What Do You Serve At A Tasting?

Decorating By mireillea Updated 29 Jan 2010 , 8:18pm by bobwonderbuns

mireillea Posted 23 Jan 2010 , 7:29pm
post #1 of 45

Hello!
I was just wondering what you all serve a wedding couple when they first come in for a tasting.
I always present them coffee, tea or soda with four small nicely decorated cakes (1 cake is good for 2-3 people) with different fillings, cake flavors and icing/fondant. Then, after the consultation, I put the remainders of the cakes in a box which they can take home so they can give a bite or two to their family and friends (sometimes they change their choice of flavor because the MOB or MIL told them that another flavor is better). I have been doing this for years and it serves me well (almost all tastings end up in an order), but it also takes quite some time to prepare the cakes.

Now, I was looking in a Sylvia Weinstock book and saw a picture in the back with a platter that she serves when doing a consultation. Wow, it looks so wonderful, like a painters pallet, but... it is sooo little! Just a few bites, smaller than a cake ball, and a few scoops of cream. It made me wonder. Am I overdoing it? Is she serving really small portions? What are your thoughts on that?

44 replies
brincess_b Posted 23 Jan 2010 , 7:40pm
post #2 of 45

most people dont serve actual cakes - its a couple of slices, a couple of cupcakes, which may be frosted, or the frosting may be separate.
do you charge for tastings?
if your way works, then great. but maybe you could do it in a way that is cheaper, and makes better use of your time, and still have a high booking rate.
xx

mireillea Posted 23 Jan 2010 , 7:59pm
post #3 of 45

No, I don't charge for the tastings. I just see the costs for a tasting as part of the total costs of a wedding cake. And I am not so worried about the cakes themself, I wonder more about the labor time. It can be quite time consuming to make all those little cakes. On the other hand I have always considered my tastings as something extra, something special that would give a peek on what the couple can expect when they do order their wedding cake with me. That is, until I saw the picture of Sylvia Weinstocks tasting material. It made me think that I might not need to do all the trouble.

_Jamie_ Posted 23 Jan 2010 , 8:14pm
post #4 of 45

Since I do my tastings once every couple of months now, I have the time, patience and energy to make pretty much every flavor I offer. And you bet, little bite size portions. 7 bites of 7 different things start to add up to actual slices...it's plenty.

I do it like Sylvia too. I have fancy little sushi platter things, with small compartment like sections that each hold a dollop of ganache, all the different flavored icings I offer, fruit curds, preserves, etc.,etc. It makes a stunning display. Cakes are sliced into their little cubes about 30 minutes before people arrive and kept on several cake stands covered in wrap until tasting time.

I have small bottles of water for each guest.

CakeForte Posted 23 Jan 2010 , 8:18pm
post #5 of 45

I used to do it the way you did..until one couple ate ALL of my cake and didn't book. (They were talking about how expensive I was outside of my door as they got into a brand new Mercedes.)

Now I do a small platter with tiny bits of cake and a few fillings. I tell them tis is just to get an idea of the taste and texture, etc etc. They can have a more robust tasting with the flavor of their choice once they put a deposit down.

Deb_ Posted 23 Jan 2010 , 8:34pm
post #6 of 45

I like the little bit of everything because it gives the couple a chance to sample all sorts of combos.

I offer 3 or 4 cake flavors.....5 or 6 fillings and my icings.

I also set it up similar to Jamie....I have little square white sushi dishes that I line up on a tray.

I serve tea/coffee, milk/water

jammjenks Posted 23 Jan 2010 , 8:58pm
post #7 of 45

Here is what my set-up usually looks like. This was in our formal living room, but I now do them at my dining room table. I also limit to three sample plates, but this one was for someone I really like. I knew their little girl would be with them, so I made one for her too.

Sometimes I have three cake flavors, sometimes four. No more than two fillings because most of my customers opt out of fillings anyway so that they can cut down $. Two types of buttercream.
LL

niccicola Posted 24 Jan 2010 , 2:00am
post #8 of 45

Party tastings are $25 with 2 cake flavor choices, wedding is $35 with 3 cake flavor choices.

They can choose from my 49 flavors. i make 4"x2" round or square cakes, just as they would normally look (leveled, torted, filled, etc.).

I only offer fondant, so they're all covered in fondant with buttercream piping on the top that labels what each is according to the flavor name they picked.

I might be overdoing it, but I do it from the home and I can't make several full sized cakes and cut down for tastings as I don't have a fluid stream of clients coming through.

I also meet at Starbucks or somewhere NOT at my home. They can buy/get their own drinks. They get the tasting fee deducted from their total if they book with me.

kellertur Posted 24 Jan 2010 , 2:27am
post #9 of 45

Sorry the photo quality & color is poor.
I've done a few different set-ups similar, put together mini cakes, but it depends how much patience/energy I have the night before. icon_wink.gif

I only serve bottled water. I'm always afraid anything else might confuse the pallette.
LL

Newtothis Posted 24 Jan 2010 , 2:52am
post #10 of 45

So do all of you keep cakes in the freezer along with your frostings? Or do you make the cakes up right before the tastings and just do a lot of tastings in one day? Being a home baker and not having many wedding cake orders I tend to make two small cakes for the bride and whoever else comes to taste. I will also send the left over cake home with them.

jammjenks Posted 24 Jan 2010 , 3:00am
post #11 of 45

I have the cakes in the freezer and pull them out a couple hrs before the tasting. Icing is in the fridge in a ziplock until I need it.

niccicola Posted 24 Jan 2010 , 3:04am
post #12 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Newtothis

So do all of you keep cakes in the freezer along with your frostings? Or do you make the cakes up right before the tastings and just do a lot of tastings in one day? Being a home baker and not having many wedding cake orders I tend to make two small cakes for the bride and whoever else comes to taste. I will also send the left over cake home with them.




I'm a freezer baker. BUT, with tastings, since they are so small and easy to throw together, I will bake thurs or Fri and put together quickly.

If i do have them frozen, thaw thursday morning.

indydebi Posted 24 Jan 2010 , 6:11am
post #13 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Newtothis

So do all of you keep cakes in the freezer along with your frostings? Or do you make the cakes up right before the tastings and just do a lot of tastings in one day? Being a home baker and not having many wedding cake orders I tend to make two small cakes for the bride and whoever else comes to taste. I will also send the left over cake home with them.




My tastings looked very much like jammjenks.

I would bake one 8" square of each flavor (white, choc and carrot, or white, choc and red velvet). Cut into 9 squares. Put in ziplok bags and put in freezer. Pull out one square (roughly 2" x 2") of each flavor for the tasting. It only takes about 10 minutes for them to thaw. I only bake once for every 9 sampling appts.

From what you describe, you're making enough cake for 12 people to feed 2 at a tasting! icon_eek.gif (four cakes that serve up to 3 people each). This is a TASTING! They are getting a TASTE of the cake. You dont' have to feed them a whole meal. If I went to a tasting with my fiance and was expected to eat 6 servings of cake, I'd be sick and would throw up before finishing.

not exactly the reaction you're hoping for! icon_rolleyes.gificon_biggrin.gif

mireillea Posted 24 Jan 2010 , 8:47am
post #14 of 45

Thank you all for your comments and for sharing your experience! Kellertur and Jammjenks, thank you for the photo's! They give such a good idea of your way of giving a tasting. And I learned so much from your stories. Indydebi, your story makes me realize how much I am overdoing it. I am very happy with your tips (baking once for every nine tastings). I have always been afraid to jeopardize the quality of the cakes when putting them in the freezer, but if you do it, with the tons of experience you have, I might as well dare to do it too! It will save me lots of time, and thinking of it, I believe my presentation will only become better.
I am going out shopping for nice pallettes this afternoon!

mireillea Posted 24 Jan 2010 , 8:51am
post #15 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi



From what you describe, you're making enough cake for 12 people to feed 2 at a tasting! icon_eek.gif (four cakes that serve up to 3 people each). This is a TASTING! They are getting a TASTE of the cake. You dont' have to feed them a whole meal.




Well come to think of it, almost every couple that comes in, says there is WAY TOO MUCH cake for them to eat. That is why I have to use a 20cmx20cm box for the remaining cake parts. icon_redface.gif

Mensch Posted 24 Jan 2010 , 9:27am
post #16 of 45

Geez, talk about shooting yourself in the foot! No one needs that much cake at a consultation. All that extra cake is not going to help them decide, or make them choose you. Why give so much product away?

Yesterday I made 1½ recipes of my standard cake. I divided it into four smaller bowls. I flavored one bowl with freshly grated lime zest; one with Kahlúa, instant espresso and ground espresso; one with vanilla bean and the last one with less vanilla bean and grated dark chocolate. Put them all into six-inch square pans.

Voilà!

Four different cake flavors for consultations. Lime zest, double espresso, vanilla bean and stracciatella.

On the tray I usually have about eight different flavors of cake (small slices - about ½" wide, 1½-2" tall and 3-3" long), +/- ten fillings and a smaller plate with frosting (I only use SMBC) and fondant. I wish I had a pic of my tray.

I keep the cake and the fillings in the freezer.

Sometimes there is a little cake left over and sometimes they eat the whole thing.

Before they come I make them aware that I can only accommodate two people, and that if they are parents they need to organize a sitter.

I book about 99% of all couples that come for consultations.

mireillea Posted 24 Jan 2010 , 10:15am
post #17 of 45

It sounds so great Mensch. The more I read about this method, the more I feel like doing it the same way too. In fact, I cannot wait till tomorrow when I have my next consultation!
What I love about it is that you have the opportunity to give them more choices which I obviously didn't have with my method: I didn't make additonal cakes because I knew the eaters just didn't have enough room to put those additional cakes.

handymama Posted 24 Jan 2010 , 12:31pm
post #18 of 45

I've looked and looked for Sylvia's "art palette" plate. Anyone know where to get it?

mireillea Posted 24 Jan 2010 , 12:50pm
post #19 of 45

With her income, they are probably custom made!

bonnscakesAZ Posted 24 Jan 2010 , 7:08pm
post #20 of 45

I used to do consultation at Starbucks also. I didn't want people at my house.. just being safe. I also let them choose two flavors. I would try to make 4 inch cakes when I was baking my other cakes.. So from the extra batter. I kept them in the freezer. When I had to prepare for a consult. I just took them out and torte and fill them. Then I would ice them and maybe put a little decor on top. Nothing fancy. I would take them in a 8x8 box. They wouldn't eat the whole cake and I never expected them to. They didn't even have to try them at the consult if they didn't want to. They would get to take the rest home of course and most really liked that. They had a couple desserts for later or they could let family members taste them as well. It seemed to go over really well and I didn't have to make a ton of cake flavors or fillings. If anyone wanted to have more than the two I offered for free I would charge $10 for each additional flavor they wanted.

handymama Posted 25 Jan 2010 , 1:24am
post #21 of 45

To those of you who freeze: how long do the cakes stay "just like fresh" in the freezer if well-wrapped? I've always been leery of freezing smaller samples, and since my business is just getting going I don't have a lot of tastings.

indydebi Posted 25 Jan 2010 , 1:26am
post #22 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by handymama

To those of you who freeze: how long do the cakes stay "just like fresh" in the freezer if well-wrapped? I've always been leery of freezing smaller samples, and since my business is just getting going I don't have a lot of tastings.


properly wrapped and thawed .... months.

I just wrap in a layer or two of saran and put in the freezer. The sample pieces that are already cut, I put in a ziplok bag only because I can just grab the one or two I need pretty easily. (I'd pull the square from the bag, wrap it in saran to lay on the counter to thaw). I use the GOOD saran, though. Commercial grade that you can buy at Sam's or GFS. I'd never trust that crappy crap saran they sell in grocery stores.

dandelion56602 Posted 25 Jan 2010 , 6:48am
post #24 of 45

I remember seeing White rectangular porcelain/china plates on Amazing Wedding Cakes (I think it was Cake Alchemy but may have been the one in CA). They displayed their most popluar cakes, already filled, in a row. The slices seemed to be 1x1x4".

I like the idea of small pieces of cake, a few icing flavors & a few different fillings. The thing I don't like about pre filling is everyone's palate is different. Someone may mix cake & filling flavors that you'd never think of (especially different nationalities). It just enables them to try different cakes w/ different fillings/icings.

And why not charge a fee? Let them know that it will go toward the cake's total charge when they book w/ you. If they don't book with you then you get paid for your time & effort!

And I found these spoon tasting plates/platters & fell in love. Now if I could find somewhere to purchase. They also have an artist palate. http://www.thedrhcollection.com/category/bia/

Tellis12 Posted 25 Jan 2010 , 1:07pm
post #25 of 45

Some of those tasting image links are crazy! The one with all the fondant flowers and cookies... who goes to all that work for a tasting?! I'd have to charge a ton if I was doing that.

_Jamie_ Posted 25 Jan 2010 , 2:12pm
post #26 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tellis12

Some of those tasting image links are crazy! The one with all the fondant flowers and cookies... who goes to all that work for a tasting?! I'd have to charge a ton if I was doing that.




And that's why I'll be danged if I ever do a tasting for one couple ever again. I can pick one Saturday or Sunday, and dedicate the entire morning/afternoon to a tasting "event". I can make all the stuff I can possibly think of the night before, have a HUGE spread that looks impressive, tastes impressive and IS impressive, and keep it free. Because I'm accommodating up to 12or 15 couples that day, it is worth it to get all fancy schmancy. Every weekend? Oh hell no. Never. I have perfectly good time to waste on my weekends, that don't involve cake. icon_biggrin.gif

prterrell Posted 25 Jan 2010 , 2:25pm
post #27 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by handymama

To those of you who freeze: how long do the cakes stay "just like fresh" in the freezer if well-wrapped? I've always been leery of freezing smaller samples, and since my business is just getting going I don't have a lot of tastings.




I've eaten cake that's been in the deep freezer for over a year and it tasted just as good as fresh-baked. As long as they're properly stored, they'll be fine.

Renaejrk Posted 25 Jan 2010 , 2:44pm
post #28 of 45

Now I wish I had an excuse to do a tasting!

mireillea Posted 25 Jan 2010 , 2:49pm
post #29 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tellis12

Some of those tasting image links are crazy! The one with all the fondant flowers and cookies... who goes to all that work for a tasting?! I'd have to charge a ton if I was doing that.




Well, apart from the cookies, that is exactly what I have been serving for the last couple of years. But tonight... it will be different! I have already bought nice plates and baked my cakes. I only have to make the fillings and then I will serve a nice platter like Jammjenks for the first time! Man, what a time saver!

tracycakes Posted 25 Jan 2010 , 3:55pm
post #30 of 45

I usually do 3 flavors of cake and I make cupcakes - they get 1 of each flavor to split. I also have 3 fillings and 3 icings. I put the fillings and icings in little cups and they can mix and match flavors. One bride and her mom this past weekend changed their mind everytime they tried a new combination until they were finally able to decide. I keep the cupcakes individually wrapped in the freezer until it's time to take it out to thaw.

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