Writing An Article For A Wedding Magazine...

Business By snarkybaker Updated 19 Sep 2008 , 2:04am by snarkybaker

snarkybaker Posted 15 Sep 2008 , 3:41pm
post #1 of 8

So, I have been asked to write an article for a local wedding magazine. They want me to answer the following questions:

1) Please list the top five current trends in cake detail (edible flowers, blown sugar, etc)
2) What are some things to consider when selecting a cake and the type of icing for your reception?
3) When choosing a baker, what are a few things to look for and questions to ask?
4) What are the current color schemes that "make the cake"?
5) Are there any "red flags" when it comes to selecting a cake decorator?

1, 2 and 4 are easy enough, but 3 and 5 seem like really loaded questions. What would you answer ?

7 replies
ccr03 Posted 15 Sep 2008 , 5:11pm
post #2 of 8

First off, that's awesome! Congrats! Be sure to post the link if the magazine is online so we can link back to it!!

Second, I guess this is what I would answer - in my VERY humble opinion.

3. Narrow it down- Baker in your price price range. Quality of previous work is something you like. Taste (obviously) But ultimately, how comfortable you feel with them. Questions - charge for anniversary tier? set-up and delivery? extra charge for multiple flavors? Alot of these questions can even be made BEFORE a tasting if the bakers doesn't already have them on their website.

5. Hard to reach, doesn't give exact answers to simple questions, a "I've only done my kid's b-day character cakes and loved it so much decided I wanted to do start doing wedding cakes"

CoutureCake Posted 16 Sep 2008 , 7:03am
post #3 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by txkat

So, I have been asked to write an article for a local wedding magazine. They want me to answer the following questions:

1) Please list the top five current trends in cake detail (edible flowers, blown sugar, etc)
2) What are some things to consider when selecting a cake and the type of icing for your reception?
3) When choosing a baker, what are a few things to look for and questions to ask?
4) What are the current color schemes that "make the cake"?
5) Are there any "red flags" when it comes to selecting a cake decorator?

1, 2 and 4 are easy enough, but 3 and 5 seem like really loaded questions. What would you answer ?




O.k.... 3) Check the cleanliness of their kitchen space and how they're staff is dressed. Most states require some form of hair protection (limited to a hat and/or hair net), if their staff are touching their faces with their hands are they washing them immediately thereafter. Granted, a bakery in production is going to have powdered sugar and flour all over the place, but it's still going to be ship shape clean under that. Even though busy, a clean bakery is one that will likely tend to pay more attention to the details involved with food safety and handling. Other questions to consider:
- Is the baker trying to nickel and dime you for every detail on the cake or are they pretty straight-forward on their pricing scales.
-Is delivery included in the cake price or not and are they up front about delivery/setup.
-Do the geometry!!! Yes, there really is a use for high school geometry! What size slice is the baker using? For example, a standard wedding slice is 1x2x4, but most bakers have some version of their own serving charts which can be 1x1x3, 1x3x5, or even 1 1/2x1 1/2x 1 1/2 for sheet cake slices. If the baker is charging you $4.50/slice you're getting totally different values for your dollar and what appears to be a $1.65 slice is really 1/3 the slice you'd get from another baker when figured out on an even level.
-Delivery and setup is a MUST for the cake! Some places will not deliver or set up the cake nor do you want to figure out this task in your gown while you're suppose to be getting ready for the wedding. If something happens to the cake and your baker is doing the delivery/setup, then it's their responsibility, if it's Cousin Moe, you're likely SOL.
-If they are baking out of their home do they have the proper licensure from the state to be selling.
-What is the payment schedule, do they offer any discounts if you pay in full right away vs. on a deposit and payment schedule.
-When is the final date for changes to the order and final payment
-What is the minimum order
-Please be considerate of the baker's time. Yes, your order is important to them, but so are the orders of the other customers who have booked cakes that week who deserve just as much attention. Meeting with you may mean cutting into their family time along with the cost of materials to do your tasting. Tastings are not cheap, there is a cost involved, and it is not "the cost of doing business", please be considerate when making appointments that you can be there as close to on-time as possible.
-Go in there with realistic expectations of your budget. If you're up front with bakers that you have a budget of $$$ (rough estimates for this area are between $3.75-$8/slice) to feed XYZ amount of guests, what can you get for the money, bakers are far more willing to work with you to best meet that budget range than try to price you out of your budget with a cake you simply can't afford. Remember, you wouldn't go to the local family restaurant and expect a delishious personally baked for you dessert for $2/pp, don't expect that for your wedding cake either.

5) Red flags!!!
-They're doing this out of their home for fun without the proper licensure from the state because they only do a few so it's not worth it and they got started two months ago because they took the Wilton 1 class and their coworkers told them they should start selling cakes.
-You see their "furbabies" in the kitchen space or property
-No hair protection (hair flying everywhere, sure it won't make ya sick, but it'll gross people out the quickest) or rubbing their nose with their hands or licking their thumb to turn pages.
-They won't do a tasting, period, even if you offer to purchase a small cake from them
-No contract (the contract is there to protect not only the business but the bride with what the expectations are for the transaction)
-Their dummy cakes are gorgeous but the pictures of their real cakes are either non-existant or look like a 2yo did the decorating, o.k. a 6yo...
-There isn't even a basic photo album of REAL cakes they've done! And if there is, there aren't any wedding cakes in it!
-Funky Oily Smell and brown/black specs on the floor
-If the baker is ignoring your image of the cake or pictures you brought along of elements you liked to be worked into the design. Yes, there are limitations like some states do not allow non-edibles to be attached or in direct contact to the cake (this includes putting a spacer between the topper or even no real ribbon).. For example, the baker is trying to push you into a pillar and fountain set when all you want is a 3-tier stacked cake with no borders.
-You want table cakes but the baker won't do a 6" double-layer for each table but will do an 8" double-layer so your guests have to climb over eachother to get their slice of cake and you've got to do something different on those other tables for centerpieces.
-Your baker isn't up front that there may be photography and lighting issues with purples and violets so what was a color match at the bakery looks like a completely different color in your photos.
-The baker doesn't return calls and emails in a timely way. Be aware that bakers are incredibly busy Thursday thru Sunday with wedding cakes for other customers so be mindful of your expectations those days.
-Your personalities just don't mesh.
-The baker says they'll be licensed by your wedding date (unless they have the preliminary inspection paperwork this is suspect)..
-They won't deliver or setup the cake, period... (not a situation where they're booked up, but they won't deliver ever)
-They say "faux fondant looks just like the real thing"
-They say "All fondant is gross and tastes like glue"
-They rip on other bakers in a very unprofessional way, it's o.k. to say why they think their cake is better, but when they complain that baker S's work looks and tastes like cra*, then it's time to move on...


Hope that helps!!!

indydebi Posted 16 Sep 2008 , 7:39am
post #4 of 8

super great list!!

3) Personalities meshing is a good one! It's actually part of my speech to the bride about "make sure you can work well with your vendors ... I may be the cheapest or the best tasting, but if I'm a real bear to work with, you just don't need that kind of stress on your wedding day."


5) Flags: A lot of "you can't do that / have that" or "that can't be done", which is sometimes code for "I dont' want to to do that". Some things legitimately can't be done. You might check out that thread on "dumb things vendors tell brides" http://forum.cakecentral.com/cake-decorating-ftopict-580122-square.html

Red flag....(any vendor) calls the bride in the next 2 days and "suddenly" there is someone who wants to book their date "....but if you get your deposit in here this afternoon, I'll let you have the date." I detest this underhanded tactic and I actually warn my brides about it.

snarkybaker Posted 17 Sep 2008 , 1:34am
post #5 of 8

Here's what I ended up writing:

1-Trends:
Organic- Green : Brides are increasingly aware of the huge carbon footprint a big wedding can leave behind. Eschewing food color for the natural beauty of creamy ivory buttercream, decorating with fruit and fresh flowers from the local farmers market, and biodegradable take away boxes for grooms cakes are all hot trends in the Triangle.

Chocolate- More and more brides in the last few years have been ordering at least some of their wedding cake in chocolate, but still usually iced in traditional white. This year the trend has gone even further, and cakes covered in shiny chocolate ganache, rich fudge and even chocolatier style finishes are more popular than ever.

Grand Heights- Tall Wedding cakes are hot! A grand showpiece of a wedding cake can serve as the focal point of a reception room. If your wedding is smaller, ask your cake designer about incorporating faux tiers or pedestal stands to get more height from a smaller number of servings.

Architectural Interest- Cakes inspired by post modern shapes with carved interest make a bold statement. Squares, Triangles, octagons all add a modern look to a cake.

The death of the crooked cake- after years of Mad Hatter cake madness, traditional stacked cakes are the height of fashion in 2009.

2- Choosing a cake and an Icing

The cake should match the event. A fluffy iced devil's food cake with fresh hydrangeas is going to look like the country cousin in a big city ballroom. Likewise, a matte silver fondant covered square cake will be overdressed for an outdoor affair at the beach.

Taste, taste, taste ! A cake should be beautiful, but at it's heart, it is still dessert, and should be incredibly delicious.

Think about your audience, while you and your groom may be foodies of the first degree, and a mango cake with passion fruit filling and guava buttercream makes your heart skip a beat, Auntie Minnie from Buncombe County is going to be a bit put off by it. If your family is diverse, ( and really, who's isn't these days?) Consider getting two different flavors of cake, but make sure that you order about 10% more, since at every party one flavor will be more popular than the other, and there will always be those guests who like to try " Just a little of each."

The fondant /buttercream debate rages on, but if you really love clean modern lines or pearl and metallic finishes, rolled fondant is the way to go. Buttercream made with 100% butter will have some trouble holding up in hot weather, so if your planning an outdoor event, you should plan to have the cake stored indoors until the cutting ceremony, or choose a fondant covered cake.

Questions to ask-
There are a lot of great bakers out there at a variety of price points. Have a budget in mind and share it with your baker. He/She should be able to help you design a cake that suits you event and your budget. Key questions to ask are:

" Who will decorate my cake ?" You wouldn't want to contract with a master cake designer just to have your cake made by the bakery's intern.

" Do you bake from scratch ?" is an important question. Even if you like cakes from a mix, a cake from a box should be at the lower end of the pricing spectrum.
"How far ahead do you bake ?" An elaborate wedding cake can take several days to decorate. The answer should be Wednesday or Thursday for an typical wedding cake delivered on Saturday.

If ordering your cake from a one baker operation or home-based cake lady, be sure to ask " What's your contingency plan?" In other word's who will provide your cake if the baker gets ill or their oven breaks down the Thursday or Friday before your Saturday wedding ?

Color Combinations-
Color combinations with green look fresh and modern. It mixes beautifully with pastels, like lilac, pink, and Carolina Blue.

Turquoise with apple red is a striking and unexpected combination for a bride wanting a bold look.

For a modern twist on the classic white on white cake, add some some pearly or metallic accents for a sophisticated tone on tone look.

Red Flags-
Style Mismatch- You dream of an elegant pearly white masterpiece, and they have a portfolio chocked full of hot pink Mad Hatter cakes. That doesn't mean he or she can't make you a wonderful cake, but the best cakes come from the heart, and you want a baker who loves the idea of making your dream cake.

Pressure Sales Tactics- any variation of " I have someone else wanting your date so you need to give me a deposit to hold it" can be a sign of an unethical business owner or a cash strapped operation. Letting either one make your wedding cake can be risky.

One man/woman shops and home bakers...for the reasons stated above.

Contrary baker- If you aren't liking your baker for any reason,or your personalities just don't "mesh" just find someone else.

indydebi Posted 19 Sep 2008 , 1:14am
post #6 of 8

I love that you added the part about baking on a wed or thurs is pretty normal! That helps eliminate the myth that we if we don't bake those 5 tiers masterpieces the morning of the wedding, then it's going to be a "stale" cake! icon_biggrin.gif

I was talking to a guy about decorated cookies and explained the icing has to sit for 24 hours before I can add the next color (whether it really needs that or not, that's what I tell them so they'll give me proper lead time). he said, "So those cookies are at least 48 hours old!!!!???? icon_surprised.gif " I said, "So, uh, how old ARE those Oreos in your pantry?" icon_rolleyes.gif He got the point. icon_lol.gif

Swede-cakes Posted 19 Sep 2008 , 1:59am
post #7 of 8

Great pointers, and I think your article is well written...much more personal and friendly than some I've read online lately! I love the part about being foodies and ordering mango cake for poor Aunt Minnie!

One question txkat; when you wrote "One man/woman shops and home bakers...for the reasons stated above", to which of your reasons are you referring in this case? Not giving you heat, here. Just wondering which pointers would be the reasons you advise not to hire a single-person op or home baker?

snarkybaker Posted 19 Sep 2008 , 2:04am
post #8 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by skichic68

Great pointers, and I think your article is well written...much more personal and friendly than some I've read online lately! I love the part about being foodies and ordering mango cake for poor Aunt Minnie!

One question txkat; when you wrote "One man/woman shops and home bakers...for the reasons stated above", to which of your reasons are you referring in this case? Not giving you heat, here. Just wondering which pointers would be the reasons you advise not to hire a single-person op or home baker?




I always tell brides considering using a home baker/ one man operation to ask what contingency plan they have for an unforseen emergency. If I drop dead two days before the bride's wedding, I have a staff of pastry chefs and a catering manager who will make sure the cake arrives. It's a major benefit of doing business with a larger scale operation.

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