cake with flowers

what's the big faking deal?

every year event and wedding design reveals new trends. most of those have to do with color, shape, texture, or graphic images. one trend that's been around for the past few seasons is frugality. now being a girl who has champagne taste and a coca-cola pocketbook, i understand that not everyone has oodles of disposable income to throw at their wedding or celebration. it's important in these difficult financial times that we make every cent count twice. so i applaud thrifty-ness and bargain-hunting. brides are all about diy, from their invitations to their bouquets, to favors, forget fake it till you make it, just make it! all of those handmade items bring a certain whimsy and personality to a wedding, and i'm all for it! since brides are being discriminating with their  dollars, event planners are being creative with cost-cutting, thus, the fake cake.

most cake designers have created fake cakes before; tiers of styrofoam covered in fondant or plaster and decorated to look like a fab wedding confection. they've been made for bridal shows and exhibits, or for displays in their shops or studios. i've made quite a few myself. some of the work pictured on my website consists of display cakes that i've decorated for various occasions. up until recently most of us have never been commissioned to make one for a real live event. brides and planners are soliciting display cakes for show & pics, and then sheet cake for the kitchen with the hopes of saving some scratch. here's the thing... that actually won't save you money. in some cases it may actually cost you more! allow me to debunk a couple of myths for you.

  • wedding cake costs more than other cake; bakers automatically charge more when they hear the word wedding. - not true, unless you are comparing the cost of a wedding cake to your local bakery or grocery's grab & go birthday cake. personally, i charge the same for any special event cake - birthday, wedding, anniversary, baby shower, etc.. the price is determined by the level of detail and the amount of work that will go into a specialty design.
  • a fake cake plus sheet cake will cost less. - bakers determine the price based on ingredients, how long it will take to decorate plus the amount of time it will take to bake the cake(s). when making fake cake plus sheet cake, the cake still needs to be baked, plus the cake designer has to decorate twice - first the sheet cake (which needs to look like it came from the pretty display cake), then the display cake. there are also additional materials for the display cake. that styrofoam can get pretty expensive! for a three tier cake, it can cost anywhere from $15-40 just for the dummies (not insulting them, that's just what they're called)
  • no one will know the difference, i can just get cake from costco (nothing against costco, i LOVE costco - where do you think i get all that butter from?!) to keep the  number of servings down. - ummm... nope. most cake decorators have an all-or-nothing clause in their contracts. you must get all cake from them. this is designed to protect them and their reputation. guests don't know that the groom's cake came from one place and the wedding cake came from another. they just know they had cake. and if one is really awful...only one gets all the credit/blame. they won't differentiate. also, sheet cake looks different. it's usually two layers of cake and one of icing/filling, whereas wedding cake is usually three layers of cake and two of filling or icing. you wouldn't want your guests to think there's been a bait and switch!

so how can you save on your wedding cake? when is fake cake appropriate?

  1. be realistic about your budget and share that information with your cake designer. s/he will present you with ideas that are within your price range if you are up front about it.
  2. simpler is usually less expensive. choose a design that will not require hours of detail work. nix the sugar flowers and go with silk or fresh, non-toxic blooms.
  3. choose a smaller cake for display (big surface+fancy details=more details & more time. little surface+fancy details= less details & less time) and other types of desserts like pie or cookies will reduce the amount of servings you'll need.
  4. choose a smaller display cake and kitchen cake provided by the same baker.
  5. supplement the size of your cake by the addition of one or two fake tiers. this may not save you on decorating, but it will save you on the number of serving.

i hope this helps you navigate the world of cake!

which one is real?

design, design, design!

if you watch any of the reality cake shows ( i watch all of them - even the ones i can't stand... more about that in another post), you'll see the bride & groom sitting with the esteemed cake decorator, and then they say something like..."i'm having a luau, spa, winter, outdoor, polka dot wedding, and i want you to make a fantastic cake! oh and we really love our dog, roscoe!". and then buddy, or duff, or someone on cake challenge makes a 4ft tall dog wearing a lei and a parka, skiing down a mountain with polka dot boots, and the bride & groom fall in love the minute they see it (it's perfect! it's better than we could have imagined! it looks just like roscoe if he were skiing in hawaii!) at their wedding reception with cameras rolling, and then said cake decorator gets showered with gratitude. yeah...that's not how it works. brides and grooms come in with a general idea of what they want - something round, or square, traditional or whimsical, (well the grooms come in to taste cake - they're not that interested in the pretty cakes). then i show them enough pictures to confuse them and make them change their mind. this is key to the process, because what i really want to know is how you decorate your house, and what colors you love. whether you'd wear stripes or polka dots or plaid. what country you'd love to travel to. this is where the design comes from, and it can't be accomplished in a 30 second segment. it takes a little time; we have to date a bit so that i can get to know you, and you can get to trust me!

i had a wedding cake this weekend that i absolutely love. i think it is my favorite (for now). it's because it was very different than what i normally do in terms of wedding cake. it was fun because the bride and groom let me do what i wanted! which was what they wanted even though they didn't know it initially. they came in wanting a simple, elegant 3 tier white cake. boring... they however, were not boring people, so why get a boring cake? they were interesting, and quirky, and from the middle east. the reception was at a lebanese restaurant.  plain, white cake? yeah right.

so we looked through some books, and they fell in love with an offset cake (inside i did a little jig, and then a booty shake), but not the design on that cake.

bride: "could you do something that has a byzantine feel/pattern?"

me: "sure!" (running to computer to google "byzantine design")

this is what i found (found some other stuff too, but this was the most exciting, and secretly i was hoping they'd love this too...)

this is the byzantine door interpreted in cake, and their black, white and ivory color scheme.

grandma just loves her crosswords!

so yesterday was my dad's 75th birthday. i called to wish him a happy happy and asked him how it felt to be 75 years old. his reply... " it feels great!", and then he goes on to tell me that he was lying in bed and told himself that he'd better get up and go walking so he can stay healthy. i must add that the man gets up every morning at 6 and goes walking for MILES almost every day, hence why he's 75 and fit as a fiddle. thinking about my dad reaching 75 reminded me of this cake i did last fall for betty who was turning 90! betty apparently is quite the spitfire who does daily crosswords and sudoku. the colors for the party were red and yellow (apparently betty's a fan of those colors). the red and yellow theme was carried into the inside of the cake with red velvet cake with lemon cream cheese filling, and vanilla cake with a mixed berry buttercream (see the berries in the bowl? get it? good!)

i hope to be in as good mental and physical shape as betty and my dear old dad... now if i could just put down the brownies... sigh.

stomping at the savoy

every now and then i get an opportunity to run free and wild. last week back in october (see how long ago i started this post. smh. i've got to write more often!) i had the great pleasure of creating a display cake for the pi alpha omega chapter of alpha kappa alpha. they were having their annual fundraising dinner and dance benefiting their ivy and roses scholarship fund. last year the theme was motown...

this year the theme was the harlem renaissance. there's SO much from that era, but i was totally inspired by the glamour, the glitz and the bling ( i swear this year i am going to retire that word!), as well as the art deco architecture and design. i kept thinking about the cotton club and the savoy ballroom, so this is what i came up with[gallery link="file" columns="2"]

recovering

i understand the concept of a weekend. time off after a busy week. believe me; i get it. but why are all celebrations on the weekend? i challenge you to throw off the chains of tradition, and have your birthday cake on a tuesday. baptize on a wednesday. get married on a thursday! i say this because last weekend was very crazy. 25th birthday cupcakes (waiting on pics from the b-day girl), a fashion show/tea party for two sisters, teenage mutant ninja turtle cupcakes, and a very pretty 80th birthday cake. all for friday, saturday and sunday. i'm still tired and it's a week later!  spot of tea  lipstick  ninja turtle  ninja turtles  maisie's 80th b-day

lest you think i'm complaining, let me assure you, i am not. i just think we should spread the cake love around. don't you think the other days of the week feel lonely and underappreciated and underutilized? i do.