Caterers Who Serve/cut Cakes, Is There A "how-To"

Decorating By Apti Updated 18 Oct 2011 , 1:21am by KakeMistress

Apti Posted 20 Sep 2011 , 5:34am
post #1 of 17

Hi. I just cut and served cake to 150 people at a birthday party. My best friend was my helper, but it was a madhouse. I had 4 different cakes, 4 different flavors, on 4 different cake stands.

This was my first cutting and serving, and I was prepared (I thought!). It was a 100th birthday party for my sister's MIL. The program was held in the church and no one entered the hall (where the cake table and cakes were displayed) until they filed in with their buffet food plates and sat down. I could not pre-cut the cake because no one was able to see it until every single one of the 175 people had entered after being in the buffet food line in an adjoining room. Then we had to sing Happy Birthday.

Well, by then most of the 175 people were through eating and wanted cake. They not only wanted cake, but they wanted a SPECIFIC kind of cake. They all started coming up to the table and saying "I want the Lemon Poppyseed, OR red velvet, or chocolate" and they all wanted it NOW. I was cutting the largest red velvet. They could SEE I was cutting the RV. They said, "I want XXX". I politely asked them to wait until I began cutting that cake.

The line is getting longer and longer and they're starting to stack up 3 and 4 deep in front of the table. One woman says in a whispery voice about 5 times, "I want the lemon". (I finally told her she'd have to sit and wait until she saw me cutting that particular cake, then come up to the table!) They started picking up plates from the table, ignoring my assistant, and holding them out to get cake. She's saying, "Please wait!" They're not listening.

I'm madly slicing cake and slapping it on the plate with my gloved hand. Crumbs are falling everywhere. The two damp tea towels I was going to use to politely and graciously clean my knife between cuts have become giant damp globs of cake and frosting.

Now mind you, no one was cross or minded my slapping cake on plates with my gloved hand one tiny bit. Everyone RAVED about the cakes and how fabulous they tasted and how fabulous they looked. About 30 people said these were they best cakes they'd EVER had. (The lady who wanted the lemon asked for the recipe. I gave it to her.)

I knew going in that the logistics of this were going to be rough (which is why I made 4 separate 4" tall cakes instead of a stacked cake). It's just that I had a vastly different picture of the whole process in my mind.......

Any suggestions from those of you who have served and cut cakes?

16 replies
Cake4ever Posted 20 Sep 2011 , 9:09am
post #2 of 17

I feel your pain. I'm not experienced with the serving side at all. Got my first taste of it in front of people watching to see the big cake cut. I learned a lot, from that experience. icon_redface.gif

MimiFix Posted 20 Sep 2011 , 11:30am
post #3 of 17

My first suggestion - if this is your business and you expect to make money, NEVER give out your recipes. NEVER. If people like your baked goods that much, let them buy from you. By giving away recipes you are undermining your own success.

And sorry for your experience with serving dessert. If it was necessary for everyone to see the uncut cakes before they began to chow down, the only suggestion would be to have an assistant at each cake. Although, I'm sure there would still be people with their hands extended clutching a plate. Welcome to the world of customer service.

MamaDear Posted 20 Sep 2011 , 1:03pm
post #4 of 17

I have had that experience many times cutting cakes for our large family weddings. I have learned that some people are just rude and no amount of helpfulness with fix that. My practice is to make sure there is lots of table top room around the cake, then cut it like mad and just set the plated cake down on the table in front of the cake and not try to directly hand anyone anything. That way the food trolls just have to wait until I get to that corner piece with all the frosting and compete with everyone else instead of "reserving" the special piece and me ticking the competitors off.

Sometimes there is just no graceful way to do it though cause there is always a food troll at every function. One particular in my big extended family ALWAYS wants chocolate covered strawberries on their family cakes and he usually meets me at the table when I am trying to do last minute set-up and repeats over and over about how they look so good and eventually grabs one out of the box as I am trying to decorate the cake. Its moments like these that take every bit of my momma's southern raising not to go off on him like a spidermonkey all jacked up on mountain dew!!!!!

sweetcakesbyjen Posted 20 Sep 2011 , 1:32pm
post #5 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by MamaDear

Its moments like these that take every bit of my momma's southern raising not to go off on him like a spidermonkey all jacked up on mountain dew!!!!!




HAHAHAHA!! Thanks for the laugh.

kel58 Posted 20 Sep 2011 , 1:36pm
post #6 of 17
Quote:
Quote:

Its moments like these that take every bit of my momma's southern raising not to go off on him like a spidermonkey all jacked up on mountain dew!!!!!




LMAO I think I almost had milk come out my nose.

I hear ya in the serving. I served my first wedding cake at my cousins wedding. Thankfully it was carted off to another room to do this, as it was the first time I de-constructed a stacked cake.

Your serving experience sounds a lot like my worst one except mine involved children so they at least had an excuse for their terrible behaviour...sort of. I served a cake at my grandpa's birthday and before I even cut the first slice I was surrounded by what seemed like 20 kids. I literally couldn't move. I elblowed one kid in the head when I tried (I can't say that apology was sincere) and, as I was cutting, they were putting fingers in the way pointing to the piece they wanted. I'm not even sure how I kept my cool cause I was wanted to point that knife at them and yell "BACK OFF!!!". I was already at the end of my rope after watching them poke the cake a few times during the party and actually try to pick up the baseball cap top tier.

I did another cake this past weekend for a kids party that was tiered. They were all pretty patient concidering but they certainly did not stay out of my personal bubble.

I am also in seach of an easier way to serve a stacked cake. The one pointer I have is to take it to another room to cut them have your helper bring the plates out. Maybe someone has some pointers out there?!

leah_s Posted 20 Sep 2011 , 6:01pm
post #7 of 17

You're all using the straight cut method, right?

And Apti, re: giving out your recipe. Didn't your momma ever caution you that no one will buy the cow if you give away the milk for free?

Cake4ever Posted 20 Sep 2011 , 7:01pm
post #8 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by MamaDear

I have had that experience many times cutting cakes for our large family weddings. I have learned that some people are just rude and no amount of helpfulness with fix that. My practice is to make sure there is lots of table top room around the cake, then cut it like mad and just set the plated cake down on the table in front of the cake and not try to directly hand anyone anything. That way the food trolls just have to wait until I get to that corner piece with all the frosting and compete with everyone else instead of "reserving" the special piece and me ticking the competitors off.

Sometimes there is just no graceful way to do it though cause there is always a food troll at every function. One particular in my big extended family ALWAYS wants chocolate covered strawberries on their family cakes and he usually meets me at the table when I am trying to do last minute set-up and repeats over and over about how they look so good and eventually grabs one out of the box as I am trying to decorate the cake. Its moments like these that take every bit of my momma's southern raising not to go off on him like a spidermonkey all jacked up on mountain dew!!!!!




Oh, I needed a good laugh! You're a gem!

icon_lol.gif Food troll or cake troll. Love it!

Apti Posted 20 Sep 2011 , 9:16pm
post #9 of 17

You all made my day with these little gems:

I feel your pain.

Welcome to the world of customer service.

...the food trolls just have to wait until I get to that corner piece with all the frosting.......take every bit of my momma's southern raising not to go off on him like a spidermonkey all jacked up on mountain dew!!!!!

I elblowed one kid in the head when I tried [to move], (I can't say that apology was sincere)

And: " wanted to point that knife at them and yell "BACK OFF!!!"

You people are FUNNNNY! I was looking for advice on what I may have done wrong, but it sounds like there weren't many other options.... If I ever have to do this again (and I probably will), I'll use the suggestions of having a person for each cake, cutting like mad, putting on a plate, setting plate on table space in front of cake and letting them duke it out.

BTW, I'm a hobby baker, will never be a commercial baker, and did this free as a love gift. (That's why I don't mind sharing recipes.) This was really hard and stressful, but yielded a lot of joy and personal satisfaction. It was an honor and privilege to make these cakes for this wonderful woman and our extended family and friends.

I used the IndyDebi method of cutting.

Is there anything a professional caterer would have (could have?) done differently?

Have any of you ever seen any links or tutorials or training materials that are used to teach newbies (at a caterer's or hotel kitchen for instance) the way to cut and serve large cakes to a large number of people? I searched and searched online, but found very little information.

Here are two photos of my cakes and gum paste flowers

http://christinascakes.shutterfly.com/pictures/335

http://christinascakes.shutterfly.com/pictures/335#336
















auzzi Posted 21 Sep 2011 , 1:27am
post #10 of 17

As caterers do - Cut the cake in the kitchen - away from the ravenous hordes.

One assistant does the running between the kitchen and the table, and one repels all invaders.

People choose from the portions already cut. You just know there's going to be a "run" on the "good" one. Apologise for nothing: the hostess chose the flavours and the amounts - just cut. It's not up to you to individually serve each guest with their selected flavour.

As for giving you recipe away - don't!. Take refuge in the thought, that regardless, no two bakers bake the same recipe exactly alike ...

RheaCakeQueen Posted 16 Oct 2011 , 11:46pm
post #11 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by leah_s

You're all using the straight cut method, right?




What is the straight cut method? I guess I haven't thought too much about different cutting methods!

Cheers!

Apti Posted 17 Oct 2011 , 12:01am
post #12 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by RheaCakeQueen

Quote:
Originally Posted by leah_s

You're all using the straight cut method, right?



What is the straight cut method? I guess I haven't thought too much about different cutting methods!

Cheers!




I'm pretty sure she's talking about the IndyDebi method:

http://cateritsimple.blogspot.com/search/label/cake%20comb

vs. the circle cutting method recommended by Wilton:
http://www.wilton.com/cakes/cake-cutting-guides/wedding-cake-cutting-guide.cfm

labmom Posted 17 Oct 2011 , 5:38pm
post #13 of 17

I posted the cake cutting thoughts earlier under the title of about why so they charge so much to cut these cakes... and fondant the worst...

but I will say that once the crowd of people got the there cake they wanted and I was able to take a breath I realized that the straight cut method works so much better as long as you have room on your cake board to flip the cake over to cut from the side. Thank you IndyDebbi!!
I had to use a plastic knive to cut this cake (none other available than brides set and that was totaly dull)... and the straight cut method was so helpful I had not used it before always the circle wilton but this way was so much better and cleaner. I am so thankful for cake central..after 30 years of this I still learn something new every day, I find things to make me smile and laugh everyday and I go through the pain of each and every cake problem. I am so glad for everyone here.
Just wish I had more time to enjoy it.

MamaDear Posted 17 Oct 2011 , 6:36pm
post #14 of 17

I use the straight cut method, I cut straight across and then cut the slices. If forks are on the table, I will use them to transfer the cake onto the plate so the cake and fork are both together. It really saves a lot of time to do it this way. I do wipe my knife with a napkin between each long straight cut to keep the slices looking pretty, more often if I have dark icing and light cake.

I went to this wedding one time when I was a girl and my friend's aunt cut an entire 3 layer, square chocolate buttercream grooms cake with a piece of dental floss. She wrapped it around a finger on each hand, pulled it tight and whacked away at that sucker, unwrapping it when she got to the bottom of each cut and pulling the dental floss out. She cut the whole thing in like 3 minutes flat and then used the server to plate the slices. She came from a whole family of girls so I guess she had lots of practice but I have never seen anyone do it like that. I admit that when i was a newbie caker, I used to level my cakes the same way but in no way, shape, form or fashion would I ever be brave enough to do that to a whole cake. I would probably lose the piece of dental floss, choke and kill someone then end up baking for my new cellmate, Bubbette after they convicted me.

Apti Posted 17 Oct 2011 , 7:38pm
post #15 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by MamaDear

I would probably lose the piece of dental floss, choke and kill someone then end up baking for my new cellmate, Bubbette after they convicted me.




BWAAAAHAAAAAA!

siuingme Posted 17 Oct 2011 , 9:15pm
post #16 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by labmom

I posted the cake cutting thoughts earlier under the title of about why so they charge so much to cut these cakes... and fondant the worst...

but I will say that once the crowd of people got the there cake they wanted and I was able to take a breath I realized that the straight cut method works so much better as long as you have room on your cake board to flip the cake over to cut from the side. Thank you IndyDebbi!!
I had to use a plastic knive to cut this cake (none other available than brides set and that was totaly dull)... and the straight cut method was so helpful I had not used it before always the circle wilton but this way was so much better and cleaner. I am so thankful for cake central..after 30 years of this I still learn something new every day, I find things to make me smile and laugh everyday and I go through the pain of each and every cake problem. I am so glad for everyone here.
Just wish I had more time to enjoy it.







LOL !!! You made my day... icon_biggrin.gif

KakeMistress Posted 18 Oct 2011 , 1:21am
post #17 of 17

I just did a huge cake for a friend of mine and around 50 kids at this party, when it was time to sing happy birthday there were kids crowded around the table to sing and then I had my friend take them away from the scene of the cake cutting and go hit the pinata so that I would have peace and quiet while cutting the cake, that was the easiest cake cutting I have done. I dont do well with lots of noise or pushing and I would be the person to hold up a knife and tell them to back off LOL but then again I had only gotten 4 hours of sleep before going to the birthday party. I was in NOOOO mood to deal with screaming pushing and demanding children so I let my friend know in advance that I would need all the kids to leave the area while I cut the cake.

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