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Published on: 15th January 2020
17th January 2020
Emily of the Fig & Fern Bakery is an artisan cake maker based in the heart of the Quantock Hills. She uses local, natural and wholesome ingredients to create cakes inspired by the seasons and her surroundings. Here she shares some tips for seasonal and foraged weddings.
Growing up in the Quantock Hills in Somerset to a fairly pagan-orientated family, I have learnt a lot about the nature around us, what nuts and berries we can pick and eat at what time of year, the best times to go fishing and which mushrooms you definitely cannot touch!
Not only did this way of life spark my passion for nature and seasonal food, but it also made me more conscious of waste, sustainability and my impact on the earth. So when I started my cake business officially in Spring 2018 I already knew that I wanted my company and brand to be as sustainable as possible.
Using what’s available to us during the seasons is an excellent way of being sustainable as it lowers carbon footprints from growing fruits and vegetables in artificial environments followed by the usually lengthy transport of these products to the supermarkets. Not only that, but seasonal food, in my opinion, tastes so much better as it has grown in a natural environment at the time and temperature it was intended!
I like to pull inspiration for my cakes from the seasons and nature. Using foraged and seasonal fruits, nuts, berries and herbs look so very beautiful, it’s all completely natural and you can literally make your wedding theme run effortlessly throughout the decorations, bouquets, hairpieces and the cake! I have a particular fondness for vamping up classics like the Victoria Sponge and tailoring it to the season and what’s available to me at the time. Foraging for blackberries in the autumn to make blackberry jam and teaming it with cinnamon makes a great alternative to the usual strawberry jam Victoria Sponge of summer. Brides really love to make the most of the fleeting Elderflower in the late spring too and I get a huge influx of orders for lemon and Elderflower cake in May and June! I also love using seasonal flowers from my own garden for cake decorations and using what’s in season really makes the most of their vibrant colours.
I have also helped with decorating for many friends weddings, and my favourite part about that process is walking around the local area, in parks, fields and woodland, collecting pretty trinkets from nature to adorn tables and add to the cakes. We have even been kindly donated branches from a neighbours overgrown bay tree which we strung up around the marquee and not only did it look absolutely stunning, but it smelt gorgeous too!
There are so many things that you can do to make the most of nature’s seasonal beauty for your wedding… here are some of my top tips:
See what kinds of trees and shrubbery there is an abundance of, your local council may have even been to prune or trim back some of the woodlands in which case there should be lots of spare greenery and branches available! We are lucky to know several guys who work for our local council and they give us a call if they have done a particularly big pruning job in-case we are interested in using the logs or branches!
This is a particularly great idea for the autumn months when an abundance of berries and root veg gives a great opportunity for making jams and chutneys. Cook up a huge vat of blackberry and apple jam or try your hand at tomato chutney. This would keep well into the Christmas period too and would make a lovely addition to cheese boards with some local cheese.
If you’re going to attempt to make your own wedding favour treats or even your own wedding cake, it’s a good idea to know exactly what you are picking! Berry and mushroom picking, in particular, can be a very dangerous game and it is probably best not to play poisonous berry roulette with your wedding guests. Not only will a field guide book give you a helping hand at identifying what you are picking but you will learn a skill for life too! If you are still feeling unconfident, look into foraging workshops in your local area where a knowledgable guide will walk you through the dos and don’ts of foraging.
During September and October, apples are absolutely everywhere. Not only do we have several of our own trees in the garden but near enough half of the people I know have an apple tree of some description (I guess that’s a perk of living in cider apple county!)
Apples are great in cakes of course but can also be used to decorate or even as a form of entertainment! I am currently in the process of helping out with a friend’s autumn wedding where she has opted for carving apples into cute tea-light holders for the long tables and apple bobbing will also be on the agenda for the day!
Make the most of the beautiful flowers during the spring and summer months to make ever-lasting bouquets, hairpieces, cake decorations and confetti. I love using dried cornflower and marigold petals to add flecks of colour into buttercream for my wedding cakes.
Dried and pressed flowers are so beautiful and make great bio-degradable confetti. Use fresh roses in full bloom, pick off the petals and place in a single layer on to a paper towel on a microwavable plate. Top with another sheet of paper towel and microwave in 30-second increments until the petals are no longer damp. Store in an airtight container.
My thanks to Emily for sharing these ideas with us - click to find out more about the Fig & Fern Bakery.