Have You Ever Noticed...?

Decorating By Adrienne2931 Updated 18 Mar 2010 , 2:36pm by TitiaM

Adrienne2931 Posted 17 Mar 2010 , 7:38pm
post #1 of 20

That storebought cakes almost always have plain white buttercream that is sprayed different colors instead of actually colored different colors? Someone bought a cake for my boss' birthday yesterday and it got me thinking about it. I've only recently started decorating cakes for fun with no formal training and I can make better roses and borders than what they did on her cake; it's sad really. I don't think I ever want to buy a storebought cake again unless it's from a real bakery, not a grocery store bakery.

19 replies
Texas_Rose Posted 17 Mar 2010 , 7:41pm
post #2 of 20

I think sometimes they get the cakes already iced, then airbrush the colors on and add borders. One thing to remember when you're comparing your work to the grocery store is that a decorator in a grocery store may do 10 or more cakes in an hour. She doesn't have time to be absolutely perfect. If we're making cakes at home and spend an hour or more decorating a single cake, it's not surprising that it's going to look nicer.

indydebi Posted 17 Mar 2010 , 8:53pm
post #3 of 20

That type of bakery is in high productivity mode ... assembly line deluxe. Spraying the colors is MUCH faster than mixing different icing colors and switching icing bags for every detail.

costumeczar Posted 18 Mar 2010 , 12:52am
post #4 of 20

I'd also put "bakery" in quotation marks, since they don't do a heck of a lot of baking there, just pushing premade and shipped-in product through. Call it a grocery store baked-goods distribution center, not a bakery!

TitiaM Posted 18 Mar 2010 , 1:17am
post #5 of 20

The grocery store I worked for actually did bake the cakes there, but they had "time standards" that you had to follow--the only one I remember now was for small single layer cakes-- you had to try to do 80/hour....needless to say I never made that. I think 1/2 sheet cakes were 10/hour, but I don't really remember. Its hard to do anything very nice at those speeds.

Adrienne2931 Posted 18 Mar 2010 , 12:59pm
post #6 of 20

I agree that "bakery" should be in quotes. I'm glad there are people out there like the ones on this site that take pride in their work and don't cut corners to meet some crazy time crunch becasue they took on too much work.
That's also crazy about them expecting 80/hour. I'd be stressed all the time if that was on me to finish that fast.

leahk Posted 18 Mar 2010 , 1:13pm
post #7 of 20

80 cakes an hour?!?!?!? That's less than a minute per cake! What exactly can be accomplished in less than a minute?

dalis4joe Posted 18 Mar 2010 , 1:22pm
post #8 of 20

but these are probably people that just work there cause they need a job and they dont really care if it looks good or not... as long as their boss is happy with what they did... they are fine...

KHalstead Posted 18 Mar 2010 , 1:24pm
post #9 of 20

80 cakes/hr? That just explains SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO much doesn't it?

Adrienne2931 Posted 18 Mar 2010 , 1:32pm
post #10 of 20

It really does but I'm thinking maybe she meant 8 cakes an hour and not 80? That sounds a lot more doable to me.

cakesdivine Posted 18 Mar 2010 , 1:43pm
post #11 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by dalis4joe

but these are probably people that just work there cause they need a job and they dont really care if it looks good or not... as long as their boss is happy with what they did... they are fine...




Um no thumbsdown.gif When I worked for grocery stores I did so because at that point that was the only job I knew that would pay me what I needed to survive, plus I personally have to be doing something I love to do. I would not trade the time saving tricks and business experience I learned while being a grocery store decorator and bakery manager.

It is very rare to meet those unrealistic guidelines that corporate non decorators impose on decorators. The way they devised these insane guidelines is they put an extremely fast decorator in a room and have a cake already there, icing already made, bags already filled and say GO! They time how fast it takes her to do that one cake in a controlled environment. Then they say "well it took her 45 seconds to ice and decorate that cake so all our decorators should be able to do that." Well the reality is most decorators do more than just decorate at a grocery store bakery. They have to mix the icing most times (even in a bucket you have to remix because it is really lumpy), pre mix colors if that is how you are doing it, bag the icing, help customers, answer the phone and take orders...etc. The external conditions just are not even close to that controlled environment. It sucks.

I know many a grocery store decorator that when allowed to really take time on a cake create beautiful masterpieces, and their personal portfolios are amazing. But you are bound by corporate imposed parameters when working for a grocery store. It doesn't mean they don't care, it means the corporate entity doesn't care about the quality. Gotta keep those cases full at all times! icon_wink.gif

cownsj Posted 18 Mar 2010 , 1:44pm
post #12 of 20

We go in to our local grocery store and "critique" the cakes all the time. Just between us, no one else can hear. Very freqently we find the exact same cake still sitting there days later, a week later, 2 weeks later. We know because the icing might be mushed in a particular spot, or something else that we pick up on. They just sit and sit and sit. I can't imagine they can be making any money on them since they don't seem to turn them over vey much. My husband talked with them one time about really doing custom cakes. The regional manager was there and spoke with him, along with the district manager and store manager. They were all excited, and planning on how to showcase his cakes, etc. They were planning to set up a special section for his cakes and really promote wedding cakes and have a bunch on display. They told him to fill out the paperwork and they'd get back to him in a couple hours later with a start date. Well, he hears back from the "front end" manager who says they start everyone out part time, and they can't guarantee hours. One week it might be 17 hours, the next could be 35. And, you have to be available everyday from 6 am to 9pm because they don't know day to day exactly when they will need you most (which means you can't get any other job to fill in to pay the bills because they have monopolized all your hours). Oh, and they start you are minimum wage and in 6 - 9 months you could get moved up to full time hours. He asked this manager if she really thought they could get custom cake work with these conditions and all she could say was that they start everyone in the store this way. Then she didn't understand when he turned her down.

Adrienne2931 Posted 18 Mar 2010 , 1:51pm
post #13 of 20

I completely understand about corporate people not understanding what exactly we do 'in the field'. I've told some of my corporate people that I've gotten to know over the years what I thought about their policies they just randomly hand out and I know several of my peers have as well and it's gotten better. They still randomly hand down policies that don't make any sense in our type of office at times but I guess that's why they made the suggestion hotline. icon_rolleyes.gif

cakesdivine Posted 18 Mar 2010 , 1:53pm
post #14 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Adrienne2931

It really does but I'm thinking maybe she meant 8 cakes an hour and not 80? That sounds a lot more doable to me.




From experience I can tell you, she is not exaggerating. At one of the grocery store chains I worked for had in its guidelines that 1440 cupcakes should be able to be decorated with a BC swirl and confetti quins in one hour. That equates to 2 dozen cupcakes per minute, I mean I am pretty fast but that is ridiculous. No one at store level was ever able to do that, and honestly we didn't push that issue. As long as the cases were full, back up was full and orders were complete by day's end it was all good.

Adrienne2931 Posted 18 Mar 2010 , 1:57pm
post #15 of 20

That's crazy. I'm intimidated by these mysterious decorators that made the corporate people think everyone is that fast at decorating now icon_surprised.gif . I am definately avoiding those places from now on and only supporting 'real bakeries' like the ones all of you run/own/work for icon_biggrin.gif .

nanahaley Posted 18 Mar 2010 , 2:03pm
post #16 of 20

I called a grocery store "bakery" and tried to order some heart shaped undecorated cookies for a demo I had to do. I was informed that all the heart shaped cookies he had coming in were already decorated. I was surprised to find out they don't bake their own cookies.

cakesdivine Posted 18 Mar 2010 , 2:09pm
post #17 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by cownsj

We go in to our local grocery store and "critique" the cakes all the time. Just between us, no one else can hear. Very freqently we find the exact same cake still sitting there days later, a week later, 2 weeks later. We know because the icing might be mushed in a particular spot, or something else that we pick up on. They just sit and sit and sit. I can't imagine they can be making any money on them since they don't seem to turn them over vey much. My husband talked with them one time about really doing custom cakes. The regional manager was there and spoke with him, along with the district manager and store manager. They were all excited, and planning on how to showcase his cakes, etc. They were planning to set up a special section for his cakes and really promote wedding cakes and have a bunch on display. They told him to fill out the paperwork and they'd get back to him in a couple hours later with a start date. Well, he hears back from the "front end" manager who says they start everyone out part time, and they can't guarantee hours. One week it might be 17 hours, the next could be 35. And, you have to be available everyday from 6 am to 9pm because they don't know day to day exactly when they will need you most (which means you can't get any other job to fill in to pay the bills because they have monopolized all your hours). Oh, and they start you are minimum wage and in 6 - 9 months you could get moved up to full time hours. He asked this manager if she really thought they could get custom cake work with these conditions and all she could say was that they start everyone in the store this way. Then she didn't understand when he turned her down.




You are right about the schedule, it would change from week to week, never heard of day to day scheduling though. I guess I was fortunate. Back when I started at a grocery store min wage was $5.15 an hour and my very first grocery store dec job paid me $10.50 to start, and eventhough they said I was part time, I worked full time hours, but wasn't eligible for health care coverage because of my part time status. They do that on purpose so they don't have to offer you benefits. When I threatened to quit they changed my status. I did get a .50 raise every 6 months, didn't even have to ask for it. If you got a good review from your manager you got the raise.

Then years later, when necessity caused me to have to jump back into the grocery store life, I was started at $13.50 and min wage at that time was $5.85. It sucks that your husband was only offered min wage. I have never heard of that for a decorator before. They usually ask what do you want to make and as long as it isn't higher than or the same as what the manager is making they go for it.

Win Posted 18 Mar 2010 , 2:26pm
post #18 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by dalis4joe

but these are probably people that just work there cause they need a job and they dont really care if it looks good or not... as long as their boss is happy with what they did... they are fine...




That's a pretty broad assumption/statement to make. These "people" indeed probably need the job, but it does not mean they don't care if it does not look good. They have a time requirement hanging over their head and if they don't produce sed number of cakes in a certain amount of time, that job they need is in danger of being eliminated. Many have their back against a wall. --Not saying there might be some who just don't care... but from personal experience, I can tell you that it's not everyone who works in a grocery store bakery who operate that way.

TitiaM Posted 18 Mar 2010 , 2:30pm
post #19 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Adrienne2931

It really does but I'm thinking maybe she meant 8 cakes an hour and not 80? That sounds a lot more doable to me.





No, I really mean 80 in 1 hour. It totally stressed me out when I looked at their books for that, but cakesdivine is right, they didn't push it too much as long as the case was full, and the orders were done. I was the only decorator for the whole, large store--and that's not uncommon for this particular chain.

TitiaM Posted 18 Mar 2010 , 2:36pm
post #20 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Win

Quote:
Originally Posted by dalis4joe

but these are probably people that just work there cause they need a job and they dont really care if it looks good or not... as long as their boss is happy with what they did... they are fine...



That's a pretty broad assumption/statement to make. These "people" indeed probably need the job, but it does not mean they don't care if it does not look good. They have a time requirement hanging over their head and if they don't produce sed number of cakes in a certain amount of time, that job they need is in danger of being eliminated. Many have their back against a wall. --Not saying there might be some who just don't care... but from personal experience, I can tell you that it's not everyone who works in a grocery store bakery who operate that way.





I agree with you, I definitely cared--which was part of my problem, I hated putting out product that was low quality, but I wasn't fast enough to keep up otherwise. I do know grocery store decorators who are really good at what they do--and love what they do--and the quality shows in their product.

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