Ugly Cakes...how Do You Deal With This?

Decorating By Bogey1387 Updated 8 Aug 2011 , 5:42am by howboutbake

Bogey1387 Posted 2 Aug 2011 , 4:54pm
post #1 of 19

Ok ladies I need your thoughts please. I have only been making cakes for about a year. I seem to have cake requests flowing in. Way more then I ever thought. I'm doing about three cakes a week and improving with each one....yet something I can't get over...I always have the weirdest requests!!!! I see all these awesome cakes on here and I would love to make some adorable cakes. I have had my share of fun ones...but I often get requests that I know will not look good. Let say a massive strawberry with a highheel on it.

Do you ladies complete the request any because the customer is always right?
OR
Do you feel it is your job to let them know it's not going to look great?
Another question is when taking a cake order for a small event like a birthday...do you go over every detail or do you take in their desires and come up with something on your own?

18 replies
TexasSugar Posted 2 Aug 2011 , 5:03pm
post #2 of 19

You don't have to do cakes you don't feel comfortable doing. Your call.

Some things to keep in mind though, while a strawberry with a high heel may not be your favorite cake, or make much sense to you, it could be perfect for the person the cake is for. It could be an inside joke or anything else.

I don't believe a cake decorate should do something that isn't structurally possible just because the customer wants it, but I'm not sure it's our place for us to talk them into the design we want to do, rather than the design they want. You can make suggestions and hope they take them, or you can say, "I'm sorry but I don't think I am the right person to do this cake for you."

AnotherCaker Posted 2 Aug 2011 , 6:12pm
post #3 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bogey1387

but I often get requests that I know will not look good. Let say a massive strawberry with a highheel on it.


That sounds like something I would love to do! A carved strawberry standing on end, with a perfect little heel on it. Must be very personal and meaningful to whoever requested it. I would jump to do a cake like that. But yes, ifyou can't pull it off, by all means don't do it.

Cakeuhlicious Posted 2 Aug 2011 , 6:46pm
post #4 of 19

My stance would be to make any ugly, odd, weirdo cake a paying customer wants, because it may be very personal or meaningful to them. It could be an inside joke or an odd assortment of things they like. If it were personal to you, I'm sure you would feel much more excited and inspired by the designs they're choosing. A lot of people here rough sketch their designs for clients and have them sign off. If you're worried about someone declining your design, you may have them do this. Or sign something that states they give you creative freedom.

I would be ok with someone turning down an odd request because it is outside their realm of comfort, but as a customer I wouldn't work with someone who insisted on me giving them creative freedom to interpret what I wanted. and make their own vision. I had a tattoo artist tell me thats how he works one time...I would NEVER...especially for a tattoo! That guy was crazy, but the idea that I had a vision in mind and he wanted to muddy it was a turn off.

If you have something you want to try - make a free cake for a friend or loved one and experiment on them (lol). This is not a bad way to build your portfolio with cakes you like as well as try things you've wanted to try but havent been asked to do. I always offer friends/family free cakes, but they know going in that the design and flavor combos are up to me. I'll keep their theme and likes in mind, but if they want to dictate how the cake should be, they can pay someone else to make it.

nhbaker Posted 2 Aug 2011 , 6:59pm
post #5 of 19

Twice now I have had requests for cakes that I personally thought were horrible designs yet after I finished them, the both have turned out to be a couple of my favorite pieces of work. You just never know!!

bakingpw Posted 2 Aug 2011 , 7:01pm
post #6 of 19

I agree with all that's been said above. I would add: do you ave pics or "dummy" cakes that you can show customers what you do? Sometimes, if they don't have their own idea in mind, you might suggest something. Maybe if they see you can do 3D cakes, etc., they'll decide to order one.

Years ago, before large cupcake cakes were in "style" I made a dummy one and put it in the front window display. Suddenly, everyone wanted a cupcake cake. Different color combinations, and writing, but everyone HAD to have one. After that, I often made dummy cakes of the 3D carved variety to place on display and give suggestions.

Bogey1387 Posted 3 Aug 2011 , 3:43am
post #7 of 19

Thanks guys for all the responses. I guess I didn't word it very well. I totally see your point with some things being special and meaningful. And I totally get that. I do have lots of cake pictures posted..and after reading this...I think I have come to a conclusion. I think people like all the different things I have done and want something outside the box for themselves. When in all reality I just want to make nice cakes...I guess I set my own bar too high! For example I made a grill cake for myhusband..looked like a grill and the food on it most people thought was real. I guess it's the perfectionist in me coming out. It kills me to do something to a cake that I know doesn't add to the cake. I hope that makes sense! And I understand if I am making cakes I have to go with what they want.. I guess I'm just kinda of getting burnt out because I long to make cakes with "cute" and well put together designs. I make so many cakes each week I don't have time for me to make extras.. thanks for all the imput.

AnotherCaker Posted 3 Aug 2011 , 4:06am
post #8 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bogey1387

And I understand if I am making cakes I have to go with what they want.


Not if you don't want to. I plainly make it clear on my website I don't do "typical or overdone" designs anymore. Everything is either going to be custom, or really awesome. What defines awesome? Eh, I do. If I don't like it, I have no problem referring them out. My time is too precious to waste on swiss dots and basketweave. Give me handpainting, sculpted elements, shading, fun monograms, etc or give me....another job. And I have lost jobs to it. And then filled the time eventually with something fun.

cakeflake80 Posted 3 Aug 2011 , 5:17am
post #9 of 19

I understand how you are feeling. I really despise making 3D cakes. I love making cute, pretty, elegant...anything other than 3D carved cakes! However, lately, it seems like every cake request is for something 3D or just downright strange. I get that it's personal for the customer and I feel obligated to do it if it's something I know I can create....I also feel that even though I don't enjoy it, at least I'm gaining experience and adding to my portfolio. But man do I long to make a cute, flowery, sparkly cake for someone!! And I'm too busy to practice right now, but come winter I am sure I will have some down time!

carmijok Posted 3 Aug 2011 , 5:33am
post #10 of 19

I kind of know what you mean. I have a bunch of cake pictures saved that I would love to try and do variations on but it seems like I end up doing cakes like basketball goals or ball caps or soccer balls. But then when I do them and the recipient is so happy, it makes it worth it.

And there are a few that let me do what I want. The most recent was a friend of mine whose wife was having a birthday and at first he wanted something with flowers so I came up with a design and then he changed his mind and said he wanted something 'over the top' and he not only wanted flowers, but if we could somehow work in her Indian heritage that would thrill her...and oh yeah...could you put some corn in there...she loves corn. Corn? Sure whatever you want.

I will say I think it's one of my better cakes. And it is not your basic birthday cake. It's no strawberry with a shoe, but it is an Indian pottery bowl filled with flowers and a corn cobb on the side!

So just hang in there...you'll get to do what you want--maybe not all the time, but you can put your spin on their vision, and that's fun too!

AnotherCaker Posted 3 Aug 2011 , 2:15pm
post #11 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by carmijok

So just hang in there...you'll get to do what you want--maybe not all the time, but you can put your spin on their vision, and that's fun too!


Sometimes they just need the urging and suggestions from the decorator to go outside the box. I always ask what they are thinking of, and when we get together I have a couple of interesting ideas for them. Works like a charm.

sandersjessica Posted 5 Aug 2011 , 5:18am
post #12 of 19

I do not have a business for cakes. But since I love making cakes I make for my relatives and friends. I charge some meager amount which would cover up my cost of making cake. I have often got some weird orders but because I know all, I can politely say no. One wanted a cake made out of sneakers which seemed shabby so I had to say no.

Bogey1387 Posted 7 Aug 2011 , 3:13am
post #13 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by AnotherCaker

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bogey1387

And I understand if I am making cakes I have to go with what they want.

Not if you don't want to. I plainly make it clear on my website I don't do "typical or overdone" designs anymore. Everything is either going to be custom, or really awesome. What defines awesome? Eh, I do. If I don't like it, I have no problem referring them out. My time is too precious to waste on swiss dots and basketweave. Give me handpainting, sculpted elements, shading, fun monograms, etc or give me....another job. And I have lost jobs to it. And then filled the time eventually with something fun.


love this! Thank you..and the reality is I always have more then enough cakes anyways! I just keep going by the first come basis..guess I don't have too huh icon_smile.gif

Bugaboo_Bakery Posted 7 Aug 2011 , 5:02am
post #14 of 19

I'm really lucky. Most of my customers trust my judgement and allow me to have artistic license. They tell me the event like baby shower, birthday, etc. They may give me some colors or an item like cherry blossom then I go from there. The only cakes that I really do to their likings are wedding cakes. I will help them design something they will love.

With that said, if I don't feel comfortable making the cake I will tell the customer up front that I may not be the baker/decorator for them.

leah_s Posted 7 Aug 2011 , 12:34pm
post #15 of 19

Frankly, I delivered a cake yesterday that was pretty uninspired. The customer was the blandest, most design-challenged person I ever met and I've been doing this 12 years (weddings only). The cake was a big design zero. And when I got there she wouldn't let me put the flowers on it that were waiting on the cake table. Her FMIL would put the flowers on the cake after I left. Yeah.. . I needed the flowers to establish the lines of the design. Well, I slapped some stuff on that cake. Good luck to the flowers lady. And the flowers were glittered silk.

This one's gonna bite me later, count on it. At the consultation I knew I shouldn't take the order. I knew it dammit.

olleharr Posted 7 Aug 2011 , 1:18pm
post #16 of 19

I have been yearning to do more wedding cakes and was so excited when my nephew announced his engagement. I knew I'd get that cake order for sure. I did. Four tier camoflage cake with two deer heads on top. Yeah.....some disapointment there for sure. LOL!

kger Posted 7 Aug 2011 , 4:42pm
post #17 of 19

See, you guys complain about funky designs, yet I consistently get the most boring requests for plain vanilla cupcakes with a vanilla BC swirl on top. All the flippin' time.

mplaidgirl2 Posted 7 Aug 2011 , 5:00pm
post #18 of 19

I let them tell me what they want.... Then I draw them what they want and 2 designs I like. I havent had 1 person stay with thier orginal idea. Especially if you quote thier ugle idea the same price as the new awesome cake you just drew up

howboutbake Posted 8 Aug 2011 , 5:42am
post #19 of 19

I'd say the 'unique' cake designs are probably due to all of the cake shows on tv now. It might be a passing phase...

I like the idea someone mplaidgirl2 had about drawing up their idea and a couple slightly "better" ones and have them choose.

Perhaps too, if it's a wedding or big occasion you could mention that you ask every customer if their choice is something they'd want to see in their photo album in 20 years icon_smile.gif Perhaps that 'inside joke' or what have you won't be remembered and you'll be left scratching your head.

Plus, if the dress designers and magazines can get away with saying it, why can't cake designers? icon_razz.gif

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