Ibiza weddings: Diary of a wedding cake – Mitch the Cake Lady
When it comes to cakes in today’s highly competitive wedding world, the process is not as simple as mixing a few eggs with butter, sugar and flour, closing the oven door and waiting until it’s ready to be iced, then immediately eaten. Sure, that’s the way your mum or grandma may have done it as you were growing up, but luxurious wedding cakes take the scientific and artistic process of baking to a whole new level.
Here in Ibiza, Mitch the Cake Lady is the talented baker who makes so many couples’ wedding cake dreams come true. So complex are some of her designing and constructing processes, she could almost be considered an architect of cakes. “Sometimes people will question the cost of a wedding cake,” she says. “The price can seem slightly intangible, because they don’t know about all the hours spent behind the scenes putting together pieces of the puzzle. It’s a lot more than just all the eggs and ingredients required.”
The life of a custom Ibiza wedding cake for Mitch begins when a newly engaged couple get in touch with her to enquire about a booking – quite often about one year prior to the actual wedding date, though late enquiries are also accepted. These initial meetings – done over skype, phone, email or in person, depending on where the couple resides in the world – are spent getting to know the couple, the details of their wedding (such as themes, bridesmaid dress colours, flowers, venue) and unique personality details.
Mood boards are a great source of reference however Mitch is very clear that each of her cakes must be 100-percent unique – just like each couple. “I won’t ever copy another cake,” Mitch says, her ethos on this very clear. “Of course, I can make something similar or in the same theme, but to copy another person’s cake is like plagiarism. You wouldn’t copy another person’s poem or art – it’s the same with cake.”
Then the real fun starts! When the couple visit Ibiza to view their wedding venues, meet the planners, taste their wines and menus, they also have the option to experience a cake tasting with Mitch. This stage is optional, and Mitch offers three flavours to choose from within her tasting fee (which is taken off the full price of the wedding cake once clients confirm their booking – which is generally a given as it’s love at first bite), and combines them with a variety of toppings and fillings.
Throughout the course of the tasting, as the happy couples are ooh-ing and ahh-ing over their choice of flavours (with absolutely everything you can think of to choose from including gluten-free, sugar-free and lactose-free should you require it), Mitch has her trusty sketchbook on the table, ‘doodling’ their thoughts into a realistic cake design. From here, the couple and Mitch work together on any adjustments or additions, and generally by the end of the tasting, the idea has been born. Once officially booked and a deposit paid, clients receive the full sketch and design of their cake via email, and if needed further changes can be made.
As wedding couples return home to start planning guest lists, table plans and registry requests, Mitch the Cake Lady gets to work plotting and planning the diary of the cake. Depending on the elements involved in decoration, some pieces need to be constructed around three months in advance to ensure they are perfect on the big day. For example, should a client choose a lavender cake, Mitch must source organic lavender that is completely ‘food safe’ – that is, grown without pesticides in a toxic-free environment (“I can’t just go and pick it off the roundabout!” she laughs, but in all seriousness) – and then fuse it with sugar that needs to rest for a full three months to absorb the delicate flavour.
Another popular detail that is ultra-time consuming is the creation of sugar roses – a full five-week process per flower. Each petal must be crafted by hand to an exact shape, then left to set, which in Ibiza’s humid climate can take around a week. Then 11 petals are combined, following the Fibonacci sequence, to create a flower, which again must set, before being coloured and then allowed to set once again as the colour intensifies. An average sugar-rose covered cake features around 30 flowers, which means creating over 300 petals. You can see where the need for spreadsheets and Google alerts really comes into the cake creation process for Mitch to ensure her professional cake studio runs like clockwork throughout the Ibiza wedding season!
“You’ve got to love all these fantastic cake shows that show people putting together elaborate cakes in an hour,” says Mitch. “But the reality is, I am already working on wedding cakes in April that need to be delivered in June.” Absolutely everything on a cake (aside from fresh flower toppings – whose stems are covered in food-safe tape to ensure they are safe to enter the cake) made by Mitch the Cake Lady is edible, be it beautiful figurines, metallic sequins so realistic they could be the real thing, delicate lacework – everything is possible with cake!
The freshness of the actual delicious cake creation underneath the frosting and decoration never comes into question – each cake is lovingly baked (the part Mitch declares her passion and yet another eight-hour process per cake) three days prior to delivery, left to set for one day to allow all the air to settle to ensure a completely smooth and stable surface for fondant. The next day, buttercream and fondant are applied, which seal the cake from air guaranteeing freshness for up to 10 days, while on the big day itself – your wedding day – the final decorations are added after each tier has been assembled.
Mitch carefully packs each tier of a cake (which can weigh between three to five kilos per tier) into a protective box and placing them in the safe space of her cooled delivery van before heading on out to the beaches, countryside and luxurious private villas of the island to take it to its final destination. Due to the island’s heat (and bumpy back roads), cakes are usually assembled onsite during the dinner service at a wedding to avoid any melting or attracting unwanted attention from insects or the sticky fingers of little guests who can’t wait for dessert!
When the time comes to cut the cake, the bride and groom are thrilled to see their dream come to life, while guests are enjoying the fresh, delicious flavours of the cake, its topping, filling and decoration alike. They may never be aware of the months and months of hard work that goes into the creation process, but usually the looks on their faces as they take that first bite is enough gratitude for Mitch the Cake Lady – and despite her work of art being demolished within a few minutes, she’s happy as long as there’s a beautiful Instagram picture to preserve its memory!