I'm a long time lurker, not infrequent poster here, but I have benefited from all of the conversations and advice I have read on here about having realistic expectations about cake.
Decorating is my hobby, and I have been known to do some cakes for friends/family etc. (for free) to stretch myself creatively and learn new skills.
My fiancé and I are getting married in March next year; and I thought I would make my own cake for about 2 seconds (I have made 2 wedding cakes in the past); until I realised how stupid that was and my fiancé encouraged me not to do it, because I probably would end up stressed and crying, like I did when I made our engagement cake (it turned out beautifully, but all I could see were the "flaws").
Anyhow, last weekend we started the process of outsourcing the making of our wedding cake. We want a small 7'" round cake that we can cut on the day, and the rest in cupcakes to give away to the guests as gifts. I had a really developed idea of what we wanted, but was 100% willing to work with the decorator to make sure it was feasible. We also had a very reasonable budget- was willing to go up to $11 a serve. The only problem was that I (along with several of our guests) am gluten intolerant, and we don't want cake at my wedding that I can't eat. We understand all about cross contamination, but we just wanted to ensure that the cake CONTAINED no gluten containing ingredients so people can make informed decisions about whether or not to eat the cupcakes (that's good enough for me to eat).
So, I was a good little bride; I did my research, saw who in the local area had good reviews and who did gluten free. We picked out three and then called to make appointments for consultations, checking that they definitely did gf. And then last Saturday, off we went.
The first and last appointments were fab, but the middle one really got my goat, and that's why I wanted to vent! She wasn't much older than I was, and had a beautiful shop front, but she told lies and tried to blame me for not telling her I wanted GF. Everything started out nicely, went through what we wanted and she said it would look beautiful. But the when I said that it needed to be gf she said:
"Well, you can't get gluten free ready to roll fondant. The only way I could do this for you is to order in special icing sugar and do it in butter cream."
Um, WHAT??? It's a fondant covered cake, lady, and it would look terrible in buttercream. Plus, I KNOW it's possible to get gf fondant, because I currently have a huge tub of satin ice sitting in my kitchen!!!!
Ok, says I, sorry to have wasted your time. I started gathering up my things when she said:
"Well, it wouldn't have been a waste of time if you told me that's what you wanted when you booked!"
That was the first question I asked, because why would I go somewhere that couldn't do what I needed? At that moment I saw red! Then she said:
"It's such a pity too because that cake would have been beautiful. But you just can't get gluten free ready to roll fondant."
So I said, with quiet dignity and icy politeness:
"Well that's interesting, because I do cake decorating as a hobby, and I have a huge bucket of gf fondant sitting in my kitchen..."
The look on her face was priceless, and she started back-pedalling to no end. She had already lost herself the job, but we decided to humour her anyway, but do you know what her solution was?
I could supply her with the fondant to put on the cake.
Did she knock a bit off the price? No.
Is she lazy? Yes. A shop that sells the fondant we need (at a good price) is 2 doors down from her show room.
Did she put her foot in it further? Yes. She said: "Now you're getting married in March, so there's a chance it still could be a hot day (we're in Australia). Gluten free fondant is really hard to work with when it's hot, because it goes all sticky."
Hang on a sec, lady, I thought you said you couldn't get GF fondant? How would you know that if you've never worked with it before?
Did she get the job? NO!!!!
Moral to the story: If you don't want to make a cake, just say so. Don't try to bull!@#$, because you just never know who your potential customer is, and what they know!
It's funny now, but gees I was mad! Who would have thought that the cake would be the most stressful part of wedding planning?
So true...Also, I bet she wasn't really a gluten-free bakery, she probably just "wipes down everything really well" in between batches of wheat-based batter and her gluten-free batter. Forget the cross-contamination, no problem, right? My daughter has a couple of friends who are siblings and both have severe gluten problems that will put them in the hospital. It drives me crazy when people say that they bake gluten free if they don't have a dedicated kitchen for it.
I had an email recently looking for a cake for a child who has peanut allergies.
I told the lady that all of my equipment and pans have been used to make peanut butter cakes, fillings and icings in the past. I certainly cannot and will not guarantee that a spec of peanut dust will not make it into the batter.
The strange thing was, she told me all about the party date, time, place and design/flavors of the cake 1st. The peanut allergy was the last thing she mentioned in her email, sort of an after thought. By the way, she's allergic to peanuts, can you handle that?
So, I agree, you're either gluten/ peanut free or you're not. Some people just cannot directly ingest it but others-any cross contamination can be deadly.
I had a woman tell me that her granddaughter was allergic to peanuts, and when I said I wouldn't do it she said "Well, she isn't REALLY allergic, she just doesn't like them." What the heck? People play way too fast and loose with allergies these days.
I absolutely HATE customers who play loose & fast with the term "allergy". Just like the woman telling you her granddaughter had an allergy, when in fact she just didn't like peanuts! I mean for God's sake, if you tell me your granddaughter hates peanuts, I assure you I'm not going to make a peanut cake, covered in peanut frosting, sprinkled with peanuts!!!