Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Step 38 - Interview and Book your Wedding Cake Baker
Wedding Cakes are a piece of art and considered the centerpiece of the reception. The wedding cake is a traditional dessert that is multi-tiered and heftily decorated with icing, beads, and other embellishments. Wedding cakes play a significant part for the bride and groom on their big day with the ceremonial cutting of the cake. The groom's right hand has to be on top of the bride's hand. The groom serve's the first piece of cake to the bride and in turn the bride serves it to the groom and to his family and then she relinquishes control to an attendant or hostess.
Couples often put a lot of thought into the design of their wedding cake with a goal of creating a spectacular piece of art and delicious delicacy. The wedding cake is generally the second most thing talked about at weddings after the bride and her wedding dress. Before you start your search for the perfect wedding cake you want to begin by getting inspired by looking at other glorious wedding cakes, wherever you can find them. Look at wedding related websites, focusing on wedding cakes. Also look at food and dessert magazines, wedding cookbook recipes, and even some sections of bride magazines.
Remember in your search to keep to the theme and with your color scheme, focus on color scheming the decoration and trim of the cake rather than the main body of the cake. Jot down website addresses or page numbers of magazines or even cut out pictures to put into a baggy that staples into to your wedding planner/organizer. Even take pictures of wedding cakes if you see one you really like, such as in bakeries, hotels, or other weddings. Do you want the traditional tiered wedding cake or a topsy turvy type of wedding cake?
Before you begin your search for a baker you need to know what budget you have for your wedding cake and how many guests are you expecting for the wedding. You should identify and interview about 3 or 4 bakers. You can also ask family and friends if they have recommendations of bakers. Check out the bakers websites before making an appointment. If your budget is tight, you don't want to go too elaborate into the design part of creating the cake, the cake embellishments can quickly add to the cost of the cake.
You want to interview both the baker and decorator that would create your cake, the best bakers and decorators have taken lots training classes and are on top of the latest techniques such as working with rolled fondant icing, can imprint press letterpress designs into cakes, knows how to apply all sorts of patterns into cakes with the use of parchment bags and create about any design with an icing decorator tip. The decorator knows how to make elaborate scenes and is familiar with about every type of decoration there is on decorating the wedding cake. If you have a designed cake in mind, share a picture or create and bring a sketch of the cake you would like to create.
The cake baker has some guidelines they use in order to formulate the right size cake for the amount of wedding guests. They start with a basic guest number and add about a dozen more pieces to account for any guests added late into processing the guest list and there are always a couple of guests that love cake and will sneak in for a second piece of that delicious cake. Most cake slices are served into 2" by 4" by 2" squares. The table below is the baker's general baking guideline.
To create a wedding cake:
A 6 inch pan yields about 12 slices
An 8 inch pan yields about 20 slices
A 10 inch pan yields about 36 slices
A 12 inch pan yields about 46 slices
A 14 inch pan yields about 76 slices
A 16 inch pan yields about 92 slices
An 18 inch pan yields about 110 slices
A 20 inch pan yields about 120 slices
The baker will use the guest count as a starting point and add a few more and use three different sized baking pans to create a pyramid tier effect. Sometimes couples want a large looking cake but don't have a lot of guests, the baker could build in a dummy layer into the cake using tiered plastic or styrofoam towers and the guests would never know the difference.
Another decision that needs to be decided is what flavor to bake the cake. Some of the more common basic flavors are vanilla, French vanilla, chocolate, chocolate fudge, lemon, espresso, coconut, and hazlenut. A good idea is to make each layer a different flavor so the guests can be sure to pick a flavor they like. There are hundreds of flavors to choose from.
Decisions have to be made on the filling and icing also. Very often a fruit filling such as strawberry is used and more often than not a white or ivory icing is used. You could dye the cake according to the color scheme of the wedding but even though food coloring makes the cake look beautiful, sometimes food dyes dull and alter the taste of the cake a tad.
The experts suggest if you want to add a little color scheme to the cake, it's better to add it in the decoration part of the cake. Most conventional cakes are made with butter cream. Fondant is a sweet thick creamy sugar paste and can be used to build elaborate designs into the cake. Royal icing is another product used to fasten decorations onto cakes and often used to make flower decorations. There are many different decoration products on the market, and you can pick up all sorts of ideas from cake bakers websites.
Most wedding cakes generally run about $3.25 - $5.00 per slice but can go substantially higher after adding elaborate decorations and embellishments. You will generally receive a diagram and instructions on how best to cut the cake. Often the venue or catering will provide a hostess that will cut the cake for you but will charge you a cost cutting fee.
Some other tidbits about cake baking, in order for the wedding cake to taste fresh and look beautiful, a cake should be baked no more than 10 days before the wedding. As for the icing, the icing should not be applied to the cake no more than 2 days before the wedding. Icing tends to taste stale and starts to dry out if left on a cake for more than 2 days.
Wedding cakes are very expensive and many brides opt to make their own wedding cake and if you get the right ingredients and have the right tools and can follow directions on recipes, the brides can make wedding cakes, look and taste as good as professional bakers can. The brides can bake cakes, one of two ways, bake cakes from scratch ingredients or use the cake mixes found at the store. First the bride needs to come up with a design, are you going with the multi-tiered cake, free form or something other. You need to figure out how much cake mix ingredients and icing ingredients to order based on the amount of guests plus a little more. Don't forget to include the eggs, oil, sour cream, flavorings or whatever the recipe calls for.
The bride will need a number of cake baking tools to bake the wedding cake which can be picked up at candy and kitchen supply stores, party stores, rental stores as well as some department stores. A great online website that offers a wide range of cooking tools online can be found at www.ultimatebaker.com . Some baking tools you may need include:
Cake Pans 12", 9", 6" all 3" tall
Parchment Paper to Line the Pans
A Large Serrated Knife
10 Wooden Dowels or 10 Non-flexible Straws
An Offset Spatula
A Platter to Serve the Wedding Cake on or a Panel of Wood Wrapped in Aluminum Foil
A Lazy Susan Platter when Decorating or a Spinning Wheel
For decorating the cake there are many tools available but the key ones are:
Assorted tips (Rose, Writers, Piping, Star Border, Basket Weave, Flower, and many more)
Stainless Steel Large and Small or Teflon Spatulas
A Set of Crimpers
One Plain and One Patterned Side Scraper
A Flower Nail
Measuring Cups and Measuring Spoons
Air Tight Containers
The main thing you need is to learn how to use the assorted tips which come in all sorts of sizes. You can pick up a lot of decorating tips on how to decorate cakes from "Youtube" or think about taking some courses offered at schools, bakeries, or even upscale grocery stores. If you have the Food Channel or Amazing Wedding Cakes on your television you might tune in to pick up some skills there. You might consider ordering a Cake Baking or Cake Decorating Guide off the internet or pick up a book from your local bookstore.
In your lessons you need to learn these skills:
How to Layer Filling on a Cake
How to Apply Icing on a Cake
How to Cover a Cake with Sugar Paste
How to Create Fondant and Apply to a Cake
How to Crystallize or Sugar Coat Flowers
How to Make and Apply Dyes and Gels
How to Assemble Stacking Columns, Cake Towers and Cake Stands
How to Cut a Wedding Cake
How to Use Decorator Bags and Become Familiar with all the Decorator Tips
The key to baking is exactly following the directions from a recipe and have all the proper equipment. Remember after you apply icing on a cake to let the cake sit for thirty minutes in a refrigerator before applying any decorations or embellishments. Don't forget to include an engraved Special Cake Cutting and Cake Serving Knife as a memento to the bride and groom and possibly include a Cake Topper for the occasion. Make sure you take a standalone good picture of the finished cake as well as one of the bride and groom cutting the cake.
Remember to have enough cake plates, cake eating knives, and napkins on hand for every guest and even include a few extra. Make sure the wedding cake is on a stand-alone sturdy table, away from a high volume traffic area or the dance floor, there are many wedding stories of cakes taking a topple, and you don't want to be one infamous being one of them. Make sure the cake is situated in a good spot and don't forget to take pictures. You might consider having a chocolate fountain, candy buffet, dessert table, or coffee bar stationed nearby but not as to impede a good photograph of the wedding cake. If the bride bakes her own cake, and the cake comes out beautiful and delicious it surely will impress her guests.
Before booking with the baker try to arrange for a cake tasting session, and decide on a cake flavor and an icing you like, sometimes you can even bring along friends for a nominal fee. If the bakery, caterer, or hotel bakes the cake make sure the contract is reviewed thoroughly. Make sure you touch base regularly with both the baker and decorator. Make sure you know them personally and are comfortable talking and dealing with them before booking a contract. If there are any changes to the design or recipe insure they fully communicate any changes and gain your okay before proceeding.
Make sure everything is agreed to in the contract and you understand all charges. Also nail down the delivery arrangements as the trip for a wedding cake is very delicate. The more complex cakes even needs a person to hold the cake in place as they travel in the bakery truck and the hope is surrounding traffic doesn't cause a cake mishap. Some cakes have to be put together or touched up at the reception facility. As you book the contract, an agreement needs to be reached who transports the cake, you or the bakery and who sets up the cake at the reception.
If there is wedding cake left over, don't waste a delicious delicacy. Arrange for the leftovers of the cake to be dropped off at either a senior citizens home, a charity center, or a soup kitchen for the homeless. Leave a special treat for the not so well connected and put a little happiness into someone's life.
That's the story of interviewing and booking a wedding cake baker. See you on the other side.