I don't know if this is true mainly in Canada or also the case in most countries. Here, most of the grocery stores get the icing in already coloured. Now they also get the white and if you run out, you can colour icing. However, the icing colours are horrible, extremely bright or dark shades of everything, no pastels, no pretty colours, just these really loud colours. Now children tend to like bright and primary colours, but adults don't generally want Cookie Monster blue roses or Barbie Rink and Big Bird yellow.
I remember when my daughter asked her manager if she could get different colours or mix her own shades. He said that customers liked those colours. Hhmn, wonder if he ever thought to ask them?
Heehee, guess that is a pet peeve of mine too, haha!
and to sweetart who was complaining bout mixing with ur arm.... sorry to say this.. must alot of bakeries always make buttercream along with other items in xlarge bowls and scrape the bowl with their hand .. i used to make xlarge batches of white chololate mousse at my one bakery i was at.... it called for 24 qts of cream and 22lbs of white cholote and we folded in the chocolate with our arm... up past our elbows to incorporate air .. and i never shaved my arm.. lol then again i dont have a hair problem like the bakers where u were.. lol
I was not complaining simply stating. People who have never worked in a bakery wouldn't know this. I know that is just how it has to be done. My point was that you have to wash your hands before working with the food, but they did not wash their arms before putting them in. I had to use my hands to remove bettercreme from the wire whisk, but they were washed. And shaving should have been considered after it was know the hair was a frequent problem. It had been done in other stores.
Don't get me wrong, our cakes were for the most part pretty good, but we were pushed for quantity over quality. That's how they get thier cheap prices.
Disclaimer: I'm not criticizing the decorators themselves, but the stores and their policies...
Hubbie and I were at some "big box" stores over the holiday weekend. The American Flag cakes were just embarrasing, and actually a discrace to the flag and our country. Pink stripes, and nasty blobs for stars, really sloppy. I mean the flag is something really important and patriotic to our country, especially in the time of terrorism. If you have a tattered (real) flag, you can't display it. Why is it ok to represent it so bad on a cake? Who would actually buy one of those?
If they don't have the time to spend to make it decent looking, then they shouldn't do a flag at all. Just do something with stars or fireworks or something red, white, and blue with a "happy 4th" message! Why couldn't they do an edible image of the flag? Plenty of their other licensed character cakes have edible images on them for the same price.
Sorry, just my .02. I really don't want to offend anyone, but it's been bothering me all week.
The cakes were made there, but they were made with a mix, water, oil, and processed eggs from a bucket. The first time I saw our baker pouring the eggs into the mix, I stared in horror. I almost thought is was vomit, I'd never seen such a horrible thing.
The cakes are frozen and thawed and refrozen many times. When I took a transfer to their other bakery it was even worse. They rolled out an entire rack and left it next to the decorator, and their it sat all day. What was not used was put back into the freezer at the end of the day, and the process was repeated the next day. New cakes are put on the same rack as older cakes, so you don't know which ones need to be used first.
The problem with that is when mixing, they had to stop and scrape the shortening off the sides, but there is no spatula big enough for this job, the the baker had to use a hand held scraper and stick his whole arm in there to reach the bottom of the bowl. These bakers do not wash or shave up to their elbows, so we were always pulling hair out of the frosting. We told the baker (also my boss) about the problem, he didn't do anything about it, so we told the store manager, he talked to the baker. Nothing changed and we were told to basically get over it.
Oh, my goodness!!! I don't know what to say here... This is such a horror story... YIKES!!!! Did you work at the same store, or is this your experience at different stores....
Oh, my, I haven't had a store bought cake in a loooong time, and I think I never will....
I do see the Winn Dixie (in Orlando) bakers where this guy there makes the cakes in front of you. They look really clean and hygenic.
I can say for anyone else, 'cause I don't see them decorating in front of you...
I think I just lost my lunch.......
you mean, your apetite for lunch?
You have a beautiful flag, but also one that is intricate in design. It is a flag that takes a lot of time to duplicate as a cake decorator. Can you imagine trying to duplicate that lovely flag in 2 minutes or less? That likely explains why these cakes are not well done. I agree, it would be better for the stores to offer a simple cake and perhpas a small real flag that is safe to insert.
I wonder if the general public has just gotten used to seeing these store cakes and doesn't realize that they could be better done. However, would they be willing to pay for the extra time taken to do a better job, that is the question.
Ooh, all this talk about hairy arms, hhmn! Interesting because it appears that these folks are not wearing baker's uniforms. I am a big fan of gloves and hair nets and hats and such in industries where food is handled.
SO gross!! Mmmm... I'd to order a 1/4 sheet hair with a little marble in it to add that cakey flavor.
I had a lot of cake orders with flags and fireworks. It was actually pretty simple. Just make a larger quantity of blue and red and keep them in airtight containers (they'll be gone in 2 days anyway) I found it very easy and effortless. I think it was just a matter of poor coloring (for the red) and laziness. I mean, how hard is it to put a star tip on a coupler? I applied a small square of blue with an angle spatula and used balloon tips for the stripes. I used an angled spatula to flatten and smooth them and then added stars with my star tip. It took me about 15 min. from icing to finish (which also incluedes mixing the colors)
Gee Calejo, you are fast. Hhmn, want to work at an in-store bakery, haha! Just cut 13 minutes off your time and you are all set, haha!
Actually, though, perhaps their icing came in pre-mixed and that was the colour they were stuck with.
One thing, when you have worked at these places, you do speed up considerably, I know my daughter is much faster than her old mother!
you would think that after the first few times of getting hair in the buttercream , maybe they would have someone else scrape the bowl..
ooo and some of the premixed colored icing are hideous!!!!!!!!!!.. the pink was hot pink.... the green was lime green ... even though we werent suppose to.. we'd mix colors using a tiny bit of the colored with white buttercream.. otherwise we didnt have a pastel color.. everything was really dark or neon
Magentaa, that was the word I was searching for, yes, the colours look neon. Now neon is pretty cool if you are under 12 years old, or so, haha, but some of us can go into heart failure when things are that bright, haha!
yeah, our bakery has precolored red (which we rarely, if ever use) too, and it looks like an orangeish (sp?) red (very ugly). but it is definitely red. Perhaps it was a poor assumption on my part, but I thought that if they did use pre-made red, it would be darker than the pink that was described.
Which also makes me wonder if it was a whipped topping cake?
Haha, I do find that the red isn't quite red, maybe they should be asking us how to get a real red, haha! You know that is a good point, many of the whipped toppings don't colour as deeply.
This topic has really created quite a stir hasn't it..........okay, I'll just give one more thought I have......
How in the world can grocery stores call cakes "decorated" when:
they are sprayed to the max; have candy and/or ribbon tossed all over them ; and have borders 4-5 inches long? I walk by those display cases and just shake my head.........
Why do people buy that crap? If they really knew what went on behind the scenes they would NEVER purchase another "freshly baked, decorated cake" from "our bakery".
I've said enough.......
My blood pressure will go up if I don't stop now
i must confess that when my boys, now 14 and 12 were little, my dad would always ask them what kind of cake they wanted for their birthday...then he would go to walmart and buy a cake with plastic characters on it. they loved it!!!!
now i decorate cakes from home and have a two and four year old and would NEVER buy a walmart cake or any other grocery store cake again!!!! i actually laugh to myself when i walk by the decorated cakes.
i guess it all boils down to how informed the customer is. years ago i thought the walmart cakes were great, now i dont....i think they are horrible.
so i guess we need to educate the public on what a good cake is, so they stop buying the crap, and order from us!
First of all, I am not offended by your statement, and I hope I do not offend you with mine.
However, in my opinion, the long and the short of it is this: it's just cake. So long as it tastes good, and is prepared in a healthy manner, people should be able to buy what they want. I've used ribbon (rarely, but just to kick up a cake when it needs a little something extra) and gummi roses once in a blue moon (nicer for the diabetics as they are easier for them to simply remove and still enjoy a smaller amount of icing). I also airbrush cakes for a nice effect.
This is not all I do, but I have done it before and people buy them because they think they're pretty. Just my opinion. I don't do it as an easy way out or very often, just because there are people in my area that like it. It's also how you use it. It may be abused by the decorators in your area, but I still consider it decorating.
squirrellycakes: in my experience the colours offered to decorators at grocery, donut shop franchise, and other similar cake outlets are liquids in lurid, non-natural colours (i think we could all live our lives quite happily never again seeing that anaemic sky blue frosting on a cake ). when i was working at tim hortons, i also did character cakes and wedding cakes, and i brought in my own paste colours to use (just imagine trying to get barney-purple or elmo-red using liquids!). i agree with you about flags: easier and more edible-looking to use picks or other removable decorations; ah...if only country flags came in soft, muted colours, eh?.
also, it's been 5 years since i worked in the industry, but i've never seen a chef/baker uniform that included elbow-length gloves. you can't stick your chef-jacketed arm in a vat of buttercream or mousse. i don't think i wore my chefs jacket past the first few weeks of my baking/decorating career; i've been up to my elbows in product, and decorating is easier when you've got the range of movement that a t-shirt and apron offers, and you don't have to worry about accidentally scraping the cake with your jacket cuffs (you just have to worry about your belly and boobs...both of which i'm ashamed to say have come into contact with cakes i was working on! )
(you just have to worry about your belly and boobs...both of which i'm ashamed to say have come into contact with cakes i was working on! )
Now that is funny! I haven't had the pleasure of this yet
Haha, I know most folks just wear the t-shirts, I was being funny. But really with those hairy armed folks I think shaving or a jacket should be a must, in fact, I am almost certain that a food inspector would insist on it. I say, what about armpit lengthed gloves, haha! Many of the grocery stores here actually do get their icing pre-coloured Aunt-Judy. It is likely something that varies a lot.
I agree that there are folks who do beautiful air brush designs, I also will add candies or other edible decorations and sometimes non-edible ribbons and such too. Sometimes the cake dictates what you should add. But I have also seen the cakes that are referred too, where things are just slopped on.
I know a lot of folks who have never eaten anything other than a grocery store cake. In fact they are so used to them that they find home made cakes and icings, taste strange to them.
I have an order to do where the lady requested a non-sweet icing like a certain chain here uses. Now personally, we find this icing to be the worst one around, but apparently she likes it. So I will be making up an icing that will hopefully come out similar to it. I am just dreading it. Personally I find it very sweet, but it just goes to show, it is all what you are used to. I really wanted to tell her to buy her cake from that store, but since it is a friend of a friend, I don't want to offend her.
But I have had neighbour's children that thought homemade cakes tasted weird. These children would also likely not like homemade soup because it wouldn't be as salty as canned - which is what they are used to.
I think the comments are dead on about educating the public. I liken it to furniture. For example, Bombay company makes nice looking furniture, a lot of folks think it is quality furniture. However because of the types of woods they use and the way they put the finishes on, this is not furniture that will withstand the tests of time It looks good new, that is true, but it will not hold up the way Ethan Allen or Gibbards, (if you are a Canuck), will.
I say, what about armpit lengthed gloves, haha!
I have seen them! It was on the Simple Life when Paris was doing an exam on a cow. (You don't want details; it was not pleasant. It was funny though!)
(you just have to worry about your belly and boobs...both of which i'm ashamed to say have come into contact with cakes i was working on! )
That's hilarious! I've done it too. I quit work early when my 7 months pregnant belly kept hitting the sides of my cakes and messing up the borders. Very frustrating.
Haha, now that you mention it, I saw that episode with Paris Hilton too. Forgot about it!
Haha, at least you were pregnant and had an excuse, haha! The stomach portion of my apron is always a mess, wonder why, haha!
Never trust a skinny cook! hehe
squirrelly: do you happen to be referring to the dominion/a&p/save-a-centre grocery store icing? i worked for them for three days (lowest pay i every made, even as a teenager!). their icing is a "butter"cream, or so they claim (clearly not containing sufficient butter that they refrigerate it...it sits out in a big tub). it's very greasy (you can feel the shortening), and alarmingly smooth...i find it irritatingly sweet and unctuous, but a lot of people like it cause you can't feel the sugar in it (i suspect it's made with some sort of syrup). just wretched.
those paris hilton calf-birthing gloves would have been handy...i used to come home from bakery work on public transit -- if i wasn't careful when cleaning up after my shift i could have smears of chocolate or icing on my arms or neck...when you see people covered in paint coming home from work you think they've been working hard -- i can't imagine what people thought of me covered in foodstuff stains!
to me the store bought cakes are soo generic...like they're made by a machine or something.
Independant Grocers, Aunt-Judy, they receive the pails frozen.
AI'm the only male decorator at my store in Cincinnati. There are two of us and we pretty much decorate how we want to in buttercream or whippy. Some stores out west are allowed to use fondant, do tired cakes etc. Our store managers philosophy is if it makes money and the customer is happy, so be it, of course within reason. Our cakes come in prebaked, but, we don't ever put product back in the freezer uncovered or undecorated. I recently found out that Servatti's and Buskin both of whom are "specialty" bakeries and follow the same model we do. Only when you place an order with us, we decorate it in house. A lot has to do with time. When a competitor has problems we get all of their business. In fact we had over 80 orders in one day with one person doing them. :o so, in smallet specialty stores you have more time to be creative. Just my two cents.
I'm the only male decorator at my store in Cincinnati. There are two of us and we pretty much decorate how we want to in buttercream or whippy. Some stores out west are allowed to use fondant, do tired cakes etc. Our store managers philosophy is if it makes money and the customer is happy, so be it, of course within reason. Our cakes come in prebaked, but, we don't ever put product back in the freezer uncovered or undecorated. I recently found out that Servatti's and Buskin both of whom are "specialty" bakeries and follow the same model we do. Only when you place an order with us, we decorate it in house. A lot has to do with time. When a competitor has problems we get all of their business. In fact we had over 80 orders in one day with one person doing them. so, in smallet specialty stores you have more time to be creative. Just my two cents.
hi jason, i have worked for several different types of bakeries and i agree w/you wholeheartedly. i have a niece who was a big box store decorator and i never invited her here because of the strong opinions--although she would have loved to learn more --i would not put her in the mix like that --
100-200 orders, 10-20 wedding cakes would be a typical june weekend for the average bakery -- and they would have 3-4 decorators and an icer --
best to you
I used to judge grocery store cake decorators. A lot. I worked at a nice little small business bakery and I'd see frosting slapped onto cakes halfhazardly and think, geez, have some pride, grocery store decorator.
I've been working at a major chain grocery store for almost 2 years now. I have finally gotten to where I can take a 1/4 sheet cake (pre-baked, wrapped, and frozen, shipped, thawed, and placed on a board) from undecorated to fully decorated and ready to sell in 5 minutes. FIVE minutes. I could never have done that at the bakery, where my time on each cake, even the easiest ones, was at least 30 minutes.
I would put my 5 minute cake up against anything anyone else could make in that time frame. It's a very specific (and useful) skillset to be able to go that fast.
I can frost 20 tortes with whipped icing in 23 minutes. Whew! And they're pretty. Not my best work, that's for sure, but pretty.
It sucks my soul some days that I can't create like I used to, but it does pay the bills better than the bakery and custom designs on wedding cakes did! And when I do a cake at home, the time is SO much shorter because the basics are down pat. Borders are perfect and take mere seconds now and before they took SO long.
big fat high five, privatenamehere
invaluable skill, speed is -- and in some cases you get nice benefits too working in the g. stores --
some of the stores i worked in had icers so you got your cakes all ready for the decor -- although wedding tiers would be iced by the decorator -- yes i could double border the top and dbl border the bottom, decorate the sides with vines leaves flowers or double swags -- on top do rose spay of 5 nail roses, buds, drop flowers, leaves, stem & tendrils and inscription in well under 5 --
this is where home bakers will rarely make the grade -- you just can't survive without it, speed, the need for speed -- vrroooom