Meet the Baker: Ebony Featley
Ebony Featley is a pastry chef and wedding cake maker who runs her own business called The Wooden Dove Cake Company. Her company specialises in modern, fresh, and generally alternative wedding cakes. We caught up with Ebony to find out more about her baking journey!
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what your work involves:
I’m a pastry chef and wedding cake maker. I currently run a business called The Wooden Dove Cake Company which specialises in modern, fresh and generally alternative wedding cakes. I use lots of buttercream, chocolate, pastry, macarons and of course cake but never fondant icing so I guess that’s where we’re quite different from the traditional cake makers.
On our website we have examples of some cakes we’ve done, similar to our instagram but what we love doing are bespoke cakes for every couple. Whether it’s a Croquembouche or a 4 tiered naked cake, every cake we make is individual and special for that someone’s biggest day of their life – which is what being a wedding cake maker is all about!
How did you first become interested in baking, and how has this lead you to where you are now?
I’ve loved food since my very first word “Yum” as a toddler, to the 4 year old me who tried to make my parents morning brunch: microwave bacon and eggs (this didn’t end well, I can assure you) to baking friends Christmas treats and eventually deciding to train as a chef at the age of 18.
There were 2 commonly described aspects of the job that I knew of from growing up: the pay was low and the hours were long… but funnily enough, that didn’t put me off! I’ve worked for Michelin star chefs, between pop-up restaurants to working as sole pastry chef in fine dining restaurants, luxury hotels, and eventually patisseries, which is where I began doing weddings. I now find myself working for me!
Where do you find inspiration?
In the past I found inspiration mainly from those I worked under, there was always so much to learn! Cookbooks – I recently came across a cookbook entirely inspired by nature and it’s got me thinking about designs in a whole new way.
What tools could you not work without?
Well, I guess in reality, I’d kind of be nowhere without my oven! We bought it specially for the business as I could fit 16″cakes in – it’s huge and I love it! Also palette knives, particularly my stepped one, piping bags and nozzles for all the buttercream and ganache work, and of course my turntable (which is actually a potters’ turntable) – perfect for masking cakes.
How do you go about designing a cake for somebody? What questions do you ask to inform your design?
I always ask if they’ve got ideas or have seen a style that they particularly like. That way, if they do, I’ve immediately got an idea of colours, themes, flowers and seasons. Then we’d discuss the number of guests and flavours they like, as we’d do all this usually at a tasting, where they sample a selection of flavours from our menu. It’s always fun – I don’t think any bad decisions get made when there’s cake involved!
What wedding cake trends have you spotted this year?
There have been a lot going around – things like buttercream flower cakes, drip cakes and skimmed naked cakes have generally taken over from naked cakes. One thing that might set a trend for the year is the royal wedding and their choice of lemon and elderflower – maybe we’ll see couples leaning towards more adventurous flavour combinations…
Tell us about a piece of work that you are particularly proud of:
I’m proud of the cake I made with a wreath of buttercream flowers. It was a late night decision before a wedding fayre, which did keep me up far later than I’d expected but the faces of everyone who saw it the next day made it all worthwhile.
What are the 3 tips you would share with a budding baker?
- Get in the kitchen as much as possible! Whether school fairs, birthday cakes, Christmas gifts – there’s always an excuse to bake and practice is everything.
- Don’t worry if you make mistakes, just keep going. Trust me- after working with chocolate I know there are A LOT of mistakes to be made. What makes you better is figuring out what went wrong and changing it for next time.
- If you want to do it professionally, you need to love it. So find the fun in it, enjoy it – if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.
What’s next for you in 2018?
We’re quite excited at the moment as we’ve just signed a contract to be the sole cake supplier to a 5* wedding venue in the lakes. They’re bringing out a luxury brochure and wedding guide which we’ll be in so that’s great and just great to be getting our name out further afield!
Visit The Wooden Dove Cake Company at www.woodendove.com