How Long Does It Take Y'all To Finish A Cake?

Decorating By whiteangel Updated 22 May 2011 , 1:02am by costumeczar

whiteangel Posted 20 May 2011 , 9:01pm
post #1 of 17

Just wanted to hear from all the bakers to see how long it typically takes them to complete a cake. Let's say it is 4 tier, stack on stack, with a lot of details. You are doing this cake alone without any help. All the baking, decorating, storing, everything.

How long would it take you? Give real time schedule as I am sure a lot of the newbies would like to know how long it takes the pros and semi-pros to do the cakes.

16 replies
SarahBeth3 Posted 20 May 2011 , 9:23pm
post #2 of 17

I'm getting ready to do this very cake for a wedding next weekend all by my lonesome. So far I have 7 hours in it just from meeting with the bride, designing the cake, shopping for the supplies and making the gum paste roses! I haven't even started on baking the cakes, which I will do tomorrow. So I'll have to let you know next weekend what it all came out to, start to delivery!

Marianna46 Posted 20 May 2011 , 9:27pm
post #3 of 17

I'd be interested in knowing this, too. It seems like it takes me forever. Fortunately, I've never been inundated with orders (yet!), but I think I need to figure out how to become more efficient, because I hope to get more business as time goes along.

kimboann Posted 20 May 2011 , 9:34pm
post #4 of 17

Yup! I'm watching this topic! Takes me forever and day too!

jules5000 Posted 20 May 2011 , 9:44pm
post #5 of 17

I think that a average time schedule would be great. With different cakes it would take different times because with one you might not have to start making decorations ahead of time too much and another you would have to start at least 2 weeks before. I would definitely be interested in knowing someone's schedule who does it professionally from their licensed home kitchen. I have a friend who has done cakes for 47 years and she has given some indication, but it is still hard for me to figure for myself because I don't have the same set up or equipment available. So it is going to take me longer than her even if I did cakes every day. I know that I would get faster at the basics, but elaborate cakes might take longer. She is so fast and amazing. she works with buttercream and I love watching her work.

Maybe if someone gave us say, the time for the easiest cake they have done to the most complicated one they have done and explain a little about both it would give us a more realistic picture. in other words just two different times and a brief description. that might help more. Thanks to whoever.

cakeglitz Posted 20 May 2011 , 9:44pm
post #6 of 17

I've been working on my 2 cakes all week. Baking and freezing, making icing, coloring fondant etc....I actually started the decorating process this morning at 5:30 am just now took a break at 4:30 pm. I have completed my 3 tied graduation cake and 2 of my 4 tiered church homecoming cake...it takes forever and a day!!

whiteangel Posted 20 May 2011 , 9:52pm
post #7 of 17

Please do let us know. I know many friends have asked me how long it takes me to make some of the wild cakes and when I tell them usually about a week, they think I am nuts to "waste" my time so. Hey, I love my cake decorating. I plan it out so I am not spending too many hours at one time so my back doesn't go out.

1. couple of hours planning, double checking pan amounts (to make sure I have the correct number of serving)and making my shopping list.
2. An hour or so shopping.
3. Baking time. For a cake this size it would take me all day as I am a home baker and not professionally and these cakes are only for friends, co-workers and school donations. My oven can bake and 16"x16" square with room on the sides.
4. Maybe 2 hours or so making MMF
5. 2 hours leveling, layering and crumb coating each tier and letting them sit to form a good crust.

6. So far 7 hours plus a day of baking. Sometimes when I am baking, I also level, fill, and crumb coat a cake one tier that is already done.

7. For me covering a cake in fondant is much faster than smoothing one in buttercream so 20 mins for each tier at the most, darn that rolling time....lol. So 90 minutes or so to cover in fondant and stack the tiers.

8. Decorating equals time consuming. 12" rounds = fondant swag and skirting = 2 hours. I am not good with scroll work at all, so at least 1 to 2 hours on a 10" round. 8" round = lots of little cuts outs in fondant 1 hour. 6" round = fondant swags 30 mins. 5 1/2 hours

Total time spent 14 hours plus a full day of baking. I think i added it right. It was something I just did so it was easy to remember just how long it took.

I am a slow poke to say the least!

whiteangel Posted 20 May 2011 , 10:03pm
post #8 of 17

I am getting ready to make a big grad cake so I am writing my times down. I will post a pick when done along with the time spent on it. It is due on the 26th and I started baking yesterday.

Here is hoping there are many posts on this one.

sillywabbitz Posted 20 May 2011 , 10:27pm
post #9 of 17

Ok I'm going to try and write this up with out it getting too long. I'll use the black and white cake in my avatar as a case study. These are approximate times but should be pretty close. Some background. I am a hobby baker and only have a single oven at my house. The cake was 12 in square, 10 inch square, 8 inch round and 6 inch round. Fondant over ganache.

I calculated this took me approximately 25 hrs to bake and decorate.

You can see the breakdown below.
Sunday before the cake was due I baked ...and baked and baked.

Baking time 8 1/2 Hours
8 - 6 inch square layers went into the bottom tier. I had 2 six in pans.

Bottom Tier Mixing and Baking: 4 1/2 hours of baking time.
Mixing - 30 minutes ( double batches of cake mix. Mix first batch, while cakes were cooking I mixed the second batch so total mixing times for those was still 30 minutes.

Baking time - 2 pans in the oven at a time - 40 min in oven + 10 min cooling - add in cleaning the pans between baking each layer and let's call it an hour. So did that 4 times.
4 hours of baking time . For this I'm not going to count cooling time since I did other things while they cooled.

10 inch 2 layers + 1 6 inch layer - almost 2 hrs
I got out of another double batch of mix
30 Min mixing
Bake 2 10 inch layers - closer to an hour and 20 baking time.

2 8 inch layers and 1 more 6 inch - 2 hrs
Mixing time - done while 10 inche ones were cooking so that doesn't count
8 inch baking time - 2 pans in the oven - 1 hr
6 inch layers - 40 minutes 0
Add in clean up for all pans and mixing bowls 20 min
I wrapped and froze all the cakes at this point. I did this once each batch cooled so the time is probably negligible or you could add in an extra 10 minutes.

2 large batches of chocolate ganache - 45 min - including boiling cream, letting it sit on choc and mixing untnil smooth. Cover and clean up.

Level, torte and fill cakes. 1 hr
I have an agbay so leveling and torting went pretty quick.
But remember I had 14 layers of cake level and torte. That would have only been 8 layers of cake if I had actually had a 12 inch square panicon_smile.gif
20 minutes to level and torte

Damn and fill each layer - 40 minutes to torte and fill.

Ganache each tier - 2 1/2 hours
This took a while because I was constantly fighting the consistency of the ganache. It was too thin, too thick etc.

Cover layers in fondant - 1 1/2 hr
Decorate layers - 3 hrs
Preparing for stacking 20 minutes - putting together SPS plates etc.

Pearl border for all tiers 1 hr
Make Flowers 3 hrs + 20 min
6 red flowers - 2 + 20 hrs This was my first time making the flowers and between making each individual petal, gluing them together, adding the centers and the stamins they take longer than expected

Small white flowers - 1 hr minutes. After cutting out flowers, I pushed in the centers to give them dimension and then painted a drew dot in the middle of each one with an edible marker.

Make Initial - 30 minutes


Cover cake board - 20 minutes (round cake boards take me longer)
covered in foil and glued on the feet.

I stacked the bottom 2 tiers and attached the top 2 on site. So add 30 minutes stacking and finishing on site.

Probably more info than you wanted but I hope this will help other people. I have a full time job and worked on this cake for over a week. The trick is to do stuff as far ahead as possible, flowers, covering cake board. And plan to do stuff while things are baking and cooling.

sillywabbitz Posted 20 May 2011 , 10:30pm
post #10 of 17

Whiteangel,
That makes me feel better because our times are pretty similar. Having a single oven sucks when doing big cakesicon_smile.gif My dream is double ovens!

debbief Posted 20 May 2011 , 10:31pm
post #11 of 17

I'm doing a grad cake for a friend's son. Just a hobby for me so I'm stuck behind a desk full time at my real job. I've already done all the baking and a little bit of prep work but I'm waaay behind schedule. It's driving me crazy to sit at my desk on a very slow day at work knowing I have hours upon hours of work to do on this cake that's due tomorrow.

I think I'm one of the slow pokes. I'm getting faster at trimming, filling, crumbcoating and covering the cakes in fondant, but when it comes to the details, I just can't seem to speed that part up. I spend a LOT of time messing with the tiniest of details trying to get a clean finish. But for me, that's the part I like best. All the fun details and finishing touches.

So all that said, without going into details of how long each step takes, I estimate my last two cakes probably took 18-20 hours each from start to finish. That just sounds pathetic icon_redface.gif I should mention, I've only been doing this for about a year so I feel like I'm still in the learning stages and figuring out how to make more efficient use of my time icon_smile.gif Oh and my 3 year old granddaughter lives with us so tack a few more hours on for interuptions.

whiteangel Posted 20 May 2011 , 10:53pm
post #12 of 17

sillywabbitz - single ovens really add time to everything. I have a 16x16 sq pan that fits in my oven well, but only one cake at a time, for I am "scarit" to try two at a time and have them turn out okay, especially the big pans.

I sure hope more post so we know what is "normal". Us "slow pokes" enjoy what we are doing so it that counts for something there.

jules5000 Posted 21 May 2011 , 12:37pm
post #13 of 17

Well, I really appreciate everyone taking their time and figuring out what time it took them to do a cake. I know that I am not the only one that wanted something like that, but it is appreciated. It also makes me feel better because I thought that because I just did mine from home that it was slower because my oven was just a home oven. I had thought that my oven could not do a 16" square if I needed one. But I just measured it and I think that it would do one. the oven I had before definitely wouldn't, but then I was close to a restaraunt that would let me use their oven and I could bake a big layer in there. I do not know if I want to do one that big again. I think if I had one that big to do I would just call my friend and see if I could not arrange a time to use her oven. and do all of my baking in it. It takes about half the time my oven does as it is a commercial oven.

I would love to have a commercial oven, but I know that it would have to go downstairs as I have no room in my kitchen for one. I would just get a lot of exercise.

shar7599 Posted 21 May 2011 , 1:22pm
post #14 of 17

My last cake took me 13 hrs from start to finish. I spent the first half of the morning baking and then did the decorating, making fondant and BC, crumb coat and all that stuff after picking them up from school. That part took me the longest. You can see it in my pics. It was a 3 tier cake with a minnie hat on top (12",10",8"). Now if you add in all the online research, shopping, and the two practice cakes I did to make sure I got this one right, you are looking at a lot of time LOL I did learn to wear good shoes next time. This last time I was barefoot on my tile kitchen floor all day and by the time I was done, I felt like I had needles being shoved under my toenails!!

Marianna46 Posted 22 May 2011 , 12:47am
post #15 of 17

Now that I think about it, the longest time I've spent making a cake was the '65 Mustang in my photos. Not counting baking and making buttercream, ganache and gumpaste (I used ready-made fondant), I spent 50 hours on it, between making the base and carving, crumbcoating, fondanting and detailing the cake. But 1) since I'd never made a car cake before, I looked at it as if it were a cake workshop where I would learn all the techiques I needed and 2) it was a labor of love - for some reason, my son-in-law gets my best efforts, which is okay because he is a stand-up dude. I think I spend about 18-20 hours on most cakes, including baking, making icings and fillings, leveling, torting, covering and decorating, but I'd love to get faster without sacrificing quality.

costumeczar Posted 22 May 2011 , 12:57am
post #16 of 17

This week I spent from 7-2 on Thursday baking three wedding cakes, two four-tiered ones and one three-tiered one. Two buttercream, one fondant. I had spent an hour the day before prepping ingredients, and a couple of hours making the fillings. I had a couple hours prep work in the decorations already.

It took me from 7:30 to about 5 on Friday to totally fill, ice and decorate all three cakes. So for three cakes it took around 22 hours.

costumeczar Posted 22 May 2011 , 1:02am
post #17 of 17

If you're looking for entire time spent, though, I did keep track of that once for a couple of months, and I was averaging 40-50 hours a week on everything cake-related. Depends on how many cakes I have, how much paperwork, how many emails and appointments, etc.

When people ask me how long it takes to do a cake, I tell them that it depends on the cake, but that it's a full-time job to do everything involved.

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