Wedding Cakes & Food Forum

Cake Education from a Baker :)

Hi There!  I am a pastry chef, who specializes in Wedding Cakes ... I have read on a lot of boards some cake misconceptions and they really irk me!  So I am clearing some things up, and hopefully this helps all of you with your cake selections. 

Serving Cheap slab cakes from the grocery store:  Really?  Have you ever eaten one of those cakes?  If you like it, then great, but please don't pretend that your guests are eating the gorgeous (and probably delicious) wedding cake, when in fact they are eating hydrogenated oil, artificial flavors and colors, and sugar.  You won't be fooling anyone, in fact, some might be offended that they weren't importanat enough to get a slic of the 'real' wedding cake.  Some cake bakers actually won't allow outside cakes to be served if their cake is on display .... it gives them a bad name, because people will think their cake tastes like gross grocery store cake.

Also, most grocery stores get their cake shipped in, frozen, and ice them with stuff that comes out of a bucket.  Yum!

Slab cakes from the baker:  You honestly won't save a ton of money this way.  If your tiered cake is really elaborate and you are also getting plain slabs, you will save a buck or two per serving, but if your actual cake is pretty simple (plain ribbon for example) then your slabs will cost pretty much the same per serving as your cake.

Saving by getting cupcakes:  Cupcakes aren't that much cheaper per serving that a slice of wedding cake (maybe 0.50 to a dollar cheaper).  And if you want them each decorated, then your price goes up!  Making each little cupcake a work of art takes time.  Also, you will have to rent a stand.

Getting a fake cake:  You will never find a baker who will make you a fake cake at a fraction of the cost.  The longest part of making a wedding cake is the decorating! At best you would get 20% off.  So, if you are being charged $5 a slice, you save $1.  You are still getting all the ribbon, flowers, polka dots, topper etc that you would get on a real cake.  There are deals to be had when you rent a previously made fake cake, but they are kind of gross ... do you want to showcase a cake that has been sitting on a shelf for god knows how long?  And then you STILL have to get a cake (those gross one's from the grocery store :).  Not saving too much money.

Saving by picking the cake up yourself:  Seriously, how much will you save here?  $40?  I would gladly pay $40 for someone else to worry about that, especially on my wedding day!

There is a reason that baker is sooo cheap:  If it seems to good to be true, then it probably is :).  If a baker is way underpricing, it is probably because she doesn't know what she is doing.  Make sure you see pictures of the baker's work, and make sure they haven't just gone to google images and stolen a bunch -- things like that are rampant in the cake community.  Also, cheaper bakers are often 'illegal', working out of their home.  Many venues will not allow this type of food to be served - if someone gets sick they will be on the hook.

That is not to say that all home bakers are bad, in fact there are many, many talented, legal, bakers working out of their home and producing gorgeous and tasty cakes.

That is all I can think of right now .... sorry this isn't more positive.  I just can't bear to read another "I am going to save money by getting cheap slab cakes".

I read somewhere that you can think of it this way .... can you think of a single fancy restaurant where you can get a delicious, beautiful piece of cake for dessert for less than $5?  You can't. 

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Re: Cake Education from a Baker :)

  • edited December 2011
    Thanks for the info.

    From the advice I've seen given on this board, we always recommend that if a bride is planning on getting sheet cakes to supplement her tiered cake, that the sheet cakes be the same kind of cake as the tiered cake.  We never recommend to buy something of less equality to serve to your guests.

    I understand that you do not like grocery store cakes, but I think you are out of line by constantly calling them gross.  I like grocery store cake.  I think it is very tasty.  Did I buy my wedding cake from a grocery store?  No.  Why?  Because I love cake and that was one area where I was willing to spend some extra $$ to get something that I would really enjoy.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with a bride buying cakes from a grocer if that is what is in her budget. 
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  • edited December 2011
    I've had plenty of bad grocery store cake, and some good grocery store cake. While normally I agree with you, I also think you're discounting the fact that some people might not have the money, period, to spend on something slightly higher in quality. If you have 150 people and you're paying $50 for the delivery, well, picking it up yourself and saving $1/slice will save you $200 - and you might not be able to spend an extra $200, period.

    In that case, I'd likely just forego the cake and get some other kind of dessert, like cookies, but cake are such an iconic part of a wedding that I can't blame people for wanting it.

    Also, my baker technically has a home-based business, but is not illegal - she has a business license and is highly regarded in the baking community in my city.
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  • leahkateleahkate member
    Knottie Warrior 10 Comments Combo Breaker
    edited December 2011
    Spoken like a true VENDOR.
  • edited December 2011
    Dude, just because you do things one way doesn't mean that every baker across the world does it the same way. I've been to lots of weddings where serving a sheet cake from the same baker has saved the couple hundreds of dollars.

    And while I agree, I don't think a costco or Walmart cake taste nearly as good as most cakes made by professionals, if that's what you can afford, that's what you can afford. People shouldn't have to feel guilty because of their socio-economic status.
  • SD3194SD3194 member
    100 Comments
    edited December 2011
    I'm also a chef and I think your post comes off as rude. We give pretty good advice on this board so for you to come in and "set us straight" is pretty pretentious on your part.

    You may not think that saving $1 per slice or $40 delivery charge is a big deal, but it may be substantial savings for some brides.
  • edited December 2011
    Are you this condescending and rude with clients who walk into your bakery?
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  • SSaltzman87SSaltzman87 member
    2500 Comments Third Anniversary
    edited December 2011

    I understand the point you were trying to make OP, but unfortunately it kind of came off a bit condescending.

    I went to pastry school for a short time as well and know where you're coming from. I'm well aware of the 'ingredients' used in cheaper cakes and know what it takes to really make a great product. And you do have a good point in saying how some of the alternatives to cake (cupcakes, sheet cakes etc.) really aren't that much cheaper when you really think about it-although this really does depend on where you're from and what kind of flavors/design you want.

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  • tldhtldh member
    2500 Comments
    edited December 2011
    What a rude post!! 

    OP - if you get this upset over an internet message board, you need to take a vacation from here for a while.

    Also, most grocery stores get their cake shipped in, frozen, and ice them with stuff that comes out of a bucket.  Yum! - actually one of the grocery stores in Cleveland, where I lived for ten years, hires new pastry school grads.  Their cakes are just as good as anything I've ever had from a bakery (and in case you're wondering I'm a complete food snob, especially when it comes to cake).  A friend of mine who threw a $60,000.00 wedding used one of these cakes and it was delicious.  Also, some brides can't afford more than what a grocery store cake would cost them so who in hell are you to pass judgment on them?

    Getting a fake cake:  You will never find a baker who will make you a fake cake at a fraction of the cost.- people who post here tell this to brides considering this option all the damn time.  We also tell them to nix the fondant and watch the prices drop because nobody eats the disgusting stuff and a good baker can make buttercream smooth.  Mine did.

    Also, cheaper bakers are often 'illegal', working out of their home.  - Wow.  My baker worked out of her home and has an incorporated business.  Know what she doesn't have?  A ton of overhead.  For a 12 inch bottom tier, 9 inch middle tier and 5 inch top tier of white almond cake (each tier 7-8 inches high), decorated in buttercream, she charged us $150.00.  Oh, and she threw in an anniversary cake.

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  • RebeccaB88RebeccaB88 Figment of Your Imagination member
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    edited December 2011
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/special-topic-wedding-boards_food-cakes_cake-education-baker?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Special Topic Wedding BoardsForum:23Discussion:3c0542aa-d1e7-4f89-91b9-9252cbc19e47Post:1edb187a-ba74-4386-bd72-1800054672f2">Cake Education from a Baker :)</a>:
    [QUOTE]Hi There!  I am a pastry chef, who specializes in Wedding Cakes ... I have read on a lot of boards some cake misconceptions and they really irk me!  So I am clearing some things up, and hopefully this helps all of you with your cake selections.  Serving Cheap slab cakes from the grocery store:  Really?  Have you ever eaten one of those cakes?  If you like it, then great, but please don't pretend that your guests are eating the gorgeous (and probably delicious) wedding cake, when in fact they are eating hydrogenated oil, artificial flavors and colors, and sugar.  You won't be fooling anyone, in fact, some might be offended that they weren't importanat enough to get a slic of the 'real' wedding cake.  Some cake bakers actually won't allow outside cakes to be served if their cake is on display .... it gives them a bad name, because people will think their cake tastes like gross grocery store cake. Also, most grocery stores get their cake shipped in, frozen, and ice them with stuff that comes out of a bucket.  Yum! Slab cakes from the baker:  You honestly won't save a ton of money this way.  If your tiered cake is really elaborate and you are also getting plain slabs, you will save a buck or two per serving, but if your actual cake is pretty simple (plain ribbon for example) then your slabs will cost pretty much the same per serving as your cake. Saving by getting cupcakes:  Cupcakes aren't that much cheaper per serving that a slice of wedding cake (maybe 0.50 to a dollar cheaper).  And if you want them each decorated, then your price goes up!  Making each little cupcake a work of art takes time.  Also, you will have to rent a stand. Getting a fake cake:  You will never find a baker who will make you a fake cake at a fraction of the cost.  The longest part of making a wedding cake is the decorating! At best you would get 20% off.  So, if you are being charged $5 a slice, you save $1.  You are still getting all the ribbon, flowers, polka dots, topper etc that you would get on a real cake.  There are deals to be had when you rent a previously made fake cake, but they are kind of gross ... do you want to showcase a cake that has been sitting on a shelf for god knows how long?  And then you STILL have to get a cake (those gross one's from the grocery store :).  Not saving too much money. Saving by picking the cake up yourself:  Seriously, how much will you save here?  $40?  I would gladly pay $40 for someone else to worry about that, especially on my wedding day! There is a reason that baker is sooo cheap:  If it seems to good to be true, then it probably is :).  If a baker is way underpricing, it is probably because she doesn't know what she is doing.  Make sure you see pictures of the baker's work, and make sure they haven't just gone to google images and stolen a bunch -- things like that are rampant in the cake community.  Also, cheaper bakers are often 'illegal', working out of their home.  Many venues will not allow this type of food to be served - if someone gets sick they will be on the hook. That is not to say that all home bakers are bad, in fact there are many, many talented, legal, bakers working out of their home and producing gorgeous and tasty cakes. That is all I can think of right now .... sorry this isn't more positive.  I just can't bear to read another "I am going to save money by getting cheap slab cakes". I read somewhere that you can think of it this way .... can you think of a single fancy restaurant where you can get a delicious, beautiful piece of cake for dessert for less than $5?  You can't. 
    Posted by SugarBrideOct10[/QUOTE]

    JIC

    I love the fake, Crisco grocery store frosting.  My favorite EVER.  Just give me the bucket and a spoon (and a glass of milk). 
  • vsgalvsgal member
    Eighth Anniversary 250 Love Its 500 Comments Name Dropper
    edited December 2011
    It sounds to me that you have had one too many people complain about your pricing.  Are you this high and mighty with your clients?  You can have a beautiful, tasty cake without all of the parameters you are so vehemently against.  I know I did.  Just so you are aware, my grocery store makes a fantastic cake that I would proudly serve at my 5-course dinners.

    Your reference to getting a piece of cake for less than $5.00 in a restaurant is redonkulous.  Keep in mind that a restaurant is in the business of making money and their markup on everything is huge. They charge you $15.00 for a glass of wine, which is a 300% markup from the cost of the entire bottle.  You don't think they do the same thing for that slice of cake is so huge that it will feed you for three days?

    Get off your high horse and stop putting people down for trying to save money.  It is tasteless.
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  • jess9802jess9802 member
    Knottie Warrior 500 Comments Combo Breaker
    edited December 2011
    I am getting a grocery store cake. Granted it's an upscale yuppie type grocery store that makes its cakes from scratch (and they are really, really good cakes), but it's still a grocery store. All the taste, half the pretension.
  • edited December 2011
    <div style="font-family:Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;font-size:10px;background-color:initial;background-image:none;background-attachment:initial;background-origin:initial;background-clip:initial;color:#1f1f1f;font:normal normal normal 11px/14px Arial, sans-serif;text-align:left;line-height:normal;">In Response to <a style="text-decoration:none;font-weight:normal;color:#1f1f1f;" href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/special-topic-wedding-boards_food-cakes_cake-education-baker?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Special%20Topic%20Wedding%20BoardsForum:23Discussion:3c0542aa-d1e7-4f89-91b9-9252cbc19e47Post:d6145e61-96a8-497b-8c52-44a841b812b9">Re: Cake Education from a Baker :)</a>:
    [QUOTE]Also, cheaper bakers are often 'illegal', working out of their home.   - Wow.  My baker worked out of her home and has an incorporated business.  Know what she doesn't have?  A ton of overhead.  For a 12 inch bottom tier, 9 inch middle tier and 5 inch top tier of white almond cake (each tier 7-8 inches high), decorated in buttercream, she charged us $150.00.  Oh, and she threw in an anniversary cake.
    Posted by tldh[/QUOTE]
    I agree with pretty much every thing you said. I work in food service (professional baker!) and I think this chick is being rude. We have some pretty awesome grocery store cakes from an area chain, too.</div><div style="font-family:Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;font-size:10px;background-color:initial;background-image:none;background-attachment:initial;background-origin:initial;background-clip:initial;color:#1f1f1f;font:normal normal normal 11px/14px Arial, sans-serif;text-align:left;line-height:normal;">
    </div><div style="font-family:Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;font-size:10px;background-color:initial;background-image:none;background-attachment:initial;background-origin:initial;background-clip:initial;color:#1f1f1f;font:normal normal normal 11px/14px Arial, sans-serif;text-align:left;line-height:normal;">That being said, in some states, such as mine, it is required that you work in a commercial kitchen. I had a boss that kept her failing bakery afloat by renting the kitchen to farmer's market vendors and a delivery only pizza company. It is against the law in some states/cities to operate a food service business out of your home.</div>
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  • leahkateleahkate member
    Knottie Warrior 10 Comments Combo Breaker
    edited December 2011
    Oh and by the way, I saw them just yesterday making a cake at the Walmart bakery. Making, as in taking the baked cake out of the oven and letting it cool. I don't think it came frozen in a bucket.
  • edited December 2011
    Hmm let's see....

    Our cupcakes are going to cost about HALF as much as a tiered wedding cake would've cost us. That's a lot--an extra $100+ that we're saving.

    "Renting" the stand for the cupcakes is only 10 or 15 dollars, but we get that deposit back afterwards when we return the stand. Yeah, that's really breaking the bank there!

    And we won't have to do a silly "cake cutting fee" either--which would be at least another $100+  that we get to keep.

    So, by doing cupcakes we're saving over $200. That seems more like a HELL of a lot cheaper than "cupcakes aren't that much cheaper."

    Maybe your bakery should take some of that advice and you'd have more business. As snobby as you're sounding, it's no wonder you're bitter about people finding alternatives to buying your cakes.
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  • colourzcolourz member
    100 Comments
    edited December 2011
    I have had expensive wedding cake that I didn't enjoy near as much as some supermarket cakes. Also, $200 here and $40 there quickly add up.
  • edited December 2011
    Getting a fake cake:  You will never find a baker who will make you a fake cake at a fraction of the cost.  The longest part of making a wedding cake is the decorating! At best you would get 20% off.  So, if you are being charged $5 a slice, you save $1.  


    I am getting fake cake. Custom made. With fondant. And saving 200 dollars by doing it that way.  The sheet cakes that will be cut in the back are the exact same flavor cake from the exact same bakery as the real tier in the fake cake. 

    Maybe in some cities the fake cake thing hasn't caught on, but my bakery does it and that's all that matters to me. 


  • edited December 2011
    And P.S. saving a dollar a slice when you need, oh, 200 slices of cake seems like a substantial savings to me. 
  • msteph82msteph82 member
    2500 Comments
    edited December 2011
    Reported as a vendor.
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  • edited December 2011

    I know most are upset about the way the OP stated her opinions, but she did make a few good points.

    Point 1# from OP:
    Serving Cheap slab cakes from the grocery store:  Really?  Have you ever eaten one of those cakes?  If you like it, then great, but please don't pretend that your guests are eating the gorgeous (and probably delicious) wedding cake, when in fact they are eating hydrogenated oil, artificial flavors and colors, and sugar.  You won't be fooling anyone, in fact, some might be offended that they weren't importanat enough to get a slic of the 'real' wedding cake.  Some cake bakers actually won't allow outside cakes to be served if their cake is on display .... it gives them a bad name, because people will think their cake tastes like gross grocery store cake.

    Point #1 from me:
    I do think it is rude for some cake to come from a custom bakery and some to come from a grocery store.  Your guests will know because the cake from the custom bakery will be 4" high, and the cake from the grocery store will be 2".  Plus, some grocery stores do not have fillings in thier cakes or only offer buttercream as a filling.

    It is also true that a lot of bakeries will not allow cake from another source to be served.  If you are planning on splitting the serving amounts between a custom bakery cake and a grocery store sheet cake make sure your baker is okay with this. 
    Best case: your baker never knows you ordered cake from a grocery store.  Worst cake: your baker sees the sheets cake, says you are in breach of contract and refuses to leave your wedding cake.  Then your wedding has no wedding cake for cutting, serving or pictures.

    For my wedding my baker had in her contract "no other cake".  She said she had walked out and refused to leave the wedding cake on a couple of weddings because the bride supplimented servings with grocery store cakes.  It does happen.

    If you are trying to keep costs down, ask your baker if it is less expensive to have a smaller wedding cake and then kitchen cakes from them in the back.  Since kitchen cakes do not require decorating, support systems, decorated cake boards... they are usually a little cheaper.  Not all bakeries offer this.  I read on one baker's website that this would not be an option because they refused to even do kitchen cakes.  Also ask your baker if the kitchen cakes will look the same as the wedding cake; same height, layers of cake and filling... as the wedding cake.  Once again, guests will notice a slice that is 1" x 2" x 4" (industry standard for 4" tall cake) and another 2" x 2" x 2" (industry standard for 2" tall cake) and wonder why they didn't get a piece of the wedding cake too.

    Point #2 from OP:
    Also, most grocery stores get their cake shipped in, frozen, and ice them with stuff that comes out of a bucket.

    Point #2 from me:
    Some - not all - grocery stores do this.  I know for a fact the Wal Mart by me has frozen cakes shipped in because I asked them.  They also use a premade icing to ice all their cakes.  Is this bad?  NO.  Just a fact.

    Point #4 from OP:
    Saving by getting cupcakes:  Cupcakes aren't that much cheaper per serving that a slice of wedding cake (maybe 0.50 to a dollar cheaper).  And if you want them each decorated, then your price goes up!  Making each little cupcake a work of art takes time.  Also, you will have to rent a stand.

    Point #4 from me:
    This is soley up to your baker.  There is a guy that lives by me that does cakes and cupcakes from his home (legal where I live) and charges $4.50/serving of cake and $4.50/cupcake.  For cupcakes there is no discount if you buy them by the dozen.  Decoration (flowers, pearls...) will cause the cost to go up.  And when you multiply the work to make 200 flowers for 200 cupcakes the end cost could be more than a cake for 200 people.

    You will usually avoid the cake cutting fee at your venue if you go with cupcakes.  This fee ranges anywhere from $0.50 to $4 / slice where I live.

    It is true that there is a fee to rent the cupcake stand.  But you don't have to rent a stand.  And when it comes to cake, there is a fee to rent the stand - so either way you are paying.

    Point #5 from OP:
    Getting a fake cake:  You will never find a baker who will make you a fake cake at a fraction of the cost.  The longest part of making a wedding cake is the decorating! At best you would get 20% off.  So, if you are being charged $5 a slice, you save $1.  You are still getting all the ribbon, flowers, polka dots, topper etc that you would get on a real cake.  There are deals to be had when you rent a previously made fake cake, but they are kind of gross ... do you want to showcase a cake that has been sitting on a shelf for god knows how long?  And then you STILL have to get a cake (those gross one's from the grocery store :).  Not saving too much money.

    Point #5 from me:
    A friend of mine got married two years and had a faux cake.  There was a small section in the bottom tier that was real cake so they had pictures of them feeding each other the cake.  The kitchen cakes are what served all the guests.  The bakery they went with gave them a small discount for doing this.
    The catch: The cake had to be all white with decorations that could be easily removed so the cake could be used again for another couple.  This kept the cost down for the bakery because they could reuse the faux cake again and again.

    In reality you are not paying for the flour, sugar, eggs...you are paying for the baker's time to bake, fill, ice, stack, decorate, deliver... your cake.  That time is there whether they are making a wedding cake out of real cake or a wedding cake from styrofoam and real cake kitchen cakes.

    Now, if you walk into your bakery and say "I want a wedding cake exactly like that one" and you point to a faux wedding cake they have on display - you probably could rent it for pretty cheap since the work is already done.

    Point #6 from OP:
    There is a reason that baker is sooo cheap:  If it seems to good to be true, then it probably is :).  If a baker is way underpricing, it is probably because she doesn't know what she is doing.  Make sure you see pictures of the baker's work, and make sure they haven't just gone to google images and stolen a bunch -- things like that are rampant in the cake community.  Also, cheaper bakers are often 'illegal', working out of their home.  Many venues will not allow this type of food to be served - if someone gets sick they will be on the hook.

    That is not to say that all home bakers are bad, in fact there are many, many talented, legal, bakers working out of their home and producing gorgeous and tasty cakes.

    Point #6 from me:
    Where I live home bakeries are legal, so I don't have a problem with that (as long as they are legal).  Now, sometimes people think "I watch all the cake shows, I can do that."  And a week later they have a website, email, phone number and are taking orders all the while not having a clue what they are doing.  This can happen in both a bakery and home based business - so buyer beware no matter what - but it is more likely in a home based business becuase over head and legalities are less.


    No matter where you are buying your wedding cake you should ask to see pictures of cakes the baker has done.  Unfortunately the OP is right that sometimes people take pictures they have found online and say they made the cake.  Then when you get your wedding cake it looks like a pile of crap and you don't understand why when thier pictures looked so good.  Well, in that case - feel free to submit that pile of crap to Cake Wrecks website Wink

  • SD3194SD3194 member
    100 Comments
    edited December 2011
    459873777483, I think you missed the whole point of why OP upset some people. It wasn't because everything she said was 100% incorrect, it was because she came across as a pretentious twit.

    She degraded people that bought their cakes from grocery stores and she also belittled brides that are budget conscious. It also speaks of her character that she gave us an earful about how stupid we are but didn't even bother to come back and reply to our posts.

    I have a Culinary Arts degree along with my bachelors in Restaurant Management. I've been cooking professionally for ten years and I'm Executive Chef at the largest catering company in my area. So excuse me if I'm irritated that some half wit baker, who probably doesn't know her ass from a hole in a donut, comes in here to "educate" me.

    But thank you for your irrelevant post.
  • edited December 2011
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/special-topic-wedding-boards_food-cakes_cake-education-baker?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Special Topic Wedding BoardsForum:23Discussion:3c0542aa-d1e7-4f89-91b9-9252cbc19e47Post:7bbfb6b9-96bb-4c2d-bad8-249cbf3c55a2">Re: Cake Education from a Baker :)</a>:
    [QUOTE]It sounds to me that you have had one too many people complain about your pricing.  Are you this high and mighty with your clients?  You can have a beautiful, tasty cake without all of the parameters you are so vehemently against.  I know I did.  Just so you are aware, my grocery store makes a fantastic cake that I would proudly serve at my 5-course dinners. Your reference to getting a piece of cake for less than $5.00 in a restaurant is redonkulous.  Keep in mind that a restaurant is in the business of making money and their markup on everything is huge. They charge you $15.00 for a glass of wine, which is a 300% markup from the cost of the entire bottle.  You don't think they do the same thing for that slice of cake is so huge that it will feed you for three days? Get off your high horse and stop putting people down for trying to save money.  It is tasteless.
    Posted by vsgal[/QUOTE]


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  • msteph82msteph82 member
    2500 Comments
    edited December 2011
    I love that you said ass from a hole in a donut.
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  • SD3194SD3194 member
    100 Comments
    edited December 2011
    Haha, thanks! This thread really got under my skin, I'm usually pretty laid back.
  • edited December 2011
    I did not miss the point.  I understand why people are upset.  That is why my opening line was: 
    I know most are upset about the way the OP stated her opinions, but she did make a few good points.

    I was apparently the only one that wan't offended by her remarks.  I agreed with most (not all) of what she said and in the way she said it.
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