Sweet tiers

"From bold blooms to cakes designed to fit your style. What the heart wants, the heart should get.”

By Bronwyn Forbes-Hardinge

Dessert trends come and go, but nothing takes the place of a delicious cake.


Wedding cake trends are back with a bang, and they’re no longer just something to serve after dinner. From total conversation pieces (we love these) to fun photo moments and an extension of your wedding décor, there’s nothing better than a dessert that tells a story.


Pastry chef Desiree Ngema (more popularly known as Chef Des) adores the marriage of cakes with a sophisticated aesthetic and a classic design. Obsessed with ganache and textures, she shares some of her favourite wedding cake trends to sweeten your dessert table.


“It all starts off as a blank canvas,” says Des, a true foodie creative, whose passion lies in making memorable cakes, which are visually appealing and taste great, to make milestone celebrations even more special.


The owner of Desbaked Academy in Pinetown and a gorgeous little café she’s set up at the Moses Mabhida Stadium, Des says every cake deserves time, balance and love, but wedding cakes are works of art that deserve that extra attention to detail.


“Bespoke cakes are popular. It’s all about showcasing the wants, needs, desires and the individuality of every couple. More than that, a wedding cake should be a celebration of the couple’s beautiful love story. From bold blooms to cakes designed to fit your style. What the heart wants, the heart should get.”



Bold blooms


2023 is all about claiming back life’s beauty that we have missed for the past two years. Dramatic blooms with bright and bold colours are definitely trending. The trick is to use a variety of fresh flowers and for the focus to be on how they cascade on the cake. Seasonality will play a big role here.


Fondant florals


While fresh blooms on a cake are beautiful, designs are also focusing on intricate sugar or fondant florals. Details like spun sugar threads, structural swirls and elaborate handmade accents like cascading sugar butterflies and flowers create a more whimsical and romantic showcase.


A cake to fit your style


Yes, there’s a trend for that too. 2023 will see a lot of cakes with details that replicate bridal gown details for a hyper-personal design. These cakes will incorporate decorative embellishments like lace fondant patterns, embroidery-inspired cake piping, bow accents and ruffled buttercream, resembling a tulle skirt. This is a lovely way to pull together the day’s theme.


Textured cakes


Texture is big this year … a chic wedding that will grab your attention if you love minimalistic, but beautiful, elegant, art-inspired designs that give more depth to the look of a cake. These cakes use simple colour palettes with details – brush strokes, palette knives, stencils and crinkled paper designs – that are unique to the bridal couple and on close inspection, make a cake far from boring.



Modern classic


This cake is all about keeping tradition, but giving it a modern spin with the delicate use of wafer paper to add to its beauty and give it contrast. Wafer paper is very versatile and can be used with a variety of colours. We will be seeing more of the ganache and buttercream cakes executed with themes.



Hidden tiers


This year there’s bigger emphasis on unexpected details … the use of 3D cake props and even hidden stands that give the illusion of levitation … a fun way to give cakes a contemporary, architectural look that contrasts with more conventional cakes. No doubt the star of the show at the reception, next to the bridal couple of course!


This article was first published in Get it

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Desiree Ngema is a participant on the SAB Foundation’s Tholoana Enterprise Programme, an 18-month business accelerator powered by Fetola which supports the lasting success of businesses from across South Africa, particularly those owned by women, youth and people living with disabilities, and those in township and rural areas.

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