Hello CC members...I hope you can help me with a customer service issue for an upcoming 50th wedding anniversary cake.
My customer has health issues related to processed cane sugar, and requested that I make a small tier of the cake with Splenda and sugar-free icing (she is not the honoree). I researched some possibilities, and told her I could do it, but the tier would look differently than the other tiers.
So, she ordered a three-tier cake (oval) and the top is to be sugar-free. I just tried out the sugar-free icing posted in the recipe section here, and I saw that it would look very different than the other tiers (as I did tell her). She was ok with that, and said that it could be decorated differently.
However, the "artist" in me is not so happy with the contrast. My butter-cream is pretty silky, and the sugar-free icing is rather puffy. I am thinking of just doing the three tiers in good-old (bad old?) sugar, and then giving her the sugar-free cake as a separate gift.
Now the hard part...Do you think this would seem like a slight? That I am saying "your dietary needs need to be hidden?" She wanted to do the whole cake sugar-free (which I think would have looked good) but her family said, no way, we want the sugar!
I am debating between my "inner artist" and "let's all get along"? By the way, she is a lovely, lovely person (although I'd still do it for a grumpy customer too!)
Please advise... Thank you!
If you know her pretty well and she's a lovely person, you might ask her if what you have in mind would work out for her.
If not, give the girl what she ordered. Changing stuff without permission or an "out" clause in the contract can spell disaster.
I agree with karateka - don't change the order without consulting her first. It's nice of you to offer a seperate cake. But let her make the decision on whether she wants a seperate cake or not.
Yes, karateka and KittisKakes -- I would want to contact her first. And yes, my contract (which she has signed) does reserve the right to make changes based on design/weather needs.
It was more the sensitivity of even asking first -- I did not want her to think that I thought her cake was odd or "ugly." She was so happy I'd make a sugar-free cake, and has had a lengthy battle with many serious illnesses.
It would be sort of like asking a vegan is it was ok if they got their dinner served separately...I don't want to offend her by even bringing it up.
I guess I'll just do the top tier sugar-free ...
A cake made with straight spenda will not rise or brown well. Splenda for baking contains natural sugar. Perhaps stevia would be a better replacement, though I am not certain how it behaves in baked goods.
Call her up and explain how differenly it would look and that you are willing to make her a separate cake. Are you going to charge her for the separate cake on top of the 3 tier cake? Or make a 2 tier cake with the 3rd tier being a separate cake on it's one now?
Just call her up and ask....if she's really that lovely, I don't see her having an issue with it.
Lady Phoenix --
Actually, she requested Splenda (not the half-sugar kind, the all splenda) as being what she can have. I just baked my red velvet cake recipe (a varation on Martha Stewart's) and subsituted Splenda equally -- it was about 10% shorter, but had a good texture. I am not crazy about the taste, but it was OK with the sugar-free icing.
I guess what gave me pause was more the appearance of the sugar-free icing...it looked whipped and puffy -- and the rest of the cake would be a satiny viva-smoothed BC. Maybe I am being over-sensitive to the appearance...?
I am sending the client my ingredients list so she can go over with her doctor. Actually -- since I am considering adding a line of sugar-free cakes, I'd appreciate a more general discussion on sugar-free baking! Please report your experiences...
No, no, Vicky -- I would of course not charge her for my change -- (or anytime I've had to do a change-order b/c of weather, in the past).
No, it was more the idea of saying "your cake wouldn't look as good." I am being a little over-sensitive, because, I guess to say she has had some very serious appearance-related health issues. ...I guess I'm not being too clear, but I want to be extra-considerate to such a lovely person!
edited for spelling
I'm interested to hear about sugar-free baking, too. My husband wants me to use Splenda for the cakes I make for him, but I can't stand the aftertaste! I think it's really nasty. I am interested to look up that sugar-free frosting recipe. The frostings where I have substituted Splenda and Smart Balance butter never set up.
Yes, thanks Hawkette -- exactly what I mean. The cake (to me) does not taste so great, but my client cannot have even a bit of regular sugar, and has not had cake in years.
Also, like you, I found the icing soft and puffy -- it spreads well, and I can pipe with it, even make some drop flowers, but I guess it was sort of the ideas of a rather formal 3 tiered ivory and gold cake, and at the top would be a more "casual" looking cake.
I think I'll just put some fresh flowers on the top (with separator plate) and that will distract from it visually. I just cringe at saying to her "it will look really funny" because she has gone through A LOT (like A LOT) and many of the health issues affected her appearance.
OK -- thanks everyone for the feedback!
I found the splenda cake has great texture, moist, soft, but, hmmm...not a great taste to me. Oh well.
Awww, I see your point more clearly Can you offset the appearance of the top tier by making the other two tiers radically different from each other (i.e...textured look on the bottom tier, a spikey look on the middle tier and the puffy look on your sugarfree top tier?). Did that make sense? This way, you don't have to feel like you are making her feel bad for having an illness and that her cake isn't worthy enough to be on the event cake. KWIM?
What if you told her you were doing some practice with the Splenda icing, and the contrast was VERY noticable. Do you mind if I make a separate cake?
PS. PTOOOOI to sugar free, and fat free cake. It's cake If you want S & F free put a raspberry on some pita bread.
Thanks Vicki -- yes, my point! Thank you for your replies....I agree -- I'll use some fresh flowers on the top and I think it will look good.
I want her to feel very included in the event (as does her family too). My gut was to keep the cakes all together, rather than box up another cake for her.
Yeah, Mike, I hear ya! I am not such a big fan, but this is not a vanity issues -- it's pretty major health issue for her, and she has not had cake in years.
I guess I won't offer the sugar-free cakes, except to her, since I don't think they turn out that great (but the texture was super...so maybe if you're used to Splenda's taste???!?)
If you stacked the sugar free cake with the real sugar cake, wouldn't it "cross contaminate". That could be your excuse, you don't the sugar icing to get on the sugar free cake.
Jenni -- I'm doing the 2-plate method (3" pillars between the tiers) to avoid this.
I'm thinking making someone feel included comes before aesthetics on this one...so I think I'm going with the "keep them together" idea. She is SO nice (pre-paid way ahead of time, offered to pay extra for the Splenda, told me to do whatever I wanted... a real, real sweetie!)
But -- let's keep the discussion on sugar-free baking going...anyone do much of it? For family? For customers?
I have had lots of requests for sugar free, I've just been scared to try it. I would be interested in more info as well.
Here's what the s-f icing looked like (I just piped a quick border to see how it will hold up in the heat...so far, so good).
I think maybe I have to change how I mixed it, because it looks like it has little clumps in it from the s-f pudding. I don't usually use that kind of tihng, so I have to fine-tune my methods. It has a matte finish after sitting out for 2 hours, and if you poke it, it clings slightly to your finger, but is quite stable. I was surprised.
I think it could sit out for a wedding cake, actually...the piping is not as precise as BC and is no where near as neat at RI. So, it looks a little "sloppy" if you BC people know what I mean. Well, I'm a little obsessive, I guess. It will probably blend in ok....
I know this would be alot of extra work, however is there any way you could take the cake scraps and show her what it would look like, I mean the difference in the texture of the icings? My mother-in-law is seriously diabetic and so are most of our family so I always keep a couple of sugar free cupcakes in the fridge/freezer whenever there is a family get together and I bring the cake, sometimes it is just easier to be honest than go against your gut feelings. If it is possible, let her decide, she may have a totally different look in mind for the cake when you say the top tier is going to be different. At least you can settle your brain knowing that you let her make an informed and educated decision.
I too am very picky about how my cakes look, and in this case I think you are very sweet to have her health issues at heart. A separate cake wouldn't be so bad either...she could take the rest home for herself...especially since she hasn't had cake in years!!!
Thank you Shannie -- now maybe I wil call her. I have a few weeks yet. I think I might re-bake, try the icing again to get it smoother, and let her have a piece to think about what she wants.
In any event, I wouldn't charge her for the extra cake, if I go that route.
Now I have a better idea for future orders...if it was a bride's order there is no way I'd put them together -- it would be like stacking a cheesecake with a fondant cake...but, again, I may be a tad obsessive, shall we say....????
I am also interested in the sugar free recipes. My husband is a diabetic and I would love to make him a cake. I know Pilsbury had the mixes and frosting but I havent been able to find them lately.
Petit-four which frosting recipe did you use? I would love to get all the stuff tonight and surprise my hubby tonight after work!
angelcakes5: it's the recipe posted by marknrox called Diabetic Icing.
It's a tiny bit clumpy and puffy-- i think it would be great for a b-day cake, my only concern was it looks a little casual next to a RI-piped BC cake.
It tends to pipe a little puffy, but I think you could even make a stick-based BC rose with it! I did not love it alone, but I piped a dab on a scrap of s-f cake, and together, they do have the texture (and pretty much the taste) of traditional cake.
I'll give the icing abother try, this time mixing the pudding with a small amount of cream first, perhaps that will solve the lumps.
It's been sitting out 4 hours now, and it's holding up great!
Petit-four, I totally get what you mean about iincluding people. My son is having a birthday party in a month, and on the guest list is one with a serious peanut allergy (including stuff processed at facilities that handle nuts) and two with Celiacs (needs to be gluten-free, i.e. no flour). Because the party is for my son, I'll just have extra treats onhand for those kiddos, but I know what their families go through trying to help their kids fits in. We also have a family member on a strict no cholesterol diet and a vegan. It's been interesting experimenting with recipes that work for everyone. I would love to see a forum just for these kinds of "special needs" recipes. There sure are a lot of families out there who love cake but can't have regular cake.
I really loved your idea of making each layer look different! Perhaps with the sugar free layer, you could do the informal frosting method? That may work well with that frosting. Then one layer could be smooth like you like, and one could be combed or something. Hope it goes well! It sounds like your cake will be wonderful.
I use the SF pudding in some of my cake fillings and have noticed little balls (gelatin?) in the jello. So now, I sift the mix before mixing. Is that the lumps you were talking about?
I hope this helps...
I personally would make that cake separate and decorate it up to be similar to the tiered cake. Then I would have a little nice note to go with it to the effect that "this is a sugar-free cake for our diabetic guests." Then you're not singling out anyone--there are probably others who would benefit from such a cake!--and it can be displayed all together, without being TOUCHING (visually), which makes contrasts worse.
Thank you Hawkette-- yes, I think that is the idea -- the the cake would sort of embrace the whole family. I think I am going to include it, and just send her an email with the ingredients list, and mention (again) that it will have a slightly different look. Actually, I am glad now, because I'll have the photo, and I can show brides or others if they want that option.
Also, seagoat -- yes, the small particles. That is what was bothering me the most. I did the recipe again, and this time, I blended the cream and SF pudding first, then whipped it, and then added 6 T of Splenda (double what was called for), and softened cream cheese. It is very silky now -- no lumps at all. I think it might have a better taste too, with more Splenda.
It is a little yellowish (due to colors in pudding mix) so I added a tiny dab of violet, and that helped. I was even able to paint on it with gold and extract to do the gilded leaf work.
Thanks everyone for such great ideas!
varika -- Yes, a good point. When we had the consult, I actually did stress it would be best to do a separate flavor so there is no way it would get confused with other cakes when cut.
Hmm...I'll send her the ingredients list, and I guess let her make the decision on this one.
At any rate, I appreciate everyone's ideas, and I hope to read more ideas and suggestions for sugar-free baking.
Could you possibly use a different icing recipe for the icing with sugar--a fluffier one--that would possibly minimize the differences?
Also, I know it's probably too late for this, but it might help someone in the future--there is a sugar 'substitute' called Whey Low, it is made from milk (I think) so it isn't real sugar (it's lactose, I think), but it can be used just like regular sugar. It comes in brown, regular, and powdered.
I have the brown on my oatmeal every day, and I have used the regular to bake with. I tried the powdered for icing, and it was a little runny and a little grainy (not quite as powdered as regular powdered sugar), but then again I made a cream cheese frosting and did some other substitutions and it may have just been me. I think the website is just wheylow.com, or you can google them. I ordered online and got it super, super fast!!