Expensive And Elaborate Cake, Need Advice Please!

Decorating By JCE62108 Updated 27 Jun 2010 , 5:53am by crystal18_corpus

JCE62108 Posted 5 Jun 2010 , 10:25pm
post #1 of 40

This is by far the biggest sale I've had. The photo below is the inspiration cake. It will be pretty similar but with a few color and detail changes. Its going to be 4 tiers.

I am a little nervous because this is the most expensive cake order I've ever had and I do NOT want to screw this up. I have a few small questions for you.

Usually if a cake is 3 tiers, I dont have a problem bringing them fully stacked to a location. However, Ive never delivered a fully stacked 4 tier cake. I dont think I could even lift it. Only thing is, with this cake it has that crazy bead border. So what, would I have to sit there and roll balls of fondant on site to finish the cake? That could take a while. I mean, I guess I could do it, but wouldnt that be a bit much to do on site? Have you guys had to do that before?

I hate assembling cakes on site. It is so nervewracking. Not only is there the fear something could happen and Im not in my kitchen to fix it if I had to, but add to that the pressure of an audience (which most of the time there is) and it sets my nerves on fire. It's not good to have shaky hands when trying to assemble an $800 cake. Needless to say, I avoid this at all costs, but I dont think I can with this one.

So let me ask, how should I go about assembly on site? Do I stack two and two, or maybe the bottom two and keep the top two separate? Would it be totally unrealistic to even think about transporting it assembled? How would you handle the border?

Second question, I normally work alone, however I was thinking of hiring an assistant for the day. Do you think that would be neccesary? If so, what's a decent pay for a few hours work? I was thinking $50 and they wouldnt have to do much except ride with me, maybe open doors, help me carry it inside, be an extra safeguard while handling and assembling it. What do you think? Do you usually have someone go with you on deliveries like this?

Third question, all the little gumpaste details, attach them all on site or attach what I can before delivery? Ive never done a cake with so much gumpaste stuff on it. How should I transport the shoes? Ive never made gumpaste shoes before so I dont really know how fragile they are. How should I attach the gumpaste decor? Royal maybe?

My last question....Ive had some difficulty in the past with topsy turvy cakes and such. Thank goodness this isnt topsy turvy, but it is mad hatter style. In tutorials I have seen where you are supposed to bake (for example) an 8 inch and 9 in layer to get that effect. However, nearly every time I do this, the bottom layer ends up cracking under the pressure. It will be fine as long as there is no weight on it, but add the fondant and the weight of it squishes it creating bulges or breaking the bottom layer. I've tried adding a little weight to the top of the cake by setting a cake pan on top with something kind of light like a jar of peanut butter to get it to settle and try to avoid this, but it hasnt worked. Either the bottom breaks during that process or it it still does it later after adding the fondant. Well, or bulges. When I do that, I only let it settle with some weight for an hour. Maybe I need more time? How do you think I can avoid this?

Any advice you can give me on this cake would be much appreciated. This is due in about 3 weeks. Im about to get started on the shoes in the next few days so I have plenty of time to practice and mess up. icon_smile.gif The flowers I bought so no biggie there. Thank you in advance I really look forward to all your experienced advice. Im so excited about this order! It's a gorgeous cake.
LL

39 replies
Kitagrl Posted 5 Jun 2010 , 10:56pm
post #2 of 40

Beautiful cake!!!! How fun!

I would totally assemble everything but the purse and shoe and phone and stuff, and take it completely assembled. Use plenty of bubble tea straws in each tier, and a dowel through the middle, and chill well before delivery and keep the a/c going in the car. Nothing is going to happen to it. Maybe take a strong friend with you to help you get it inside.

For the slanted sides I totally just bake a normal two layer round cake...fill with buttercream (preferably) like normal...then take a knife and as you spin the turntable, gently cut at a small angle. You can always take more off later but do a bit at a time. Then ice. Chill before stacking....use bubble tea straws to stack....sharpened dowel through center...decorate...refrigerate...deliver!

Good luck!

JCE62108 Posted 5 Jun 2010 , 11:08pm
post #3 of 40

Thanks! I have no clue what bubble tea straws are, but I use the bakery crafts single plate system. I love it. never had a mishap with it and it's strong and sturdy. The purse is cake, so Id probably put that on there. It would be easier I think, but I can leave everything else off if I need to.

I could probably hire my best friend's hubby. He helped me with a giant sea turtle a month ago. icon_smile.gif

Is there such a thing as a foldable flat top cart to move this thing around with? Id love something like that to bring on deliveries with me.

Kitagrl Posted 5 Jun 2010 , 11:12pm
post #4 of 40

Bubble tea straws are just super wide plastic straws but what you have is good too!!!!

I have a full sized cart from sams club but it doesn't fold...and so many times places have stairs too...

The_Sugar_Fairy Posted 5 Jun 2010 , 11:18pm
post #5 of 40

That cake looks like it'll be fun to do. Good luck with everything! If you are going to stack it on site, you could always take the fondant balls already rolled, then attach them with royal icing when you're there.

EvMarie Posted 5 Jun 2010 , 11:59pm
post #6 of 40

Okay - not a cake expert! But......I read a post about putting too many dowels and/or supports for a tier. I think it was in relation to a carved cake of some sort. The lesson I learned seemed to be "more isn't always better". One of the posters said that so many dowels in the bottom tier of the cake in question compromised the bottom tier. Sort of like - if you poke too many holes, you'll end up with a bunch of pieces?

Again, I have no place offering any experienced advice on stacking cakes. But, before you do an "overkill" on the doweling, I just thought I'd contribute that tidbit.

I'm sure you'll do fine. Just an analytical point though....if you did cut your dowels a tiny bit taller than the cake, the "ball" border could be sized to cover it up. That way, there is no weight FOR SURE. The ball border does look quite large. I bet you could get away with it. As long as you are cool with each layer independantly....I'm thinking cut the dowels a tiny bit taller.

Just a thought from a lady who ran screaming from cakes! Good Luck!

CWR41 Posted 6 Jun 2010 , 12:06am
post #7 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by JCE62108

Is there such a thing as a foldable flat top cart to move this thing around with? Id love something like that to bring on deliveries with me.




You can google search for many foldable carts, but Handtrucks.com has some nice ones, as well as HandtruckSuperstore.com.

EvMarie: You're right, too many dowels make a perforation line for the cake to break away (the OP mentioned using SPS instead of dowels for this project).

Kitagrl Posted 6 Jun 2010 , 12:19am
post #8 of 40

That's why bubble tea straws are so great...they are hollow, so they do not displace cake like dowels do.

JCE62108 Posted 6 Jun 2010 , 12:28am
post #9 of 40

Yeah, the colums for the SPS are hollow too. I love it. EvMarie, thank you for your advice. I always measure my cake before I stack them so they are never any more than 4 inches tall. The colums are exactly 4 inches. If anything I make it a little lower to account for icing and fondant, but even that isnt usually neccesary. I learned the hard way to ALWAYS trim your cakes to 4" . This ensures that the colums are resting on the board only, and no weight is on the cake. This is one detail I never, ever look over. LOL like I said, I learned the hard way. icon_smile.gif It only fits 4 colums so I dont have to worry about too many supports either, and its a strong system. Only thing is I cant put a dowel through it, but that doesnt really matter. It holds up really well without that.

CWR41, thank you for the links! Ill check it out now!

EvMarie Posted 6 Jun 2010 , 1:38am
post #10 of 40

Welllllll......I do have a lot to learn about cake support. I tried to get "into" cakes but I just got so frustrated. And, frustration plus "over thinker" don't mix.

So, I'm glad to read all these posts about SPS and doweling and those bubble tea straws. I guess I'll just have to do a bunch of practice cakes at my leisure to get the hang of it. THEN, maybe I'll have some confidence about it.

I hear such good things about SPS. And, that was new to learn about measuring 4 inches. Thanks for that tidbit! I have not tried the bubble tea straw route. I think that'll be next on the agenda.

Thanks everyone for all the information & OP I'm sure you'll make a fab cake!

JCE62108 Posted 6 Jun 2010 , 1:43am
post #11 of 40

I tell ya, if I hadnt worked in a bakery and learned it that way, I probably never would have. I have the utmost respect for all these cakers that are completly self taught. It is very difficult and can be very stressful if you are trying to figure it all out on your own. That's why this website is amazing. I absolutly love it. icon_smile.gif

Kima920 Posted 6 Jun 2010 , 6:06am
post #12 of 40

I am self taught and messed up some learning everything that I know now. If you can get someone to teach you I would say do it because it will safe you alot of headaches and messed up cakes. I use bubble tea straws and I have had success with them. I just delivered a three tier cake (8,10 and 12) completely together. The top 6 inches I put it on the cake on site because it was just me delivering the cake. They are most definitely heavy so if you can get someone to help you deliver it then I say do it. I head great things about the SPS system and I think the next wedding cake I have to do in a couple of weeks I will be using it.

sweettreat101 Posted 6 Jun 2010 , 10:08pm
post #13 of 40

It would depend on how far you had to go for delivery. Decorate and stack the bottom two tiers and place in support system. Make the bead border ahead of time. Place support system in third tier. When you arrive at your destination. Stack the third and fourth cake. Place the bead border, flowers and other decorations. This way you will take off some of the weight and save your self some time and piece of mind. I don't have a problem with delivering three tiered cakes but as you said this cake is expensive and I don't know about where you live but it's getting really hot where I am which always worries me about deliveries. How are you planning on making the cell phone?

all4cake Posted 6 Jun 2010 , 10:20pm
post #14 of 40

If it were me, it'd be delivered completely assembled with the exception of the doodads/accessories...place on table, add the finishing elements and I'm gone.

With bigger cakes, I do take an assistant to help carry it to the vehicle then into the venue. $50 bucks sounds awesome for that function!

JCE62108 Posted 7 Jun 2010 , 1:15pm
post #15 of 40

Well, I actually live about an hour and a half from the delivery location, however I have a kitchen I work out of closer to Orlando, so I figured I'd take the tiers there and stack it there, that way I only have a 20 or 30 minute drive with it totally stacked.

Yeah I worry about the heat too. I wish I could rig an ac in the back of my car. icon_confused.gif But, if I point the two middle vents up and straight back, it does a REALLY good job of getting the trunk cool. I was very surprised by that. Ill just wear a sweater if I need to. icon_smile.gif

I think I just may attempt it completly stacked. I mean, I do 3 tier cakes all the time. What's another 4 inches? If I stack it correctly, then the cakes arent resting on each other. It shouldnt be a problem. In theory. icon_lol.gif

I am pretty worried about it being mad hatter though. I just havent had good luck. Maybe it's just that my cake recipe is too soft. I use wasc for everything. It's become what Im known for and everyone loves it. I hate to change my recipe for one cake.

So, I was thinking about the suggestion of baking the two tiers the same, and then carving it at an angle....you know, if I keep the outside crust on, will it maybe help it keep it's shape? Maybe be a little more sturdy? If I cut that tough part off, then its just the delicate loose cake crumbs. That worries me as well. I would like to hear more suggestions on this if anyone does this a different way and has had great success.

JCE62108 Posted 7 Jun 2010 , 1:16pm
post #16 of 40

Oh Im sorry, you asked about the cell phone. She decided not to do it because she doesnt want any black on the cake, so Im putting another shoe on top. What I WAS going to do, was just make the phone out of gumpaste and use an edible image for the screen. icon_smile.gif

Kiddiekakes Posted 7 Jun 2010 , 1:23pm
post #17 of 40

I too always use the same size layers..I tried it the way you said one time with the smaller layer on the bottom and the same thing happened..It crushed it.I now use the same layers and carve it down.Much more sturdier!!

CWR41 Posted 7 Jun 2010 , 4:22pm
post #18 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by JCE62108

Well, I actually live about an hour and a half from the delivery location, however I have a kitchen I work out of closer to Orlando, so I figured I'd take the tiers there and stack it there, that way I only have a 20 or 30 minute drive with it totally stacked.

Yeah I worry about the heat too. I wish I could rig an ac in the back of my car. icon_confused.gif But, if I point the two middle vents up and straight back, it does a REALLY good job of getting the trunk cool. I was very surprised by that. Ill just wear a sweater if I need to.




For Real? Are you serious when you said you use the trunk of your car? I wouldn't consider using a trunk for even a sheet cake, in the summer, in Florida (or any other state) ever. So, if you bring a folding cart along for the delivery, it gets priority over the cake to be in the air conditioned part of the car?

tracycakes Posted 7 Jun 2010 , 4:38pm
post #19 of 40

I use SPS and delivered a 5 tier cake this weekend, fully stacked. You must have help to carry though. I put my cakes in a box because they are easier to handle. We have a handtruck to haul things around. We have an SUV and we get it really cold before we load and keep it cold during the entire delivery. I"m in the south and this weekend, it was really hot and humid and this 5 tier was just fine. I hate stacking onsite so if I can stack it ahead and set it on the table, all the better for me.

confectionsofahousewife Posted 7 Jun 2010 , 4:40pm
post #20 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by JCE62108


So, I was thinking about the suggestion of baking the two tiers the same, and then carving it at an angle....you know, if I keep the outside crust on, will it maybe help it keep it's shape? Maybe be a little more sturdy? If I cut that tough part off, then its just the delicate loose cake crumbs. That worries me as well. I would like to hear more suggestions on this if anyone does this a different way and has had great success.




I have carved mad hatter both ways (only a couple times each, though). I seem to have better luck with using all the same size tiers and going from there. I have to be really careful, though, to carve evenly so the shape is symmetrical. When I use varying layer sizes, I always end up with gaps that have to be filled with buttercream and I feel like they're less stable that way. Especially if you are covering it in fondant. You have way more experience than I do, so take it or leave it! Good luck. I can't wait to see the finished product.

JCE62108 Posted 7 Jun 2010 , 6:46pm
post #21 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by CWR41

Quote:
Originally Posted by JCE62108

Well, I actually live about an hour and a half from the delivery location, however I have a kitchen I work out of closer to Orlando, so I figured I'd take the tiers there and stack it there, that way I only have a 20 or 30 minute drive with it totally stacked.

Yeah I worry about the heat too. I wish I could rig an ac in the back of my car. icon_confused.gif But, if I point the two middle vents up and straight back, it does a REALLY good job of getting the trunk cool. I was very surprised by that. Ill just wear a sweater if I need to.



For Real? Are you serious when you said you use the trunk of your car? I wouldn't consider using a trunk for even a sheet cake, in the summer, in Florida (or any other state) ever. So, if you bring a folding cart along for the delivery, it gets priority over the cake to be in the air conditioned part of the car?




LOL! I DO have a little bit of brains about me. icon_biggrin.gif It's an SUV, hon. It's like a hatch back I guess you call it? I dont know what you call those types of trunks in an SUV. AC gets back there. Its the same air that I sit in. That's what I was saying. Besides, how in the world would someone fit a fully stacked 4 tier cake in the trunk of their car? A little credit, please. icon_smile.gif But thanks for your concern.

EDIT: I noticed I did say "car". I use car as a generic word. I should have said "vehicle". I appologize. icon_smile.gif

JCE62108 Posted 7 Jun 2010 , 6:54pm
post #22 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by confectionsofahousewife

Quote:
Originally Posted by JCE62108


So, I was thinking about the suggestion of baking the two tiers the same, and then carving it at an angle....you know, if I keep the outside crust on, will it maybe help it keep it's shape? Maybe be a little more sturdy? If I cut that tough part off, then its just the delicate loose cake crumbs. That worries me as well. I would like to hear more suggestions on this if anyone does this a different way and has had great success.



I have carved mad hatter both ways (only a couple times each, though). I seem to have better luck with using all the same size tiers and going from there. I have to be really careful, though, to carve evenly so the shape is symmetrical. When I use varying layer sizes, I always end up with gaps that have to be filled with buttercream and I feel like they're less stable that way. Especially if you are covering it in fondant. You have way more experience than I do, so take it or leave it! Good luck. I can't wait to see the finished product.




LOL! Why do you think I have more experience? I ask so many questions on here it's not even funny. icon_biggrin.gif I've only been doing this about a year on my own. Before that I worked at a grocery store. Never did fondant, only did buttercream birthday cakes, airbrushed with toys put on them. I have a lot to learn. I read a lot, and I ask a lot of questions...and in theory I know how to do a lot....it's just the experience. Only having been doing this for a year, I still make a lot of mistakes just from inexperience. I greatly appreciate your input on carving the cakes. A few other people seem to be saying the same thing, so you know what, Im going to take your advice and try it this way this time. I have not tried it this way yet, and I know the other way isnt working, so I'll give it a shot. thumbs_up.gif

CWR41 Posted 7 Jun 2010 , 6:58pm
post #23 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by JCE62108

it does a REALLY good job of getting the trunk cool.




LOL! I DO have a little bit of brains about me. icon_biggrin.gif It's an SUV, hon. It's like a hatch back I guess you call it? I dont know what you call those types of trunks in an SUV. AC gets back there. Its the same air that I sit in. That's what I was saying. Besides, how in the world would someone fit a fully stacked 4 tier cake in the trunk of their car? A little credit, please. icon_smile.gif But thanks for your concern.

EDIT: I noticed I did say "car". I use car as a generic word. I should have said "vehicle". I appologize. icon_smile.gif[/quote]

Thank God you have an SUV! The keyword wasn't "car" or "vehicle", it was TRUNK! I would have suggested investing in a van or SUV, but thought perhaps it was a typo and you meant "truck" which SUVs are also considered trucks but they don't have trunks, just flat cargo areas.

confectionsofahousewife Posted 7 Jun 2010 , 7:06pm
post #24 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by JCE62108



LOL! Why do you think I have more experience? I ask so many questions on here it's not even funny. icon_biggrin.gif I've only been doing this about a year on my own. Before that I worked at a grocery store. Never did fondant, only did buttercream birthday cakes, airbrushed with toys put on them. I have a lot to learn. I read a lot, and I ask a lot of questions...and in theory I know how to do a lot....it's just the experience. Only having been doing this for a year, I still make a lot of mistakes just from inexperience. I greatly appreciate your input on carving the cakes. A few other people seem to be saying the same thing, so you know what, Im going to take your advice and try it this way this time. I have not tried it this way yet, and I know the other way isnt working, so I'll give it a shot. thumbs_up.gif




I just assume EVERYONE has more experience than me! Don't know why really. I've only been doing this about a year too but didn't have any experience before that. I'm winging it. Are you a business? Maybe that's why I feel you have more experience.

JCE62108 Posted 7 Jun 2010 , 7:16pm
post #25 of 40

Lol! hey Im winging it too. I once had a co-worker tell me to "go at it like you know what your doing". So I pretty much do. lol. Technically, no. I dont have a business. It started as a hobby that grew a little out of hand. icon_biggrin.gif I got laid off from the bakery I worked at, took a few orders from friends and family to help me out, and word spread fast. A few months after I have the baby, I may start to think about opening my own bakery again. I nearly did about a month ago. Found a location, took my certified food managers course, I was getting things in order, then found out I was pregnant and decided to put it on hold. icon_smile.gif

Loucinda Posted 8 Jun 2010 , 11:53am
post #26 of 40

I just wanted to add something about the folding cart. I have a carlisle folding cart, and it is wonderful. It literally folds flat for storage, and works like a dream for deliveries. It is not heavy, and folds and unfolds perfectly. Pricey, but it will be around for a LONG time!

http://www.centralrestaurant.com/Food-Service-Folding-Cart-Wx-D-Unfolded-c79p4532.html?from=Search

confectionsofahousewife Posted 8 Jun 2010 , 12:50pm
post #27 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by JCE62108

Lol! hey Im winging it too. I once had a co-worker tell me to "go at it like you know what your doing". So I pretty much do. lol. Technically, no. I dont have a business. It started as a hobby that grew a little out of hand. icon_biggrin.gif I got laid off from the bakery I worked at, took a few orders from friends and family to help me out, and word spread fast. A few months after I have the baby, I may start to think about opening my own bakery again. I nearly did about a month ago. Found a location, took my certified food managers course, I was getting things in order, then found out I was pregnant and decided to put it on hold. icon_smile.gif




Things are getting out of hand for me too! Didn't know you were expecting. Congrats! When is your baby due? Wanting to open a business is part of the reason why we decided not to have any more babies. It would be that much longer before everyone is in school full time so I would have more time for cake.

leah_s Posted 8 Jun 2010 , 1:18pm
post #28 of 40

Well, I'm glad to see you use SPS. That's one battle solved. We know the cake will be well supported. You can make the fondant balls and carry them in a box. I've done it, they're fine. I'd likely deliver three stacked, just because I can't lift more than that. (Shoulder injury.)

JCE62108 Posted 8 Jun 2010 , 9:17pm
post #29 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by confectionsofahousewife

Quote:
Originally Posted by JCE62108

Lol! hey Im winging it too. I once had a co-worker tell me to "go at it like you know what your doing". So I pretty much do. lol. Technically, no. I dont have a business. It started as a hobby that grew a little out of hand. icon_biggrin.gif I got laid off from the bakery I worked at, took a few orders from friends and family to help me out, and word spread fast. A few months after I have the baby, I may start to think about opening my own bakery again. I nearly did about a month ago. Found a location, took my certified food managers course, I was getting things in order, then found out I was pregnant and decided to put it on hold. icon_smile.gif



Things are getting out of hand for me too! Didn't know you were expecting. Congrats! When is your baby due? Wanting to open a business is part of the reason why we decided not to have any more babies. It would be that much longer before everyone is in school full time so I would have more time for cake.




Dec. 29th! I have a ways to go. icon_smile.gif I'm fine with putting it off. My family comes first, really. At least the food manager certification is good for 5 years. Shame I spent $200 on it before I knew though.

Loucinda, thank you for the link! I pulled it up and Im going to look at it in just a sec.

Leah, yeah I used SPS at the bakery I worked at so I just kept with it because I was comfortable with it. Its really a good system. I trust it more than dowels and such. icon_smile.gif I dont think Id be able to lift even the 3 tiers by itself, honestly. its a 14, 12, 9, 7. Its gonna be heavy. I already contacted my friends hubby to help me. Im gonna hire him it they get back to me and he's available. icon_smile.gif He helped me carry a giant sea turtle before. I trust him. My hubby just had back and knee surgery, so he cant really help. He likes to supervise though. lol.

JCE62108 Posted 8 Jun 2010 , 9:22pm
post #30 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by Loucinda

I just wanted to add something about the folding cart. I have a carlisle folding cart, and it is wonderful. It literally folds flat for storage, and works like a dream for deliveries. It is not heavy, and folds and unfolds perfectly. Pricey, but it will be around for a LONG time!

http://www.centralrestaurant.com/Food-Service-Folding-Cart-Wx-D-Unfolded-c79p4532.html?from=Search




wow. that costs more than I thought it would. I guess I probably cant do something like that now. It looks like something that would be perfect though. Just add some non-slip rubber to the top or something. Thank you for the link! I still need to look at the other links that someone else gave me as well. icon_smile.gif

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