The Enchanting Cake Company
Charlotte Ricard-Quesada: Hi everyone, today we are meeting with Ramla from The Enchanting Cake Company. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Ramla in the past on a photoshoot that was featured in Brides magazine, Wedding Chicks and in Vogue Japan Weddings; so I know plenty about Ramla and her amazing work, and we have one of her gorgeous cakes just here too! I wanted to share with you more about what Ramla does, how she creates these amazing cakes and what inspires her.
How did you get started in the industry?
Ramla Khan: It’s a bit of an unusual journey actually, I started off working as a dentist, did that for a few years but wasn’t really enjoying it, so started making cakes on the side. I always had this creative streak and it was just waiting to get out. I started making cakes for family and friends, I was asked to make a couple wedding cakes for friends and I really enjoyed it, so went ahead and started the business.
CRQ: So instead of repairing people’s teeth, you made sure that they got enough sugar to go to the dentist again? [Laughs]
RK: Exactly! [Laughs]
What or who has been your biggest inspiration and why?
In this industry I think the biggest inspiration comes from brides themselves. They’re always brimming with ideas, and they’ve got a clear idea of what they want for their day. Even if they don’t have a clear idea, they come to me with their likes and dislikes, and we work [in partnership] to put together the perfect wedding cake. So definitely the brides themselves.
CRQ: And do you mainly work on weddings or do you also do events?
RK: Mostly weddings, we do events as well but the summer months keep us busy with weddings. It’s just completely full!
If you weren’t doing this as a job, what would you be doing?
CRQ: Other than being a dentist!
RK: Other than being a dentist? I think something creative, I don’t think I could go back to dentistry. Definitely something involving design, styling, creating, so maybe interior design as I’ve got quite a passion for indoors, furniture, etc.
CRQ: You could start creating dummy cakes but as décor elements for kitchens, I’m sure it could be a thing! [Laughs] Stay tuned!
Which city or country inspires you the most?
Probably nature, any kind of place that has a lot of natural foliage or flowers, because I use a lot of sugar flowers in my cakes, so anywhere that’s got any natural beauty. There’s not one particular city, but anywhere that’s got nice foliage.
CRQ: So for example the UK countryside, with our typical English gardens and all the flowers and the natural, crazy look?
RK: Exactly, yes!
What’s your favourite part of the job?
Making the sugar flowers, that’s the most relaxing part of it. The baking, making the buttercream filling, stacking the cakes, that’s one side of it; but the sugar flowers, you can just sit at the table and it’s just really calm and relaxing.
CRQ: Do you ever sneakily eat one?
RK: I don’t! [Laughs]
CRQ: Are they too sugary?
RK: When they set, they’re quite hard and brittle. But I do eat the offcuts from the cake, because when you’ve baked the cake it’s got a dome, so once you’ve sliced the dome off to make the cake really flat, we eat those offcuts. [Laughs] There’s always lots of cake in my house.
CRQ: And does your husband like cake?
RK: Yes. He’s really disappointed the day my cake bakes perfectly flat because there are no offcuts for him.
What is the one thing you would have told yourself ten years ago?
Don’t go into dentistry. [Both laugh] I probably would’ve started this much earlier if I hadn’t gone into dentistry, but then obviously I picked up a whole set of skills from there, you know: steady hand, working in a small space… It really helped. So I don’t know, maybe I wouldn’t have done the degree, but some skills did definitely help with this.
CRQ: I came from fashion and changed sector, and always kept thinking ‘I haven’t studied this’ and actually, that’s when you [notice] transferrable skills [are] actually a thing. […] I do think you went the right way though from dentistry to making cakes rather than making cakes to dentistry. [Both laugh].
What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned professionally and why?
Don’t stack too many tiers on a cake being delivered! [Both laugh]
CRQ: How many tiers had you stacked?
RK: There were five, but I had like a dummy tier in the middle and it wasn’t stable enough to transport the whole thing in one go. It wasn’t a complete disaster, as the top three tiers that came off were perfectly intact, so I managed to put it back together at the venue, but when I first opened the door and saw it, I completely panicked. But it was fine.
CRQ: Was it for a wedding?
RK: It was for a wedding.
CRQ: And the bride didn’t realise?
RK: No, because by the time I’d transported it into their kitchens and fixed it up, it was fine; but seeing it there, I decided that we needed to have a limit on how many tiers were stacked.
CRQ: Was it still five tiers or did you have to remove a tier?
RK: It was still five tiers and one tier was just flowers and I always pack spares with me. So that’s another lesson that I’ve learned: always pack spare flowers and a repair kit.
CRQ: How do you transport the cakes when you take them from your studio where you create them down to the venue? Are they in a box?
RK: Yes, they’re in a box and they just have to be on a flat surface, so don’t put them on the seats: they’ve got to be flat in the boot or the back of the van.
CRQ: Do you strap them in?
RK: I put a piece of [non-stick matting for grip] under the box and that’s enough, because the cake itself is quite heavy, especially the bigger tiers, so it’ll take a lot to move those tiers. And then once I get to the venue, stack them.
CRQ: So how many tiers do you prepare now [in one go]?
RK: If I’m taking a five tier cake, I’ll split them between a three tier and a two tier. So I’ll try not to do more. Four is the limit for safety [in transport].
CRQ: And how tall is the tallest cake you’ve ever made?
RK: The tallest I think was six tiers.
CRQ: How many people does that feed?
RK: About 250.
CRQ: Did they eat it all?
RK: There’s always cake left over at the end. I always tell my brides to account for about 60-70% of their guests, but they always want enough for everyone, so there’s always cake left at the end. Not everyone eats the cake or they don’t eat the full slice, because after a three course meal, it’s a lot. That’s also why I tell them to start cutting from the bottom tier so they can take the top tiers home.
Tell me something unexpected about your profession that would surprise people.
I spend the least amount of time baking. People always assume you’re in the kitchen all the time baking, but maybe 10% of the cake is the actual baking time. The rest of the time is spent on decorations, with sugar flowers taking the longest time, so that’s the thing I’ll start first and have ready for the week of the wedding. The baking maybe takes, for a four or five tier cake, only a day. But on average a wedding cake will take four or five days and only one day is spent on baking.
CRQ: So for a Saturday wedding, you would start the flowers on the Monday?
RK: It depends how many I need, sometimes I will have to start two weeks before, if it’s a full sugar flower cascade.
CRQ: And they’re still completely edible by the day of the wedding?
RK: Sugar flowers are edible forever! […]
CRQ: You do your flowers to start with, and then do you prepare your buttercream before you bake or [vice-versa]?
RK: I bake first, as the cakes need to rest for a day, after which I’ll prepare fresh buttercream. All my cakes are covered in a chocolate ganache, so I’ll prepare that too.
CRQ: How long is the actual sponge of the cake edible for?
RK: It’s good for about 7-10 days. […] It won’t dry as it’s completely covered.
CRQ: Would you recommend keeping it at room temperature?
RK: Room temperature definitely. In the fridge what can happen is that once you take the cake out, it forms condensation so can form water marks on the cake, so you want it cool but not cold.
How do you see the future of your industry?
It’s really hard to predict as it’s changing all the time, but I think with [2018’s] royal weddings, people will take inspiration from that. For the Duke & Duchess of Sussex’s cake, for example, it was relatively simple décor-wise [and different to previous show stopping trends], but with fresh and natural ingredients (lemon and elderflower), which was the real focus of the cake.