A Wedding Cake
What goes into the making of a wedding cake and why it’s worth getting a real one
The beauty and grandeur of artfully tiered cakes are more than just visual representations of the couple’s tastes; they are masterpieces of fine workmanship and ingenuity. Three baker extraordinaires give Tan Lili a glimpse into the amount of hard and heart work that go into creating a centrepiece confection.
As a science student, Teo Pau Lin was never the top in class where the subject of arts and crafts was concerned. When she entered journalism after graduation, she had thought she would spend the rest of her life in the writing field – a sentiment that brought her neither joy nor fervent anticipation.
Which is why no one could be more surprised than Pau Lin herself when, fastforward 15 years to 2013, she left journalism to officially open a bakery that specialises in bespoke fondant wedding cakes with beautifully handcrafted sugar flowers.
Interestingly, while she took some basic sugar flower making lessons at the start of this second career, Pau Lin confesses that a lot of what she does now was gleaned from the internet. But what she lacks in decades of experience, she more than makes up for in her knack for creative artistry as well as uncanny ability to understand and precisely deliver what her clients want.
SINGAPORE TATLER WEDDINGS (STW): What kind of cake does Crummb offer?
TEO PAU LIN (TPL): I have cake replicas of various sizes, so it depends on the couple’s preference as to how much real cake they want. But cake replicas are much lighter than real cakes, so to prevent the cakes from taking an unfortunate tumble during the delivery, I would recommend the middle or bottom layer to be real for a typical three-tier wedding cake.
STW: How long does it take to complete a three-tier wedding cake?
TPL: It takes about three to four days. But I always tell my customers to place their orders at least two months in advance, especially for more elaborate designs that may require mailorder services.
STW: What’s your secret to a flawless cake?
TPL: Here’s my secret: I cover the sides of the cake with white chocolate ganache, then leave it overnight. This step is repeated once to ensure the ganache makes a smooth, solid base on which I cover with fondant on the third day. The hardened shell also protects the cake, keeping it moist and fresh on the inside. This is also why fondant cakes are expensive; they are extremely time-consuming! Not all bakers include this step. Some use buttercream to coat the cake instead before layering on the fondant, but this takes expert skill to ensure the finishing is smooth. Next, after wrapping the chocolate ganache-protected with fondant, I would immediately transfer the cake to a wine chiller to firm up the fondant before embellishing the cake as the final step.
STW: What’s the most memorable cake you designed?
TPL: In keeping with the botanical theme of her wedding, a bride wanted a simple white cake with seven sugar swan feathers artfully strewn on it. So I handmade the feathers out of sugar … and sat in front of the cake for a good three hours, wondering where and how to position the feathers! It wasn’t easy, but I’m remarkably pleased with the final result.
STW: Your signature style for wedding cakes is minimalist. For your cake decorations, where do you draw your inspiration from?
TPL: When I first started out, I would pay attention to patterns and trends around me. Whatever I thought could be translated into cake designs, I would. But after a while, I decided I wanted to develop my own style. One thing I learned over the years is that you can’t be everything to everyone – you just have to stick to what you’re good at. And since my top cake designs have always had the clean, minimalist look, I knew it would be a pity if I didn’t specialise in that.
STW: Have you noticed any trends when it comes to wedding cakes?
TPL: Ombre, ruffle and rosette cakes have been all the rage since two years ago but, increasingly, I’m getting more requests for metallic finishes. Another trend is the use of wafer paper instead of gum paste to create the flower ornaments. The flowers look more whimsical, as opposed to the life-like ones made using gum paste.
80 Rifle Range Road (showroom; by appointment only) For more information or to make an appointment, email email@example.com or visit www.crummb.com.