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Ask The Expert: Anne Heap

Anne Heap is a leader in the wedding cake industry, the founder of Pink Cake Box located in Denville, NJ, and a Satin Ice Artist of Excellence. She studied Pastry Arts at the French Culinary Institute in New York City and went on to complete an apprenticeship with Ron Ben-Israel Cakes. Since then, she has grown a highly successful operation, leading to features in The Modern Bride, New Jersey Bride, InStyle Weddings, Bride & Bloom Magazine, Brides Magazine, People, Elegant Wedding, The Knot and many more. 

Inserting Flowers

Q:  What is the best way of inserting flowers into wedding cakes?

A: The safest way is to either tape the stems together with floral tape and then use a posy pick, or put the stems into straws and insert into the cake. This makes sure no-one gets a piece of cake with something sharp in it! Another option is to place them into a separator tier, or arrange a corsage and place on top of the cake.

Hot Climates

Q: What advice can you give me about setting up a wedding cake in a very warm or humid environment?

A: If the cake is being set up outside during the summer or a warm climate, I recommend delivering the cake cold if possible and setting it up in an air-conditioned room about two hours before the wedding. I encourage the venue to bring the cake outside as close to arrival of the bride, groom and guests as possible. This way, the cake is not going from cold to warm which will help prevent the cake from sweating excessively. Alternatively, you can even use some faux tiers and a real bottom tier to help prevent the entire cake from melting.

Asked To Attend

Q:  The bride and groom have asked me to be at the wedding to serve and cut up their cake, is this something to charge for?

A: Yes, absolutely! This is an extra service and should be priced accordingly. I would recommend charging a flat fee that is comprised of an hourly rate to cover your time, as well as any staff that may be assisting you.

Venue

Q: What are your top tips for delivering a wedding cake to a venue?

A: I deliver all my cakes cold about two hours before the event. This gives us a time buffer in case of any traffic delays and gives the cake time to acclimatise to room temperature before eating. My cakes are dowelled with a centre dowel as well as dowels in each tier itself to ensure sturdiness. I usually deliver my cakes completely assembled, unless the cake is extremely tall or elaborate. We pack each cake in heavy duty cardboard shipping boxes the same size as the cake board so it doesn’t move within the box. To stop the boxed cake from sliding around, put a non-skid mat under the box while driving with it as this will help prevent it from moving.

 Hot Climates

Q:Q: Do you have any tips for buttercream cakes in warmer climates?

A: In warmer countries, we always suggest to add less than the normal amount of water in your buttercream. If it’s still hard at the end, you can easily fix it by adding drops of water.

Extra Decoration

Q: A customer wants a lot of non-edible decoration on their wedding cake, what advice can you give me?

A: I have no problem adding it as long as it’s non-toxic and I tell the venue ahead of time (often with a diagram) how to remove the non-edible parts before serving. If they are adding a heavy topper, make sure you dowel underneath it!

Wedding Consultations

Q: What are your top tips for wedding consultations?

A: I encourage my clients to bring inspiration items like their invitation, photos of the venue, flowers, dress etc. Also, it’s often helpful to suggest the couple do a little research ahead of time to get a general idea of their aesthetic. I always design my cakes using their inspiration and style in mind. I like to tell my clients ahead of time how many people the tasting can accommodate. It’s often very difficult when a group of eight walks into the shop!

During the consultation, it’s important to keep the couple on track. In the event they just cannot make up their mind, I’ll suggest they think it over and either call us or make another appointment.

During the consultation, it’s important to give the client a detailed contract if they are ordering the cake. I always verbally go over it as well, especially the cancellation policy to avoid any confusion in the future.

Unusual Flavours

Q: My bride is asking for crazy flavours for their wedding cake, what should I do?

A: If you think the flavours do not complement each other well, I would make an alternate suggestion. I usually say something like, “that’s an interesting combination, why don’t you try it with this flavour, it’s so delicious.” If they insist, I will be blatant and say I don’t recommend those flavours because it might be too eclectic for your average wedding guest. But I will do it if they don’t budge. At the end of the day, the customer wants what they want.

For Brides on a Budget

Q: What tips do you have for a bride on a budget who still wants the wow-factor?

A: I love using either a smaller more decorative cake and a backup cake, or using a real tier on the bottom for cutting purposes and the rest faux. A back up cake would be served to the guests. We do a lot of dessert tables now where there is a small cake in the middle and then we make cupcakes, macarons, cake pops etc.

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