Friday, July 30, 2010

Vertical Stripes are SO Slimming!

When I meet with brides that are fondant-phobic, I like to tell them that most cakes can be done either in fondant or buttercream.  This cake, however, is a fondant only affair.

Now, I'll begin by saying that with most cakes, I decorate each tier (almost) fully and then put the tiers together.  I found that the stripes on this cake went on much better when I put the whole cake together and then started applying the fondant stripes.  Trying to handle those stripes once they were on the cake was not going to be pretty!

I started with the bottom tier, then mixed my leftover chocolate fondant with white to make the graduated coloring for the tiers.  For the monogram, I cut a circle from modeling chocolate and let it dry on a curved flower former.  Then I hand painted the "W" monogram using brown luster dust and the accented it with gold luster dust.

This was a grooms cake, but I have a wedding coming soon using this same stripe design for a wedding cake.  I can't wait to see how this thing looks in white!

Have a great weekend everybody!!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

My Web site is my Best Friend

Many of you know that I am a "one girl" operation.  I also have a very talented, supportive husband who does all the things I can't do (or don't want to!).  He works for Cup a Dee Cakes every minute he is not at his regular job.  Chad has built my website from scratch and changed it every time I ever wanted it to be "prettier" or more functional.  I hate to say that I don't often take into account how very hard website work is to do.  Much like my customers don't always realize how much work goes into a cake, they just want it "pretty".  (At least I get paid for my work).

My website is my best friend (except for Chad!) because it is like a salesman, an information desk, a photo album, direction giver, price estimator, policy police, availability calendar, etc.  "Webby" (let's call her) does so many things that it frees me up to bake and decorate.  Since the beginning, I have tried to give my customers all the information I could.  I don't feel like hiding my prices, or designs, or the fact the I have a legal commercial kitchen built onto my home (I have posted pictures as well as health department scores in the past).

If a competitor uses my design or knows my prices, so what?  We have worked hard to make our prices and policies fair.  I don't feel like I am competing with anyone in my area.  We all have different styles, personalities, prices and not to mention cakes.  I've looked at my biggest three competitor's websites today and am surprised that the are giving customers very little useful information.  They show some pictures, some cake flavors, and maybe some 'partners'.  No pricing or consultation information. 

Our first presence on the web didn't have pricing.  I spent half of my day answering phone calls about how much a certain pictured cake was or where my prices started.  The minute we posted prices my "how much is it" phone calls stopped and I had more time to make cakes.  I am a frugal person,.  I know that my prices are a lot higher than the local "Super" center.  I started with party cakes about $1/serving and delivered everything for free!  I am now at $3/serving for round cakes because I am staying booked up.  That didn't happen in a year though; it's taken us six years.  I don't want to be the biggest place in town, I want to be the best! I am 110% alright with doing two weddings on a weekend and that's all.  I want to continue to enjoy what I do.

I am soooo off subject here....

We had over 600 pictures on Webby, we narrowed those down to about 275.  There were just some on there that I was NOT proud of anymore.  I had about 150 pictures from the past year that we haven't put on the site because we have been so busy.  We focus on making wedding cakes now, so we narrowed our categories down from things like "animals, first birthday, girly, sports" to "traditional, contemporary, celebration".

When we changed to Go Daddy for web hosting it opened some new ways of doing our site (so I am told :)...)  We now have a formula that computes the price of the cake for us, where before every time I had a price increase/change I had to re figure each cake and Chad has to change it on the site.  Now if I want to go up .25 on a square cake and .25 on fondant the code will do it all for us.  Oh how I love Webby!
My point to this rambling is:
  1. I am proud of my husband and the improved website and want you all to know it!  He only gets paid in cupcakes, so your kind words will be welcomed!
  2. Ask someone "If you are looking for a baker, what would you like to see on their website?  What kind of information do you need to help you make a decision?"
  3. Many of us are very small businesses.  Use your website as a tool to take some of the everyday questions off of you.
  4. Know that your website is the first and sometimes the only impression people will get of you.  If it's not good, they won't even pick up the phone.
You may look at Webby and think parts are too wordy or too complicated.  For example, I know I still have too many pictures under "Birthday", but they are all my babies and I can't choose which to get rid of yet.  We have done everything with great thought, trial and error, and for the benefit of customer service.  It suits our business and I don't claim for a minute that it is for everyone.  I am grateful to have such a "pretty" and useful tool that can evolve and grow with our business!  Thanks Chad! 

Now I have to go ice some cakes because Webby hasn't learned to do that yet!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Every Girl Needs a Pair of Little Black Separators

Cake structure is SO important.  I hope to take Mike McCrary's class on it this year!  For a simple, but very tall, round cake it can still be pretty tricky.  This cake was made with :

2 layers of 11" round cake
1" thick 9" circle of Styrofoam
4 layers of 9" round cake (with 9" cardboard circle in the middle)
1" thick 7" circle of Styrofoam
2 layers of 8" round cake
2 layers of 5" round cake

Most all cakes that I make are 3 layers thick and about 5 1/2" tall.  I don't really care for the look of squatty cakes, I like'm nice and tall.  This one was done this way because the bride wanted a tall cake, but didn't need to feed a lot of guests.  Also, it's a very modern look that she really liked.  I am always so proud when a bride is brave enough to do something so different and bold!

The ribbon, bows and black separations are fondant, everything else it buttercream.  I don't know how other bakers do the separators between layers, I guess I could have "Googled it"!  I just covered the styro with piping gel and then fondant.  Please let me know what you use.  I have only done this look twice, so I'm sure I have much to learn.  The silver sparkly things were very pretty hair clips that the bride purchased. 

I like real wood for the base cake board because there isn't any flex to it.  My icing is all butter and when it's hard and  the cake board flexes, it will crack the icing sometimes.  Even when I use wood, I usually put an extra board with a piece of shelf liner under a very heavy cake until I get to the venue and place it on the display table.  For support purposes, I used cardboard, covered top and bottom so they don't get  soaked in butter, for all of the cake boards.  The bottom board is two drums put together so that supports could go through them for even better stability.  95% of the time, I travel with my cakes fully stacked.  This one, I should have left the top two tier off until I got there, but you know what they say about hindsight!

I used a lot of straws, skewers, and one big wooden sharpened dowel through the whole cake.  I held it by the top of the dowel the entire trip, hand cramping and all.  The force of the cake when we were going up or down a hill was so strong that I was really glad that I put a "handle" so I could keep it level.  I put a level on each layer and it was perfect, until it was done :( .  I should have put even more than 12 supports into the bottom layer.  Instead of taking it all apart, I sharpened a wooden dowel in my pencil sharpener, cut it the length to only get to the bottom cake board of the big blue tier.  I tapped this dowel in from underneath and when I got it in, I took it out and replaced it with a non sharpened dowel of the same length.  What this did was give extra support from the bottom up to help out a slightly leaning cake.  Sometimes the answer doesn't always come from the top!   I hope sometime in the future this tidbit of knowledge comes in handy!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Trevitt Hall Monogram Wedding

I left this little buttercream wedding cake in the very capable hands of the Trevitt Hall staff this weekend.

It looks a bit plain now, but I'm sure that once the florist finished putting some fresh flowers on this it really popped into life!

Bottom tier has a half scroll pattern, the middle tier has some dainty swiss dots, and on the top tier, the couple's monogram with a pearl border.  All tiers are finished with a black ribbon border with a fondant pearl overlay.

The pearls were made from a fondant mold, and I used my incredible Cricut Cake to do that monogram.  It was so thin that I was afraid it might not cut well, but it cut through the chilled Fondarific like nobody's business!

Oh, I almost forgot!!  Chad and I signed up for the Food Blog Forum Seminar in Atlanta in September!  Anyone else going to be there???

Friday, July 16, 2010

Pearls, Pearls, Pearls!

I spent hours putting pearls on this cake, but once it was said and done, I was very happy with it,  It has a simple elegance that would fit in at almost any wedding.

This 5 tiered beauty was monstrously large though.  I deliver all my cakes in my hatchback, and this thing barely fit in there.  To beat it all, on the way to the clubhouse (which is riddled with cake-killing speed bumps) this lady rode my bumper almost the whole way there.  She finally did get close enough that she saw the cake and backed off, but it still made a stressful drive even more so, and unnecessarily at that!

I have magnetic car signs on my door that advertise my business, but I have often thought about getting a sign for the rear of car that says something like "Cake Delivery Vehicle".  Do any of you use anything like that on your delivery vehicles?  If so, what wording did you use??

Thanks for stopping by and have a great weekend!!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Groom's Hobbies

Most grooms have a lot of interests, and that's certainly not an issue.  Sometimes however, figuring out a way to put them all on a cake can be problematic.

I think we did a pretty good job of including all of this groom's interests without overpowering the cake.  Let's see... here we can see our groom is into golf, baseball, U of Auburn, Engineering, peanut butter cups, fraternities and organizations, and Chik-fila chicken (or at least their cow mascot).

We used several techniques on this cake, edible images, figure molding, modeling chocolate; we even used the Cricut Cake to cut out the Auburn logo.  The baseball was rice crispy treats covered in fondant.

This groom's cake was delivered to The Farm's clubhouse in Dalton.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Photo Booth Station... Complete!

For the past few weeks, I have been rearranging the kitchen in order to build a dedicated area to take my cake pictures.  My brother helped me profusely with the project, even going so far as to travel with me and Chad to IKEA in Atlanta to pick the cabinets and lights and stuff up!

I ordered some photo backdrops from Adorama in white, black, gray, and beige so I have several options to choose from.  I am very pleased with how it all turned out and I even wound up with a ton of out-of-the-way storage due to all those new cabinets.

Yeah, but how do the pictures look, you ask?  Well, the backdrop didn't make us professional photographers or anything, but we were very pleased with our initial test shot with a dummy cake:

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Hawaiian Luau Birthday Cake

This past weekend did a first birthday cake for my vet's daughter, affectionately known as Gigi (isn't that cute?).  They were doing a Hawaiian Luau theme, and wanted to use bright tropical colors.

Since it was a holiday weekend and I had no weddings, it gave me a little extra time to throw some creativity at it.  I got out my Cricut Cake and my Life is a Beach cartridge and started cutting tropical leaves, tiki heads, hula girls, and tropical flowers.  Now these cut files weren't specifically designed for cake usage but they worked very well.  I could pull out the centers of the flowers and the tiki heads and it gave the cake lots of dimension.  I even made a big 3D Tiki head out of rice crispy treats for the top.

Gigi's Mom was super excited when she came to pick it up, she even shed a tear or two she was so happy!  Awwwww!  Happy Birthday Gigi!!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Koi Wedding Cake

Growing up, some of my Mother's most favorite jewelry was the Elizabeth Taylor sets put out by Avon (in the mid-80's I guess).  The earrings and brooch to the left have always been one of her favorite sets.

Sometimes, when I'm looking for inspiration, especially for my dummy or show cakes, I turn towards treasures like these.  Some time ago, I bought some silicone molding compound and used her earrings and brooch to make molds so that I could use them on a Styrofoam showcake.

At the last bridal show I had a bride that just went bonkers over that "fish" cake.  She loved everything about it.  We booked a consultation, went through the whole design process and in the end she still wanted that as her wedding cake.  Professionally I took it as a real compliment that she liked it just the way it was.  I love it when I can have that type of connection with a client.

So I recreated that dummy cake for her.  I molded and painted, the fish, applied the sugar pearls to make "bubbles" and even added some "crystal doomies" to the top to give a water spray effect.  We even placed it on our aquarium cake stand to add to the aquatic effect.  The venue we took it to was very dark and our pictures didn't turn out very well at all, so I know you're missing out on all the effects.


Related Posts with Thumbnails