Tiers from heaven

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 June, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 13 June, 2008, 12:00am

Fake wedding cakes are yesterday's news: Hong Kong's modern couples are opting for beautifully designed, delicious cakes in a veritable rainbow of colours, flavours and styles.

Cheekay Yuen of Phoebe's Designer Bakery is leading the way with her elegant, avant-garde creations. She said there is a strong western influence on the local wedding business, and couples are becoming much more demanding in all aspects of wedding production. 'Hong Kong people read a lot of magazines and they have largely western weddings now - flowers, stationery and dress; but the cake was lagging behind because of supply.'

Yves Matthey is chef de cuisine at the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong and responsible for producing the extraordinary cakes on show at the Mandarin Cake Shop. 'I feel our displays have helped teach customers how much more we can do with a wedding cake. We've seen a 20 to 30per cent increase in orders since the reopening of the hotel,' he said. 'Couples are ordering more modern, decorative styles; I recently made a yellow cake for a local lady with white grapes and leaves. People ask for initials and names, something personal.'

Conway Lau, partner at Pink Weddings, said the shape of the cake, rather than what was inside, was more important to his clients. 'Most of our couples like to have layers, and the majority still want tiered cakes with roman columns, not tiers that are stacked on top of each other, because columns make the cake look taller, especially in venues with high ceilings,' he said.

Phoebe Designer Bakery's popular designs are typically tiered, unfussy and three dimensional, with 'dynamic' decorations, including butterflies made from icing sugar and floral motifs. 'We've done a few based on motifs or monograms; some people have given me designs from their invitation and we've adapted them. Any theme is possible, we can do something unique for each couple,' Ms Yuen said.

She said her signature flavour was lemon: 'At wedding banquets there are so many dishes, and you're so full at the end, a lemon cake is refreshing and light. It makes up around 80 to 90per cent of our orders'. It's a far cry from the usual sponge or black forest cakes offered by local bakeries, or the traditional and heavy western-style fruit cakes. She said the colour was important; it should be consistent with the wedding colour scheme, match the bridesmaid's dresses, or something at the venue.

Mr Matthey said apart from the classic white, most couples choose pastel pinks, purples and yellows. The most popular flavours are almond, lemon and praline; with chocolate fast becoming a favourite.

For all couples, cost is a consideration. An elegant wedding cake will set you back anywhere from HK$4,000 to HK$10,000, but it really can add a special touch to your day. And don't be afraid to do something different. Ms Yuen said for her own wedding earlier this year, she made individual cakes for each guest. 'I got married in Thailand, we flew over 150 mini-cakes, each was shaped like a tiered wedding cake in pink and green with lemon and raspberry filling. They were a great hit!'