The term “creativity has no bounds” constantly proves its accuracy when applied to the wedding industry. It takes talent to be able to translate a couple’s personality into their wedding day and doing so in the world of wedding cakes has no acception. One could argue the task is twice as difficult as both the end product must look beautiful and taste beautiful. Joanna Kieliszczyk-Clay has mastered the art of creating cakes that reflect who each of her clients are through an edible piece of art. We were able to steal a few moments of her time to learn about her process, style and how to plan in order to get the cake of your dreams.
Thank you for chatting with us Joanna! How would you advise couples to start planning for their wedding cake?
The best starting point to plan for the wedding cake is to establish what style suits you best. Doing a little research helps to figure out whether you are more traditional or more modern and contemporary. Each cake designer has their own style and I strongly advise to choose a designer that resonates with you as a couple. It will make the whole process so much easier and enjoyable. If you are interested in working with a particular cake maker, try to enquire well in advance – even if details of your wedding are not finalized. Most cake makers require you to have a date and venue booked so they can accommodate you in their calendar.
What should couples be prepared to answer during a consultation with their baker while planning for their wedding cake?
I offer an initial consultation to all inquiring couples. It serves the purpose of an interview for both parties. I encourage all couples to ask as many questions as possible. Make sure your cake maker is the right one for you! From the cake designer’s perspective, the most common questions are about the color scheme, position, size, headcount and budget. I’m always asking my couples to send over any inspirational images, whether it’s a cake, dress, flowers or any little detail. It allows me to get to know their style and present some ideas to them. I also always ask about their budget so I can offer them possible options. Quite often people are uncomfortable talking about money, but let’s be honest, it is an important aspect of any wedding planning. Knowing the budget and style enables me to offer something appropriate. All the details, like specific guest numbers and final designs, are established later in the process.
Where do you start with couples during the planning process?
Flavors, colors, design, etc? I always start with a color scheme and some inspirational images, to establish a couple’s style. The rest comes after. Once you are sure you want to work with me, I’ll prepare a wedding cake proposal with a few designs of your wedding cake and explanation in detail of the design and price. After that, I prepare my signature taster box with all six flavors I offer. My brand focuses strongly on seasonality and amazing taste.
What has been the most unique request you have received from a couple for their cake?
To be completely honest, all of my couples have some unique requests. My business and service is designed to treat each couple in a very unique and personal way. My aim is to create something very intimate and special for these two people that are celebrating their love for one another. But, if I had to give one example, one a couple I worked with had two rescue greyhounds, and they really wanted them to be a part of the celebration, so I had to incorporate an image of their two dogs on the cake. It was a real challenge as all my cakes are quite modern and contemporary. I don’t do models or novelty cakes, so it took me a while to make sure that dogs were included without compromising my style.
What do you use specifically from the couple’s planning process in order to make design decisions?
For example, colors, theme, location, etc. I use absolutely anything. I’m asking my couples to send me as many inspiration images, PowerPoints, wedding dress images, bridesmaids outfits, fabrics, and venu images. I love to incorporate little details into my designs in order to tie it all nicely with the theme of the wedding. All those little details make a massive difference and allow me to create a truly unique and personal design for the couple.
How far in advance should couples book a bakery for their cake?
The sooner the better, is my advice! If you are interested in working with a baker that is popular, enquire as soon as you have the venue and date booked, that way you won’t be disappointed. Most bakers require a booking fee to secure your date, but all details can be established later on, so there is no pressure on you to know all the answers in the early stages of planning.
What questions should couples make sure to ask the bakery they choose to work with?
There are so many questions you could and should ask, so it is really hard to name the most relevant one. What I can’t stress enough to all my couples is to make sure you and your cake maker are on the same page. Make sure you like the style of your cake designer, and your aesthetics are similar. It will make the whole designing and planning process so much easier. I’m lucky enough to have couples that resonate with my style, so it is much easier to design and communicate, as we are both on the same page, but at the beginning of my journey I had lots of enquiries from couples that didn’t understand what my brand stands for and that can cause lots of stress and tension, which no one needs! So, my one piece of advice, rather than a question is – make sure you love the style of your cake maker!
How did you get your start in baking?
My love for baking, and cooking came very early. Preparing and making food has always been an essential part of my life. I have many wonderful memories growing up in beautiful Poland, where food is made with love, and from scratch. It’s rooted in the culture, and meal preparation is also a social time for many households, where stories are shared with closed ones while making dumplings, stirring great pot of Hunters Stew or making compotes, jams and other preserves for a winter season. To this day, I miss it dearly. So food is part of my soul, and sweet food is where I find comfort. I was always helping my mum and granny in the kitchen, helping my dad on the farm and being lucky enough to eat delicious and fresh foods. When I moved to the UK I found comfort in food and baking. It was my cure when I felt homesick. That led me to working in some extraordinary professional kitchens and that evolved into my love for pastry and baking, and here we are now.
How long have you been making cakes and how long has The Orchid Kitchen been open?
I started with small favors for friends and family. Baking cakes for birthdays and smaller celebrations. It took me a while to realize what I wanted in life, and trust me it didn’t come easily to me. I had an opportunity to make a wedding cake for a friend and it was an undescribed joy that it delivered, not just for me but also the bride and the groom that got me thinking. It’s not a job, it’s a passion, a safe haven. It’s an opportunity for me to finally be who I am.
Has your love always been cake?
Or was there a journey to get to where you are? My love is food. Food, flavor combination and texture of your food. Baking is something that allows me to relax and switch off and calm down, baking is true chemistry. You have to follow certain rules in order to have an amazing tasty cake with the right consistency and texture, with flavor. It’s another story, that’s when I allow myself to experiment and push myself and my boundaries. That’s the most important part for me – making sure the cake is balanced in terms of flavors and textures.
Your work is truly art. How did you develop your unique sense of style and design for your cakes?
I started with quite a lot of trials and errors. It was a process, I had to learn basics first then try new, more complex designs and techniques. l always admired cake artists like Marina Machado or Helena from Fleur de Lys Atelier and I knew I would like to make my cake more arty, more unique and different. I guess it’s also a reflection of my perception of style and art in general. Each cake has a part of my personality and with each cake I evolve as a baker, designer and business owner. It’s a journey and I take it step by step. As my business brings more profits, I will invest in masterclasses, courses and resources to educate and train myself, and each cake and delivery is a learning curve. That’s what’s so beautiful about this business.
Do you have a favorite cake to date that you’ve created?
If so, can you describe it? My favorite cake? It’s like asking about a favorite child, haha. I don’t think I have a favorite one, but I’m definitely getting more sentimental by looking at some of the cakes I’ve made. I have a great sentiment for a cake that I created for one of my very first styled shoots, a year after I opened The Orchid Kitchen’s door. Stacey from Belgray Weddings and Events asked me to create a cake for her, and I was so excited, privileged and over the moon that someone wanted my cake to be featured in an editorial shoot, I literally jumped up and down. The same cake was published in British Vogue as I think it was just perfect. It was a three tier square asymmetric cake with delicate edible lace in very muted, cream and brown tones. Very elegant, modern cake full of texture and character.
Learn more about The Orchid Kitchen, and follow Joanna @theorchidkitchen.