Category Archives: Uncategorized

Resources at Your Fingertips: eGuides from Craftsy

Cake friends! Here is a link to the latest FREE eGuide from Craftsy:

eGuide: Not-So-Basic Buttercream Decorating Ideas

From there, you can check out the new FREE cake decorating courses as well as a bunch of not-so-free (but still affordable!) courses. There are some amazing options available on every topic from sugar flowers to cookie decorating to 3-D cake tutorials to how to run a successful cake business.

Have fun browsing and learning!

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Top Tips for Using Video to Market Your Cake Business

Video About Cake Business - Talk Sweet to MeYou are working hard to promote your business at events, on your website, and everywhere else you go (anyone gotten a customer from the grocery store check out line?), but there are only so many hours in a day. Too bad you can’t send a personal message to that potential customer on your site at 10:30 pm on a Saturday night since you’re:

a. in bed, like me.

b. out grabbing a drink or three with friends.

c. curled up on the couch with your family watching a movie and eating ice cream.

But there’s a solution! An online video is a powerful tool that can help sell your business for you whether you’re sleeping, on vacation, or busy in the kitchen working on another masterpiece. And I absolutely promise, it’s not too hard. If I can do it, you can DEFINITELY do it!

I didn’t use my video to its fullest potential (then again, there are quite a few things overall that I would do differently if I had it to do again!), and as a marketing manager I’m still kicking myself for that. Looking back I think I appear a little snobbish and would rework my script and tone to take some of that out. Be fun! Be friendly! Keep in mind that people want to work with people they like, not necessarily someone who knows it all.

Here are my top recommendations for using video to market your cake business:

  • If you are filming and editing yourself, be sure to use a good quality camera.
  • If you would rather work with a professional (I did), try to link up with a wedding videographer. We’ve talked about the importance of networking before, and this is one way you could really get to know one or two in your area.
  • Write your script carefully, and then have someone you know go over it with a fine-toothed comb to ensure your messaging is on-target. Then have someone you don’t know as well do the same thing. Ask for feedback (constructive criticism only, please!) and incorporate the ideas you think will work well for you. Tweak, tweak, and tweak until it is perfect.
  • You get to be a famous actress actor/actress for the day! Dress the part, pay special attention to your hair and make-up, make sure everything is in place before filming, and then GO FOR IT!
  • If you don’t have a commercial kitchen available, see if you can rent one out.
  • Pay attention to what is in the background.
  • Do something interesting while you’re talking, like…decorate a cake. You don’t want to just be a talking head, but remember that a talking head is better than a picture, which is better than no picture at all. Your customers want to get to know YOU, the person who will be an integral part of their celebration.

Once it’s complete, GET IT OUT THERE! Use it as an introduction on your website. Place a QR code that links to the video on your handouts or business card. Post it on all your social media channels (maybe not all at the same time – space it out so you’re not flooding your followers with the same thing over and over). Send it as a link in your next customer newsletter. Write a blog post about it.

Then sit back, relax, and let your video do some of the selling for you!

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Baking Set Giveaway!

*This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting Talk Sweet to Me!*

GIVEAWAY!!! One lucky winner will get a 55-piece Ateco Stainless-Steel Decorating Set PLUS free enrollment in the new online Craftsy class The Perfect Cupcake! In this online class, you’ll learn how to combine creative cupcake flavors, fillings and frostings with gorgeous decorating for out-of-this-world treats! Enter now through August 27th!

Note: Only residents of the U.S. and Canada are eligible to enter.

Enter to Win the Perfect Cupcake Set & Class

Good luck!

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Macarons You’ll Drool Over (Promise!)

Making macarons - Talk Sweet to M

 *This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting Talk Sweet to Me!*

Finished Macarons - Talk Sweet to Me

A week or so ago I reviewed SprinkleBakes by Heather Baird. It is a lovely book and I finally had a chance to make one of the recipes this week. Even though they have grown exponentially in popularity in recent years, for one reason or another I’ve never had the chance to make macarons. Until now!

Macaron recipe - Talk Sweet to Me

I am told that making macaron batter is a very delicate process and must be done carefully in the right level of humidity and etc. Those warnings always make me want to go ahead and schedule in an anxiety attack, but I decided to just jump in and see what happened. Luckily there was no need to worry…I’m no rocket scientist and they turned out great!

The batter was a really smooth egg mixture with a lovely sheen to it.

Macaron batter on beater - Talk Sweet to Me

I made rounds of the batter on the parchment-covered cookie sheet using my cake decorating tips. Here they are heading into the oven:

Batter on cookie sheets - Talk Sweet to Me

And once they came out of the oven:

Macaron shells with foot - Talk Sweet to Me

I was lucky and the macarons formed the “foot” which is the crinkly part at the bottom. It’s really fun when something turns out just like the pictures you’ve drooled over for years!

The finished product:

Macarons on Talk Sweet to Me

Heather’s recipe in SprinkleBakes was super easy to follow and DELICIOUS!!! I filled them with my regular ol’ buttercream recipe tinted in springtime colors. After a taste test, my husband declared them a new top ten favorite. That’s a win, folks!

Check out Heather Baird’s SprinkleBakes for the recipe or look on her website for a few options here or here. You can also see if it’s available in your local library if you want to take a sneak peek, or just jump right in and find it on Amazon!

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Trial and Error – Cupcake Recipe Taste Testing!

The following was originally posted on my first blog, The Planet Cake Intern, as I learned the art of cake decorating and began putting together the very first pieces of my cake business in Kansas City. 

Flashback - talksweettome.com

Originally posted May 2008

My very good friend Louisa is getting married in California this fall and I volunteered to provide a cake for her wedding. She requested mint-chocolate cupcakes, since that is a favorite flavor combination (we ate waaayyy too many chocolate-mint brownies as roommates in college). Before the wedding, I figured I’d better find a great recipe and try it out. It was a good thing I did.

I found a cupcake blog with a recipe posted on it for chocolate cupcakes filled with a chocolate-mint ganache and topped with mint buttercream icing. Sounds out-of-this-world fabulous, right? So I baked up the cupcakes, made up the ganache, piped it into the cupcakes, and topped it with the recipe provided for the buttercream.

Here they are cooling on the rack:

Cupcakes cooling on rack - Talk Sweet to Me

And a picture of the cupcakes split in half showing the ganache inside:

Mint chocolate cupcakes with chocolate ganache filling - Talk Sweet to Me

Then it was time to taste-test for quality control. I brought in my mom, who is probably to blame for my sweet tooth, and who also has discerning taste. We both took a bite and…bleh! The first problem was that the cream for the ganache was infused with real mint leaves. It came out tasting like…plants. I’ll be using mint extract from now on. Then the cupcakes were so dry (even though I used moistening syrup) that they crumbled apart like dirt…and sort of tasted like dirt as well. So the end result was a bit too earthy. Dirt texture and taste, plant flavor, etc. Gross. On to trial #2.

Trial #2 was a recipe from a cookbook that my mom has had forever. It wasn’t good either. However, my mom did get creative with the decorating part of things after coming in from the garden.

Mom decorating cupcakes - Talk Sweet to Me

Halfway through the tasting she says to me, “You know, you’re not the only one around here who can decorate cake.” Here was her creation.

Mom cupcake decoration - Talk Sweet to Me

A half-eaten cupcake with some gorgeous m&m’s pushed into it. She makes me so proud! We had a good laugh about that. At least it could solve a chocolate craving.

Trial #3 was from  one of those cupcake cookbooks where you add stuff to a mix to try to make it taste like a scratch cake. The cupcakes were fairly good and stayed moist for several days, but they still taste like a mix and I still feel like I’m cheating. However, this form of “cheating” requires almost just as much effort as making cupcakes from scratch since you have to add cocoa, buttermilk, whole milk, etc. to the mixture anyway, and it creates just as much mess. I personally think it contradicts the convenience of using a mix and it just doesn’t make that much sense. If you’re going to make a mess and take the time to measure out ingredients, for goodness sake, just make it from scratch!

I have to admit, though, that it is very convenient to make a cake from a box. You can’t mess it up, and it simply involves dumping the package into a bowl along with some eggs, oil, and water. So easy!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

For this trial, I used my own buttercream frosting recipe with mint extract added instead of the usual vanilla. That buttercream is definitely the winner and will be used in the final version.

Chocolate mint cupcakes - Talk Sweet to Me

In the end, I have decided to use one of the recipes I discovered during my cake taste-test trials from my friend Katie (who is a fabulous baker and excellent taste-tester!), fill the cupcakes with dark chocolate ganache, and top it with the winning recipe for mint buttercream. Easy.

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Making a Wedding Cake With Tiger Lily Sugar Flowers

The following was originally posted on my first blog, The Planet Cake Intern, as I began to learn the art of cake decorating and began putting together the very first pieces of my cake business in Kansas City.

Flashback - talksweettome.com

Originally posted April 12-13, 2008

Over the weekend of April 12-13, I attended Handi’s Basics 103 course. It was a blast, as it always is when learning from Handi. It was also great to see Amanda again, who was the facilitator for the weekend.

I sat next to Vivienne, who was fabulous, and recently learned that she has become Planet Cake’s new Intern…she’s already getting rave reviews!

Here is a photo of Handi leading the class:

Handi teaching - Talk Sweet to Me

Handi taught us how to make these cakes step-by-step…

After finishing the ganacheing, we gathered ‘round to learn about covering a square cake:

Handi covering cake demonstration - Talk Sweet to Me

And after stacking our tiers and putting the icing ribbon around the base, Handi also demonstrated how to paint a monogram on the cake:

Handi demonstrating cake painting - Talk Sweet to Me

Here is the finished demonstration cake (I liked the colors, chosen by Amanda):

Planet Cake class example cake - Talk Sweet to Me

My cake was a bit different, and I wasn’t sure if I liked it when it was completed or not. White base, brown ribbon, and orange tiger lilies. I’d made plenty of magnolias before, so thought it was time to try a new kind of flower.

When Handi demonstrated how to make the flowers, my lilies from the previous week were unfortunately used as an example of what NOT to do! It was okay though, because I admit they were a bit funny-looking and I wasn’t sure what I had done wrong…I learned that I bent the petals of the lily too severely at the halfway point. They should have been bent at almost a 90 degree angle 2/3 of the length away from the wire, 1/3 from the tip of the petal. The petals should also go on in two layers, one layer of three a bit lower than the other…just like the real thing!

Tiered tiger lily cake - Talk Sweet to Me

The flower petals were each individually dipped in a food coloring and alcohol solution, and then I brushed on a deeper reddish color on the insides and tips of the petals. After assembling in the two layers, I also added the brown dots with a toothpick.

Sugar tiger lily - Talk Sweet to Me

Here is the final group photo. It is a little blurry, but look at all these gorgeous women with their beautiful cakes!

Planet Cake class group photo - Talk Sweet to Me

 

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The Real Deal – Week #1 (Part 1)

Originally posted February 25-29, 2008

So I’ve survived my first full week of working at Planet Cake. And not only survived, but also really enjoyed it. Producing something tangible feels like quite an accomplishment at the end of the week. It was a busy one, but what else can a person expect in peak wedding season?

This week’s posting will be a little long since I’ll go through what happened each day and the structure of the work week, but next week I’ll pare down and just show the production of the individual cakes.

This week I completed from start to finish:
-Orange rose spray cake
-Teddy with baby block
-12” square white kitchen cake
-3-level ice green and golden yellow cupcake stand
And helped Handi with:
-3-tier rose cascade
-Hydrangea cupcakes
-Funky baby pool cake

Monday
Mondays are messy at Planet Cake. Most of the day is spent filling and covering our cakes with ganache. As the fourth person to join an already tight space in the kitchen, I felt a bit in the way…but then again it is always exciting to be up to your elbows in sticky ganache, trying to dance around one another across the chocolate cake-covered floor. Not so much fun to clean up afterward, but that’s another story.

By the afternoon, all the cakes were ganached and ready to be covered with icing in the morning. Below is a picture of the cakes that will be completed by me and Handi…

Ganached cakes - Talk Sweet to Me

After all the cakes were ganached, Handi and I began preparation for some of the week’s cakes – sugar tea roses and a Funky Baby for a Funky Baby Pool cake. I followed along as Handi made the one for the cake. Today we just covered the head, cut the body out of Styrofoam, covered the body, and added some ears. It is much harder than it looks to make a Funky. Simply because of the time they take I knew they had to be tricky, but it’s not something you get the hang of the first time you do it (or at least I didn’t). More practice is necessary! Margie and Handi make it look extremely easy.

MARGIE WORKING ON HER FUNKIES

Margie with Figurines - Talk Sweet to Me

The beginnings of our Funkies this week:

Beginning of funky and tea roses - Talk Sweet to Me

In other exciting news, the courtyard area in front of Planet Cake got some nice fresh plants in planter boxes recently:

Planet Cake shop front - Talk Sweet to Me

Tuesday
Tuesdays are generally spent covering the cakes, covering the boards, starting in on the detailed decorations, and completing other elements like flowers and Funkies.
Today I mixed a lot of icing colors, covered all of the cakes except one 6” saved for Wednesday morning, covered the boards, and prepared the boards and Styrofoam for the two cupcake stands.

Here is Ritzy answering a question about the cupcake stand structure:

Question for Ritzy - Talk Sweet to Me

We spent quite a bit of time this week making flowers, building up the layers from day to day. Flowers for the cascade, flowers for the orange cake rose spray, and hydrangeas for Handi’s cupcakes. The first two layers of the champagne roses (ivory in the center, fading out to white) were completed, hydrangeas were made, and another layer was added to the tea roses. I’m making some hydrangeas in the photo below:

Making hydrangeas - Talk Sweet to Me

One of the cakes on my agenda for the week was a 12” square kitchen cake to go along with Ritzy and Margie’s amazing transportation cakes. It was finished today as it had to leave Planet Cake early on Wednesday morning. I don’t have a picture of the kitchen cake (imagine a square…covered in white…you get the picture), but take a look at Ritzy and Margie’s incredible cakes:

RITZY’S CAKE

Ritzys tunnel cake

MARGIE’S CAKE

Margies transportation cake

Wednesday
Wednesdays are spent starting to finish the cakes, continuing flower-making, and finishing figurines. This morning I finished covering the 6” cutting cake for the cupcake order and went ahead and decorated the top tier. It involved a few white and gold flowers and a gold rope around the base:

Placing rope around base - Talk Sweet to Me

Handi showed me how to finish the Funkies – hair, arms, a rosy glow on the cheeks, and painting on the face. I wasn’t satisfied with the way mine looked when I was finished, so ripped off the arms to try again when there was some spare time later in the week. I didn’t even start on the face, which requires quite a steady hand. Every part of the Funky is harder than any of the experts at Planet Cake makes it look!

Next was the beginning of a teddy bear Funky for a Teddy with baby block cake. We did the carving out of styro, covered the head and feet with icing, and made the ears.

Teddy bear head - Talk Sweet to Me

Another layer was added (lighter in color) to the champagne roses, and a third layer on the tea roses.

Before leaving for the end of the day, I put an orange icing ribbon and bow around base of the orange cake:

Placing bow - Talk Sweet to Me

 

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