Q: I was asked to create a wedding cake for my niece months ago, and did not hear any more. Now the invite has come through to her wedding, scheduled in May, plus a note asking me again to do the wedding cake. I thought she had made other arrangements. I am in two minds what to do. I can’t really say no as she might take it personally, but time is so short that I might not be able to get everything done in time. The colour scheme is difficult, bright purple and she does not want a traditional fruit cake or cupcakes either. Do you have any advice on cutting corners in making this wedding cake?! If it was not family I would say no. Please help me!

A: Making cakes for family and friends can be fraught with problems. For a start most people do not realise the cost of making a cake, especially a wedding cake. Then there is the amount of time it will take, which can be quite significant. Plus of course the responsibility of providing a wedding cake can also be quite daunting.

Before you start I would suggest that you have a chat with your niece about her hopes and expectations for her cake and explain your concerns, letting her know what you feel is and is not possible for you to create, that way she will not feel disappointed on her big day.

The secret I believe is being organised and meticulous planning, decide what you will create and how you will create it, shop well in advance and make as much of the decoration as possible beforehand. I suggest using a cake base such as a flavoured madeira. See Lindy’s article on making the perfect Madeira Cake  or perhaps a chocolate fudge, see Lindy’s chocolate fudge cake recipe.

I also suggest that you make use of some of the wonderful time saving and easy to use products that are now available to cake decorators such as moulds, stencils and cutters as these will allow you to easily create a cake that looks really impressive.

Good luck and do let me know how you get on.

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