cakes for the sugar craft to go on! My work colleagues started asking me to make cakes (for all occasions) and I began getting quite busy in my spare time. Seven years later I met my lovely husband and after marrying in 2010 we moved to Suffolk. I wanted to work from home, so I thought I would try and turn a hobby into a business, hence Cakes for All Occasions was set up.

At first I was making cakes in my own kitchen, but as the business got a little busier we converted our annexe kitchen into a “cakes only” space, which works very well. I love making all types of cakes and aim to promote my business locally to Suffolk as I like to work closely with clients at the various stages of the cake selection process.”

Tell us about the range of cakes you offer
“I am happy to provide a very wide selection of cakes - cupcakes, chocolate refrigerator cakes, rich fruit cakes, beautiful sponges in various flavours or anything the client specifically likes. Last year I was asked for a refrigerator cake which is a cake made from chocolate and cream and a few other little secret ingredients and then flavoured with things like maltesers, fruit, nuts, marshmallows or just left plain, put into a special mould and then chilled to a certain temperature so that it sets enough to decorate but is soft enough to get a knife though. The client got in touch via my website saying she couldn’t find anyone who would make this as a three tier wedding cake. We met up and discussed exactly what she wanted and several months later she had her three tier refrigerator cake! Each tier had different ingredients, one with maltesers and marshmallows, one with exotic fruits and nuts and the small top one plain dark chocolate. I was so pleased when the day after the wedding I received a lovely email saying how delighted they were with it and apparently they got many compliments on their choice of cake."

Suffolk

“Sharon was such a pleasure to deal with. She met our specification for a chocolate fridge cake so perfectly. My husband Chris has never liked sponge or fruit cakes. When we met with Sharon she worked with us and gave us many ideas about how to bring our thoughts to life. On our Wedding day the cake exceeded our expectations and it was so delicious it all went on the night.”
Mrs Bedwell – Bury St Edmunds

Suffolk Wedding Cakes

What is special about the service you offer at Cakes for All Occasions?
Personal Service
"Because I am a 'one man business' I can offer the client sole attention so we can achieve the cake of their dreams, also at a reasonable price as my overheads are much lower than a bigger business. Most people have an idea in mind when they first visit me, but it is surprising how many clients are not sure exactly what they want until they see it. I have many photographs that clients can look through, I am also very happy to copy a wedding cake from a photograph or drawing the client may have seen somewhere."

Bespoke design
"All sugar decorations are handmade so the client can have whatever they want in whatever colour scheme they choose! I mix the colours for the sugar paste myself so am even able to match this to the colour of a fabric sample provided by the client! Below is an example of a much more modest wedding cake with a hand painted lily which I matched to the bride’s dress colour."

Suffolk Wedding Cakes

Suffolk Ingredients
"Wherever possible I like to use local produce such as the wonderful free range eggs which are widely available in all Suffolk villages. I also try and use only organic ingredients as I do find these make a great deal of difference in the taste and freshness of the cakes."

Do you have a wedding cake speciality?
"I like to think all the wedding cakes from Cakes for All Occasions are a speciality! Equal amounts of hard work, precision and care go into each of my cakes, whether they are decadent and elaborate, or beautifully flavoured but simple. As long as the bride gets the cake of her dreams, I’m quite happy. I do love the refrigerator cakes though as they are so out of the ordinary and very naughty but nice to eat."

What would you say are the current trends with wedding cakes at the moment? What has been your most popular cake?
"I don’t believe there should be trends; I believe every bride should have the cake she’s always wanted, much like the wedding dress. Obviously there are various fashions that come and go but cake choice should not be controlled by 'what’s in fashion'. Price consideration and personal preference will always dictate choice - some clients like to mix and match with a smaller wedding cake to cut for the photos, and then individual cupcakes for the guests. It really is a question of individual choice."

Cakes for All Occasions

What do you see as being most popular in 2012?
"Cupcakes are still very popular, anything chocolaty, and traditional themes - but hopefully the motto of “personal choice” will carry on through another year."

Wedding Cakes from Suffolk

Check out our guide to Wedding Cakes from Suffolk to find a host of amazing cake makers from Suffolk.

CRUMB Bespoke Suffolk Cakes



THE CAKE
Take us through the process of designing a wedding cake for a client

• "Firstly the client will visit my home to discuss their requirements. If they do not have any photographs or sketches of what they would like I show them my collection. This is a good way to get firm ideas as they can pick out different features from various cakes to make their perfect combination.

• I find out many things about the clients - their expectations, the number and type of guests i.e. will there be a large amount of children attending?, type of venue (inside or outside) as these things can all effect the best choice of cake

• After the first meeting tastings are offered once flavours have been discussed."

How long on average does a wedding cake take to produce?
"The average time for a wedding cake is not easy to calculate. You can calculate the baking time, but you cannot give accurate timings for 'average' decoration as there is no such thing; some cakes are completely covered with handmade flowers whereas others are very simple and decorated mainly with ribbons. It is a very individual process."

Cakes for All Occasions


What is an average price for your wedding cakes
"At Cakes for All Occasions I try and cater for all price ranges. Client’s priorities differ widely and my price range covers high end and smaller weddings, this way clients can choose from a wide range of cakes, one which falls within their budget. As a guide a fully iced (including marzipan) three tier all fruit cake would cost around £380-£400; a fully iced three tier sponge cake with butter cream and fruit preserve would cost around £270-£285, and a chocolate ‘refrigerator cake’ would be a similar price to a sponge cake. Cupcakes, fully iced, are normally priced at around the £1.50. All decoration is priced in addition to the cake/s. However, it is virtually impossible to calculate the exact cost of a cake without considering the clients’ requirements fully."

Do you offer delivery to the venue/home?
"I advertise mainly within the Suffolk area so as to keep delivery costs free of charge. I am happy to work outside these areas and depending on the venue distance it is possible there would be a small charge, but it would be minimal, just to cover fuel costs."

What is the most unusual/challenging/fun cake that you have been asked to create for a wedding?
Unusual
"The most unusual cake would probably have been my own wedding cake. I had 4 tiers covered in roses with the top tier held up by a beautiful white cherub statue. I actually saw the original of this cake on a Venetian wedding website and fell in love with it. It took me ages to find the right cherub, but when it arrived I was delighted with it. I have been asked if I would hire this out for weddings and I would be happy to do so. The cake is shown below."

Cakes for All Occasions

Challenging
"The most challenging was a chocolate coated three tier cake for a friends’ wedding one August. The preparation of the cake could not be started too early as it was all chocolate and trying to deal with it in the heat of the first part of August was not much fun. Finally I got it finished but it was one of the more challenging ones."

Fun
"As far as fun cakes go, I did donate a ginger cat cake for an animal rescue charity to raffle. Apparently the family who won it took almost a week to cut it as the children didn’t want to 'eat the cat'!"

What would your advice be to a couple who are looking to choose a wedding cake supplier?
"I believe the most important thing to check when looking for a wedding cake supplier is that they have their own photographs of cakes. It has been known for suppliers to use photos of cakes which they have not made.

Visiting their premises will give the couple a good idea of whether that person understands their ideas, can show work done previously and also that they just get “a good feeling” about them.

As far as hidden costs go, there should not be any. The supplier should put everything that has been agreed in writing BEFORE they take a deposit. Make sure to read this carefully and ensure that everything you want has been put in writing and signed by the supplier. This way if there is any discrepancy, the client has in writing everything which was agreed. This should be normal practice but do feel free to ask for this to be done.
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Choosing the cake should be a pleasurable part of the wedding arrangements and not create any stress, so a supplier you are happy with and who gives you confidence in them is very important. Also a good supplier should give the couple honest opinions about what sort of cake will work best for their requirements. I don’t believe in steering a couple away from the style of cake they want but I think you need to guide them in their choice of types of cake as this will vary greatly depending on time of year, indoor or outdoor venue etc. The cake must work on the day."

For more information about Sharon's fantastic business please visit Cakes for All Occasions.

To find more cake makers in Suffolk please see our handy guide
Wedding Cakes from Suffolk.