This is my first actually profitable cake, so I want to get it right. The bride has asked for a tiered cake, 4 tiers, needs to serve 140 guests. She'd like it to have pink polka dots with smaller black polka dots, with a fondant pearl border.
First question: how should I work the size of the cake? I used Alice's cake pricing matrix to estimate servings, and figured a 10, 12, 14, 16 would serve 136, if I put an 8-inch on top of that it would serve 148. But is 5 tiers too tall? I've never made a cake that tall... I'm assembling on site at the reception hall. Any problems with cakes that big that i should be aware of?
second question: how to do the polka dots. I'd like the surface to be smooth, so could I use the same circle cutter to cut out the white fondant background on the cake, and place the polka dots in the hole?
Be aware that such a tall cake with only 2-inch differential between tiers is going to look like a rocket! Not to say it's a badlook, just be aware.
IMO, 3 or 4 inch differential between tiers is much more aesthetically pleasing. You might want to find examples on the net or use cake dummies and get the bride's opinion.
Also, aesthetically speaking, your top tier should be no larger than 8", otherwise it will look like you forgot the top of the cake.
For the dots, if you roll your fondant thin enough (I recommend a pasta machine), they'll look pretty darn smooth on the cake.
You can try to cut out holes, but keep in mind your dots will have to be the same thickness as your base fondant. IMO there are too many risk factors doing it this way. It's not worth the labor when it's so easy to slap dots on.
Remember the 10-foot rule - Guests will be viewing the cake from approximately 10 feet away or more. They will not notice that the dots stick out 1/32" from the surface of the cake.
You might want to check your servings again--my chart says 10, 12, 14, 16 serve 272....