Sky High Wedding Cake That's Making Me Cry :(

Decorating By smokwa64 Updated 22 Jun 2012 , 1:09pm by jgifford

smokwa64 Posted 22 Jun 2012 , 8:09am
post #1 of 7

Hello All
It's 4am here and this cake isn't due until July 1st, but I'm losing so much sleep over it. I have only been decorating cakes for just over a year now and this will be my second wedding cake. My first was in October, so I didn't worry about temperature coming into play - Also it was 4 tiers, but they were all the same flavor and the bride had me use a stencil for design and ribbon on the base of each layer. It was easier than I thought... then came this request... She originally sent me a picture of a 4 tier cake (fondant covered), pretty simple design with a few flowers here and there. I told her that would be no problem, and now we met for her final consultation a few days ago, because she said she wanted to make some changes after we had her cake tasting... She said she wanted a 6 tier cake (16", 14", 12", 10", 8", 6") with ivory colored fondant and each tier she wanted to be 6" tall. She asked it I could exactly duplicate the lace of her dress and the only way I could see of doing that would be to hand paint the details on. She said "The bigger the better! It's going to be the center of attention at the wedding aside from me!" They are getting married outside, in a tent and they will have spotlights on the cake while it's on display. If it were only for an hour or two, I thought it might be okay, but the photographer is getting there at 10am and wants the cake there at noon... Then they will have it on display until they cut it... at 8pm! :'( My cake can not stand up to sweltering July heat and added spotlight heat for 8 hours and I don't know what to do... I thought that I might be able to run by her the idea of a dummy cake... I could even make it taller than she had wanted if it were a dummy, then we could keep my cakes in sheet form refrigerated until serving... It feels like cheating though but with the weather and this size of a cake, I feel like I'm just not experienced enough to know how to guarantee this cake will hold up under those circumstances. Please, any advise would be greatly appreciate. (Sorry this is so lengthy... it's just got me so beside myself icon_sad.gif )

6 replies
nanefy Posted 22 Jun 2012 , 10:54am
post #2 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by smokwa64

Hello All
It's 4am here and this cake isn't due until July 1st, but I'm losing so much sleep over it. I have only been decorating cakes for just over a year now and this will be my second wedding cake. My first was in October, so I didn't worry about temperature coming into play - Also it was 4 tiers, but they were all the same flavor and the bride had me use a stencil for design and ribbon on the base of each layer. It was easier than I thought... then came this request... She originally sent me a picture of a 4 tier cake (fondant covered), pretty simple design with a few flowers here and there. I told her that would be no problem, and now we met for her final consultation a few days ago, because she said she wanted to make some changes after we had her cake tasting... She said she wanted a 6 tier cake (16", 14", 12", 10", 8", 6") with ivory colored fondant and each tier she wanted to be 6" tall. She asked it I could exactly duplicate the lace of her dress and the only way I could see of doing that would be to hand paint the details on. She said "The bigger the better! It's going to be the center of attention at the wedding aside from me!" They are getting married outside, in a tent and they will have spotlights on the cake while it's on display. If it were only for an hour or two, I thought it might be okay, but the photographer is getting there at 10am and wants the cake there at noon... Then they will have it on display until they cut it... at 8pm! :'( My cake can not stand up to sweltering July heat and added spotlight heat for 8 hours and I don't know what to do... I thought that I might be able to run by her the idea of a dummy cake... I could even make it taller than she had wanted if it were a dummy, then we could keep my cakes in sheet form refrigerated until serving... It feels like cheating though but with the weather and this size of a cake, I feel like I'm just not experienced enough to know how to guarantee this cake will hold up under those circumstances. Please, any advise would be greatly appreciate. (Sorry this is so lengthy... it's just got me so beside myself icon_sad.gif )




OMG - So your second ever wedding cake is going to be a 16" to 6" all 6" high!?!?!?! Seriously, that is terrifying, then she wants it outside in serious heat with spotlights on it!?!?
Sorry to ask this - but is she legitimate?? Has she paid for this cake yet? I don't know, something just sounds a bit dodgy.
I couldn't even imagine trying to cover a 16" by 6" high cake by myself.

First off, relax!! I personally would tell her it couldn't be done and why - fact is YOU are the one with all the knowledge about cakes and you know that the cake won't survive that, so just be honest and firm with her. She might want to have it her way but sometimes we need to let customers know that it's not possible. Dummy cakes definitely sounds better and maybe just have one tier that's real so that they can cut into it.

I honestly don't know what to advise, but I think you need to have a gin and a sleep! lol

leah_s Posted 22 Jun 2012 , 11:47am
post #3 of 7

I've got 12 years of experience and 1000 wedding cakes under my belt. He's what I'd tell her.

This is food and you have to respect the limitations of food. Can you have a huge cake on display in the heat with a spot light on it for 8 hours? Yes, but it MUST be a dummy cake. Will anyone know it's a dummy cake? Well, yes when you go to cut it . . . for the ceremonial serving. Although the caterer can discretely place a lovely plate with a small slice of cake on it behind the cake right before you need it.

Can I duplicate your lace exactly? NO. Again, this is food not fabric, so the materials and techniques that are available in fabric are NOT available in food. Can I get close? yes.

"Exactly" is a danger word. That 's a red flag to me that you're gong to get complaints afterwards if the lace doesn't match "exactly." I had a couple throwing that word around during the consultation and I declined the contract.

All this said, this cake is basically next week, so it's a little late to throw this at the bride. But you have to. Cite your inexperience. Cite the last minute changes that turned this from a "yes I can" order into a "are you kidding me order."

Lastly, YOU are the one who says when the cake can be delivered and when the photog can take pictures of it. His camera isn't going to melt. Your cake will melt,

You are the food professional. You must take charge of this situation.

Best wishes.

dillonsmimi Posted 22 Jun 2012 , 12:22pm
post #4 of 7

Great advice leah.
I just want to add that the photographer should know better.
If not, they may need to get a more experienced professional to capture what is potentially the most important day of their lives.

TheSweetTreat Posted 22 Jun 2012 , 12:37pm
post #5 of 7

I AM a photographer and have shot several weddings and assisted many many more and I have NEVER told the bride when the cake should arrive. It just arrives when it does and I take photos, end of story. That request is NOT normal and I would certainly ask the bride why the photographer wants the cake there so early in the day?

Also, Leah's advice sounds great. You may not have many years of cake experience, but you need the confidence that you do. If you speak to the bride with confidence why her requests are a bit over board then she will go with your suggestions a lot easier than if you act unsure and nervous. Be confident in what you know can't be done.

BakingIrene Posted 22 Jun 2012 , 1:02pm
post #6 of 7

This customer needs something more than a 6 tier dummy cake and sheet cakes. She probably saw something on CakeBoss--where the price tag is never disclosed.

There are some points to your contract with this bride that you should be able to work with. We are all assuming that some of this was written down when you accepted a deposit. But even a verbal agreement commits you to some obligations.

You have an agreement to provide a simply decorated cake that will serve XXX guests that will be edible when served. The bride has now come to you to cancel that agreement and attempt to set up a new one. YES the bride insisting that she requires a cake to sit for 8-10 hours in a hot tent cancels your agreement to provide a tiered real cake.

You can fulfill your original agreement with a dummy cake for extended display in the original design, and sheetcakes so that guests get a piece of cake that will not make them sick. Not much more cost on your part, and not much more work. Write off the difference as a cheap lesson for yourself...

It is up to you to decide whether you will accept the new agreement for a 6 tier lace extravaganza dummy cake. Basically, you would not only charge her for all of the necessary labour, but you would charge her 100% overtime for the rush order. And you would require 80% payment up front.

You should provide this written quote to the bride, together with a written statement that you are prepared to make a foodsafe cake for her original serving count, in the form of a 4 tiers dummy simple dec, and sheetcakes-- because of her request for prolonged exposure to heat. It's not too late to write down the original agreement together with the date that you received the deposit...and the statement that food safety is your primary concern.

In future, you need to set a cutoff date after which no design changes can be made, period. That cutoff point will depend on whether or not this is your primary employment. This needs to be a part of the written agreement that you make for every cake order that is to feed more than 20 guests.

And you should consider that being cautious about food safety is important. I never had a problem explaining this to customers...but then I never got this kind of request at the last minute. I personally don't like the idea of any cake sitting at room temperature for as long as some posters on this forum claim.

But don't feel bad. This order is a learning experience. I started decorating cakes for customers after I had worked two summers in a restaurant where I learned the food safety rules for that place and time. That restaurant sold catered products so the contract stuff was also familiar to me.

jgifford Posted 22 Jun 2012 , 1:09pm
post #7 of 7

I agree with leah and SweetTreat - - some things are just not possible (or smart) with cake. And six 6" tiers? Really? I know it can be done, but come on.

I know this is the bride's dream wedding and she's probably been planning for years exactly how she wants things to go. But - - - she is not a baker. You are. It's up to you to give her a reality check and tell her what you can and can not do. And don't feel bad about it.

Cake is your area. Take control of it and STRONGLY suggest the dummy cake for the look, and sheet cakes for eating. Especially if she wants it on display under spotlights for an extended time. That's just not safe any time of year. And the delivery time needs to be your decision - not the photographer's.

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