Cakes by Dark Cherry

What better way to kick off your week than with cake! We ADORE wedding cakes. From gathering inspiration to designing and cake testing, this part of the wedding planning is a lot of fun. Today we’re chatting to Janelle Adams of Cakes by Dark Cherry. She’s been designing cakes for over a decade and specialises in exquisite, tailor-made wedding cakes for Perth couples. From buttercream finishes with fresh flowers, to elaborate fondant designs with hand-crafted sugar details, Janelle will make all your wedding cake dreams come true. Below, we find out all about her cake making process, what she loves about creating cakes for soon-to-be marrieds, the flavours she offers and the beautiful trends in cake design she’s noticing right now.

Hi Janelle! So how long have you been baking?
My mum has a photo of me aged about two years old, standing on a stool so I could reach the bench, wearing a little apron, and holding a hand-held pair of electric beaters… so I’ve been baking pretty much all my life!

Growing up spending a lot of time on my grandparents’ farm, I experienced many occasions where CWA (Country Women’s Association) style cooking and baking came to the fore. With seasonal workers like shearers, farm hands and fruit pickers needing morning and afternoon tea, as well as a hearty lunch, there was always lots of cooking and baking going on in my grandmother’s farm kitchen. As I grew old enough to help more in the kitchen, we made lamingtons and jam drops together.

Another fond cake related memory is my mum making great birthday cakes from the Women’s Weekly birthday cake magazine. My all-time favourite one that she made was the log cabin! She made a point of always letting us kids lick the beaters or the bowl – best mama ever!

When did you start Cakes by Dark Cherry?
Officially, Dark Cherry started when I arrived back in Perth after living in London for 12 years. Prior to getting back to Australia, I worked for a large US law firm and one day we had an in-house baking competition, which I won. People started asking me to bake things for them, and excitingly, started paying me to bake! That’s when I re-discovered a love for creating sweet treats.

Images: Fox and Luna Photography

Where are you based?
I work out of my home based cake studio (registered, inspected and insured) in Mount Lawley in Perth.

Career highlights?
Winning second place with a Highly Commended award in the Brides Choice Awards for wedding cakes in Perth!

Other highlights include getting to work with some of the loveliest and most talented creatives in Perth. The wedding industry community in Perth is not huge, and everyone I’ve met within it has been absolutely lovely to work with.

What’s the best part of your job?
I love seeing everyone’s different ‘cake face’ – that happy face they make when they first take a bite of my cake, along with the happy moans and groans. It’s even been said to cause ‘foodgasms’, hahaha!!

Images: Mel Silva Photography

And the most challenging?
Keeping up with emails and invoices! As well as trying not to buy ALL the new cake decorating gizmos as they come on the market.

What’s the process of designing a wedding cake with a couple?
Potential clients can get in touch with me in a variety of ways. Most often it is either a direct email or message through the website, or a DM through Instagram. Once a couple has been in touch, we send messages back and forth so I can get more of an idea of what their specific cake requirements are. Once I have an idea of how many guests their cake will need to serve, whether they are serving it as dessert or as smaller coffee size portions, where their venue is located and what level of decoration their cake is going to need, then I can provide them with a formal quote to get them booked in.

Do you offer cake tastings?
I sure do! Potential clients are able to order a sample pack to try some set flavours, or they can book in for a private tasting/design consultation where they get to choose the flavours they would like to try.

Image: Mel Silva Photography

What flavours do you offer?
All sorts of wonderful flavour combinations are available! I have a list on the website but I am always happy to experiment with flavours for my couples. For example, I have had a few clients request a gin element to one of the tiers of their wedding cake so coming up with flavour combinations that incorporate their favourite gin has been great fun to create!

What’s your favourite?
I like anything fruity – passionfruit curd is a favourite of mine so anything with that is divine to me. So possibly a lovely profiterole filled with vanilla bean crème patissiere and passionfruit curd would be my favourite sweet treat.

What’s been the most popular flavour lately?
For a recent tasting/design consultation the couple asked me if I could incorporate the flavours of mango, mandarin and sage into a cake for them. The groom works at a sophisticated cocktail bar and his signature drink incorporates the same elements. So I created for them a mango cake, filled with mandarin curd and a browned butter sage cream cheese frosting. The couple loved it and since then, many other couples have chosen it for one of the tiers of their own wedding cakes. It’s a winner!

Image: Mel Silva Photography

How long does it take to make a wedding cake?
It all depends on the final design. A fresh flowers and buttercream design is going to take a lot less time (and so, be less expensive) for a cake that’s the same size but has an elaborate fondant finish with lots of sugar details. So you could have a wedding cake ready in a day, or it could take weeks of working on sugar flowers!

What cake designs are on trend right now?
Buttercream with a boho texture and romantic florals is popular at the moment. Also popular is a more modern sort of look with fondant made to look like aged stone, or torn paper.

What’s your favourite type of cake to make?
I love anything with loads of texture, whether it’s in a buttercream or fondant finish. Lots of movement, dark and moody colours, bold elements…  that’s the sort of thing I love creating for my couples when I’m allowed to play. But I also love to make super pretty and romantic classic wedding cakes.

Images: Greta Wolzak Photography, Mel Silva Photography, Merge Photography

Why is the wedding cake such an important element of the wedding day?
I love the history and mythology behind wedding cakes. Throwing grains of wheat at the newly married couple as it was meant to represent fertility and help ensure fruitfulness, with the wheat eventually evolving into baked goods and finally the extravagant sweet confections we know today; the couple feeding the first slice of the wedding cake to each other by hand to represent the joining of their lives and their commitment to one another; stories of young maidens sleeping with a portion of wedding cake under their pillow so they could then dream of their future husband…  I love all of the symbology and ceremony.

The cutting of the cake is a central ceremonial part of the reception, followed by the communal sharing of the cake. It was thought that the consumption of the cake by a couple’s guests signified affirmation and consent of the couple’s newly married status. I can remember my grandmother bringing home a piece of wedding cake (a lovely traditional fruitcake with royal icing!) and keeping it wrapped up, rather than eating it, keeping it as a memento of the day.

The wedding cake can be seen as a symbol or sign that the event it is featured at is a wedding, confirming that this is indeed a special occasion – as they say, a party without cake is just a meeting!

And what do you like to bake or cook when you’re not at work?
I am an absolute sucker for anything savoury but particularly with cheese, pasta, bread, or a combination of these little morsels of purest deliciousness!

Image: Simone Addison Photography

Thanks so much for sharing your story with us today, Janelle! Your work is truly stunning and no doubt delicious! To find out more about Cakes by Dark Cherry, head to their website or check them out on the Polka Dot Directory.

Featured image by Mel Silva Photography
Headshot by Kevin McGinn