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Tempering Chocolate – Top Tips

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From chocolate brownies to the great big whopping black forest gateaux, Monday is the day to treat yourself to a chocolate fiesta. Yes that’s right, its national chocolate cake day – a proclaimed day of self-indulging and eating as much cake as your stomach can take in a Bruce Bogtrotter like manor.

National chocolate cake day is set to begin on the 27th January and is an annual event causing the nation to go baking mad, including ourselves. But before you grab hold of your baking gloves we’d like to share our expertise on how to get the best out of your chocolate, and that starts with “Tempering”.

Tempering is an important process in chocolate production as it’s the key to controlling the crystals so that only consistently small crystals are produced, thus resulting in much better-quality, melt-in-the-mouth textured chocolate.

Here’s a guide to our top tips on how to get the best out of your chocolate from our very own Swiss pastry Xavier Pelloux:


  • Make sure you have everything ready for what you would like to produce when chocolate is ready e.g. plastic for decoration, moulds etc.
  • Make sure your room is between 18 and 20 degrees with no draft as the room temperature will affect your chocolate tempering
  • Use correct equipment thermometer, marble slab/work top Xavier prefers a step palette knife and a triangle to temper chocolate
  • Melt chocolate slowly, don’t burn or over heat you need to separate all the molecules before starting to temper the chocolate
  • Each chocolate have different temperatures to achieve at each stage of tempering this is one of the most important things to achieve perfect end result
  • When tempered use the chocolate before it sets otherwise you’ll have to start again!
Xavier hard at work tempering chocolate

Xavier hard at work tempering chocolate

Wedding Cake Trends to Watch Out For In 2014

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Like most industries there are trends that come in and out of fashion each year, and this is no different in respect to the wedding trade. 2013 saw wedding cakes head back towards classic, multi-tiered cakes with a vintage design. We also saw the rise of the fascinating ruffled and frilled fondant cakes and the increase in demand for the colour of pink.

So what should I be looking out for in 2014 Bee and Xavier I hear you say? Well, this year we’re seeing simpler designs come through but also we feel others will be trending in 2014 too.

Vintage style wedding cakes once again top the list as a trend for 2014. This is still big news in the wedding cake industry with designs from edible lace cakes to birdcage shaped cakes here to stay. Round cakes are also taking centre stage in 2014 with different tiers, different heights and various finishes on each tier.

Also expect to see wedding cakes go all bare as they strip off their icing and reveal all in 2014. That’s right, expect to see ‘naked’ wedding cakes become more popular in 2014 giving your cake a rustic yet authentic look and decorated with fruits and flowers.

The 'naked' wedding cake.

Our very own ‘naked’ wedding cake.

Ombre or graduated tones of one colour is also set to rise in popularity this year. It’s already a big deal in the cake industry and it’s easy to see why. The gradual colour change is able to transform a cake into something really modern, using everything from pastel colours to more bright and bold statements.

Ombre is set to have a big 2014.

Ombre is set to have a big 2014. Here’s our latest designs.

In terms of flavours trending last year we saw essences such as red velvet, chocolate and vanilla grab the top spots. In 2014 we feel there will be a mix up with our new decadent chocolate cake infused with light mint syrup and layered with a mint chocolate butter cream filling. It’s a great shade and lends itself well to many different themes both in the summer and winter seasons.

Trends are a perception and generalisation of how the industry is shifting as a whole. The main thing to understand is that each individual has their personal taste on what classifies as their perfect wedding cake design and flavour/s. It’s important we value this more than anything else and design cake to meet each individuals needs for their big day.

If you would like to arrange a consultation with us please visit our web site and fill in the online inquiry form https://contemporary-cake-designs.co.uk/contact/ at the top of every contact us page or visit our social media pages below.

Twitter: @ContemporaryCD

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ContemporaryCD?ref=hl

#12CakesOfChristmas Competition

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With Christmas shoppers manically hunting down the last of their Christmas presents and the Christmas cakes baking in oven, the festive season is in full swing.

Christmas is just nine days away now and we thought what better way to celebrate than to showcase our top Christmas creations over a glass of mulled wine and a mince pie.

Over the 12 days before Christmas day, we’ve been singing you our version of the 12 days, or should we say cakes of Christmas on our Facebook page. But that’s not all; we’ve also given you the chance to win one of the new additions to our afternoon tea range – a Fraisier cake. This creation is a classic recipe and is made from three components – the sponge, crème patisserie and strawberries (see below).

On the first day of Christmas my true love sent to me, a yule log in a photograph

On the first day of Christmas my true love sent to me, a yule log in a photograph.

Traditionally, the 12 days of Christmas refer to the days after and not before —from December 25 to January 5 – but recent marketing activity has shown businesses engaging through social media channels. So this year, we thought we’d join in with the festive fun and surprise you with a present of our own.

The prize of our competition - A Fraisier cake

The prize of our competition – A Fraisier cake

A simple ‘Like and Share’ on the cake of that day could see you indulging in one of our caketastic Fraisier cakes. Pretty simple eh? Well why not head over to our Facebook page and get involved at  https://www.facebook.com/ContemporaryCD.

The winner will be announced in the week following Christmas and we wish you the best of luck!

Cake Study: Christmas Cake Decorations at Ellenborough Park

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After the triumph of Elmore Court back in November, we were fortunate enough last month to get the gig at Ellenborough Park running a 30 minute demonstration and question and answer session to a room of approximately 50 lovely ladies.

Ellenborough Park is a stunning hotel based in the heart of the Cotswolds and is the perfect location for luxury country retreats, romantic breaks and weddings. The occasion was held as part of their renowned ‘Ladies Lunch Club’ events which invites ladies from the local community to welcome drinks, an exquisite 2 course lunch followed by an afternoon demonstration.

We opened the show by speaking a little about ourselves, who we were, where we came from and what we did as business. It was then onto the task in hand – decorating the Christmas cake. We were stood confidently at the front with a camera set up and an overhead screen so everybody could see our hands and what we were doing. It was my job (Bee) to practically demonstrate each step while Xavier talked through each step and treated the guests to a couple tips along the way.

Ellenborough Park

We started by covering a dummy cake with white icing to give the snowy effect before placing this on an iced board. To create an iced board we iced the base board of the cake by simply rolling out some icing or chocolate paste (depending on what the cake is going to be covered in), wet the board place it on the top, smooth it over and trim around the edge of the board and wrap the ribbon around the edge to give a special finish. It was then onto the decorations where we made some Christmas classic’s in the shape of snowmen and Christmas trees to put the icing on the cake, literally! These were created using sugar paste and colouring which are easily accessible in your local supermarket. We then carved these into the individual pieces before constructing them into the snowmen and Christmas Trees.

We received a great reception from all the guests who attended the event last month with many of them coming up to us post-event asking us for more tips and general enquiries.

It leaves us to say a massive thank you to Ellenborough Park for having us and we hope all the ladies come up trumps with their Christmas bakes this year.

For more caketastic content feel free to follow us @ContemporaryCD or like us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ContemporaryCD