Okay, I know there is an extensive thread on the subject of cake pops/cake balls, but I am just not up to reading all 89 pages of the thread, so I apologize if my questions have already been answered there. I have a dear friend who is getting married at the end of July. Originally she asked me if I would make her wedding cake, and of course, I said yes! She has now changed her mind, though, and wants cake pops instead of a traditional wedding cake. But here's the kicker: she wants 600 of them! If I were a pro, I probably wouldn't gasp at this number, but I'm just a hobby baker (one oven, kids, job, life, etc). If I make 3 dozen per day, I estimate it will take me 17 days to complete (& that's with no failures). Am I crazy? Part of me likes the challenge, and I do want to do something wonderful for a good friend, but is this too much?
If I'm even going to attempt to tackle this, I want to start FAR in advance. I've also never made cake pops before, so I will need to do some practicing. May I please ask you lovely ladies for some advice before I begin?:
1. How far in advance can I make the cake pops? Ideally, I would love to be able to make them, coat them completely, and freeze them. However, I am worried about cracking, condensation, etc. when they thaw. Has anyone successfully frozen and thawed completed cake pops? If so, would you please share your methods?
2. I would love to use a cake pop mold (like babycakes or bakepop), because I don't like the texture of cake balls (I want them to taste like little cakes, not chewed up pieces of cake mush. I am also not too thrilled about the process of bake cake, crumble cake, smoosh with filling, roll, freeze, thaw, dip, repeat, times 600. Whew! I'm tired even thinking about it. I'd like to invest in a couple pans. Can someone recommend a good one?
3. The bride wants an assortment of flavors like lemon chiffon, meyer lemon raspberry, chocolate cappuccino, almond blackberry, coconut lime, carrot ginger with cream cheese, etc. Once I bake the cake balls, can they be injected with fillings (lemon curd, raspberry, hazelnut, SMBC, etc)? Or, can they be coated with ganache or buttercream prior to dipping? Will there be any issues with freezing or storing (especially concerned about cream cheese)?
4. Can I coat these with a good quality white and dark chocolate, like El Ray or Valrhona, instead of candy melts? I hate the taste of candy melts or bark, and really want these to be delicious. I'm hoping I can temper the chocolate and get a nice hard glossy coating. Has anyone done this successfully? Any tips for dipping to ensure perfectly round spheres?
Oh yes, and did I mention it's an evening outdoor wedding, and will likely be 90+ degrees? No reason to be nervous, right?
Thank you, ladies, for listening to my ramblings; and for your helpful advice.
I'm not a lot of help, but to answer one of your questions, "Am I crazy?" My answer is "YES!!!"
Yea, I guess I already knew the answer to that one.
I can't recommend any cake ball pans. I'm a traditional cake pop maker using the method you apparently don't want to use.
It sounds a little daunting to commit to learning a brand new skill and then creating a large quantity of an item you've never made before, and expecting them to be fabulous (wedding-worthy). Not impossible, but daunting.
I've made and frozen many finished cake pops. You can freeze cake pops at many stages in the process: baked cake layers, crumbed cake in freezer bags, cake crumbs mixed with binding agent still in freezer bags, cake balls formed, and cake pops fully constructed (bagged and boxed). As with cake, if you let the frozen cake pops come to room temperature still within their packaging, you'll have no problems.
I made 350 cake pops for a wedding last year and it took about a week. You can easily make 5+ dozen/day in the evenings. Especially if you use the freezer to your advantage.
BakedAlaska: Thank you for your advice. Yes, I know it's daunting, but I would like to try... I think if I try some tests over the next couple of weeks, and they are not wedding worthy, I will let her know. When you freeze your completed cake pops, do you wrap them individually in plastic wrap or in freeze them in bunches?
I've normally bagged each pop in a "treat bag" and then boxed them in pie boxes and stacked those in the freezer. But, if you don't intend to wrap each individually, you could just put a bunch in a freezer bag and then just put those bags into cake boxes or plastic bins to freeze.
Please before you buy pans, ask the bride if she has a preference. It's her wedding...and get your list of flavours down in writing ASAP. Take a look at the websites of manufacturers to edit the list of flavours into what you can legitimately make. Ask the bride how she plans to identify the different flavours at the reception...
Anyway, get some racks/foam dummies to hold the pops in their sticks. You need tools to make this number doable.
You should use SMBC to make the pops. Dipping SBMC into chocolate--test that idea first...Crumbled cake goes just as fast as baking balls. Injecting filling into balls is thankless work that will not be noticed.
Dipping with good chocolate on the other hand is an excellent idea. I find Callebaut to be easy to use and it comes in 11 pound slabs.
I hate the chewed cake wads also. I invested in some bake pop pans, though I haven't used them (I have had them about two weeks) They took 5 weeks to get here, so you may already be too late if you wanted to order some. There is another brand that maybe Viking? makes, 12 to a pan for $18.
That being said, just say no! A wedding cake for 350 or whatever v. cakepops for 600 is a hell of a difference in labor. There is no way either would be a gift! Think about it, if you bought a gift, or gave cash, how much would you give? Betcha you didn't say $1000, which is what that would cost!!
BakingIrene: Thank you! I have recipes that I love for all the flavors I listed, and baked her samples, so I know she likes these flavors. I do have some dummies that I use for sugar flowers, so that should work for drying (although I will probably need many more).
Asking the bride how she wants to differentiate flavors is a great idea. Since there are so many, one option might be to use different colored ribbon, liners, or sprinkles, & have a small menu displayed. She wants to keep things rustic, so maybe displaying them on wooden crates or vintage trays with chalkboard labels would be fun. I'm also hoping that they don't all go out on the table at once (otherwise there will be a sea of cake pops out there, and they might melt).
Thanks for the advice on Callebaut. I've seen it in blocks at my cake supply store; will look into it. [/b]
Annabakescakes: I know rationally I should say no, but my heart really wants to try. My friend has been so loyal and has done so much for my family. Two years ago, my third child was born prematurely, and needed to be in the NICO for two weeks. My friend, no questions asked, watched my two older children while hubby and I were in the hospital with our baby girl. She took them to and from school, fed them meals, took them to the park; and did everything with a smile! She was such a lifesaver, and so gracious with her generosity. So, yes, if I had it, I would give her a $1000 wedding gift. In a small way, this is my chance to repay her kindness. I guess this is why I want so badly to try.
That's wonderful she is such a friend
My twins were 9 weeks early, but they were my first, so I didn't have any at home. I didn't have my license yet, and my husband at the time wasn't interested, so I hardly got to see them. I wish I would've had a friend to drive the 35 miles, 1 way, to take me to see them. I wouldve baked her 600 cakes pops if I had
I made cake pops once...........ONCE!
Prima, I think you should go for it. At least try, if you see that the job turns out to be a little more overwhelming than you expected and you can see you won't be able to give her all the 600, would she accept a back-up cake or cupcakes?
Just a thought..
And I want to say, hang onto that friend there are not many in the world like them. She is a jewel. God Bless her.
I make a lot of cake pops. The "chewed" texture means you've added waaaay to much bc to the mixture. I never put them in the freezer because, for me at least, it means they are going to crack.
You can make them ahead, bag and refrigerate a couple of weeks ahead of time.
I made 700 for a wedding and it wasn't too bad. Then after that, I got serious about making them. I'm about to order my second box of 1000 sucker sticks since they are really good sellers on the Dessert Truck.
I have the Easy Roller and believe me, its not Easy. I do them by hand.
Thank you, everyone, for your kind replies. Yes, I know at first it seems like I'm letting myself be taken advantage of (and believe me, it wouldn't be the first time). But for her, I would do almost anything. She is just one of those special people that gives her heart and her service so freely; she is truly a gift.
Okay, back to the subject of pops, I just found a thread that FromScratchSF has a thread on CC where she reviews the babycakes maker, and she tries almost everything I am hoping to do (injecting with filling, coating in good chocolate, etc). She is so great, I think I might PM here & see if she can offer some tips. Here is the link to her thread, if anyone is interested:
AuntGinn: I really like your suggestion of offering an alternative to just the cake pops. Of course, it's her wedding, but 600 cake pops sounds like a lot to me. I know she doesn't want a traditional wedding cake (she wants a vintage/rustic wedding, & doesn't think a large tiered cake would fit with the theme). I might make a suggestion of a couple hundred cake pops, plus a trio of smaller rustic cakes. At least I know I could bake these ahead of time & freeze. We'll see what she thinks.
In the meantime, I'm going to do some test pops, freeze them, & see what happens as they thaw. Thanks again for all your help. Wish me luck!
What a great friend she is to you, and you to her. I would say to refrigerate rather than freeze them, as Leah mentioned, there might be some cracking from the freezer. I hope they turn out wonderful for you. I like making cake pops!
Norasmom, My desire to freeze them is motivated by the fact that because I have so many to make, I would like to make them ahead of time. How long do you think they will keep in the refrigerator? I will need to start making these at least 2 weeks in advance.
I bought Nordic ware cake pop pans at TJ Maxx. I do not like white chocolate, it didn't seem to melt very well for me. But, chocolate was wonderful and fast.
I tried the baby pop maker and you really have to watch it. The thing stays hot between batches and it just didn't work well for me.
I had a dessert buffet wedding, my husband made a cake pop stand and they were a hit. They are in my pictures.
Prima~~As others have said, you do have a darling friend and a wedding cake or pops would absolutely be appropriate for a "gift" in this specific situation.
I looked at your photos, and you appear to have the skills needed to create a gorgeous rustic wedding cake or the cake pops.
The single biggest thing that stood out of your narrative was that this will be an outdoor wedding with 90+ degree weather. For that single reason alone~~I personally would suggest that cake pops covered in chocolate are NOT an appropriate option.
Many superb cake decorators have disclaimers on their websites that state that certain flavors/frostings/fillings will NOT be provided at outdoor weddings since the heat will severely compromise the product.
Rustic weddings are the current rage, and there are LOTS of ideas for rustic, tiered wedding cakes that would be appropriate for a 90 degree outdoor wedding. Appropriate outdoor frosting/fondant could be rolled fondant or a shortening based buttercream such as Indydebis Crisco-Based Buttercream Icing: http://cakecentral.com/recipe/indydebis-crisco-based-buttercream-icing.
Here's an example of a rustic cake from the CakeCentral gallery:
You can also google "rustic wedding cake" and you'll come up with lots of ideas. There are a LOT of rustic cakes on the CC gallery. You can purchase round pieces of wood that are made specifically to be "cake drums" for rustic cakes.
You may wish to gather some of the rustic wedding cake photos for inspiration and share them with your friend and explain that anything made of chocolate will melt and may look awful despite your best efforts because of the heat in an outdoor setting.
Good luck with whatever you decide!
Here's a video by Bronwen Weber showing the effects of (110 degrees F) heat on a wedding cake with real butter in the buttercream over an hour in the sun:
Here's an article about the wedding cake for the daughter of President Bush. EVEN this cake "leaned" in the heat at an outdoor wedding:
The other thing you need to consider, if it is really that hot on her wedding day, is that the cake pops may start slipping and/or falling off the stick since the chocolate would melt somewhat. Would she consider cake balls in pretty cups instead?
Yes, I have been really worried about the outdoor weather, and the pops melting in the heat. The reception is in the evening (7pm), but in July, it's not uncommon for temps to be in the 90's or hotter during the day. How long do you think a cake pop could realistically stand up to outdoor temps before it starts melting? I'm thinking these babies will probably get soft quickly.
My dear hubby suggested assembling little cake pop displays for each table, and having the servers "serve" the cake pops to each table during the cake cutting, as part of a ceremonial "cake pop toast". I thought the idea was really cute, but I haven't asked the bride her opinion yet. We also have to deal with the logistics of keeping 600 assembled cake pops on displays cooled until they were ready to serve.
Thanks again for all your insight.
For those kinda of warm summer evenings you will need to consider a small refridgeration system of sorts. Because even when the highs are in the 90's, in the summer months the evening temps don't cool off all that much.
I like your husbands idea too, but all in all you & your friend are fighting against an element which neither of you can control. Being the kind of person you describe, I think you should sit down with her soon and discuss all of these issues & options before you get to far ahead. I'm sure she wants things to go off as smoothly as possible too.
I would tell her the latest trend is mini cupcakes on a stick.
Make sure you tell her your concerns that you are not familiar with making them and that you are concerned about the warm weather too, and see if you both don't come up with some other ideas. Maybe something like petit fours instead.
I have NEVER made cake pops...but I have made large quantities of specialty cookies. Assuming you are happy with your test runs and decide to go forward - - - it seems like you will be best prepared with the right tools.
Like drying racks. How ever many you decide to complete in one sitting - I would imagine you need enough room to let them dry with out stress.
Also - not sure about pans...but I'm a big fan of the melon baller. Not sure if that works for the cake ball process...but, if you get going with a melon baller you'll get through that part in no time.
The process of freezing - completed would be awesome! But, if not, I could easily see you concentrating on the ball part. Freeze balls in boxes, wrapped properly. Then, you could have a dip fest the week before. You could have all your bags, sprinkles, ribbons ready to go. I tend to do best when I separate tasks. Like, with cookies...I make dough one day & bake all day long the next day. That's me though.
Not sure how common it is, but, as far as display...I saw a great goodie shop from MD put their cake balls upside down. So - imagine a cake ball with a flat bottom & a stick coming straight up out of it. They bagged & ribboned the same, but added these cute tags. I think the place is called Yummy Sweet Shop. They have the most festive looking goodies. So cool!
Good Luck to you. I hope you like making them.
A light bulb moment....
Using a melon baller may be great if you decide to display upside down. The bottoms would already be flat...
Also, you wouldn't have to worry about standing all 600 of them up on a stick. You could line them all up.
I think a display of cake pops, alternating with cupcakes would be interesting on a stand. The differences in the height would. You could add in interest in texture by piping the icing with a star tip on the cupcakes. It would contrast the smooth surface of the pop vs the edges of the piped icing.
Cupcakes are never hard for me to make. They are just so easy to ice, vs cake or even smaller cakes.
Good luck with your cake pops and be sure to add a photo to this thread so we can see how they turned out!
I like very much the idea of a small-cake display for each table. They will have to sit refrigerated until the main course has been served (if this is a sit-down). In 80F heat the pops will warm up pretty fast-like in about 10 minutes. Chocolate melts below 88F...An arrangement of any small cakes would similarly have to be refrigerated until very close to serving time.
Prima you are right on track with wanting to use good flavours and real chocolate. The issue then becomes the sticks (and the heat). Maybe you could put it to the bride this way: that 600 sticks means that somebody is going to have to pick them all up, including off the ground.
Is there another choice for "rustic"? I think maybe there is. Look at the silicone molds that bake cake into flower shapes, or any of the other available themes. These are perfect for your fillings.
These small cakes can be baked ahead, frozen unfilled, and then finished closer to the wedding day (but try to only freeze-thaw them once). They can be dipped into chocolate or ganache ( no need for crumb coating) and chilled for a week in airtight containers. Hand dipping goes very fast when you have lined up the cakes and cooling racks.
Small shaped cakes will be more "rustic" than petits fours, and they certainly will be unique. If you have a plate fore each table, then you don't really need wrappers or cups for each cake. You can use "woodgrain" paper plates...
I would make a small plate of cake pops and another small plate of whatever small cakes you come up with. Invite your friend, her fiance, and your DH to the tasting because I think that the extra input will help. I think that you will be able to make your friend a fantastic wedding cake presentation when you get
Wow, thank you all for your responses. Your insight and ideas are great. I think I will gather my thoughts & concerns, come up with a few options that will hopefully keep her happy, and have a meeting with her this week to discuss. Earlier, I had suggested a dessert buffet, trio of smaller cakes, etc. I must have a hundred pictures of cakes that would work with a "rustic" theme on my computer. The petit fours, cupcakes, etc are great ideas, too. I will show her all of these options, and hopefully we can figure out a solution that will give her the rustic feel that she wants (and some cake pops) while still making this work in the heat.
I will be in touch soon to let you know how it goes.
Thanks a million, ladies. I am still new to CC, but I already find myself wondering what I would do without you...
Does she have a guest count yet? I'm just wondering because if she's expecting 300, then 600 pops makes sense. If, however, she's looking at 100, then 600 is too much. 250-300 might make the project much easier for you.
Her family has invited 600 guests, and they are expecting around 450. Yes, nothing like a small wedding.