I love love love making tall tiered cakes, but I find it hard to talk my clients in to them. They are either afraid of cutting them or it's just way too many servings for the party. I understand that it's easier to agree to a tiered cake for a wedding since they are often 100+ people and they are typically served by staff, but on Facebook and Pinterest I see so many gorgeous tiered cakes for all kinds of parties, even kids parties. I can think of one in particular that showed two cakes, each 3 tall tiers, for twins turning 1. Each cake looked to serve at least 60 at a minimum. Are most of your cakes for 60 or more servings? I've made 3 tiered cakes for big birthday parties before, but they are few and far between. Are cake artists just finding people who want a spectacular cake no matter how many servings? Should I be offering to use dummy tiers? So many gorgeous cakes out there, but I can't stop counting all the servings!
Most of the large tiered cakes I make are for weddings. Usually when I have someone coming to me with a large tiered cake photo they A- have no idea how much it serves and B- don't realize the larger cost for tiered cakes. Usually I suggest doing a smaller tier to fit there servings in the decor of the large cake or doing a standard size cake in the decor if they aren't expecting to pay much. Rarely do I get 3 tier or larger for non wedding gatherings. The other issue I have is last minute requests for tiered cakes. Which always surprises me. Hope that helps!
Thanks for the reply! That is exactly what I run in to. Always having to turn the initial tiered design in to a single or double tier. I've avoided getting in to the wedding side of the business because I don't have a lot of support for doing cakes or for caring for my family. There are no do-overs in delivering a wedding cake!
I've gotten a few of those last minute tiered requests. My favorite was a 3 tiered cake to serve 90 requested 4 days before the party. The best part was their budget was $100. Sorry, can't help you!
By the way, I noticed your profile says you are from Saratoga Springs. My husband and I went to Skidmore and LOVE Saratoga! I haven't been back in years and totally miss it. You must make cakes for some amazing weddings!
I'm based in the UK. I often make small 2 or 3 tier cakes for birthdays. We don't tend to price by the serving but just the size of the tier.
I also offer the customers dummy tiers if they want to achieve the look of a specific cake, but don't need the portions!
Frosted moon, I try to make them give me a 2 week window on tiered cakes. I love when people get all huffy and puffy when they are last minute inquiring and I am already booked up for the weekend they want. They try to throw the "well fine I will find another bakery then" line and i'm just like OK. lol
I get to do some interesting cakes, but a lot of my brides are really down to earth and looking for a great tasting simple design. I prefer cakes that aren't overdone because they just look classic. I do have one coming up this week for the city of Saratoga's centennial celebration. Which should be fun!
I do pretty much only wedding cakes, so everything I do is three or more tiers.
Keep in mind that a lot of the giant cakes that you see online are display cakes. There are a LOT of people who don't sell a lot of cakes so they have a lot of time to do fancy display cakes. When people post photos of actual wedding cakes they're generally not as super elaborate as a real cake because there's a certain amount of time constraints required for real cakes. When I have a cake that's really complicated I can't schedule as much for that weekend, and I usually can't charge enough for the complicated cake to make up for the other ones, so it's kind of a loss to do a really elaborate cake for weddings, if that makes sense. Most brides don't want to pay for designs that are really elaborate photo shoot-style, so they get a scaled-down version of that.
Don't use Pinterest and Facebook as the basis for what's really out there, in other words. You'll drive yourself crazy thinking that everyone else is doing super-interesting stuff and you're the only one who isn't. It just isn't true, unless they're doing it for photo shoots and for wedding show displays. When it comes down to what's SELLING to actual customers, those cakes are usually smaller and less elaborate. Or they're made from half cake, half styrofoam dummies to make them look bigger. Anyone who has a profitable business will tell you that the majority of what they do isn't what they would consider "fun," but it pays the bills. I remember when Ace Of Cakes was on they said that most of what that bakery did was basic white wedding cakes, but they didn't show those on tv because they weren't interesting enough. They'll concentrate on the weird orders for tv, but it wasn't what made the most money for the business.
Thank you for your reply, Costumeczar. That really makes me feel better. There are some incredible cakes out there for sure! Free time is not currently in my vocabulary though, but maybe in the future!
Most of my cakes are pretty detailed and they take forever even though they are smaller! I'm a profitable business, but it has definitely been harder to get a good profit margin on a small detailed cake than a big one!
@FrostedMoon wrote: Most of my cakes are pretty detailed and they take forever even though they are smaller! I'm a profitable business, but it has definitely been harder to get a good profit margin on a small detailed cake than a big one!
I raised my minimum to $500 recently because of exactly this issue. By the time I finish a complicated smaller cake the hourly profit isn't worth it, I'd rather take a nap. I'll do smaller cakes if people want that, but it would cost $500, which is what I calculate to be the least I'm willing to work for once all of my expenses are taken out.
And by "time put into the cake" I'm including appointments, writing contracts, answering emails, etc etc etc. You have to do all of the same amount of work time-wise for a small cake as you do for a large one, the decorating time isn't that much more. It's the prep work and the non-decorating work that adds up.
It sounds like you would really enjoy moving into wedding cakes. It's super easy to target brides, and you're getting 100+ servings per cake, and they usually don't have as many finicky decorations and colors as party cakes. Truly, except for the baking, I probably spend as much time decorating a 2 tiered party cake as a wedding cake, and don't make a fraction of the money. Your dissatisfaction shows you might still need to find your niche. Wedding cakes are stressful at times, but oh, so rewarding.
I do mostly wedding cakes because I charge the same for time for both birthday and wedding and most people won't pay that for a birthday cake. I actually like it that way. I have noticed an increase in 'Pinterest Brides' recently though (that's what I call them!). it's usually the ones who like something which is covered with something completely inedible. They see something they like and want that...trying to tell them that their dream cake is covered in plastic is hard...harder still is when you give them an 'edible' alternative which is more expensive and they think you are ripping them off.
You are all so right! My style definitely fits the wedding scene better. I've always been nervous to jump in though. I wanted to make sure my skills were up to par. Now I think they are, but I worry about not being able to complete wedding orders if someone in my house is ill or gives me a bug. Plus residential bakers are severely limited in options for buttercream and fillings (nothing that needs refrigeration, no fresh fruits, etc etc) in my area. I know some other licensed residential bakers do it anyway and their health inspectors are even aware of it, but if there were ever a problem it would still be on the baker's head. That makes me really nervous. Perhaps one day I will be able to build a commercial kitchen and market myself as a wedding cake artist, but I think I am at least 5-10 years away from that. Hey, at least I'll have a lot of time to perfect those tall tiers! :)
As for the inedible decorations, that is a HUGE pet peeve of mine! I've gone in local bakeries and seen cupcakes with disco dust all over the tops. I specifically asked and they confirmed thats what it was. I wouldn't let my kids get one, but what about the customers that have no idea? Wrong on many levels!
Seeing as Pinterest has come up, question for you all. Is it possible to make BRIGHT red, red velvet cake pops? A bride wants them (picture from pinterest of course) and I tempered her down to chocolate instead. Every time I have made red velvet cake pops, they end up being a funny grey/red/pink colour by the time you have added the vanilla frosting. I thought maybe the picture had been photoshopped but now I'm doubting myself...can it be done?
I haven't made red velvet cake pops personally, but I'm thinking if it's the vanilla frosting reducing the red color then perhaps if you add red food coloring to the frosting before mixing it in you will keep the red color for the cake pops. Personally I can't stand that red velvet flavor is based on using a ton of food coloring and typically try to convince customers to go with something else anyway. I hope she sticks with the chocolate!!