Taste Vs Looks - What Is Most Important In A Cake??? Long!!

Decorating By Jessica176 Updated 14 Jul 2007 , 7:23am by 7yyrt

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Jessica176 Posted 11 Jul 2007 , 5:58am
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I know this might sound like a bit of a weird question, but I would like to know what everybody thinks is most important in a cake. What got me thinking about this????

I recently went on a cake decorating course at one of the best cake studios in Australia (they are highly regarded outside of Australia too) and WOW!!! I thought their cakes looked great in the magazines, they are just breathtaking in real life. Anyway, they supplied the cakes and showed us how to layer, fill, cut them to shape, cover etc... (it was a topsy turvy/whimsical cake). I got it home, so excited to taste this cake from this top notch place, and it was really average tasting. In fact I think the mud cakes from the grocery store are better than their cake. Now, these cakes I are about the looks, I know (and they get 1000's of dollars for them) but shouldn't it taste nice too? icon_confused.gif

I know we are all artists and don't think I am trying to demean what we are all doing here - I live for cake decorating like everyone else on this site and just want to make beautiful cakes. BUT... I have spent sooooo much time developing and perfecting my recipes and am really proud of how great they taste. Not one of my friends can go for cake and coffee anymore because other cakes don't match up to mine!!! That makes me feel great. icon_biggrin.gif

I always figured that the cake is supposed to be a wonderful centrepeice, but ultimately it is cake and it is there to be eaten and enjoyed. Am I the only one? Is this my budget self talking (I have never bought a REAL cake, only cheap ones from bakeries)? Do people with $2000 to spend on a 2 year olds birthday cake icon_eek.gif care how it tastes? (By the way, the place I did this course at did charge that much for the cake, and I didn't think it was all that really!!)

So, sorry for the long post, just wondering what everyone else thinks? Should I be spending more time on my decorating skills and putting taste to the back of my mind, or am I right neglecting practise sometimes to further develop my recipes?

54 replies
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marksmom Posted 11 Jul 2007 , 6:10am
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IMHO it should taste at least as good as it looks. I'm no expert on decorating but have had no complaints on taste. I'm with you!!!

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ceshell Posted 11 Jul 2007 , 6:18am
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Well I'm just a novice baker and I first started decorating just to try to spruce up a great-TASTING cake. The reason I found CC in the first place, for example, is because I was googling cake recipes, trying to find a "best" chocolate cake recipe.

I for one would be mortified to decorate a beautiful cake only for everyone to eat it and later talk behind their backs about how the cake wasn't that great. I get just as much pleasure from people falling all over themselves about the taste as I do having them compliment me on how it looks. I did one a few weeks back that was really kind of ugly (not in my gallery: no way!) but I was still thrilled that people were going crazy over how delicious it was.

That said, I do think a lot of people are fine with a cake that looks beautiful as long as it tastes "good" - it doesn't always have to knock their socks off, but it certainly should be edible. People at an event are usually eating just one small slice so they won't be expecting an out-of-body experience from the cake - so I can see why how it looks may even be more important: in a sense, they spend more time admiring it than eating it anyway.

Still, you have every right to pursue perfection in both baking and decorating if that's the message you want to send. I know it sure is for me! And it sure seems to me from all of the posts I've ever read here that no matter the technique (scratch, mix, doctored mix, etc.) most people take pride in the way their cakes taste too. I can't imagine a big $$ studio actually making sub-par tasting cakes- what a shame. Maybe they don't pull out the stops when supplying cakes for a class?? Who knows, but I think you are on the right track: Make em yummy!

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jamhays Posted 11 Jul 2007 , 6:36am
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BOTH. icon_biggrin.gif
I think it should look nice and taste GREAT. We had a cake auction @ our church several months ago where only the men could participate. Of course my hubby & sons used some of my recipes & tools, but I did NOT help them. I KNOW their cakes tasted great & the didn't look half bad either. icon_smile.gif One man made a huge cake that auctioned off for $750! After the auction, the winner of the cake invited everyone to the fellowship hall to help him eat that cake. The cake was AWFUL!!!!!!! It was the texture of cornbread. icon_surprised.gif I had to throw mine out; it wasn't even edible.

Cake should look pretty and taste good.

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dolfin Posted 11 Jul 2007 , 6:39am
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For me taste is more important than looks. No matter how good a cake looks its a waste of time and money if no one eats it. If all you want is looks get a fake one. It's sort of like people what's the point of being beautiful if there is no substance. I want my cake to taste good and look good whether I make it or buy it.

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torki Posted 11 Jul 2007 , 6:56am
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I agree ...it should taste better than it looks.... there is nothing worse than being at a function eyeballing a spectacular looking cake all evening, only to be disapointed by a nasty tasting cake ...its a big let down icon_cry.gif

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kate6207 Posted 11 Jul 2007 , 7:14am
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Personally, I am more interested in how a cake tastes and is made then how it looks. I love the art of baking and have spent a lot more time developing my baking skills and trying out recipes for cakes then I have improving my cake decorating skills. It isn't that I don't care what my cakes look like; otherwise, I wouldn't be here, but only that it isn't what interests me the most at this time.

Hopefully, someday my cakes will look as good as I hope they taste, but it isn't a priority at this point since I am not selling them. If I ever did then I would hope that the taste and look would both equally be good, especially if I was selling them for $2,000. icon_smile.gif

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arwa Posted 11 Jul 2007 , 7:25am
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I agree.... its taste and looks both... infact just last week a client called me n said tht specifically tht it shld taste moist n not dry. She mentioned tht another friend of hers spent 100's on a beautiful castle cake which tasted horrible... over sweet n dry.... so its definately a combo of both tht works....

oh ya... she was very happy with the cake i made for her...

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Housemouse Posted 11 Jul 2007 , 7:36am
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In my days BCC, I never really gave much thought to the 'cake' element as it was the decorating part I really enjoyed.

I only used to royal ice fruit cakes so I never had to think about it because I used a tried and trusted recipe.

Even when I started covering sponge cakes with fondant I still didn't focus on the 'cake' - that was just there to hold the fondant up - I just used recipes I knew and liked.

Agree with a previous poster and wonder whether people are expecting to be surprised by a single slice of cake

Although on Friday I made a leaving cake and was taken aside by a colleague and told that that was the best lemon cake they had ever tasted and that they like a moist cake! Then last night my Mum told me she'd taken my WASC cake (a from scratch recipe) from the freezer and it was delicious - and that had been in the freezer, extremely well wrapped, since Easter...

Now I feel obliged to 'agonise' over cake flavours and fillings and experiment some more - I'm sure it won't be a totally unenjoyable experience.

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amysue99 Posted 11 Jul 2007 , 7:37am
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IMHO, Taste wins hands down! I'm not yet a great decorator, but I'm getting lots of orders because my cakes taste great! People will forgive the decoration, it's the taste that stays with them most.

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SScakes Posted 11 Jul 2007 , 8:05am
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I go for the taste first. I just feel that people should get their money's worth and what's the point if the cake does not taste good.
The way I see it, people take pics of the cakes and that they can always have to see. With the taste, they will always remember that too and if it tastes bad, they will look at the pictures and always think about the good looking bad tasting cake that cost them a fortune.

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diane Posted 11 Jul 2007 , 8:53am
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every one of my customers that has made comments on my cakes, were because of the taste. i think they're both important, but if it doesn't taste good they won't be coming back!

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mommalud Posted 11 Jul 2007 , 11:06am
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i agree that both taste and looks matter.
i will say that since i started paying more attention to the taste of the cake everyone (including myself) enjoys them more. i have never seen a whole sheet cake disappear so fast in my life!!!
i think the look is the wow factor and the taste keeps them coming back! i know that once people taste my cake at a party i start to get orders for their functions on the spot.

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kidscakelady Posted 11 Jul 2007 , 11:29am
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I agree that a cake should both taste great and look nice. I am just starting out also and I love it when people say to me, "Wow! Your cakes not only look beautiful but they taste great too" They sound so surprised when they say this, like they expect either one OR the other. My response to them is, "Of course a cake should TASTE great- it's cake. Why would you pay so much to look at something that is supposed to be edible- it's not a centerpeice- it's food-

So.. taste wins out but it should look beautiful also.

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mgdqueen Posted 11 Jul 2007 , 11:31am
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I've seen many gorgeous cakes get thrown in the garbage because they didn't taste good. My cakes are not spectacular (yet!) but I know when they are eaten, they are thoroughly enjoyed and my return customers are proof. thumbs_up.gif

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Iloveweddings Posted 11 Jul 2007 , 11:38am
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I think a cake needs to look good AND taste good. I've seen gorgeous cakes and then they tasted awful. I think you need the whole package. My friend thinks looks are most important. Yeah, it is, but if it tastes awful people will remember. Ever go to a restaurant that had bad food? You won't go again.

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berryblondeboys Posted 11 Jul 2007 , 11:40am
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Originally Posted by diane

every one of my customers that has made comments on my cakes, were because of the taste. i think they're both important, but if it doesn't taste good they won't be coming back!

Super ditto... if it doesn't taste as good as it looks, then well, they won't be calling again. At least people who are buying from me are buying for a custom design, but more importantly for a really yummy cake.

I will NEVER forget how disappointed I was when I bought my son's second bday cake from the highly regarded bakery in our area. The cake was SOOOOOOOO dry and flavorless... Who cares about the wrapping paper, if the present stinks? (which is what the decoration is).

Which is also why I bake as close to when the cake is needed too.


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cruizze Posted 11 Jul 2007 , 11:45am
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I going to have to go against the grain on this topic. I think looks come before taste. For me personally I will only eat something that looks appealing to me. If the cake has an undesirable appearance then I am likely not to want to eat it. I'll be honest and say that I have had some bad tasting but great looking cakes. Mostly because they have ingredients that I find "yucky" like cream cheese or coconut. No matter what I thought about the taste the cake was still very nice to look at.

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berryblondeboys Posted 11 Jul 2007 , 11:52am
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Originally Posted by cruizze

I going to have to go against the grain on this topic. I think looks come before taste. For me personally I will only eat something that looks appealing to me. If the cake has an undesirable appearance then I am likely not to want to eat it. I'll be honest and say that I have had some bad tasting but great looking cakes. Mostly because they have ingredients that I find "yucky" like cream cheese or coconut. No matter what I thought about the taste the cake was still very nice to look at.

Well, it shouldn't look like someone took a dump on it, but a PLAIN cake with no icing looks yummy and can icing (unless it looks like cement or poop) ever really look inedible?

LOTS of my early cakes now look pretty "rustic" but they didn't look like something anyoe would say, "Ick that will taste bad". It just looked homemade by a loving mommy - which it was! icon_lol.gif

And just because you personally don't like the taste of coconut doesn't mean it's a yucky cake, just a flavor you don't "dig".

My "clients" always say, "It was so cute and tasted WAY yummy." and it's the yummy part that has gotten people to come to me for cakes more than anything else.


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Suzian3570 Posted 11 Jul 2007 , 11:55am
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I have to agree with everyone in that both are extremely important, but I think taste would be the most important. At my first wedding, I had a huge cake, with a fountain, and satellite cakes (7 or 8 tiers total). It was absolutely beautiful and there was enough cake to feed a small army! However, it was possibly the most disgusting cake I had ever tasted, as well as everyone who attended the reception! It was so bad, the cake was left nearly untouched, and I was so embarrassed! The groom's cake (created by the same person) was devoured. It tasted great. Obviously, she had baked and frozen the cake days before the wedding, and I was very unhappy with the finished product.

I decided when I started to make cakes myself (several years after this episode) that taste would be as important as what the cake looks like. I believe I have succeeded in my goal! I received this in an email last night from a wedding cake I made about a month ago...

"Hi Suzian,
I did not like the cake I LOVED the cake!!!! All of the people there said it was the best wedding cake that they have ever had.needless to say I didnt have any left over!!! Again I want to thank you soooooooo very much. The cake was beautifulwe will definitely be calling you when we have a baby shower (that is in the some what far future though)!!!

P.S. I will need more of your business cards!!!"

Now, I would like to share my secret with all of CC!!! I use Pillsbury boxed cake mixes for my cakes....no big secret...just plain old Pillsbury! I have tried other brands, even tried scratch, but I just don't get the compliments about the taste like I do when I use Pillsbury. I have thought about trying different scratch recipes, but a wise friend once told me...IF IT AIN'T BROKE...DON'T FIX IT! hahaha (sorry for the Kentucky slang here)....but I think you all understand what I mean! I'm attaching the photo of the cake from the above mentioned wedding.

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mjpbmf Posted 11 Jul 2007 , 12:08pm
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I feel both are important . . . when I am "creating" most of my cakes first I worry about it not looking great. Then when it is done and it looks decent I worry that it won't taste great.

No complaints here yet from my customers. I too have been using box mixes (typically Duncan Hines sometimes Pillsbury and Betty Crocker). I tried making a couple from scratch but my DH always says that he prefers a boxed mix. I am making a cake this weekend to practice and I think I am going to use one of the recipes on here just to see what he says!

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frogleggs Posted 11 Jul 2007 , 12:11pm
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IMHO I feel the cake needs to be well rounded with attractive looking decoration and a delicious moist cake inside. I agree with others that if the cake doesn't look good I won't even touch it. We have alot of potlucks and lady get togethers at church and I know some people aren't as great as decorator as myself, but surely a person can get at least a nice merrange look to their cake, (sorry chasing rabbits) icon_smile.gif anyways, If a cake looks like yucky, yucky I find it hard to desire a piece of it. On, the same token tho if you have a beautifully decorated cake outside and the inside sucks all the moisture out of your mouth (how many times has this happened), it's not worth the calories. Both are equally important to me because I feel that the looks will get you, and the taste will keep you coming back. I use to work at a local bakery and the cakes were decorated beautifully. I decided to purchase one and take it home for my family and when we ate it we really felt jipped. Even the kids wouldn't eat it (and for my kids not to eat cake is really something, isn't cake the 5th food group?)

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Jenn2179 Posted 11 Jul 2007 , 12:24pm
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I think it needs to look good and taste great. My husband is at the police academy right now. He has a couple of extra pounds but isn't fat. The training guys like to tease him and ask him why he has those extra pounds assuming it was from drinking beer. He told them, "no my wife makes cakes." Last week for the 4th of July I took a cake to a party for my husband and his police academy co-workers. The next day at work the guy who hosted the party to my husband, "I see why you eat cake. Your wife's cake looked great and tasted even better." The best compliment I could get.

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jewelykaye Posted 11 Jul 2007 , 12:34pm
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I have more fun with the decorations but I definitely think taste is extremely important!

For example:

I had a cake 2 weekends ago for a Quinceneara (sp). The mother told me a couple days later that everyone would go look at the cake and ohh and ahh over it but then they would also smell it. She said adults and children were asking her all night when she was going to cut the cake.

She said everyone was so impressed with the look but once they took a bit they were hooked.

She now insists that I make all cakes for her family. That's due to the fact that the cake wasn't just pretty, it was actually good too! (Lol, they are always so suprised when a pretty cake is good.)

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RRGibson Posted 11 Jul 2007 , 12:51pm
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As many others, I think that both things are important. But I also feel like it's the taste that will get you repeat customers and referrals. As someone else said, in the end it doesn't matter how pretty it was, if no one ate it because it wasn't very tasty.

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bisbqueenb Posted 11 Jul 2007 , 1:13pm
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You eat with your eyes first so the look of a cake, be it a fancy tiered cake or simple sheet cake, gives a 'first impression' of the entire cake. If it doesn't "look" good...often folks won't even give it a second thought...no less a taste!

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peeps311 Posted 11 Jul 2007 , 1:21pm
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Personally, I think that expectation has a lot to do with the final result. If you buy a cake from a dept. store or grocery store, you may expect it not to taste that great. But, because the look may not be so creative, you focus on the taste, and if it is good, it wows you because you didn't expect it to be so good. Wheras, when you look at a more creative (and/or expensive) cake, you expect it to wow you in all areas and when it doesn't, you are upset that the taste may not be as good as the look. Hopefully we all can strive on making yummy and good-looking cakes that everyone will be wowed by!

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Shayenne Posted 11 Jul 2007 , 1:28pm
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I think it should taste better than it looks !!!

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Tracyj Posted 11 Jul 2007 , 1:36pm
post #29 of 55

Both are very important. But I do think that in the end, taste is what we remember. I've been to quite a few weddings and I can tell you that I remember what every cake tasted like, but I can't tell you what they looked like.

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shelbycompany Posted 11 Jul 2007 , 1:42pm
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I think that both are important. I went to a wedding once and the cake was so beautiful I didn't want to eat it. Once I got over that and actually did taste it, I was really wishing I didn't have to eat it. It tasted like a stick of butter. thumbsdown.gif So I think that great recipes are a must and looks are very important.

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