As a wedding caterer, my central task is to create a great menu that makes the best use of good, seasonal produce whilst ensuring a balance of flavours; something that all your guest will remember. Inevitably, one of my other unofficial roles is to help a couple select their wedding cake.

Cakes are food and all food has seasonality, and you should choose the type of cake before you look for a supplier to fulfil the order. Here are my tips for what type of wedding cake to serve depending on the time of year.

Cream Cake

Fresh cream cakes are wonderful, but they need to be refrigerated until the last minute and can only kept on show for an hour. This is another logistical consideration, however I would never recommend a cream cake for summer — save cream cakes for cooler weather.


Croquembouche, French for crunch in the mouth, is a tower of either cream filled profiteroles or ganache filled macaroons, held together with threads of caramel.

Croquembouche Tower

This pastry speciality is an art form, and your chosen artist will want a large, cool space in which to work their magic. They will put the piece together on the day as close to the moment of presentation as possible.

As you cannot refrigerate a Croquembouche it is even trickier than cream cake. You’ll need a last minute delivery and shouldn’t consider serving it in the summer.

Sponge Cake

A light, moist sponge cake is the best choice for summer and hot weather. People instinctively eat less in hot weather so a light, delicious sponge with a fantastic flavour will give them taste and finesse without fullness.

Instead of boring vanilla, choose a unique flavour such as lemon and blueberry, passion fruit or green tea.


Towers of cupcakes continue to be very popular. They are appropriate all year round, but the icing should be easy on the butter if you are serving in summer (see my point about cream).

Wedding Colour Scheme Themed Cupcakes

Instead of just cutting them, you can have some real fun whilst serving. Display them next to a coffee machine and serve them with espresso shots, or add a ‘sprinkle station’ and allow guests to decorate their own.

Dried Fruit Cake

Fruit cakes are what would have passed as tradition once upon a time, but remember these two rules:

  • The heavier the cake the later in the year you should serve it; save the very dense fruit cakes for winter comfort eating.
  • The richer the ingredients, the smaller the slices should be; serve them with coffee and hot chocolate.

Fresh Fruit Cake

If you are planning a high summer wedding your instinct might tell you to go for fresh fruit, strawberries and cream, but remember that you can’t display dairy or fresh items ambient.

Provide these ingredients in your dessert rather than the wedding cake, otherwise your guests will get one squishy, rotten mess.

Sacher Torte

Autumnal comfort eating at its best; rich and sticky, moreish yet satisfying. Serve anytime from September after a spiced pear dessert. Purita Hyam creates the best Sacher Torte I have ever tasted. Serve a tiny sliver with an assiette of fromage — beautiful.

Sacher Torte

Baked Cheesecake

This is doable, but quite a challenge at any time of year as a) you can’t stack a cheesecake and b) they are too delicate to display for very long. However a cheesecake does give you an opportunity to attach a real element of service rather than leaving it in a lonely corner for most of the day. Serve as individual cheesecakes on a silver Garamond trolley. Choose flavours such as Sicilian lemon for summer, and rich New York blueberry for winter.

Cheese Stack Cake

By which I mean a cake created from huge rounds of cheese. A winter and New Year favourite that I suggest time and time again, it makes an utterly unique centrepiece and can become part of your evening buffet. Guests can tuck in to oat cakes, grapes, figs, chutneys and relishes, and the best English cheeses from Neal’s Yard.

Wedding Cheese Stack

‘Fake’ Cake

More popular than you realise! A fake cake is a great option if you want a large, impressive centrepiece but without the cost or the wasted leftover cake. Simply ask your baker for three iced tiers of polystyrene (they will know what you mean) with a real, cutting cake for the top. Once you cut the cake you caterer whisks it off for cutting; no one is ever the wiser. It would surprise you how often we do this.

Chocolate Cake

Chocolate sponges are fabulous, but if you are a real chocoholic beware the allure of the chocolate covered cake. It is likely it will be ‘fake’ confectioner’s chocolate required to withstand the perils of being on display for a day.

If you are planning a wedding in summer, be aware that you can’t put any sort of real chocolate cake in a fridge as it ‘sweats’ and becomes covered in condensation.

No Cake!

If cake is not your thing just don’t do it. Believe it or not, no one will miss it. Fifty percent of my brides opt for a cheese tower or cupcakes as petit fours.

Guest post by Julie Gray of Bovingdons

Images from…

Croquembouche: Le Papillon Patisserie

Cupcakes: Jess Yarwood Photography

Sacher Torte: Flickr by Josef Türk Reit im Winkl Chiemgau (CC BY-SA 2.0 License)

Cheese Cake: Caught The Light