When it comes to your cake for your special event, the options are endless. What flavours do you consider? Shape of the cake? Fondant or buttercream? Sugar flowers or real flowers? The number of options can be overwhelming. But don’t fret as I, Cakes by Britney, have compiled a list of questions you need to consider when ordering your custom cake.
The most important question of all to ask your baker is ‘are you available for my event date?’. Consider giving your baker more notice than you think is needed, especially if you want any handmade design work. Do not expect your baker to create a large intricate cake with one-day notice as most (if not all) bakers won’t be able to accommodate you.
Another important answer every baker needs to know is, ‘How many people does the cake need to feed?’. The size of the cake will determine limitations for the number of flavours and design options. For example, if your party only includes 20 people, you won’t need an over the top elaborate 3-tier cake. A simple one tier cake will still provide many options available for design.
Another thing to consider when determining the number of people your cake will need to feed is the type of event you are having. For a wedding, I usually recommend planning for only 50-75% of attendees to take a piece of cake. Do not plan for every single attendee to take a piece of cake unless you want to be eating leftover cake for a week! For a birthday where the cake will be served, plan for closer to 90% of attendees taking a piece.
The invention of Pinterest has been a great yet challenging invention for bakers. It is a great place to browse designs and ideas but can set unrealistic expectations with buyers since a lot of the cake photos are photoshopped. Feel free to provide examples of the designs you’re wanting to achieve but remember that each baker has their own flare and skill. Allow for your baker to add their own creative flare, you will be much happier with the results as you receive a one-of-a-kind cake.
After determining the size of your custom cake, consider designs that complement the number of tiers of your cake. For example, the fading gold sequin trend has been a popular trend for wedding cakes recently but would not be as eye-catching on a one-tier cake. There isn’t enough space to create the effect you might be looking for. Instead, a cute feathered cake with one handmade sugar flower is a great option for a one tier cake because it doesn’t have the space for more design elements.
If you are expecting any custom-made flowers, figurines, real flowers, or something completely out of the ordinary, give your baker enough time to create these items. Some of these custom features may take several hours over several days or may need to be ordered in. For example, to make a gold sequin cake, these sequins (or confetti quin) and gold luster dust have to be ordered as the supplies are not readily available in Saskatchewan.
Custom and handmade flowers or figurines are costly, so keep this in mind when thinking about your budget. Many of these designs use a large amount of materials and need to be created in steps which include hours to days of completion time.
Knowing the serving-size you require, you can now talk about the size of tiers and number of tiers you will need. If you are ordering a multi-level tiered cake, think about having different flavours for each layer. This provides options and excitement for your guests. Talk to your baker about their recommendations and the options available so you aren’t taking a risk on flavours that might not work together. A lot of bakers will have their own signature flavours. These have been perfected over numerous attempts, so they are always worth considering!
With your flavours and design in mind, it is now important to decide what icing you would like your cake covered in. Do you want your cake covered in fondant? Or buttercream? Or a chocolate ganache? Your design might determine this for you, or your baker may give recommendations based on the design discussed. For example, if you are looking for a drip cake, your best option is an American buttercream covered cake with dripped ganache. Or if you are looking for a clean, smooth finish, a fondant covered cake is your best option.
You should keep budget in mind during the whole process but please do not start off with the question ‘what does this cost’ when you have not talked to your baker about serving size, flavor, design, etc. Without this information, a baker will not be able to give an accurate price. If you have a budget in mind, discuss this with your baker at the beginning so they can make recommendations that work within your budget.
An unrealistic expectation would be if you have a budget of less than $100, need to feed 50 people and want a fresh fruit-filled cake covered in fondant with handmade sugar flowers. A $100 cake would be a one tier, simple flavoured, buttercream covered cake with minimal custom designs. Remember, this is a custom cake for your special event so the cost will be more than the slab cake that you priced out at the grocery store. A custom cake is a work of art, do not undervalue a baker’s skill!
Another addition to your cake budget may include rental or transportation costs. Some bakers will rent their displays or charge you a delivery/set up fee so keep this in mind if you are looking for an extra touch or worry-free service.
Last and most importantly, enjoy your custom cake order! It’s not every day you get to experience and enjoy a custom cake for your special event so enjoy your cake to the fullest and don’t forget to let your baker know how much you enjoyed it.
– Britney Graf (Cakes by Britney) was a Media Advisor at Directwest.
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