So here we are, right in the middle of our UK summer months - how does the heat (and often humidity) affect your cake order, and what can we do to make sure it stays in tip-top condition?
Credit: Daily Mail
We all remember that heart-stopping moment when Ruby's cake collapsed in Channel 4's Great British Bake Off last year - a perfect example of what can happen in warm weather! My aim in summer is to keep everything where it should be: upright and elegant!
In the kitchen...
As you can imagine, it gets a bit steamy when it's hot outside and the oven is on all day inside! So to keep things a bit more bearable and to keep things like butter, chocolate and me from melting, I have a small industrial air conditioning unit plumbed into my work room and kitchen, which helps keep the heat out and the cool in. In fact it gets so beautifully cool in there, that I have been known to answer the door wrapped up in a thick jumper, warm tracksuit bottoms and Totes Toasty socks to a rather surprised, very hot and melty postman!
Credit - Cakes at Rachel's
Decorating your cake...
When it gets warmer, it can cause all sorts of problems to cake makers, from pesky air bubbles to fondant that sticks to everything but the cake, and buttercream that just will NOT set up firm enough to take any handling. I combat this by using a thin coat of white chocolate ganache underneath the fondant layer on lighter cakes (so think vanilla, lemon, almond and cherry etc) as the ganache blends really well with most flavours without being overpowering. It sets much harder than buttercream, but yet still melts in the mouth when eaten, and makes cakes so much easier to handle!
Collecting your cake...
So it's time to collect your cake, what's the best way to keep your cake safe in hot weather? Well for a start, either have the air con on to start cooling your car while you're on your way to collect, or if you don't have air con, get as much air flowing through as possible.
When you arrive, your cake will be all packaged up and ready for you. Bearing in mind that cakes can be a bit delicate in hot weather, when you pick it up, keep it level (think like a forklift - holding it underneath, not bulldozer - don't scoop it up and cuddle it!). I will always offer to take your cake to the car, so don't worry if you're a bit nervous about carrying it, I'll do that first bit for you.
Credit - Cakes at Rachel's
Transporting your cake...
You should never need to bring someone to hold your cake on their knee - from personal experience, I would rather you didn't, and you definitely don't want to put it on a seat. If you have to brake hard or accidentally corner badly, or (and yes, this is a thing round my neck of the woods) hit a pothole, the cake may go flying, trust me, it isn't pretty! I'm afraid any damage caused this way won't be repairable.
So what IS the best way to transport it? Well it won't do your nerves any good, and it will make you drive like a ninety year old, but I will always recommend placing your cake on the floor of your boot, or in the passenger footwell. Most cakes are heavy enough to not slide around but if it looks like it might do, (or you drive like Lewis Hamilton!) I usually have some pieces of non-slip matting which I'll happily give you. To my knowledge, I have never yet lost a cake which has been transported this way.
Credit - Sugarworks.com
Storing your cake...
So a lot of customers instinctively want to put their cake in the fridge as soon as they get home - unless specified, please don't! If you have any delicate decorations - handmade flowers, models, etc, as soon as you pull the cake back out of the fridge the change in temperature will cause condensation, which will in turn start making things melt into a sticky gloopy mess.
The best way to store your cake until you're ready to display it is to keep it in its box, in a cool room, away from any direct sunlight. If you have a fan, you can keep a steady flow of air directed towards the cake until you're ready to bring it out, but just keep it gentle - a direct blast of air could start blowing models off the cake!
And when you've done all that...just enjoy the heck out of your cake!