The Importance of a Cake Consultation


August 9, 2017

GUEST BLOGGER | Kitty Waters, Oh Crumbs Bakery

Y’all are in for a treat (Ha, yes, we said treat & she’s a cake artist!) this week! We have Kitty of Oh Crumbs Bakery with us sharing the Importance of having a Wedding Cake Consultation and her tips on what to expect when working with a professional baker to design your cake. More than likely you have seen several of her brilliantly designed cakes throughout our portfolio and social media and you undoubtedly made heart eyes at them. Because, let’s face it. they are ahh-mazing! Plus, everyone always raves relentlessly about how impeccably delicious her desserts are. Beautiful and delicious too? What’s not to love!
If you’re like me, I oohed and aahed over pictures of cakes in magazines, then had to choose who would bake my own dream cake. Asking a family member or a professional can be a tough choice sometimes, which I’ve written about more here.  The symbolism of the wedding cakes can be quite important to many people, but it’s a personal decision & it’s all yours. Whatever you decide will be the right choice for you.
However, if you’ve chosen to go with a professional baker, there are some things you should know about in selecting one. Between bakers, variations of serving size, styles, flavors, quality, delivery options and costs vary greatly. Whomever you choose, go with someone you feel confident in. Make a cake consultation appointment and bring your fiancé(e), some pictures for inspiration, and/or other elements of your wedding that you have finalized already. A good cake artist can use your ideas to create a unique masterpiece for you without plagiarizing others’ work. Be understanding of their concerns if they raise any, but ask for clarification when something doesn’t make sense. For example. why do they suggest using buttercream instead of cream cheese frosting for ruffles on the outside of the cake? Why to they want to use an airbrush instead of coloring the buttercream? They are professionals, so they know the limitations of a technique and can be depended upon to give you good advice. That said, if someone refuses to make something the way that you want but you truly believe should be feasible, keep looking for your cake vendor. It’s your cake, after all, and if you start out with a contention of opinion, chances are it will just be difficult working with that vendor as your day approaches.
At your cake consultation, get a feel for the person who would be making your cake.  Frankly, do you like them? You’ll be in contact with them before your wedding to coordinate delivery and any chances to the design of your cake. Do you trust this person to create what could be the most important and expensive dessert of your life? Along with that, is this person recommended? Does the baker’s work space seem organized and welcoming? Are they prepared for your cake consultation? Do you get the vibe that hey can handle the job or are they in over their head? Cake consultations should be one of the best parts of planning a wedding, in my opinion. There should be nothing stressful about going to a consultation just a chance to enjoy cake and hopefully meet someone you can like and trust. Relax, enjoy and ask questions. There are no dumb questions to ask at a cake consultation. Truly. For my consultations, I pull out my mother’s china and my own wedding champagne flutes. We’re celebrating that you’re getting married, after all. I sometimes have flowers, as the ones in pictured here from the wonderful ladies at Southern Belles and Blooms and I pull out my charming “I-Do” & “Me-Too” cutlery (from Mudpie) to eat with. I add some wedding cake magazines and sometimes some cake artist books, which can be great inspiration when couples are unsure what they like or when I want to explain a technique. I have a sample contract for the couple to look at, and I try to have my own pictures available too.
I personally feel no pressure to sell a cake at my consultations because I enjoy them so much.  I love getting to know the couples for whom I will be pouring countless hours into making their special cake. Baker’s aren’t in the business of wedding cakes to make it rich, despite what you may think when you get our quotes. The bakers I know do it because they love helping couples with that pivotal piece of art on their wedding day. And yes, it is a ‘Capital-A’ Art.
It’s worth mentioning in comparing bakers and setting up cake consultations that wedding cake servings are different from party cake servings. Instead of triangular wedges being cut, your cake server (often your caterer) will cut rectangular slabs for your guests. The pieces can be surprisingly small. The traditional wedding cake servings size is 1″ wide, 2″ deep, and 4″ tall. A library key-tag card is 1″x2″, so think of that – it’s a small footprint standing up. On the other hand, your average party cake is about 2″ tall, and your wedding cake is at least twice as tall. As the price of a cake usually depends at least in part of the number of servings it has, it’s very important to know how the baker is calculating the number of servings. You could compare the serving side that each baker is using when you’re comparing a note. In other words, if Betty the Baker charges $5/serving but her serving size is twice as big as Bonnie the Baker’s $5/serving, then Betty’s cake is a better deal (at least in terms of serving size).
Of course, quality matters. This is supposed to be the best darn cake you’re ever had, and the ingredients and technique that go into a cake can make a world of difference. If the price is attractive but the cake tastes like stale cardboard, do you want to serve that? Additionally, if it looks like a child was learning their handwriting while piping your buttercream is that what you want in your family photo album? Taste and beauty are both in the eye of the beholder, and there is a style for everyone. But, at your consultation, look for whether the cake, fillings, and buttercreams are tasty to you. Decide if the other cakes you’ve seen in your potential baker’s portfolio are beautiful to you. And do try the fondant, even if you think you’ll hate it. Make cake artists (yes, we defend the right to be pretentious in calling ourselves cake artists) make their own fondant and can make the most delicious fondant you’ve ever tasted, packed with real fruit or chocolate and adding another layer of flavor to your dream cake. Not only can fondant be yummy, it can be used skillfully to bring the cake to the next level aesthetically. Don’t rule if out because you’ve heard it tastes like burnt plastic.
Many couples want something a little different for their wedding cake flavors.  Gone are the days when you were offered only fruitcake or a vanilla sponge at a wedding. Flavor combinations abound, from lemon with raspberries, chocolate and cherries, to even bacon and toffee. I have made wedding cakes that were inspired by mojitos, champagne with strawberries, favorite candy bars, and pudding-esque desserts such as Banana’s Foster and Crème Brûlée. At my cake consultation, I create a collection of cake flavors, fillings, and buttercreams and ask my clients to create their own flavors.
The creativity astounds me often.  IPA-infused buttercream with peanut-butter filling.  Spice cake with orange curd and whiskey glaze, like
an Old Fashioned Cocktail. The combinations that my clients produce are unique and a reflection of the couple – and I love that aspect of wedding cakes so much! I want my couples to be a part of the design of the cake as much as possible, so while they sample and sip some bubbly, I draw up my sketches of some cakes based on my conversation with them. When we regroup after they’ve decided on some combinations that speak loudest to them, I walk them through how I would build their cake from the bottom up. We discuss the design more carefully then. I try to give them a ballpark quote for them, but nothing is official until I send them a written quote.
So is it worth going with a professional baker for your wedding cakes? That’s a decision every couple must decide, but if you do, enjoy your cake consultation and just go with someone you can trust. Then you can have your cake, and of course, eat it too!

"Choosing Ivory Door Studio for my wedding was one of the best decisions I made. "

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