Absolutely Weddings’ Experts answer your wedding questions. Here, Eric Rousseau chef and patron (with his wife Hulya), of renowned London patisserie Belle Époque advises on alternatives to the traditional British wedding cake
Q: We want a centerpiece at our wedding but we don’t want the traditional wedding cake because my partner doesn’t like it. What would you recommend?
A: I am biased, but I would certainly consider a croquembouche, which is a wedding speciality in my native France and something we make for lots of celebrations. At Belle Époque we don’t touch traditional British wedding cakes – there are plenty of wonderful specialists for that – but like to think we are masters of French alternatives. We recently won the Craft Baking Award at the BIA, which are like the Oscars for baking.
Traditionally a croquembouche is a tower of profiteroles, with each choux bun filled with custard and a topping of spun sugar, chocolate or caramel. We make lots of bespoke alternatives. For instance, recently we created a tower using éclairs rather than profiteroles, and we can also make them with macaroons. If you opt for the profiterole version, we recommend allowing for three per guest.
To add more theatre to the occasion, you could have the croquembouche assembled on site. It’s a wonderful way to get guests involved in a bit of theatre – children especially love to help. Towards the end of building the tower we put up a curtain to finish off the decoration. Then the curtain is removed for the ‘big reveal’.
We also make other lighter cakes and desserts – including our signature Belle Époque, which I designed for my wife-to-be 15 years ago to impress her. It’s an orange-infused crème brulée centre coated in Valhrona dark chocolate mousse, with chocolate sponge and praline. It remains a huge favourite among our clients.