24 May 2016
What to ask your baker when ordering a cake with special dietary requirements
A couple of years ago, I was beginning to lose count of the number of brides and grooms who came to see us to book a wedding cake, only for one to pipe up “I can’t have any cake myself, I have a food intolerance”. Fortunately, the number of bakers willing/able to cater for those with diabetes, crohns disease etc has increased dramatically over the last few years, but what should you be asking when you order?
First off, ask if they have made a specialty cake before. Avoiding cross contamination isn’t just a case of giving a work top a quick wipe down, it is a meticulous practice of keeping ingredients and materials completely separate. It can be very difficult to keep a kitchen allergen free, so it is advisable that you go to a professional cake studio with a 5 star rating from your local environmental health department. If you’re not sure, check the “scores on the doors” on Google, where you can see what the bakers current rating is.
Next, enquire what type of cake you can have. New specialist ingredients for gluten free, nut free, dairy free, vegan cakes etc are becoming available pretty much on a monthly basis, opening up options for those with special diets. If you’re baker isn’t 100% sure right away, ask them to look into it for you, as the specialty diet market is growing rapidly and a quick chat with their ingredients supplier could open the door to more flavour options, they just may not know about them yet.
Your next step, which I cannot stress enough, is always ask for samples! The reality is, allergen friendly cakes will not taste the same as a regular recipe cake, but that doesn’t mean they’re not nice, they’re just different! Ask your baker for some samples so you know exactly what the difference is going to be: the cake could be a little crumblier, or it could be more moist because it has syrup in instead of eggs. Just ask, any decent baker will happily accommodate this request.
With regards to stacking the cake, you need to find out what precautions the baker will take to ensure that any specialty tiers do not cross contaminate with normal tiers. Each cake should have a card in between to keep them separate, with the allergen free cake placed on top. If you have any concerns however, it is advisable that you have your special diet cake as a separate cutting cake that does not get stacked with the regular cake.
Finally, your baker should have a written form confirming any allergies that they will supply to your venue. This is required by law and enforced by your local environmental health department, so act with caution if your baker has no idea what the form is! Your baker will always inform the venue of any specialty cakes, but it won’t hurt to let your wedding planner know yourself.
For those who have noticed that I haven’t made any reference to design, that is because there are still no limitations on design: there are always product alternatives that can be used when it comes to decor, so don’t panic about this element! Any reputable cake shop will have a decent knowledge of (or be willing to look into) alternatives to make sure you get the cake you want.
Have a great week guys!