Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Interview Questions for your Wedding Cake Baker

One of the most discussed topics at a wedding is the wedding cake. In fact, the only item that garners more attention is the bride and how she looks in her wedding dress. For many, for the wedding to be an outstanding success, the wedding cake must look beautiful and taste delicious too. In order to make a beautiful wedding cake happen, it's not as simple as baking a birthday cake, you need to find a good wedding cake baker and the only way to find one is by asking the right questions.

Most good wedding cake bakers will have a portfolio of wedding cake pictures of cakes they have baked in the past. When you meet with them, you want to bring photos along with you of wedding cake pictures that have captured your fancy. You should cut out pictures of wedding cakes from dessert magazines, internet pictures, wedding directories, or pictures from bakeries. Some brides even have their perfect wedding cake pictured in their mind and could hand draw a picture out what they want the cake to look like and just need to find a baker who can create a wedding cake by sketch. Many bakers have loads of pictures on file and let you browse their pictures or provide pictures to their website for ideas.

Most good wedding cake bakers have received lots of training on cake baking, cake filling, cake icing and cake decorating. They have learned skills from shaping the cake, on how to add filling, from the tricks to apply icing, and all sorts of decorating skills such as making special fondant icing, to learning the art of adding designs to cakes like adding pretty flowers to creating sugar paste, sugar beads, gum paste, and chocolate flowers.

Expert wedding cake bakers often have cake tastings to help you decide what flavor to go with. Generally at cake tastings they offer five or six flavors to test. If you have a special flavor that you think you might like, mention that flavor to the baker and see if they can include it at the tasting. Many wedding cake bakers work out of a commercial business or bakery, but many work out their home or rent a small kitchen somewhere. The unique creative cakes are more often generated by the baker that works out of their home. The home wedding cake bakers generally cost less because they have less overhead.

About 90% of professional wedding cake bakers (surprise) actually use boxed cake mixes, they each though have mastered well kept secrets on how to add lots of filling and have invested well in wedding decorated tools and the good ones have an artistic touch. Most wedding cake bakers charge by the slice but often the price varies depending on the flavor, fillings, layers, frosting type and decorative touches. Make sure in your questioning ask your wedding cake baker about their experience and special training.

The Amount of Slices a Wedding Cake Pan Yields

A 6 inch pan yields about 12 slices
A 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
A 18 inch pan yields about 110 slices
A 20 inch pan yields about 120 slices

The baker will generally recommend starting with your guest count and suggest you add a few to 10% more in the amount of slices of cake to offer. If the cake is really good, a few wedding guests will sneak in seconds and then there is always a few stragglers or your new boss that you have to account for. A wedding cake generally takes the minimum of 3 days to make. You want a fresh wedding cake, the closer to the wedding date, the better, the cake should not be baked more than 10 days before the wedding, the icing should not be applied more than 2 days before the wedding. Icing will get stale or start to crack if left on too long.

At your appointment with the baker, it's a good idea to bring a friend along. At your appointment you should know your wedding theme and color scheme. You should know the reception location and have a ball park figure of the amount of wedding guests and date of the wedding. Bring pictures of cakes that have inspired you along with you in a baggie or a baggie along with a notebook or wedding planner organizer. Review the contract thoroughly before signing a contract, it's a good idea to meet with at least 3 bakers before deciding on one to bake your wedding cake.

Interview Questions for your Wedding Cake
1-Ask for a business card, what is the name, address, phone number, and website address of the bakery business?
2-What is the name, address, and phone number and email or contact information of the wedding cake baker?
3-Does the wedding cake baker prepare the entire wedding cake or does someone other handle the filling, the icing, and the wedding cake decorations? if so what are their first names?
4-Can the wedding cake be created for the amount of wedding guests and for our wedding date? (if no, do you have some other baker you recommend, then interview is over)
5-How many years has the bakery been in operation?
6-How many years of experience does the wedding cake baker have? how many years of experience does the other icers and decorators have they will work on our wedding cake?
7-How many weddings has the wedding cake baker made in their lifetime? in the past year? in the past month? in a typical weekend? on the weekend of our wedding?
8-How many wedding cake bakers work at the bakery business?
9-Is the bakery and baker licensed by the state?
10-How much training and what courses have been taken for those who would work on the wedding cake?
11-Have you prepared any wedding cakes at the reception location of our wedding before?
12-Can the bakery create conventional and custom designed wedding cakes?
13-Can the bakery create cakes according to our wedding theme or color scheme?
14-If we provide a picture or sketch of a wedding cake we want can you re-create it?
15-Does the wedding bakery have a porfolio of pictures of past wedding cakes they have made? can we see pictures?
16-Does the wedding bakery have pictures of cakes for ideas? on their website?
17-What are the bakery's specialties?
18-Do you offer other baked goods you have for weddings?
19-What flavors are available at your bakery?
20-Can we have different flavors at different tiers? is there a difference of price for multiple flavors?
21-What fillings are available at your bakery?
22-Can you make wedding cakes in specific shapes such as square, pyramid, or octangular?
23-How far in advance of the wedding would we need to order the wedding cake?
24-How long does it take to make the cake from start to finish?
25-How long does it take to fill, ice, and decorate the cake from start to finish?
26-Can the baker make dietary restrictive cakes? kosher? vegetarian? vegan? gluten?
27-What type of decorations are available for the baker's wedding cakes? are real flowers used or sugared or gum paste or chocolate flowers used or other?
28-Do you offer both fondant and buttercream icing?
29-Are there other icing options you offer? what icing options do you recommend?
30-Do you have a price list and can we get a copy of your wedding cakes?
31-Do you make wedding cakes at a business location or out of your home?
32-Can the baker speak to a florist, decorator, or wedding planner to coordinate a design?
33-Does the bakery also offer groomsmen cakes? what type of groomsmen cakes? can you review a design with us? (groomsmen cakes are either made for the rehearsal dinner or as a second cake at the wedding, usually the groomsmen cake is made different than the wedding cake and is usually made with the flavor that is a favorite of the groom, some brides or families will bake the groomsmen cake instead of opting to have it made at a bakery).
34-If the wedding is not local, can the bakery ship to a destination wedding location? how far away is the baker willing to deliver?
35-How does the bakery communicate with us?
36-Can we peek in while the cake is being baked? iced? decorated?
37-Does the bakery offer a taste testing? is there a charge for the wedding couple? how many people attend the cake tastings? how many of our friends are we allowed to bring along to the taste testing? is there a charge to the taste testing for our friends? if so, how much?
38-Can we request a specific flavor to be added to the taste testing?
39-What dates and times do you offer taste testings?
40-Do you provide taste testing on any desserts besides wedding cakes?
41-How much does our wedding cake and other goodies we ask for cost?
42-How much would the wedding cake cost per slice?
43-Does the baker supply a cake topper? have cake toppers to buy? know where a good place is to find a good cake topper?
44-Will the baker supply us with a cake stand? stacking column? cake knife? cake server?
45-How much is the initial deposit and when is final payment due?
46-Might there be hidden charges we need to know about?
47-What is the bakery's cancellation and refund policy?
48-Can you come up with cost cutting recommendations if the cake costs are higher than my budget? (some bakeries use dummy layers of styrofoam or plastic and in place have a sheet cake in the kitchen, some small wedding parties like to show a large wedding cake but only a portion is real, the baker can cut down on fillings, use less expensive icing or cut down on decorations)
49-What happens if the wedding cake gets damaged traveling to or at our wedding reception?
50-What happens if any of the bakers or decorators gets sick, has a personal emergency. or leaves the business the week before our wedding?
51-Who handles the delivery of the wedding cake? the baker? we? someone other?
52-Are there delivery charges? how does the cake get transported safely? who handles set-up? might touch-ups be needed at the wedding reception?
53-Can we take the contract home with us to review before signing?
54-Can you provide us with the names and phone numbers of brides that you have baked cakes for in the past year? (Get 3 referrals and make sure you have questioned 2 of their recommendations)

Another option if money is tight, is to have the wedding cake baked by a professional with no icing and no decorations. The icing and decorations applied by somebody in the family out of their home, resulting in significant cost savings. Only consider this if you are sure someone in the family is gifted at cake decorations.

If there is cake left over from your wedding and nobody volunteers to take it home. Don't throw it away in the garbage, it's too good to waste. Drop the cake off at a nursing home, senior citizen's complex, or a homeless shelter, give the less fortunate a special treat and make help your special day a good day for them also.

Make sure you get a wedding cake is one you have always dreamed of!

See you on the other side!

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