At BAKO NW, we want to find out a bit more about our customers. With wedding season just around the corner, we got in touch with Stanhope-based Fondant & Apron Strings, a wedding and celebration cake making and decorating business, with a passion for making innovative, bespoke cakes for all occasions. We caught up with co-owner, Lee, to discuss how they set about designing a cake for every new client and what advice they have for individuals looking to start a baking business of their own.
Tell us about Fondant and Apron Strings and how you started out.
The first thing I need to say about us is, we love to make cakes. Because we love making cakes, this means that we love our cake customers. We love to talk to our customers about cake flavours, we love to work with our customers to create the design that’s perfect for them and their special occasion. We just love making cakes!
Fondant & Apron Strings are based in Stanhope, County Durham where we have a Cake Café serving our own baked goodies. In the back of our café, well, that’s were all the cake magic happens. After returning from living in Ohio, USA, I wanted to carry on making cakes for people, so we rented a small space and converted it into a cake design studio. It was within the first year that we realised that the space was soon going to be too small. Now, we are in a bigger space, and because of customer demand, we converted the front into a small cake café.
There are many things that we pride ourselves on: our cakes, flavours, design, relationship with past, repeat and present clients, and our customer service. Not only have we been nominated for multiple awards and featured in cake design magazines, but we also work with some great wedding and event venues all over the North East and are proud to be on many of their recommended wedding cake suppliers lists.
What’s your process for designing a wedding or celebration cake for a client?
When we are first approached, for a cake (wedding, celebration or corporate) the very first thing we do is meet the client. This gives us a clearer picture of who they are and what they are looking for. During this cake consultation and tasting session, we sit down with them and help them bring their ideas to life on the page so that we can then convert the ideas into cake.
What are your favourite flavour combinations for tiered wedding cakes?
We’ve got so many great flavours to choose from, but the most popular flavours at the moment are fresh lemon cake with lemon curd buttercream and a layer of fresh raspberries (perfect for summer weddings), and as all our cakes have an amazing layer of Belgian chocolate ganache under the delicious fondant, the lemon and the raspberries make the whole combination irresistible. At Fondant & Apron Strings you can have a different flavour per tier, so sometimes our clients find it difficult to choose which flavours to leave out!
Which Fondant and Apron Strings cake design are you most proud of?
One of my favourite things is when a client comes to see me with just a theme for their cake as inspiration. This means I can let my imagination run wild.
My favourite type of design is what we call at Fondant & Apron Strings ‘tribute cakes’. These are cakes that all the family can be involved in where they give us personal memories, which we then make out of edible mediums and put all around the cake.
It’s always difficult to decide which design is my favourite. My favourite is always the cake I’m working on at the time. However, I do like the cakes that have moving parts on. Having lived and worked in America for a number of years, I still get a thrill out of the more extreme cakes!
What advice would you offer someone looking to start their own baking business?
We have sugar craft and cake decorating classes which we hold in our Cake Café, so I’m often asked questions about starting a cake business and there are a couple of things that I always say.
Firstly, be prepared. For the clients, for the cake making and the cake delivery. However, the most important piece of advice would be, only do it if you really, really love it. It can be an all-consuming business, working more hours than you will expect, late nights and weekends so a very understanding family is probably a prerequisite too.
Are there any new cake decorating techniques that you would like to experiment with this year?
It’s always great to find new techniques. I’m really lucky because I have never thought that I couldn’t do things with cakes or not use a certain technique on a cake so I’m always experimenting. I’ve been painting on cakes for a number of years, so it’s lovely to see this trend coming more into the forefront in 2017.
Fondant & Apron Strings has never been a business to stay still and we are very much customer driven so I’m always looking for new opportunities, new ways of working and new ways of connecting with clients.
You offer a whole range of services, from classes to cupcake parties – what’s next for Fondant and Apron Strings?
We have just launched our four separate Dessert Bars which are perfect for that unique touch at weddings, parties, corporate events and all celebrations.
We already have our Brownie Bar, Cookie Bar, Cake Bar and Dessert Bar, each with amazing menus. Everything provided in these delicious bars is baked right here in our Cake Café, so everything is fresh and delicious. You can find all our menus on the Fondant and Apron Strings website. It’s so easy to book one too, you just choose the items, and then leave the rest to us!
Would you like to be our next baker in the spotlight? Let us know via Twitter!