Friday, July 29, 2011

UGA Bulldog Groom Cake

A whole back we delivered this groom's cake to Walnut Hill Farm.  Sports themed groom's cakes are all the rage and seeing as we are in Georgia, UGA is one of the most popular designs.

We do what we can to switch things up and do each UGA cake a little differently.  In this case, we started with a two tier square chocolate cake and alternated sides on each tier with edible images of the bulldog and the Georgia "G".

We then hand-dipped strawberries in Belgian chocolate and used them to bring a little extra splash of red (and black, I suppose) to the cake.

Have a great weekend and don't forget that you still have until Sunday (aka Chaddy's Birthday!) to register to win a tin of handcrafted marshmallows!  See this post for all the details!!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Bridal Show Booths for Beginners

I spoke on Friday about tips I had learned during previous bridal shows.  Kate over at the Spread the Love Blog posted a comment and said that she had never done a show before and wanted some more information for those of you that have never done a bridal show.  Since we just did one this weekend (meaning it's still semi fresh in my mind) I thought I would talk a little more about it... call it Bridal Show 101.

If you have never done a bridal show, they can seem daunting.  At least in my area, we have 2 big bridal shows, one in July and one in January.  There's always more people (vendors and brides) at the January show.  Chad and I went to a bridal show (as guests) before we did our first show.  We later found out that most times, the promoters of the show will allow potential vendors in for free if you just ask.  Walk around and look at booths, especially ones that are in your industry.  Take notes and/or pictures as you walk around... this is required homework! 

As I mentioned before, there will be a promoter for the show.  They take care of securing the venue, setting up the booth space, promoting the show, and taking your money!  But this is an investment - you have to look at the cost of the show as a business expense.  Think to yourself how many cakes you would need to sell to make your money back on the show.  In my experience, the price works out to be about 2 weddings.  The promoter will usually give you a 10x10 booth with one 8 foot table (with cloth) and 2 chairs.  You can get additional tables or even power ran to your booth (if you need it) for an additional fee.

Remember what I said last time about acquainting yourself with other vendors?   If you need some pizazz or booth filler on the cheap, these other vendors can be a godsend.  Linen companies will often times lend you cloths or florists will gift you an arrangement if you just put up a "Linens/Flowers provided by ..." card.  Some sweet treats in return couldn't hurt either!

Now, what should you bring to the booth?  Being in the cake business, you have to show that your cakes look good and that they taste good.  I do this by bringing in dummy (styrofoam) cakes and bite-size cake samples.  The samples were the hardest thing for me to perfect, and I'm still not sure they're "perfected".  My first show I brought full-size cupcakes in 3 different flavors.  I spent the entire show "selling" these cupcakes.  Now I take my samples in small (2oz) souffle cups, each with a lid that has my business name, phone number, and website.  It's more sanitary and with the lids people can take them with them if they want.  Not to mention that I get 53 samples from one thin 1/2 sheet cake!  And I try to take just one flavor; if I take 2, I only put one out at a time.  And if you do bring dummy cakes?  Make up a card or sheet that lists what each cake serves and how much you would charge for it.  People WILL ask.

If you don't have (m)any cake dummies, bring a scrapbook or a video DVD featuring your cakes.  I did this once - I brought a 32" LCD TV with a mini DVD player.  It looked good inside the booth, but 10 feet away the screen looked tiny.  I didn't like it at all.  I brought in a scrapbook once too; people tended to crowd around.  It too created a bottleneck that I didn't like.

Other things I take to a show:
  For Display
My own tables and cloths (underneath will also double as storage!)
Cake Stands (for dummy cakes)
Signs or banners
columns to display cakes
carpet tiles
brochures and business cards
client signup / callback sheets (remember pens too)
forks and napkins (for samples)
  For Setup and then Hidden Underneath Table
small step ladder
small collapsible dollie (the venue will have these, but you may have to wait on one)
small toolbox (hammer, pliers, wire cutters, tape, measuring tape, pins, etc)
paper towels
glass cleaner
Tide pen
wrinkle release spray
  For Yourself and Any Helpers
snacks / bottled water (but keep them out of sight)

The most important thing to bring?  Your big girl patience panties!  Seriously, you will get asked the same question(s) over and over and over.  People will look at all your cakes and then ask, "Do you make cakes too?"  Just smile as big as you can and shake your head yes!  The brides that I still struggle with?  The "I'm the bride, what can I get for free?" bride.  At every show I have at least one walk into my booth and ask that very question.  I just hand them a single sample and thank them for stopping by.

Do you have any other questions?  Did I leave something out?  Post it in the comments and I'll comment back with the answer!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Bridal Show Tips

If you're in the wedding cake business, then you'll eventually participate in a bridal show.  Our next bridal show is the Chattanooga Pink Bridal Show happening this weekend, July 24, at the Chattanooga Convention Center.

We have been to several of these shows and it seems like we learn something new each time.  We also see people doing something wrong at every show, so we thought we would share some of the things we have learned over the years.

Give your chairs to your competitors
Seriously, it's hard to engage potential customers when you are sitting down.  Bridal shows are usually 4-5 hours long, and at the end your feet will be hurting, but you'll have much more positive interactions with your brides.

Don't let anything come between you and your customer
Specifically, I'm talking about props or even your table.  At the last bridal show, there was a vendor that had their table at the very front of their booth with 2 tri fold project boards showcasing their business.  The 2 people manning the booth were sitting behind the tables in their chairs.  The end result?  The booth looked empty and customers won't stop at empty booths.

Stay Positive and Happy
Bridal shows are hectic affairs.  You work extra hours making samples, not to mention the time and labor involved in putting your booth together ad making it look good.  It's enough to make anyone tired and grumpy.  Save all that for after the bridal show.  During the bridal show you want to be at your best; smiling and personable.

Meet Other Vendors
Take some time before and after the show to introduce yourself and network with other vendors.  Especially your competition.  A few years ago we walked around after setting up our booth and stopped by another bakery's booth.  We stopped, introduced ourselves, and wished them good luck during the show.  Fast forward to just a couple of weeks ago.  I got a nice e-mail from the owner of the bakery.  She was going out of business, and wanted to thank me for being the first other cake vendor to be nice to her.  As a token of her appreciation, she was referring all her past customers to me.  It was totally unexpected and all due to a few minutes of pleasantry.

There are lot of other things I could go into detail on but, as I mentioned before, I have a bridal show to get ready for!!  What bridal show tips do you have??

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A Like, Marshmallow Giveway!

Do you like marshmallows?  Have you ever had fresh, made from scratch marshmallows?  If so, you know how good they are and you can probably never bring yourself to buy the bagged ones in the grocery store again.  I have been making a lot of these recently... they are just SO good!

OK, so we have established that you like marshamallows, I mean, who wouldn't?  So we thought we would put together a little giveaway for one (or more) of our lucky readers.

Here's how to enter the giveaway:

Go to our Facebook Page and LIKE us
Comment on this Facebook Post

For every 100 new "likes" we get, a random commenter will be selected to receive a tin of marshmallows.  101 new likes?  Then 2 random people will get a tin of marshmallows.  You don't have to be a new liker to get in on this deal either - anyone can sign up (but lets limit it to US residents only).  The contest will run from now until July 31st.  The winner(s) will be contacted via Facebook and announced on our August 2nd blog post.

Good Luck!

Friday, July 15, 2011

5 Tier Scroll Wedding Cake

How many different types of scrolls are there anyway?  These are kind of viney-esque.  Some are "C's", some are "S's", some are loose and some are tight.  I personally don't know of any official scroll style guide.  Would anyone like to make one?

This cake was smooth, straight, and yummy!  BUT it didn't really POP until the fresh flowers were put on by the florist.  It is really amazing to me how even a little bit of fresh or gumpaste flowers can really bring life to a cake.  If a cake is going to be all white (with no color or flowers) in my humble opinion it should be a very clean and modern design or have a lot of design going on. This type of cake pictured falls in between and just doesn't look finished.

It's like a nice outfit with no jewelry!   I wish we had the picture to show you, but we couldn't wait on the florist to install the flowers due to another delivery.  You can imagine it though!

Just in case you want to know, this was a 6/8/10/12/14" combo.  I rather do a 6/10/14" type combo but some brides really want extra height without adding extra servings.  Unfortunately, the center of gravity is way out of whack on something this tall and skinny.  I HIGHLY recommend running a wooden dowel (sharpen one end in a new pencil sharpener) through the entire cake before traveling.  We use one thick MDF board with a cake drum (around 5 pieces of cardboard thick) glued on top, then wrapped in cake foil.  The cardboard has to be on top so the when you push the dowel through ALL the layers it will lastly go into the cardboard for stabilization.  I always explain to the people cutting the cake that the top tier will need to be lifted straight up and off the dowel.  I know it's not as easy for them, but when I'm driving up a big mountain with a cake, it's going to get a rod!

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Super Bling Diamond Wedding Cake

Earlier this spring, I met with a very girly-girl bride named Kassi.  She had a lot of ideas but her main inspiration was a page from a David Tutera book.  There was one wedding in particular that she really loved and wanted to model her entire wedding after it.The cake pictured in the book was perfection to her and she didn't want to change a thing about it.  Who am I to argue?

So with the cake design already decided, she then chose cake and filling to match the outside of the cake.  It was white cake with VERY pink strawberry buttercream. She wanted the inside of the cake to be just as pretty as the outside.  Isn't that cute?

The cake, as you can see, is fairly simple, so the cake only cost the base price; there were no additonal charges for "art fees".  However, the bling and those mini diamonds were not cheap!  I used 7 yards of 4-row rhinestones at $24 dollars/yard.  That's $168 dollars!!  I got them at Bead and Trim, not only because they were the cheapest, but I have dealt with them in the past and been very pleased with their customer service.  I got the diamonds at Diamond Party Confetti and Hobby Lobby.

We made a very pale pink vanilla buttercream for the outside of the cake and then carefully started placing the rhinestone strips on the cake, making sure not to squish the icing into the rhinestones and then piped the dots.  As it became room temperature, the top border of rhinestones began to scare me a little.  I was afraid that they were so heavy that they might start to slide down the cake.  I added several 2-inch pieces of floral wire in between the rhinestones around the cake just to make sure there was plenty of support.  Better safe than sorry, right?

The best part of this cake was during the delivery to the Grandview.  Several guests were already there and many of them commented that the cake "looked just like Kassi".  I thought that was one of the best compliments a baker could get!

For the record, the pages I got from Tutera's book did not credit the original cake designer.  If someone knows, please leave me a comment and I will give proper credit.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Silver Center Flower Wedding Cake

This cake was a fun cake to make.  I don't make a lot of my own gumpaste flowers, but I had to make one for this cake.  The bride's wedding dress had a big flower on the waist that she wanted recreated for the cake.  I started by making my petals, still using my metal ball tool (that I love!).

The hardest part of the flower was the center.  I started with a wired gumpaste ball and coated a small section with some tylose paste.  Then I started placing silver dragees on the ball.  If it rolled around too much, I had to remove it because the silver would start coming off.  Eventually I got the whole thing covered, and it looked awesome - if I do say so myself!

99% of the time, I deliver my wedding cakes to a venue.  It's easy to get in and out of, and there's rarely anyone around with the exception of the venue staff and maybe the DJ or the florist.  But this cake went to the brides parent's house.  It was a big, beautiful house; bigger than some venues I go to.  But once we got into their driveway, things got harder.  The house was FULL of people and we found ourselves traipsing from room to room stepping over grandpa's feet and dodging little children in their Sunday best! Not all home deliveries go this way, but it's best to be prepared for it!

Here's one last closeup look at that flower with its silver dragee center!

Have a great weekend!!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Grandview Cupcake Tree

I have talked about my brother the master woodworker in the past and about the incredibly awesome cake stands he makes for me.  When I called him up and asked for another cupcake stand he certainly didn't disappoint with this one!

This was my first square cake stand, and I really liked the way the cupcakes looked on it.  On the top, we placed a small 6 inch square cake.  Anytime I do a cupcake tree, I like to include some sort of small cake so that the couple can still get the traditional "cake cutting" photo opportunities if they really want them.

When I arrived at the Grandview, the florist had left us some beautiful hydrangea leaves and clusters so I used every last leaf to adorn the tree.

Over the past few weeks, I have been really scouring the Internet for some new design ideas and some new "mentors" to help me grow my craft.  I read an article about Jim Smeal and I was really blown away by his workmanship.  He did a border that reminded me of bamboo that I really, really liked.  I did my own version of it on the small 6" cake topper.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Spackle Wedding Cake

My regular readers know I'm the queen of smooth buttercream.  I work hard and pride myself on icing my cakes satiny smooth.  So when I get a request to do a wedding cake that has a very splackely, stucco like finish... well, you have to step back and ask yourself how to make something inherently "messy" look professional.

I started the only way I know how - by icing it nice and smooth.  Not finished smooth, but pretty darn smooth.  Then I went back and smacked the sides of the cake with my spatula, creating peaks or spikes in the icing (but not the cake!).  Think about when your testing meringue or whipped cream.  Then I ran the spatula around the cake again, re-icing it, but keeping the spatula just off the cake.

I delivered this cake to the Tennesee Aquarium, where the florists were to place the real flowers on the cake (the 2 in the picture were just for the picture).  They brought the flowers, but were unsure of the placement.  Luckily I had brought my original design sketch and was able to help them with the proper placement.  This brings up a good point:  I bring all my cake paperwork to every wedding.  The contract, design sketches, e-mails... the whole folder for that cake comes with me to the venue.  It has saved my butt more than once!

Have a great weekend and have a happy and safe Independence Day!


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