Leave your wedding cake to the professionals? Pah! The Great British Bake Off is back on our screens and is once again inspiring us to new cooking heights. Intricate cupcakes? Easy. Brandy snaps? We've got it covered. A four-tier extravaganza with dozens of handmade sugar-flower blooms? Um…
Making your own wedding cake may seem terrifying - imagine the stares, the whispers, the (gah!) final tasting - but an increasing number of brides are pulling on their aprons to save money and show off their creative skills. Luckily there's expert help on hand - some of Britain's best bakers and cookery schools now run classes dedicated to wedding cakes. And we're not talking a simple Victoria sponge, either - these are bakes that would make even Mary Berry proud. Mixers at the ready!
Peggy Porschen Academy
The doyenne of the baking world, Peggy has made spectacular cakes for the likes of Elton John, Stella McCartney and Madonna (just to name a few), so it's no surprise that her designs are real showstoppers. Her academy in Belgravia, central London, runs dozens of courses aimed at brides-to-be looking to re-create her towering fondant masterpieces - or the prettiest sugar-flower cascades you've ever seen. You'll work with marzipan, sugar paste, buttercream and chocolate ganache, will learn how to tape, dust and steam simple wired blossoms and billowing blooms, and even use real flowers for the perfect professional touch. And yes, fear not, there will be plenty of tastings along the way.
A three-day diploma course costs from £595; www.peggyporschen.com
Le Cordon Bleu
Fancy learning how to bake at one of the world's finest cooking schools? Well, you're in luck. Le Cordon Bleu now offers a course on how to make your own wedding cake - and it's pretty special. This is the place where hopeful youngsters hot-foot it to become head chefs (its famous Grand Diplôme costs £28,000+) but don't be intimidated - standards here are rigorous but anyone, whether they know a flombe from a fricassee… or can't recognise one end of a pot from the other, can apply. At its school in central London, you'll learn decoration techniques (including gum paste flowers and chocolate), how to create different fillings and flavourings as well as how to mask and ice your sponge. The result? A wedding cake that will seriously impress.
A ten-day course (60 hours in total) costs from £2,950; www.lcblondon.com
Squires Kitchen International School
Sign up to this course, in Farnham, Surrey and you'll be advised by not one but three experts from the wedding industry. You'll get three days with Helen Mansey, of Bellissimo Cakes, learning how to bake and cover a delicious lemon sponge and a dense mud cake, before handcrafting sugarpaste peonies. Then it's over to Mark Trilling, the UK's Chocolate Master 2006-2010, for the lowdown on the sweetest of sweet treats - we're talking lemon and rose-infused macaroons, raspberry-flavoured and pink champagne chocolates, and popping candy (ideal for favours). Lastly master florist Ayako Saida will show you how to arrange fresh flowers to show off your final creation. You'll leave with a two-tier wedding cake, six sweets, fresh flowers and your own bespoke recipe.
The six-day Intensive Wedding Couse costs £1,000; www.squires-school.co.uk