Addressing Customers Who Don't Want Fondant

Business By AZCouture Updated 3 Jul 2014 , 12:34pm by cakegrandma

AZCouture Posted 25 Jun 2014 , 9:41pm
post #1 of 34

AWe've all seen it at least once in this forum: "Heeeelp, my customer insists on not having fondant and I don't know what to do!! (insert photo of cake with perfectly straight ribbons of fondant and other fondant detailing).

I don't know about you, but I don't do this to myself. If a cake clearly needs to be done in fondant, and you're not confident pulling it off by using other methods, or know the cake won't look it's absolute best without using it, then [I]say so!![/I] This is where you get to be the professional and advise your customer that it's the best way to produce a cake that everyone will be happy with. Examples:

"I understand that fondant may not be something you want to eat, so I make sure to put just as much icing on the cake covered with fondant, as a cake that doesn't have any. Each slice of cake will only have a very thin layer of the fondant, and it's easily peeled off."

"I'm happy to oblige using butter cream only when the design allows for substitutions, but this particular cake has elements that cannot successfully be made without using fondant. Would you like to see examples of similar ideas that don't need fondant?"

"I may be able to make these details with modeling chocolate, would that be acceptable?"

Something along those lines. But when a cake has stripes, or perfect defined lines or [B]anything[/B] else that obviously looks great because fondant was used...then let the customer know that. You're the professional, and part of being a professional is advising people about what will work, what will look good and not so good, etc. Chances are they just need a little of your time to explain what mediums are appropriate for certain situations, and what can be done with each one. They'll probably be ok with it if you just take a couple of minutes to talk to them. If they can't be persuaded, which hasn't happened to me and probably won't, I would pull out the final card of "sorry, I cannot help you if you won't let me change the design to allow me to skip the fondant."

Either way...take control. [B]Politely[/B] take control, but don't allow yourself to get pushed into doing something you're not comfortable with. All you have to do is take a look at Cakewrecks to see examples of cakes that you just [I]know[/I] were the result of someone saying "I haaaaate fondant", and a decorator who couldn't say no. ;)

33 replies
ellavanilla Posted 25 Jun 2014 , 10:33pm
post #2 of 34

AZCouture Posted 25 Jun 2014 , 11:26pm
post #3 of 34

Quote:

Originally Posted by ellavanilla 
 

Seriously! :razz: I can't believe the freaking out I see by people trying to figure out what to do because someone doesn't like fondant. 

jenmat Posted 25 Jun 2014 , 11:41pm
post #4 of 34

lol, awesomeness...

I don't have ANY problem laying down the law. What annoys me is the customer who is then angry at ME for telling her the truth. Dude, then pick another cake!

 

I like doing stripes on buttercream though- more wiggle room!

 

But I won't do deep colored buttercream. And that is where the arguments come in. They send a bright red base-iced buttercream cake and I say no, I won't do that to your intestines. And it will be all streaky because I don't use buttercream that can be smushed with a paper towel....

Then they get downright ornery. 

:roll:

costumeczar Posted 26 Jun 2014 , 1:15am
post #5 of 34

If it really needs fondant, or there will be so much that it ends up being covered anyway (ruffles etc) then sure, but in general I tell every customer who says they don't want fondant that they don't need it. If it's going to be outside in the heat I will ONLY do fondant, or like @jenmat if the cake will be a really deep color, but for the most part I can do whatever they want on buttercream.

 

My favorite thing is when they say some other baker said that "it can't be done" without fondant and I tell them that of course it can. Bwuahahaha!

 

I do get people who get snippy with me when I tell them that I won't do buttercream for their outdoor wedding in the 100 degree heat. For them, they are welcome to go to someone else so that other person can be responsible for the icing sliding off their cake.

maybenot Posted 26 Jun 2014 , 3:21am
post #6 of 34

I've had all of the conversations mentioned above. 

 

If I feel that it requires fondant, then that's it. 

 

If they persist, I remind them that a slice of the cake, cut properly, will have 3 square INCHES of fondant on top of it [unless someone gets an edge piece], that it can be peeled off, and that there will be a full layer of BC.

 

More argument=no cake. 

winniemog Posted 26 Jun 2014 , 9:02am
post #7 of 34

AIt seems so simple, the expert says it can't be done...but the customer insists that's what they want so surely you can do it...you just don't want to, right?

Try this one on for size....my husband is an anaesthetist (anaesthesiologist to the Americans among us), and he has had a number of patients recently who have googled anaesthetics and requested specific drugs....when he says they are not appropriate for this type of surgery/this particular patient, they have insisted that's what they want! He offered the last lady the opportunity to anaesthetise herself...sadly she declined, because now she is living in my local area and I just know she is going to want a cake sometime soon - and it's going to be navy blue/red stripes with a huge bow on top...and she hates fondant as much as she hates anaesthetic drugs!

costumeczar Posted 26 Jun 2014 , 10:35am
post #8 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by winniemog 

It seems so simple, the expert says it can't be done...but the customer insists that's what they want so surely you can do it...you just don't want to, right?
 

The problem is that people do run into "experts" telling them that something can't be done when they either don't want to do it, or don't have the skill level necessary to do it. Then they come to someone like me (who gets to handle a lot of people who were told "it can't be done") and I tell them that of course you can do that. Then the customer is left thinking that decorators are a bunch of liars.

 

I've had people tell me that other decorators have said that you HAVE to have fondant all the time, you HAVE to have pound cake on the bottom tier, you CAN'T do buttercream with fondant accents on top of it, etc etc. I tell them that most things can be done, but a lot of people either don't know how to work with buttercream or they are just trying to churn out twenty cakes a week to meet payroll and they don't want to take the time to deviate from their routine. It's one thing to let a customer know, for their own benefit, that fondant is required to prevent the cake from melting, or to use for a certain effect (ruffles for example) but it's another to tell customers  that you have to use fondant for the baker's convenience. Two separate issues.

costumeczar Posted 26 Jun 2014 , 10:39am
post #9 of 34

Red velvet cake is another one I get a lot..."They told me you can't do red velvet because the color will bleed through the icing." Interesting how the last fifty red velvet tiers I did stayed white.

 

I also had someone tell a client that you have to pay more for square cakes because they start out round and you have to cut away the square shape out of the round cake, and it wastes a lot of cake that way.:???:

 

When someone comes to me with a story like that and asks me if it's true I have no problem telling them the other baker was full of it.

embersmom Posted 26 Jun 2014 , 11:14am
post #10 of 34

Quote:

Originally Posted by jenmat 
 

lol, awesomeness...

I don't have ANY problem laying down the law. What annoys me is the customer who is then angry at ME for telling her the truth. Dude, then pick another cake!

Oh, tell me about it.  I had a simple cupcake order for a customer who was absolutely, positively certain she could do this 3D guitar cake for her son's graduation party.  She had the photo of what she wanted it to look like on her phone, showed it to me, and started asking me a bunch of questions.  She kept insisting that the bottom tier was ganache, and "I can do that at home!  How do I do it?" Meanwhile I'm looking closely at the photo and come to the conclusion that the bottom tear is either chocolate-colored fondant or actual modeling chocolate, so I said something very nicely about it.  All hell broke loose.

 

I never apologized.  Call it cake snobbery but Iady, I've been doing this long enough to know the difference between ganache, fondant, and modeling chocolate.  YOU OBVIOUSLY DON'T OR ELSE YOU WOULDN'T HAVE ASKED THE QUESTION.

 

I need a vacation.

Dayti Posted 26 Jun 2014 , 12:16pm
post #11 of 34

Quote:

Originally Posted by costumeczar 

 

I also had someone tell a client that you have to pay more for square cakes because they start out round and you have to cut away the square shape out of the round cake, and it wastes a lot of cake that way.:???:

 

There is actually a video somewhere (I think I might have seen it on Craftsy actually, or perhaps it was a random YouTube class thingy) of a lady doing this in a class. Seriously. Just why you would do that is beyond me, but each to their own... 

morganchampagne Posted 26 Jun 2014 , 1:00pm
post #12 of 34

AThere's so much nonsense out there. A client told me and I'm copying straight from an email :

"I don't like the taste of fondant, but I know it has to be like that. My last decorator said it's impossible to make fondant from scratch because it makes it unstable"

I was outdone

cakegrandma Posted 26 Jun 2014 , 2:44pm
post #13 of 34

As an answer to this thread and all the people who are told by an "expert" it can't be done or it needs to be done this way only.  The Lord must have loved a$$holes, cause there sure are a lot of them.

jenmat Posted 26 Jun 2014 , 2:55pm
post #14 of 34

Quote:

Originally Posted by costumeczar 
 

The problem is that people do run into "experts" telling them that something can't be done when they either don't want to do it, or don't have the skill level necessary to do it. Then they come to someone like me (who gets to handle a lot of people who were told "it can't be done") and I tell them that of course you can do that. Then the customer is left thinking that decorators are a bunch of liars.

 

I've had people tell me that other decorators have said that you HAVE to have fondant all the time, you HAVE to have pound cake on the bottom tier, you CAN'T do buttercream with fondant accents on top of it, etc etc. I tell them that most things can be done, but a lot of people either don't know how to work with buttercream or they are just trying to churn out twenty cakes a week to meet payroll and they don't want to take the time to deviate from their routine. It's one thing to let a customer know, for their own benefit, that fondant is required to prevent the cake from melting, or to use for a certain effect (ruffles for example) but it's another to tell customers  that you have to use fondant for the baker's convenience. Two separate issues.

I tell people all the time that most things "can" be done in buttercream, with the exception of painting/guilding. When I tell people they need fondant, I usually word it that "I" won't do it in buttercream. That way they aren't thinking I'm pulling this type of situation. Because I know that they can go to joe-schmoe down the road and he will make them their bright red iced elmo cake in buttercream without blinking an eye. I don't like lying to my customers, even if it initially makes life easier for me. When I say a cake has to be done in fondant, it genuinely has to be done in fondant. OR I say I will only do it in fondant because that is the way I feel comfortable doing it. Doesn't always make them happy, but they are welcome to shop around!

costumeczar Posted 26 Jun 2014 , 3:42pm
post #15 of 34

Quote:

Originally Posted by morganchampagne 

There's so much nonsense out there. A client told me and I'm copying straight from an email :

"I don't like the taste of fondant, but I know it has to be like that. My last decorator said it's impossible to make fondant from scratch because it makes it unstable"

I was outdone

This is the kind of thing I'm talking about. That person would come to me, I would tell them that I make my own fondant and it doesn't taste like artificial flavorings, and they would be suspicious of every decorator from then on, having been told two different things by two different "experts."

 

Come to think of it, part of the issue is that there are too many people acting like they know what they're doing and telling people they're "experts", when they really have their heads where the sun don't shine. Just like @cakegrandma said :roll:

-K8memphis Posted 26 Jun 2014 , 3:45pm
post #16 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by costumeczar 

 

I also had someone tell a client that you have to pay more for square cakes because they start out round and you have to cut away the square shape out of the round cake, and it wastes a lot of cake that way.:???:

 

 

 

love this story

ellavanilla Posted 26 Jun 2014 , 7:25pm
post #17 of 34

on the cake i flew to Kansas City, my friend did not want fondant, and i had to tell here that there was no way i was carrying a buttercream cake in a box, on two planes. i assured her that it would be fine. 

Anyway, wedding day comes and DH LOVES the fondant so much that he's eating it off of slices and leaving the cake. LOL

 

I used the new wilton BTW and it does have a better taste. 

 

 

"No fondant, please" I can deal with. I still havent figured out how to please Mr. I don't like chocolate, fondant or buttercream, but make me a cake....

TheItalianBaker Posted 26 Jun 2014 , 9:09pm
post #18 of 34

I had a bride who wanted a white cake. 

So I told her to go with fondant.. she didn't know what it was.

"Fondant is like play dough but totally edible because it's made with powder sugar.."

her answer was "OMG!! I hate powder sugar!!!!!!!"

ok.. so maybe we can go with a buttercream...

"Is buttercream made with butter? because I hate butter.."

 

I didn't know what to do.. laugh, cry o tell her to get a pizza

AZCouture Posted 26 Jun 2014 , 9:51pm
post #19 of 34

ARidiculous morons that make claims like rounds cut from squares, and red velvet not being an option aside, there definitely are instances out there when buttercream alone [B]will not cut it.[/B] In those cases...stop the insanity and do it the right way! :D

costumeczar Posted 26 Jun 2014 , 11:33pm
post #20 of 34

Quote:

Originally Posted by TheItalianBaker 
 

I had a bride who wanted a white cake.

So I told her to go with fondant.. she didn't know what it was.

"Fondant is like play dough but totally edible because it's made with powder sugar.."

her answer was "OMG!! I hate powder sugar!!!!!!!"

ok.. so maybe we can go with a buttercream...

"Is buttercream made with butter? because I hate butter.."

 

I didn't know what to do.. laugh, cry o tell her to get a pizza

I would vote for the pizza at that point.

ellavanilla Posted 26 Jun 2014 , 11:51pm
post #21 of 34

Quote:

Originally Posted by TheItalianBaker 
 

I had a bride who wanted a white cake. 

So I told her to go with fondant.. she didn't know what it was.

"Fondant is like play dough but totally edible because it's made with powder sugar.."

her answer was "OMG!! I hate powder sugar!!!!!!!"

ok.. so maybe we can go with a buttercream...

"Is buttercream made with butter? because I hate butter.."

 

I didn't know what to do.. laugh, cry o tell her to get a pizza

 

 

this was like my guy. what do they want? i was never able to determine. the guy got so snide and asked me if i  had ever baked a cake...

morganchampagne Posted 27 Jun 2014 , 12:51am
post #22 of 34

The money is better to me in weddings, but the people, oh the people. I try to love em anyway!! Just love em through the nonsense lol!

AZCouture Posted 27 Jun 2014 , 4:03am
post #23 of 34

AShoot, give me a wedding any day over a first birthday mommy!

ellavanilla Posted 27 Jun 2014 , 8:05pm
post #24 of 34

Quote:

Originally Posted by AZCouture 

Shoot, give me a wedding any day over a first birthday mommy!

 

 

HAHAHAHA! Truth! I've had two different birthday cake orders this month asking me for "light chocolate."  Why bother?

AZCouture Posted 27 Jun 2014 , 9:03pm
post #25 of 34

Ha ha! I had a desperate call from only God knows who last night at 7:30, sounding desperate because of the late date of her call in regards to the date she needed it for (like TOMORROW). I told her if she could be here within the half hour with cash in hand, I could help her. Would have been a little 4/6 with basic cutout dinosaurs. Eh, I could whip that out in no time. She sounded sooooo relieved, and said she was leaving right now! I get a text ten minutes later that said her husband was going to order from elsewhere, with a bunch of sad faces at the end. Someone's hubby blew a gasket at the price! :razz::-X No skin off my teeth, sorry you didn't plan appropriately!

craftybanana Posted 2 Jul 2014 , 2:55am
post #26 of 34

Quote:

Originally Posted by cakegrandma 
 

As an answer to this thread and all the people who are told by an "expert" it can't be done or it needs to be done this way only.  The Lord must have loved a$$holes, cause there sure are a lot of them.


Nope, the Lord has a sense of humor, that's all :lol:

AZCouture Posted 2 Jul 2014 , 3:09am
post #27 of 34

A

Original message sent by cakegrandma

As an answer to this thread and all the people who are told by an "expert" it can't be done or it needs to be done this way only.  The Lord must have loved a$$holes, cause there sure are a lot of them.

No kidding, they're everywhere, it's an epidemic! What's really bad, are people that honestly think their wonky buttercream stripes are going to look nice, or that piped buttercream circles that are almost round, will be good enough rather than using a cutter. Yeah, there [B]are[/B] designs that won't look nice unless they are done the same way. And if I didn't get so many dang messages asking how I "talk people in to fondant", I wouldn't have posted this. :D

"How do you talk people in to fondant...." I don't. They don't get a choice. They also know that there's buttercream underneath it, and there's truly no issue once that is mentioned.

MBalaska Posted 2 Jul 2014 , 3:13am
post #28 of 34

Question...AZ,

at  your wedding cake tastings, do people taste test your fondant and like it (to their surprise)?  Is that one of the ways that you persuade people?

AZCouture Posted 2 Jul 2014 , 3:17am
post #29 of 34

A

Original message sent by cakegrandma

As an answer to this thread and all the people who are told by an "expert" it can't be done or it needs to be done this way only.  The Lord must have loved a$$holes, cause there sure are a lot of them.

Actually, this is just incredibly rude, [@]cakegrandma[/@], unless I'm just misunderstanding you. But I just can't comprehend replying to anyone's post in a manner like that, without explaining myself. Just too crude for me.

AZCouture Posted 2 Jul 2014 , 3:24am
post #30 of 34

Quote:

Originally Posted by MBalaska 
 

Question...AZ,

at  your wedding cake tastings, do people taste test your fondant and like it (to their surprise)?  Is that one of the ways that you persuade people?

Nope. I don't usually remember to set any out. I think I only have twice, now that I think about it. I just don't get bossy clientele or people that have a bunch of restrictions. I invite their ideas, we work on a design, and it's made with what it needs to be made with, and everyone is happy. It's just that easy. ;)

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