Castle Wedding Cake

Decorating By DakotaDesigns Updated 7 Nov 2009 , 9:11pm by Deb_

DakotaDesigns Posted 14 Oct 2009 , 6:09pm
post #1 of 20

Ok ladies and gents, it's crunch time and I'm stressin. I have a wedding cake that I am just getting started on. The base is going to be two layers of cake, 4 different flavors and measure 24x30. That will be the castle grounds. The castle is going to be 12x15x(approx.)18. I have a couple things I need ya'lls help with (this is my first wedding cake!). The bride's mom is providing the fillings (family recipe's). My sister-in law is baking the cakes for me (thank heavens!) and I am doing all of the construction and decorating.
With the castle and support, I have not had a cake of such proportion! Would 1/4" Diameter dowels work in conjunction with foamboard to support? And would I want to do supports every two layers or could I get away with 3?
For the stone look. I have a very super extremely strict budget doing this cake. The bride wants an 'old stone' look like the example picture below has. I have no mats with stone pattern, I have no money to buy one either. I was thinking of hand tooling them all in but that would take a week alone! (I work full time too). Any suggestions how to acheive it?
Also.......
LL

19 replies
DakotaDesigns Posted 14 Oct 2009 , 6:12pm
post #2 of 20

She wants the same coloring as in the picture. I don't have an airbrush so I am painting by hand. She wants a matte finish to the cake though and not glossy. How can I hand paint with a matte finish?

Lastly. I've been decorating for almost 13 years now, mostly it's been free and for fun and family/friends only. It is a loved hobby. I am ready to get to business though. The bride is my best friend I've known over half my life. I would do this free if she asked me to but she insisted I charge her. I wouldn't even know where to begin with charging for this. For sure I'm going to miss at least two days from work to complete this! Any ideas?

cylstrial Posted 14 Oct 2009 , 8:33pm
post #3 of 20

So start with how much money for the two days of work, plus the ingredients of the cake, plus the electricity to bake the cake and wash, plus how much money you want to decorate the cake.

I think you're just going to have to decide how much you want to charge - because if you were willing to give the cake to her, you're probably not going to charge as much as you would to a real customer.

Good luck!

DakotaDesigns Posted 15 Oct 2009 , 6:26pm
post #4 of 20

cylstrial I think your right on the pricing. I'll at least charge her the cost of everything. I've made it clear to her though that this is the only time I'll do something of this scale at a discounted price. I never intended on doing wedding cakes but so far I've had 5 requests!

For anyone else who see's this post, please please any and all suggestions for any of these things I'm stuck with it would be greatly appreciated!!

brincess_b Posted 15 Oct 2009 , 7:27pm
post #5 of 20

are you happy to spend hours hand marking the stone? yes? are you going to charge properly for your time, or just do it for free or mega cheap? thats a big cake, a lot of stone. (see if you can find some things to use - bits of pipe, pen lids, kitchen utensils with the right shapes)
no? then you need to have a sit down chat with your bride about what is and is not possible on her budget.

and you can guarentee that what she is willing to pay you is nothing like the real cost of that cake. probably serves about 100 for the base, 296 for the castle (assuming 18 is the height, aprox 4 inch high servings - can do 6 if you want, slightly less servings but bigger [and im never sure my wilton math comes out right]). thats a freaking big cake, 396 total, and at a really cheap basic $3 a serving, thats $1188. and that is a BARGIN, which doesnt take into account things like hand marking the stone, hand painting, gumpaste accents, set up and delivery.

your regular support system should be fine, every 6 inches you NEED more support (ie: board and dowel), but you could stick with 4 inches, and a standard serving size (a 6 inch cake may not fit on the plates provided).

i would not fancy trying to hand paint the castle to look airbrushed, i just dont think *i* could do it. it depends how you feel. i would just mix the colour into the fondant. im pretty sure just painting on with diluted petal dust goes matt and with diluted gel colours, but im not 100%.

hopefully you know the standard of your SILs cakes, but what about the standard of the filling? things like how thick is it? will she actually give you enough? does it need refridgerated?

some things to think about!
xx

KHalstead Posted 15 Oct 2009 , 7:45pm
post #6 of 20

strict budget or not, the cheapest thing you're going to find to put that impression in the fondant is an impression mat......I got a cobblestone one for about $3.00 online and it came in an envelope and I'm positive it was under $5.00 with the shipping. The amount of time that $5.00 is going to save you is TONS!

As for handpainting with a matte finish....what I would do is color the fondant ivory and then use a brown petal dust or even cocoa powder on a blush brush to just ever so lightly darken around the corners and random indents to look like old stonework.

As for the foam core, you should be ok.......I'd be likely to use 1/2" thick foam core to be on the safe side, and always err on the side of caution with large cakes. If you can put a board every 2 layers, then do that. Also I would seriously consider using the bigger hollow plastic dowels instead of the wooden ones...they are less likely to slip inside the cake and make the whole thing collapse. Using the wooden ones as a means to keep all the cakes in place once it's assembled (good idea) yes.....I'd probably put several spaced out across that cake just to be safe.

Better to have too many safety measures than not enough with a cake that big. As for your bottom board under the whole thing, I'd try to get a sheet of plywood if you can, or some MDF (they sell 3'x4' boards for around $3.00 at Home Depot)

Good Luck,
Cant wait to see the end result.......that cake is gorgeous!

cylstrial Posted 16 Oct 2009 , 11:38am
post #7 of 20

I also got a little brick mat on the internet for about $5.00 including shipping. I got mine on ebay. It's probably about the size of half a sheet of paper. So 8" by 5" or something like that. I'm not home to meaure it right now.

CBMom Posted 16 Oct 2009 , 3:32pm
post #8 of 20

I have no idea if this would work...the first thing I saw was the castle cake layers all carved with the turrets attached...all supported by cake board.

KWIM?

Cut the foam core to the same shape as you are carving the cake.
Cut all foam cores the same.
Carve the one piece cakes (2layers each) the same as the foam core.
Stack, put through additional support, and you should be all set to cover.

That way, you'll know that all the layers are:
a) the same size as the ones below and above
b) less likely that you'll have stability problems with the turrets
c) you can do them individually, then stack when ready...so not so much time with a ginormous cake on your table! LOL

Just a suggestion - can't wait to see it!!

dmcclend Posted 16 Oct 2009 , 8:23pm
post #9 of 20

If you have a Michael's or a Jo Ann's Fabric store look in their clay aisle to see if they sell the cobblestone pattern matt for $5.00. Your time is too valuable for you to try and handmake each block plus you have a lot of other work to do for this cake. To make the turrets, use gumpaste. Go to home depot and buy pvc pipes (small), wrap wax paper around the pipes then wrap the gumpaste and let dry. Do not use paper towel rolls b/c it could lose its shape due to the weight of the gumpaste compressing on the tube.

DakotaDesigns Posted 5 Nov 2009 , 6:56am
post #10 of 20

Done. Done. Done. No more favors, not even for family. I ended up losing three days of 9-5, put over $100 out of my own pocket for a "supplies provided" cake, between my SIL and I we've got over 200 hours into it and thus far I've been paid $50. I must say I am a bit upset by this. I feel I have put myself in a very bad position. On one hand she's my best friend, I would have done it free had she not insisted on paying me... "I will make sure you're more then compensated". On the other hand, the agreement was that this would not impose a financial hardship on my household and family. Since I am still crafting from home it's not like I have everything I need at my disposal immediately. When there was something I asked for she would go buy it (2-4 days later).

Besides not doing favors, I learned a lot of lessons with this cake. It was my tallest ever. I learned a lot about construction of stacked cakes, that your hands hurt after 6 hours of non-stop piping grass, about proper support and glueing of vertical pieces, about transporting large stacked cakes...... I ended up showing up to the wedding with this thing masking taped together icon_sad.gif The towers started to fall off when I was transporting. I tried to make gumpaste towers but they kept breaking apart. I went through about ten of them before it became crunch time. The morning of the wedding I resorted to gumpaste on PVC. The glue however didn't have enough time to dry completely. The cake started to fall apart.

Unfortunately I didn't take any pictures after it was done and before it was moved. I ended up spending the entire ceremony in the kitchen fixing the cake on site. Everthing that could have gone wrong, did. I've posted pictures of it. By the time she was done making changes, it looked nothing like the original idea.

http://cakecentral.com/modules.php?name=gallery&file=displayimage&pid=1508115

SugarFrosted Posted 5 Nov 2009 , 7:59am
post #11 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by DakotaDesigns

Done. Done. Done. No more favors, not even for family. I ended up losing three days of 9-5, put over $100 out of my own pocket for a "supplies provided" cake, between my SIL and I we've got over 200 hours into it and thus far I've been paid $50. I must say I am a bit upset by this. I feel I have put myself in a very bad position. On one hand she's my best friend, I would have done it free had she not insisted on paying me... "I will make sure you're more then compensated". On the other hand, the agreement was that this would not impose a financial hardship on my household and family. Since I am still crafting from home it's not like I have everything I need at my disposal immediately. When there was something I asked for she would go buy it (2-4 days later).

Besides not doing favors, I learned a lot of lessons with this cake. It was my tallest ever. I learned a lot about construction of stacked cakes, that your hands hurt after 6 hours of non-stop piping grass, about proper support and glueing of vertical pieces, about transporting large stacked cakes...... I ended up showing up to the wedding with this thing masking taped together icon_sad.gif The towers started to fall off when I was transporting. I tried to make gumpaste towers but they kept breaking apart. I went through about ten of them before it became crunch time. The morning of the wedding I resorted to gumpaste on PVC. The glue however didn't have enough time to dry completely. The cake started to fall apart.

Unfortunately I didn't take any pictures after it was done and before it was moved. I ended up spending the entire ceremony in the kitchen fixing the cake on site. Everthing that could have gone wrong, did. I've posted pictures of it. By the time she was done making changes, it looked nothing like the original idea.

http://cakecentral.com/modules.php?name=gallery&file=displayimage&pid=1508115




Isn't this what the situation has become...a hardship?

And what do you mean, you've been paid only $50 so far? Why? Haven't you given her a bill? Does she think the cake is only worth $50? Does she think that is what "you'll be more than compensated" means?

I'd be having a come-to-Jesus meeting with my "best friend" if this happened to me, for sure.

Tee-Y Posted 5 Nov 2009 , 9:07am
post #12 of 20

That's so sad but can you really blame your friend? You didn't give her an estimate and you said yourself you'ld be willing to do it for free so I think you should take it as a lesson well learn't(in a hard way) -don't assume your customer knows the worth of the cake, always settle on the price before you take on a job!

majka_ze Posted 5 Nov 2009 , 9:35am
post #13 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tee-Y

That's so sad but can you really blame your friend? You didn't give her an estimate and you said yourself you'ld be willing to do it for free so I think you should take it as a lesson well learn't(in a hard way) -don't assume your customer knows the worth of the cake, always settle on the price before you take on a job!



Even when you are starting and want to be more than fair and get paid only for what it ends with - still give an estimate. Even when the estimate for the best friend is "it will end between 150 and 200 dollars in ingredients and all other things you need to buy, probably on the higher end". For all the others you would quote more, sometimes much more.

Generally, I find it quite a good idea to give the "normal price" as information even for the very best friend. It doesn't mean I will charge them this price. But this way you don't run the risk that somebody sees the cake, ask them how much they paid and they give this very special price out. You end explaining to potential customers that they cannot get the cake for this price. A good friend will understand when you say "should I make this cake again for my business, I wouldn't expect to do it for less then xxx".

In this case, be happy you learned the lesson this soon in your business life. You were prepared to make it a gift. Think about the cake as a gift given and lesson learned. Be prepared to adjust your prices. Work a "safety margin" in them - there were only few sculpted cakes I could do in the time I thought it would take. With more experience I learned to gauge it better and I hope sometime I will only need to look at my design, see the dimensions and decoration and be pretty close in my assessment of cost and time involved.
Make a part of the price a "self-insurance". Ask for more money for the times when there is more work or costs involved then expected. Even when you don't need it for the first couple of orders - there could be time when you need to rebake or start over completely.

cylstrial Posted 5 Nov 2009 , 11:57am
post #14 of 20

Well the cake turned out great. I'm sorry that you put so much time and effort into it and didn't get paid very much. I mean you really took a hit by not working 9-5 for several days. Plus the expenses, plus the time.

You need to charge your friends in the future!

DakotaDesigns Posted 5 Nov 2009 , 5:27pm
post #15 of 20

Yes many lessons learned. I think what I am really the most upset about is that she assured me for three months that everything I needed for this one would be provided and that I wouldn't need to buy anything out of pocket for it. On top of shelling out from my budget for her cake, I ended up buying a lot of other last minute things for her because she told me she was absolutely 'broke'. The day after the wedding when I had the repo man at my door for my TV I called her to see if she could reimburse me for a portion of the supplies so I could send the repo man with money and not my TV. Suddenly she had money. But it was her 'grocery' money. I spent my grocery money, rent money and bill money on this cake with the agreement that right after the wedding we would sit down and discuss the payment. I was to be paid from the money they received at the wedding. We're now two weeks past the wedding and she's been avoiding me. I don't want this to cost our friendship, I don't expect a lot, just at least the supplies cost.

When having our consultations I advised her if I were to charge minimum wage for the state that I live in it would be a $1500 minimum. After doing this cake, and learning what I did with what works and what doesn't and how much time, effort and supplies are involved, I won't do it for ANY less than 1500, maybe even 1700.

I have to say though that I absolutely love CC. I love being able to come on here for idea's and get my creativity flowing. I love going through the forums, I've learned a lot from other peoples mistakes and successes. I have a home in CC and I won't move lol. I just hope that someone else reads this thread and learns from me before learning the hard way.

And yes majka_ze, I am very glad that I got this slap in the face so early and it will just help to reinforce when people want to haggle with me on my time. I barely saw my children and family for an entire week. They were there, I could physically see them, but I couldn't slow down enough to bond and have my time with them. I am so happy that I have a week break before my next confectionery delight! Thank you all for the advice and for listening to me ramble on. It really does mean a lot and touches me in this warm spot in my chest <3 icon_biggrin.gif

Deb_ Posted 5 Nov 2009 , 8:49pm
post #16 of 20

First lesson to learn here is that if it takes 200 hrs to create a cake that should take about 20 hrs, it's not really the clients problem or responsibility to pay you for those 200 hrs.

Perhaps until your speed picks up you shouldn't expect to be paid by the hour.

Just saying........I'm in no way trying to insult you, I'm just trying to show you another point of view....the client's side.

Second lesson....never assume that your friend/family will "know" what a cake is worth and how much money they need to pay you, you need to tell them a price up front that way if it's not in their budget everyone will understand that ahead of time.

Projects/favors like this always seem to hurt a friendship and that's too bad. Business is business and you need to protect your interest/investment.

Good luck, I hope she comes through with more money for you.

P.S. Oh, here's an example of "family ignorance".....I just recently did my own castle wedding cake for a niece. At the reception after I set the cake up one of my BILs came up to me and said how much he liked the cake and he asked me how much I would charge for a cake like that. I asked him what he would pay and his response nearly made me faint....he said about $200.....here's the cake.
http://www.cakecentral.com/modules.php?name=gallery&file=displayimage&pid=1498608

It would be a cold day you know where before I sold him that cake for $200...I told him to add $2000 to that price.....shut him up real fast. icon_biggrin.gif

DakotaDesigns Posted 6 Nov 2009 , 5:00pm
post #17 of 20

DKelly I agree that it shouldn't take 200 hours, but I know that for what I had to work with there'd be no way it would take 20 hours. The time spent was start to finish everything including baking. I don't expect her to pay me for all the labor, I would just like to be paid back for the out of pocket expense of creating it. The original agreement was that everything would be supplied to me and when that didn't happen it was agree'd that the day after the wedding I would be reimbursed for all expenses. They didn't go on a honeymoon because he's in school and she's getting ready to go on maternity leave. Now two weeks have passed and she's avoiding me.

I don't generally charge by the hour, because if I did no one would be able to afford the cakes. I'm really anal about detail and find myself spending way more time on things that I shouldn't worry to much about.

That castle cake you did was gorgeous! Did you use an impression mat for the cobblestone base? I tried getting her to order me one but that hit a dead end so I ended up using my veiner and a paintbrush to detail everything. And I am oooooober curious on how you did your towers? I wanted to make them of pastillage and/or gumpaste but she insisted that she didn't want anything nasty or non-edible on her cake. I laughed when she griped about having dowels and supports inside of it. I reminded her of the bachelorette cake I did that squashed down from having no support.

Oh, and no insult taken icon_wink.gif that's what I love most about this site, constructive criticism is always welcome on my doorstep!

pechee Posted 7 Nov 2009 , 4:16pm
post #18 of 20

DakotaDesigns, for my towers, I used the inside of papertowel rolls and wrapped MMF around them. Took me a few tries, but at least they stayed up!!

CC22504 Posted 7 Nov 2009 , 8:56pm
post #19 of 20

I love your cake. It is sooo colorful and eye catching. For this to be your first castle cake you did a great job! I am sorry about your best friend avoiding you it's soo sad..and I know the only way you went through such great lengths because she is your best friend. But don't give up completely perhaps she will come around eventually..just don't expect her too. All in all the cake looks great!

Deb_ Posted 7 Nov 2009 , 9:11pm
post #20 of 20

Yes, I used an impression mat that I purchased from global...I think 5 mats came in a set (brick, wood, cobblestone and 2 others I can't remember) all 5 were under $10.

I can't imagine how long that must have taken you without a mat, wow, you have a LOT of patience for sure! icon_lol.gif

For the towers I cut lengths of pvc pipe and wrapped them with fondant/gumpaste. I allowed them to dry for about a week before I removed the pipe. For the peaks I just used styro foam cones as my mold and wrapped the fondant/gumpaste around them and allowed them to dry before removing the styro.

They dried really hard because of the GP. To attach them to the base I just placed a dowel inside each one and pushed the dowel into the styro base, I then filled the turret partially with royal icing. The royal icing was really strong. (It's what I use on my gingerbread houses)

It sounds like your friend is money strapped right now, expecting a baby and her dh in school. Hopefully someone will come through with some money for you. You certainly deserve it after all the work you put into that cake.

Quote by @%username% on %date%

%body%