If you’re getting married (or know someone who is) then you’ll be well aware of the costs involved. In fact, right now you’re probably fanning a bank manager who’s fainted.
So to ease the burden somewhat, I’m going to let you in on a little secret about wedding cakes. You know, the sort of secret that will have you whooping for joy as you slash a three-figure sum from the cost.
It’s all down to one tiny thing: a separator. Possibly not the word you want to hear associated with weddings but trust me, it’s what you need to give your cake some oompf without breaking the bank.
So what is a separator exactly?
It’s an inedible piece of equipment cake decorators use to create distance between two cake tiers. There are lots of different types you can use but the cheapest by far is made from polystyrene.
“Polystyrene?! I don’t want that on my cake!” Don’t panic: no-one will know. It gets covered. And how it gets covered is the part which will make you happy because it tends to be very cheap and easy to do.
Cake separators A selection of cake separators
I’ll show you how to transform an ordinary cake into something spectacular.
First, you’ll need the cakes themselves. If you’re a dab hand in the kitchen, you may fancy baking them and covering them in fondant. For top tips on how to do this, visit my videos page. If you’re short on time, a quick trip to M&S is all you need to get the iced cakes already.
Once sorted, you’ll need a separator that’s 2 inches smaller than each cake you have (so if you’ve got a 6″ & 8″ like the cakes in the photo above, you’ll need a 4″ and a 6″ separator). Remember to get the same shape as the cake itself. You can order polystyrene separators online very cheaply here. Alternatively, if you live in Bristol then go to C S Manufacturing for the cheapest option – you just have to be able to collect.
Create drama with height!
You can choose different heights of separator depending on how big your cakes are and how grand you want the cake to look. If it’s a fairly small cake then you won’t want to go more than 2 inches in height, which is what I used for the cake pictured.
Firstly, you’ll need to cover the separators with ribbon, which is very easy to buy online – all you’ll need is the same width as your separators and some double-sided tape to keep the ribbon in place. I recommend taping the top and bottom of the separator all the way round and then carefully placing the ribbon around it. After all, you don’t want the ribbon to unwind halfway through the wedding breakfast.
To flower or not to flower?
Then you’ll need to decide if ribbon’s all you need (it may be if you’re going for a bold colour) or if you’d like to add some flowers. Silk flowers mean there’s no danger of them wilting before the cake’s cut but many people like to use fresh ones to match the bride’s bouquet.
If you do use fresh flowers, you’ll need to ensure 2 things:
That the flowers you’re using will last* (note: sweet peas may look pretty but they soon wilt). Unless they’re edible flowers, that you’ve put something between the flowers and the cake they’ll be sitting on (mixing non-edibles and food really isn’t the best idea). Baking parchment works well. * Another option is to buy separators made from oasis, the material florists use to keep flowers fresh. If you choose to use this as your separator then make sure you’ve had a practice run – if you’re not careful the green from the oasis can shed everywhere!
Putting it all together
So you’ve got your cakes, you’ve got a cake stand, you’re armed with the almighty separators and you’ve got the flowers. You’re nearly there! Take everything to the venue and make sure you have a tape measure with you.
Ivory lace cake without decorationSet up the cakes so that they are placed symmetrically on top of one another. If you’re putting lace around the cakes, now’s the time to do so.
You won’t need anything to stick the cakes and separators together but you will need to dowel the cakes that have anything on top of them – in this case, the bottom cake only. (Unsure about doweling? Check out video no.4 here.)
Now gather the flowers you need. Snip the heads off so there’s around half an inch of stem and place next to the separator. (If you’re using oasis, allow at least 2 inches of stem so it can push comfortably into the separator and stay put.)
Work your way around the separator with as many flowers as it takes so it can’t be seen.
Check the positioning of your flowers. Do they look even? Are they all the same size? If so, you’re done (and all you have to do now is make sure no-one dances into the cake after a few too many glasses of champagne).
2 tier square ivory wedding cake with thistles The fabulous finished cake
Have you tried this yourself? How did it go? Do tell below!