The Cake Store started life as Slatter’s Bakery, with one shop in Brockley, South London in the early 1900’s.
Founded by Tom Slatter, it is now a third generation family business, having been run by Tom’s son Ken from the 1960’s to the mid 80’s, when Ken’s own sons Kevin and Tim took the helm. The brothers continue to run this very successful business, steering it through the advent of internet shopping by introducing The Cake Store’s online ordering system and The Brilliant Bakers mail order cakes.
When Ken Slatter was 18 in 1955 and attending the National Bakery School, he won his first gold medal at the British Bakery annual competition at Caxton Hall. He was studying speciality courses in Continental Confectionary, Hand-Made Chocolates and Exhibition Cake Decorating and went on to win 34 gold and silver medals during his career, being the only student ever to have twice won the coveted gold medal in the National Student Competition Founders Cup and 3 consecutive gold medals at Hotelympia (eventually being barred from entering to give other contestants a chance!)
When Ken joined his father in the running of the business it went from strength to strength. Growing from one small bakery to a chain of successful high street shops, as well as two production sites in Sydenham and Catford along with a large wholesale business employing over 70 staff in total.
During the 1970’s he made regular appearances on BBC’s The Generation Game as a guest expert.
Although now retired, Ken still takes an active role in The Cake Store, making all of our chocolate confectionary by hand, including exquisite chocolates and petit fours at Christmas and a huge range of Easter Eggs.
Kevin and Tim studied at The National Bakery School and Westminster Catering College respectively before joining Ken in the business in the 1980’s.
They expanded the wholesale operation further by becoming suppliers to Waitrose Supermarkets, Kew Gardens and Hampton Court Palace. The Cake Store has also been supplying scones to the Wimbledon Tennis Championships for over 30 years, freshly baking round the clock, to supply 10,000 scones a day for each of the two weeks.
In the 1990’s, with the rise of one-stop supermarket shopping undercutting specialist high street shops such as Slatter’s, the brothers took the decision to start scaling down their retail outlets, eventually keeping just the flagship Sydenham store – a very recognisable local landmark for decades - which continues to be a hugely popular local bakery whilst also serving as a showcase for the beautiful celebration and wedding cakes on offer.
Kevin and Tim were joined in the year 2000 by Steven Howard. Steve studied Cake design and decoration at Brooklands College and went on to work in several patisseries and bakeries as well as at Fortnum & Masons. During this time Steve won numerous awards and medals for cake decorating and sugarcraft including being named the British Baking Industry Cake Decorator of the Year, 3 years running at The Grosvenor House Hotel. Once joining The Cake Store, he expertly steered them towards specialising in the celebration cake side of the business, designing an inspirational new range not seen on the high streets previously.
Steve was appointed Creative Director, and now heads up a team of 11 talented full-time cake decorators who continue to constantly design and create new cakes, often for celebrities and TV and magazine appearances. Click here to view some of the wonderful creations with their very satisfied recipients!
The wedding department at The Cake Store has been headed by cake designer Helen Mighell since 2007 and she is responsible for the beautiful designs you see in our Wedding Galleries. Helen is joined by our friendly Customer Service team, who will guide you expertly through the ordering process, and fellow cake designer Amy Voinquel.
History of Wedding Cakes
The history of the wedding cake in Britain dates back to at least medieval times, when it would have been more like a loaf of bread and thrown at the bride as a symbol of fertility! Thank goodness that tradition didn't make it to modern times!
Another tradition from the same time saw baked goods, which included scones and biscuits, piled on top of each other and the couple had to kiss over the pile. If they managed it without toppling it over they were promised a life full of riches and many children.
In the 1600s, the French introduced the more traditional tiered wedding cakes we recognise today initially using sawn off broom handles to support the tiers, although this style didn’t catch on in Britain until later.
In the 17th century "Bride Pie" became popular, which varied from sweet breads to mince pies or even mutton pie. A glass ring was hidden inside it, and much like throwing a bouquet today, whichever young maiden found it, she was thought to be next in line for marriage. For poorer families, this pie might well have taken the place of any sort of cake.
Legend has it, that the elegant tiered wedding cake, with elaborate decoration came as a result of a love-lorn young baker in late 18th-century London. The story goes that William Rich was an apprentice in Ludgate hill and fell in love with his boss’s daughter. He wanted to impress her and her father with a large, beautiful cake and his inspiration came from the spire of St Bride’s church, which could be clearly seen from the bakery. However, there are no surviving records of this cake to prove this story.
It was the marriage of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1840 that really set the fashion for weddings – with the phrase "the bigger the better" applying to both the dresses and the wedding cakes!
At the turn of the 20th century, sugar became cheaper and it became much easier for even working class families to imitate the weddings of the rich, albeit on a much smaller scale.
During the Second World War there was strict rationing, including eggs and butter, so cakes were much smaller. The average person would have probably had some ingredients donated from friends and relations, whilst others used creative tricks so their cakes looked the part. Gravy browning made fruit cakes look richer and elaborate cardboard cakes were rented and the real, smaller cake was concealed inside.
Multi tiered cakes were traditionally cut up to serve to guests at the wedding, reserving the top fruit tier to celebrate the Christening of the couple's first child. Nowadays the top tier is more often used by the bride and groom to celebrate their first anniversary.
The colour of the cake was typically white to symbolise purity. The symbolic cutting of the cake by the bride and groom is meant to symbolise their first joint task in married life. In America the tradition of feeding cake to one another is a symbol of the commitment the bride and groom are making.