Specialising in creating beautiful wedding cakes in and around the Cotswolds, Vanilla Pod Bakery has grown from owner Pia Cato’s student dream into a hugely successful business, having recently won Best Wedding Cake Company at the UK Wedding Awards 2017.
In this exclusive interview, we chat to Pia, the founder of Vanilla Pod Bakery about where her passion for baking began, and how she’s created masterpieces for the royal family.
I’m a wedding cake designer based in Cheltenham. I mainly create wedding cakes for couples around the Cotswolds, but we go a little further afield too!
I started baking when I was child, when I was about five or six. I use to make one-two-three drop scones with my Grandma and jam tarts with my Dad. I was always trying to whip up something because I thought I was Delia Smith, but nothing ever turned out quite right back then.
When I was at university, I entered a business planning competition. I came up with the idea to set up a cupcake shop selling pink champagne cupcakes. It was in 2009, after I had won the competition, that I set up The Vanilla Pod Bakery.
I have baked cupcakes for HRH The Duke of York when I met him back in 2012, which was a real highlight.
Another memorable bake was when I created a cake in the shape of Cheltenham Racecourse for Paddy Power. It was enormous and needed three grown men to lift it – it took us 15 hours to make and finish!
It depends what mood I’m in. I don’t bake that much for myself anymore, but I always try each cake I make.
When you’re baking all the time, you can get a feel of what a good cake should look like. I’ll get to know the consistency, what it should look and smell like. I always try the cake because I want the couple to enjoy it.
I’ve definitely noticed a change in trends. When I started out it was all about wedding cupcakes, and then I started making naked cakes about six years ago.
In the last few years, I have noticed that people like more refined naked cakes and less of the rustic cakes. I’m also finding that a lot of people are going back to fondant icing with pretty feminine fondant ruffles.
The trend is moving towards a more elegant look with a lot of butter cream so that it can be smoothed neatly.
In the winter, I found that chocolate cakes were very popular, and raspberry and lemon always go down well too.
The classics like victoria sponge, lemon curd, and chocolate truffle are always going to be popular but I do try and veer my clients towards something that is a little different, because it’s nice to have something you wouldn’t be able to buy in a supermarket.
I try to make the experience as special as I can for couples, because it’s not an everyday experience. We hold a tasting consultation at Queens Cheltenham which is a lovely hotel and really sets the scene for picking the perfect wedding cake.
I normally make a selection box of cake flavours, mainly sponge and we talk through what the couple would like for their wedding, how many people they’d like to feed, and whether the cake will be served as a dessert or an added extra.
It’s a really nice relaxed meeting where couples can eat cake and talk about cake and from there they can decide whether they’d like to make an order.
I would love it if Vanilla Pod Bakery could bake a cake for a royal wedding,that would be my dream!
By Sophie Bird
Wednesday 24 May 2017
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