Category Archives: Wedding Cake

Red and Aqua Wedding Cake – My First Cake Delivery!

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 August 9, 2008

I met with a very fun couple back in July and was hired to make the cake for their early August wedding at Kansas City’s Uptown Theater.

They wanted a cake in these colors to match their invitations and the venue…

Invitation pattern

…and similar in style to the cake in this picture that they gave to me to match their fun and laid-back personalities:

Inspiration cake

Here is the design they chose:

Design drawing

They wanted a 3-tier white chocolate mud cake and two kitchen cakes in vanilla white and yellow butter flavors. It was a lot of baking, but of course, any amount of cake seems trivial now compared to the cake trials.

Baked cake

So the boards were prepared, the cakes were ganached, and the center pole was constructed.

Ganached tiers2

I hadn’t covered a square cake for a while, but got a whole bunch of practice at once this week.

Ganached tiers

Covered square tiers

After stacking the cake it was time to move on to the mixing of the colors. I spent at least a half hour (probably closer to 45 minutes), and made a colossal mess trying to come up with the correct shade of red to match the invitations.

coloring fondant

My hands ended up being nearly the same color…

red hands

Oh yeah…that’s what those gloves were for! Next it was time to carve the “K” for the cake topper. I cut it out of styro, secured it to the skewer, and covered it in the red icing.

Styro cake topper

Red K initial cake topper

The “K” cake topper was finished off with silver cachous around the outside to match the “i do” lettering on the middle tier.

I decorated the tiers from the top down so as not to mess up anything I’d already created by leaning my elbows on it or something similarly klutzy. The stripes:

Cake in progress4 - Talk Sweet to Me

The front rectangle piece for the ‘i do’ had to go on next, and was surrounded by red and aqua bubbles:

Cake in progress2 - Talk Sweet to Me

Starting the checkerboard pattern:

Cake in progress - Talk Sweet to Me

For efficiency’s sake, a piece of cardboard was cut to the correct width and used to cut all of the red and aqua squares. It made life a lot easier than measuring every time I needed to make a cut.

Cutting squares equipmentJust a few silver cachous added on for the ‘i do’ and here is the finished cake!

Decorated cake - Talk Sweet to Me

It was a bit late (or early, if you prefer) when I finished this one.

Finish time

The last thing I had to stress about was the delivery, but that went as smooth as silk because I had such great help (you know who you are)!!!

Red and Aqua Wedding Cake - Talk Sweet to Me

Am I proud of my first successful wedding cake delivery? Ummm…yes, I suppose I am.

Lisa at delivery

The best part of the delivery was running into the bride and her bridesmaids as they were coming in to set up for the reception. They were literally jumping up and down and shrieking with delight as the cake came out of the box. I think they were happy with it…

Bride and bridesmaids exclaim - Talk Sweet to Me…which makes me very happy too.

Signature - TalkSweetToMe.com

Covering a Square Cake with Fondant – And Other Fun

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 7-11, 2008

This week was busy, but not necessarily because of the cake. Since it was my last week in Sydney, it was filled with good-byes, parties, lunches, and last-minute meetings with friends…in addition to producing 4 cakes:

-2-Tier Round Royal – smooth finish cake

-Magnolia Square cake

-Gold Cross Christening cake

-Wedding cake with horse topper

2-Tier Round Royal

Ummm…not much to say. Same old, same old. It always feels good to have one of these cakes in your week because it can be finished very quickly…which of course leads to a (perhaps superfluous) sense of accomplishment.

smooth royal

Magnolia Square

This cake gave me the most trouble this week. The bride brought in ribbons that she wanted to have replicated on the cake with icing. I had to do a little bit of experimentation to get the look right because the base ribbon was dark purple with a gold sheen to it, and the other, to be placed on top, was a pearlescent lavender color.

Smoothing out the sides of the cake…

smoothing sides

…before sharpening the edges and corners:

sharpening edges

Sharpening square cake corners - Talk Sweet to Me

Stacking the tiers:

Placing top tier of magnolia cake - Talk Sweet to Me

The difficult part was the ribbons for some reason, but Handi came to the rescue, as usual! First we rolled out a piece of icing in a long strip, and made sure it was long enough to get all the way around the layer with a measuring tape (there is nothing more frustrating than preparing the icing ribbon, only to have it turn out to be slightly too short). Then Handi showed me how to roll it up from one end to the other (sort of like bubble tape, if any of you ate that as a kid!), paint water around the base of the cake so it would stick, and then unroll the ribbon around the cake, sticking it as you go. After that, all that is left is trimming the top to the correct height and painting on the gold and pearlescent finishes. Add some magnolias and here it is:

Magnolia wedding cake - Talk Sweet to Me

Gold Cross Christening cake

The cross was made first out of icing and painted gold. I let it dry overnight before transferring it onto the cake.

Making cross for cake - Talk Sweet to Me

Then it was just a matter of adding the base ribbon, securing the cross to the top, and adding a few roses and a message:

Christening Baptism Cake - Talk Sweet to Me

Wedding cake with horse topper

Here is Antony’s design drawing:

Antony horse cake design drawing

My job on this cake was basically to do everything but the horse. I cut, ganached, covered, stacked, added ribbon, and placed roses. The horse was best left to the expert, Margie, and it was magnificent. As Antony would say, it was “Be-YOND belief!” It looked exactly like these beautiful Breyer horse models I used to have as a kid…when I wanted to be a jockey and ride horses for a living. I quickly eliminated that from the list of possible career paths when a friend told me I couldn’t eat brownies, cookies, or cake anymore because I had to stay little to be a jockey. Even in third grade, I knew enough to say, “Forget that!”

Here is Margie placing her horse on the cake:

Margie placing horse on cake - Talk Sweet to Me

Margie with horse cake - Talk Sweet to Me

And the finished cake…

Wedding Cake with Horse - Talk Sweet to Me

Flower making

I also had a chance to make some additional flowers this week, so worked on a magnolia and some bamboo for Handi’s cake the following week, and also tulips and lilies, just because I wanted to learn how to do them.

The lily petals dry on their sides and the tulip petals dry in plastic spoons.

Sugar flowers drying - Talk Sweet to Me

The next day I put them together – a magnolia, 2 tulips, and 2 lilies.

All sugar flowers completed - Talk Sweet to Me

Other fun

I was inspired by Margie’s mountain cake this week.

Margie Mountain Cake - Talk Sweet to Me

MARGIE’S MOUNTAIN CAKE

Until next time…

Signature - TalkSweetToMe.com

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

 

Signature - TalkSweetToMe.com

Cubes, Cupcakes, and…Celine! Week #5

Flashback - talksweettome.com

Originally posted March 24-28, 2008

This is the first week where I’ve been exactly where I want to be at the end of each day. I got a little nervous on Monday afternoon about finishing up my ganacheing, but Ritzy stepped in and helped me finish a couple layers of my cascade, for which I was very grateful. I was comfortable with all the cakes this week too – not too much that I hadn’t done before – so things really seemed to be flowing. The only thing that (still!) gives me fits is the ganache. During week 1, I thought that by week 5 I would be much more adept at it than I am. Maybe during week 6 a light will shine down from the heavens and there will be a major breakthrough. Here’s hoping for an epiphany.

I had 5 cakes this week, and worked with Handi on one extra:

Rough Royal Cube // Exploding Stars 1st birthday // 2-Tier Roses // 3-Tier cascade // Fleur-de-lis cupcakes // Handbag for Handi’s Basics 102 Course (worked with Handi)

Rough Royal Cube
This cake was one of the strangest optical-illusions I’ve ever experienced. Although the cake looks like it is too tall, it really isn’t. And believe me, I measured it enough times to know.

Cube cake in progress - Talk Sweet to Me

There were two flavors in this cake – almond on the bottom, and white chocolate on the top. Since it was so tall, a second board had to be used halfway up the cake for support…in this case, conveniently separating the two flavors. Although I did not use a center pole this time, I would if I did this cake again. The more sturdy, the better.

Antony’s design drawing:

Cube cake design drawing - Talk Sweet to Me

And the finished cake, to have fresh flowers added by the florist:

Royal icing cube cake - Talk Sweet to Me

This cake was, of course, to be “rough, but not rough.” My favorite Handi-ism.

Exploding Stars 1st Birthday

Ahhh…exploding stars. Handi thought that my technique for securing the base rope was a bit on the ridiculous side…the poor cake looks like a pincushion. However, it is hard to make that rope stay in place with only discreet amounts of royal icing! I attached it at the corners and on the backside where the two ends meet, and let it dry overnight before removing the pins.

Placing rope around cake base - Talk Sweet to Me

Here is the finished cake:

Exploding stars first birthday cake - Talk Sweet to Me

2-Tier Roses Cake
This may have been my favorite cake of the week – simple but beautiful. To use Handi’s words, I thought the sage green color was “GOR-geous.”

Antony’s design drawing…

2T Rose cake design drawing - Talk Sweet to Me

…and the finished cake!

Two tier ivory rose wedding cake - Talk Sweet to Me

3-Tier Cascade

Hmmm…I don’t have all that much to say about this cake except that I wish there were a bit more connection between the flowers on the top tier and those on the middle tier. Other than that, I think the cascades are improving somewhat.

Pure white rose cascade cake - Talk Sweet to Me

Fleur-de-lis Cupcakes

After making these 40+ cupcakes, I don’t think it will be necessary to look at a fleur-de-lis again in my life. Who would think that 40+ cupcakes would take an entire day to complete? Even *after* the cupcake stand was already made by Handi and Anna-Maria?!? Ganacheing and icing the cupcakes was not really a problem…it was that darned fleur-de-lis on each of them that took me all afternoon. I was using a mold that was made a long time ago out of icing, so it was obviously very hard. The silicone molds are fabulous since you can just bend them and the shape pops out. With icing molds though, you kind of have to dig your shape out, which is a pretty delicate process. Maybe not quite as delicate as, say, brain surgery, but it comes close. The first technique I tried was vegetable oil spray, but that got pretty messy, pretty quickly. After a few choice words were uttered trying to do that, Anna-Maria suggested using Copha. Genius. A little bit of Copha rubbed all around the mold before pushing the icing in, and bam! The fleurs-de-lis were flying out onto the cupcakes. (For those of you who don’t know – I’d never heard of the stuff before – Copha is a form of vegetable shortening made from hydrogenated coconut oil. It is similar to Crisco but has a much firmer texture, and is readily available in Australia…but not so much in the US.)

The finished cupcake stand from the side:

Fleur de lis cupcakes - Talk Sweet to Me

And from the top:

Fleur de Lis cupcakes from top - Talk Sweet to Me

Chanel Handbag (with Handi)

I was lucky to have a chance to work on this handbag cake with Handi since I’d always wanted to make one and he needed an example prepared for the Basics 102 course over the weekend. I cut the cake from directions Handi gave me, and he helped me ganache it:

Handi ganaching Chanel cake - Talk Sweet to Me

It was relatively easy to cover since I could gather the icing at the corners, cut it, and smooth it since the rope decoration would eventually cover those areas. I added the quilting pattern, the front flap, and the top zipper and zipper pull, and then covered the board.

Chanel cake covered - Talk Sweet to Me

Handi threaded the ribbon through the chain and stuck them into the sides of the cake. The side flaps were put on while the icing was pliable so they would look natural covering the place where the chain was inserted into the cake.

Chanel cake side flaps - Talk Sweet to Me

Next, the small rope was added around the front and back edges for detailing.

Chanel cake detail - Talk Sweet to Me

Gold Chanel logos and rivets were added to the side flaps, front flap, and zipper pull, and then the large black Chanel logo was added to the left side of the cake. It was tricky to put on! The chain was secured to the board with a bit of royal icing underneath it. Ta da!

Chanel purse cake - Talk Sweet to Me

Other fun

I love the showroom at Planet Cake. It would be a pretty fantastic place to walk into if you were a bride-to-be. Or anyone else, for that matter.

Here’s what you see when you walk in:

Planet Cake showroom - Talk Sweet to Me

And the display window:

Planet Cake Showroom window - Talk Sweet to Me

In addition, this week there was a big international celebrity cake. Celine Dion’s 40th birthday happened to take place while she was on tour in Sydney, so Planet Cake produced her cake. Margie did an amazing job decorating the cake, and the rest of the Planet Cake team pitched in with some behind-the-scenes work. Paris and Jonny took the zillion phone calls about it, Jonny designed the cake, Anna-Maria did some ganacheing and covering (and Ritzy probably did too, sorry Ritzy if I am forgetting!), and Handi put the “40” diamontes on the globe. Here is Margie doing her fabulous work decorating:

Margie working - Talk Sweet to Me

Having a little fun along the way…

Margie with figurines - Talk Sweet to Me

I even got to have a (small) hand in it…Margie let me put the scattered diamontes on the skyline layer. I think this is because she dislikes putting on diamontes, but hey, I had a great time. How often do you get to work on a celebrity cake? I have never moved more slowly or carefully in my life…

Placing diamontes - Talk Sweet to Me

A picture of Celine Dion and her son with the cake:

Celine Dion with cake by Planet Cake

And Paris, Margie, and Jonny with Celine at her party…check out these gorgeous people:

Planet Cake and Celine Dion

Signature - TalkSweetToMe.com

The Cakes: Week #2

Flashback - talksweettome.com

Originally posted March 3-7, 2008

This week I’ll just quickly go through each of the cakes.

I was in charge of 5 cakes:

-2-Tier round chocolate ganache cake – smooth finish

-3-Tier round royal icing cake – smooth finish

-Funky child with stars

-Teddy with baby block

-Orange and yellow flower spray birthday cake

And worked with others on 2 more:
-4-Tier cascade
-Circles/Bubbles cake

The chocolate ganache and royal icing cakes were fairly simple. The royal icing cake was ganached, covered with a thin layer of regular icing to prevent the chocolate and royal icing from coming into contact with one another, stacked, and then iced. I added some glycerine when mixing the royal icing so that it wouldn’t dry quite so hard…it’s not very graceful when a bride has to take a chainsaw to her hard-as-rocks wedding cake just to cut it. Putting on the royal icing reminded me a lot of my earlier days working with buttercream…although I’m not sure I miss it that much!

Royal icing finish cake - Talk Sweet to Me

The chocolate ganache cake was just stacked and covered with melted ganache. As Handi said, “finish it so that it is smooth, but not smooth.” This reminds me of his helpful (but not helpful) instructions to place the silver balls on the snowflake cake in a “random, but not random” fashion. In the end though, it actually gets the point across rather well!

Ganache finish cake - Talk Sweet to Me

The Funky child with stars cake starts with the Funky. I worked along with Handi carving the body out of Styrofoam. It is very messy, and by the time we were finished it looked like it snowed in the styro room.

Carving figurine body2 - Talk Sweet to Me

Carving figurine body - Talk Sweet to Me

Here is a close-up of the finished Funky…

Boy figurine - Talk Sweet to Me

…and the finished cake!

Baby boy cake - Talk Sweet to Me

This week there was another Teddy with baby block cake, which is the same as the one I completed last week.

Its a girl teddy bear cake - Talk Sweet to Me

The only thing different about this cake is that it was being shipped to Hong Kong. Here it is all packaged for shipping. The only thing that wasn’t added and needed to be was a message to NOT refrigerate it, which someone loading the plane decided would be best, and which actually caused a crack in the cake during transportation. At least, thankfully, it was on the back side.

Cake to ship to Hong Kong - Talk Sweet to Me

Handi taught me how to make cymbidium orchids this week. We made centers first, which must be completely dry before they are followed by the first layer (which includes the tongue).

Making sugar orchids - Talk Sweet to Me

The 5 other petals were made on wires, texture was added, and they were left to dry overnight.

Sugar Orchids step1 - Talk Sweet to Me

The next day the five additional petals were wired onto the center, and a light yellow dusting of color was added to the tongue and base of each of the five petals.

Complete sugar orchid - Talk Sweet to Me

The next cake was for the same person who ordered the orange cake from last week. She must have a lot of friends to be able to have two parties! Here is Antony’s design drawing:

Gold cake design drawing - Talk Sweet to Me

Working and covering the board…

Covering square board - Talk Sweet to Me

…and the finished cake.

Golden citrus birthday cake - Talk Sweet to Me

Handi and I worked together on the 4-Tier cascade cake. The cake was for a woman named Maude. I was oblivious until at least halfway through the week that Handi was making fun of the way I say that name. From an American accent perspective, I pronounce Maude as “mod,” the same way I would start to say the word modern. Handi and the rest of the Australians pronounce it “mowde,” a cross between the words mood and mode. Kind of obvious when you’re thinking about accents, yes, but it took me three days to understand that Handi was mocking me! That’s okay…I can take it.

Handi ganached the bottom two tiers and covered the top two, while I ganached the top two and covered the bottom two.

Covering bottom tier - Talk Sweet to Me

Stacking the tiers:

Stacking cake tiers - Talk Sweet to Me

Here is Antony’s design drawing…

Cascade design drawing - Talk Sweet to Me

…compared to the finished cascade:

White rose cascade cake - Talk Sweet to Me

And the final cake. I think it was Anna-Maria who said that this cake looks a little bit like it is from outer space.

Bubbles design inspiration - Talk Sweet to Me

Geometric cake - Talk Sweet to Me

It took quite a long time to cover the different-sized Styrofoam balls with icing and paint them silver. Anna-Maria, Handi, and I all had a hand in producing this cake. Next time we would raise up the bottom tier on a Styrofoam base so that you could see the piping dots pattern instead of having them hidden behind the larger balls. Plus it would make the tiers both look like they are the same size instead of the balls dwarfing the size of the bottom tier.

Signature - TalkSweetToMe.com

Magnolias and Rosebuds

Flashback - talksweettome.com

Originally posted February 20, 2008

Today I started out with a Magnolia Cake. Unfortunately we were all out of white icing until the delivery arrived later that morning, so while I was waiting I prepared the bamboo sticks and the magnolia flower. I made the bamboo sticks with a dowel and white icing, cut the grooves in, and painted on the color with an alcohol/food coloring solution. The magnolia petals and center were already wired and dried, so it was just a matter of assembling the flower with floral tape.

Sugar magnolia and bamboo -Talk Sweet to Me

Sugar bamboo - Talk Sweet to Me

Next I started working on some small sugar rose buds for Handi’s massive castle cake. I started off just adding two layers of petals, then let them dry until later in the afternoon when I would add the third layer.

Hooray, the icing is delivered! I proceeded to cover both tiers of the magnolia cake. However, after they were finished we all discovered that the layers were supposed to be extended height (5”) instead of regular height (3.5”). So, unfortunately, the icing had to be taken off, more cake added to each layer, and both tiers had to be re-ganached. This meant that the cake would be finished by one of the other artists later in the week.

Pink present box cake - Talk Sweet to Me

Because of that, I worked on an Exploding Stars present box cake. I got a lot of practice covering square cakes today! The practice happened to be quite good as I learned that I was actually trying to roll the icing too thin. I started to become frustrated with the number of air bubbles I was getting, and Handi pointed out to me that the white icing was almost beginning to get transparent over the chocolate ganache. A good thing to learn! I finished and boxed this cake, and then it was back to the flowers to add the third layer.

Sugar Rosebuds- Talk Sweet to Me

Here they are on Handi’s cake (just barely visible on the bottom round cakes):

Castle cake by Planet Cake

HANDI’S CASTLE CAKE

In other exciting news, I will be full-time at Planet Cake for the next 5 (busy!) weeks through March and am looking forward to it. Certainly the weeks will fly right on by and I’ll be so immersed in cake that I’ll be dreaming of ganache and icing through most of the weekends. Okay by me!

Signature - TalkSweetToMe.com

Story of a Cake: Orange Ombre Petals

Keep on truckin - talksweettome.comI’d love to share with you today that I came up with an amazing vanilla cake recipe to follow up last week’s post on the quest for vanilla cake perfection. Truth is, I’ve had two complete and utter failures since that time. Anyone want a brown vanilla “white” cake that tastes like…nothing? Me neither. I threw a lot of cake in the trash this week. (Maybe seventeenth time’s the charm here?) I’ll keep trying!

On to better topics - talksweettome.comMoving on to more fun things: An orange ombre petals cake. This one was inspired by both the bride’s invitations and a wedding cake photo she found online:

Inspiration Cake - talksweettome.comThe assembly - talksweettome.comA lot of orange petals were made that week, all in different shades of creamsicle. A delicious color!

Orange Ombre Petals - talksweettome.comThose were assembled onto the simple white fondant-covered cake tiers using royal icing, and delivered to the reception venue in Kansas City’s River Market.

Intro - Orange Ombre Petals Cake - talksweettome.comI’ve always loved thinking of cakes as edible sculpture. Like any artwork, sometimes it makes me happy, sometimes it makes me cry, sometimes it makes me crazy, and sometimes I am just relieved to be done with the darn thing. This one felt mostly happy…and a little relieved too, of course.

How do you usually feel when you’re finished with a cake delivery? I hope you said LIKE A ROCKSTAR!

Signature - TalkSweetToMe.com

Story of a Wedding Cake: Katie and Sam

Design inspiration - Talk Sweet to Me - talksweettome.com Before meeting with my client Katie, I asked her to send me several photos of cakes she liked. It is really helpful to have a chance to put a few coherent thoughts together before your consultation meetings (though it is a rare occasion when coherent thoughts happen for me)! She didn’t have any specific requirements, but did like the general ideas behind these cakes, especially the combination of round and square tiers.

Inspiration cakes from bride - Talk Sweet to Me - talksweetome.com

She also sent me a copy of the (gorgeous!) invitations she and her fiancée, Sam, had just chosen: Wedding Invitation Swirl - Talk Sweet to Me - talksweettome.com Based on those starting points, I was reminded of a couple of cakes from the Planet Cake website…good inspiration! Inspiration cakes from Planet Cake - Talk Sweet to Me - talksweettome.com I talked with Katie about her preferences over coffee and came up with this design. Elements from the invitation were incorporated through the piping design on the bottom tier and I also included the combination of circular and square tiers Katie liked: Cake sketch - Talk Sweet to Me - talksweettome.com The cake - Talk Sweet to Me - talksweettome.com So, it was time to start making some cake. The tiers were of course ganached, covered, and stacked. Then it was time for the real fun…piping! To warm up my hands and get ready, I practiced for a few minutes on a piece of waxed paper… …before jumping in and piping onto the cake. I was fairly happy with the piping when it was finished. Even though my hand hurt for the entirety of the following day (there were four 12” sides to this bottom tier!), I’m always more than willing to put up with a bit of pain for some damn sexy piping!

cake piping and topper - Talk Sweet to Me - talksweettome.com

 

Delivery - Talk Sweet to Me - talksweettome.com Katie & Sam were such fun clients, and were so nice to send me an invitation to their wedding! I was really excited to go. Who can resist an opportunity to a) attend a wedding to see people who are in love, b) check out all the flowers, programs, and other details that were put into the planning of the wedding day, c) chat with whoever looks friendly, and d) see people react to and eat the cake!? It was great to have a chance to eat some of it myself too…being tired from working long hours on the cake that week didn’t stop me from obsessively scrutinizing the taste quality (we have a serious case of cake-nerd on our hands here, folks). But it was good! Katie & Sam cut the cake:

Cake cutting - Talk Sweet to Me - talksweettome.com

I think Sam’s first comment after the cutting was, “That’s some gooood cake!” Love it. Black and White Cake - Talk Sweet to Me - talksweettome.com

Tell me to be quiet now - Talk Sweet to Me - talksweettome.com Okay, so my perfectionist little self can’t resist analyzing this cake to determine what could be better, so for your benefit I will share what I would do differently next time. First, and most importantly, the middle tier should have been one size larger. Instead of a 9” round in there, I wish I would have used at least a 10” round to even out the proportions, or perhaps just a smaller top tier. I also think the triangle dots on the top tier should be closer together (and thus more delicate-looking).

Quick tip - Talk Sweet to Me - talksweettome.com

Play around with your cake pans! By turning them upside down and stacking them, you can start to get a good idea about proportions and what your cake will look like when it’s finished. It’s especially important when using a combination of shapes!

Signature - TalkSweetToMe.com

Top Tips for Starting Your Cake Business

Are you thinking about turning your love of cake into a full-time business? Whether this is getting close to a reality or your dream is just a twinkle in your eye, here are my top recommendations (based on personal experience) on what to do when you are beginning to consider making the leap.Top tips for starting your cake business - From Talk Sweet To Me - www.talksweettome.com

Get baking - www.talksweettome.com

1. Start making cakes. If you have a full time job, what you need to do now is build up your reputation and your client list so you’ll be sure to be busy when you make the switch to running your cake business full time. If you don’t have a full time job – it’s time to start and get the word out there! This will help build your reputation…word of mouth about your quality cake is your best recommendation/marketing technique for finding new clients at this point.

I was reluctant to start until I had all the pieces in place, but in fact, this is one of the pieces!

Take it all in - www.talksweettome.com

2. Read the book The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It.  This book was recommended to me immediately by at least three friends who ran their own businesses when I told them I was starting out on my own. It follows a pie baking business, but the lessons can be applied universally and are easily translated into the cake world.  Pay very careful attention to the concepts of working ON your business vs. working IN your business and also the idea that you eventually need to have a plan to take yourself out of the business and still have it run smoothly. If the business relies only on you to survive, at the very least you will be seriously tired.

I read this book after I was already well on my way, but immediately wished I’d read it earlier!

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3. Make an appointment with a counselor at your local SBA office. The Small Business Development Center through the Small Business Administration can pair you up with a counselor who will meet with you individually to walk through the process of starting and building your business. They also have great classes available!

Several folks directed me to the local Small Business Development Center through the SBA, and I’m so glad I went! My amazing counselor helped me talk through my ideas and get the business set up correctly. She gave me invaluable advice, and then sent me back to my office with an itemized and prioritized list of steps to take before our next meeting. I cannot say enough good things about my experience there. My counselor took my brain that was full of ideas – and hindered by stress and lack of sleep – and helped me pare it down to the essentials to focus on what needed to be done step-by-step. It’s not as overwhelming that way! The best part about it? It was FREE.

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4. Write a business plan. This will probably be discussed at the very first meeting with your SBA counselor, but you definitely need to have a plan and it helps to have one going in. There are plenty of online resources to help you get an idea of what needs to be included (just Google it), or visit your local library and check out a book on the subject. A business plan will not only help you formalize your goals for the business, but it will also help you know where you are in the process and re-evaluate as time moves along so you can change direction if you’re not headed toward your end goal.

I was so intimidated by this entire process that it was hard for me to start. My counselor simply handed me an outline and said to take 1-2 hours, set your timer, and work on it…no distractions allowed. Get something down in each section (it doesn’t need to be perfect the first time!), then come back around to it the next day to finalize and revise. Set your timer again for 30 minutes to one hour for revisions the following day, depending on what you need. A business plan is an incredibly important step – don’t skip it!

Meet and greet - www.talksweettome.com5. Networking. Connect with other local vendors. Do you or your friends know any wedding coordinators, florists, DJs, caterers, etc.? Is there a local group of wedding vendors you could get in touch with and/or attend a meeting? Is there a business networking group you could visit to see if they have any recommendations on who to talk with? Have you met other vendors during cake deliveries? Once you have a few people to get in touch with, ask if you can take them out for coffee since you’re just starting your cake business and would like to get their perspective on the industry and ask a few questions. A few tips:

  • Go to the meeting prepared with a list of questions to ask.
  • Dress professionally.
  • Take them a sample of your cake, and present it beautifully with your business card and contact information.
  • Offer to pay for their coffee – it’s not expensive, and shows your appreciation for their time.
  • At the end of the meeting, ask if there are some other contacts in the industry they would recommend getting in touch with.
  • Most importantly, thank them very much for their time.

Make sure you have their contact information also in case brides ask for referrals from you, and always follow up with a thank you note. Most people are more than willing to help out a new vendor since they are constantly looking for good referrals for their clients and can usually remember what it’s like to be in your shoes.

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6. Hire an excellent graphic designer. Get a professional logo and business cards made immediately. These will initially be your best return on investment as far as marketing goes since you can easily carry them with you and hand them out wherever you are. In this case, especially when starting out, if you look professional, people will believe you are professional. Only then do you get a chance to prove it.

My personal pet peeve: When people go to an online business card printer, pick a generic design, and order them because they are inexpensive. Your business cards are your first impression, and you only get one of those! I’ve got an amazing designer – contact me if you’d like her information. She absolutely “gets” our world of sugar and I would highly recommend her to anyone.

I hope this list will be helpful for you. Good luck! Do you have any additional recommendations? Let me know about them in the comments section!

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