Category Archives: Wedding Cake

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!

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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.

Make a plan - www.talksweettome.com

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.

First impressions - www.talksweettome.com

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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Ingredients: Vanilla

The good stuff - Talk Sweet to Me - talksweettome.com

Because everyone wants their cake business to thrive, I can probably say that most of you will agree with the following statement: Quality ingredients make a quality cake. We all know that guests at an event sometimes remember how a cake looks, but they ALWAYS remember how it tastes!  A solid cake recipe made with quality ingredients is what keeps people coming back for more.

There are some ingredients you can buy on the cheap. Others you buy the best you can afford. I think that is especially true with vanilla…and chocolate. Today I’ll talk about vanilla. Sometime soon we’ll discuss chocolate, I promise!

What - Talk Sweet to Me - talksweettome.com

I’m by no means an expert, but I’ve tasted a lot of the stuff and my absolute favorite vanilla on the planet is Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract. It is rich, it is flavorful, it is delicious, and somehow it makes everything it touches absolutely scrumptious. They also have a great vanilla bean paste. I scraped my fair share of vanilla beans and just found that the paste not only helped me avoid making a mess, but it also saved time and kept me from having to run all over town to find fresh vanilla beans…because it’s that good!

Vanilla - Talk Sweet to Me - talksweettome.com

Why - Talk Sweet to Me - talksweettome.com

A great vanilla adds a certain layer of flavor to your cakes and creates a rich and flavorful buttercream icing. The secret: People will have no idea WHY your cake and icing is so good, they will just know that it is out-of-this-world and make sure you are one baking their wedding cake. Ohh…..yum!

Where - Talk Sweet to Me - talksweettome.com

The last time I searched, the least expensive 32-oz. bottle of this liquid deliciousness could be found at Culinary District online.

You can also buy it on Amazon if you’re ordering a bunch of stuff anyway!

You can find vanilla bean paste here at Culinary District or on Amazon here.

Culinary district logo

Question - Talk Sweet to Me - talksweettome.com

Do you have a favorite vanilla? Where do you find the best price for it?

 

Inspiration Cakes: BOLD!

Bold - textures and patterns - Talk Sweet to Me - talksweettome.com

Over the years, I’ve torn countless inspiration cakes out of magazines, newspapers, and wherever else I can find them.  Some photos have faded over time, and although not all of them still have the information on them, I promise to do my best to provide credits for the cakes you see on TSTM. These folks all deserve to be recognized for their amazing hard work and beautiful designs! Enjoy!

INSPIRATION CAKES copy

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