The New Bakers Dozen
Design problems

The The Bakers Dozen: Design problems
By Raine on Sunday, June 04, 2000 - 12:41 pm: Edit

Here is the situation.
I am making a wedding cake for a dear friend of mine. As per our agreement, it is a gift, and all costs will be paid by me.
The problem is , her mother will be making the top tier, it is a 9" round yellow cake with poured chocolate icing. Which is fine with me, but the bride wants part of the cake iced in white, with a square cake(s) somewhere in the design.(?)
Can anyone help with a lay out that will incorperate this cake, so it doesn't look out of place? Cost and size are not important.

By W.DeBord on Sunday, June 04, 2000 - 02:03 pm: Edit

Actually, it sounds like something I've noticed alot of lately(only done one so far). Think of it as stacked hat boxes...(bottom layer) square two layer cake/(next layer) round four tier cake/ (third layer) square three layer tall. I could mention some books to look at but you may not own them...?

You can make it really playful by making each layer a different pattern/color or flavor (or keep more unity by keeping the color the same thru out on only changing shapes thru out). As I mentioned above you can vary the thickness of each layer too. Martha Stewarts last wedding magazine (in May I think) has on the front a wedding cake that varies it's cake shapes and sizes (it's design is based on china pattern).

There are also cakes where you vary the angle of one or more cakes in the stack.

By Raine on Sunday, June 04, 2000 - 03:51 pm: Edit

i have shown her a picture of the stacked boxes/presents. she doesn't like it. she wants more traditional(?) style, with champagne glasses some where on the cake. My first idea was...

9" round choc. poured icing
12" square white icing
16" round choc. poured icing
20" square white icing

Her mother will not share the icing recipe to make the 16" match the 9" in color :{ so I'm kinda stuck on how to make the rest of the cake work with it and still appear elegent.

By Yankee on Sunday, June 04, 2000 - 06:13 pm: Edit

She won't share the icing recipe? You've got to be kidding. Why on earth not?

Tell it's for the bride, after all, and she needs "something borrowed," and to get over it. Guilt will usually wear people down after a while.

Tell her professionals share recipies all the time, what's the BFD. Or, am I just missing something here?

By Panini (Panini) on Sunday, June 04, 2000 - 06:33 pm: Edit

If she won't share the recipe, use her cake as a grooms cake and make your friend a nice traditional wedding cake.
my 2 cents

By Raine on Sunday, June 04, 2000 - 07:16 pm: Edit

There will be a separate grooms cake, but it is important to have this specific cake on the bridal cake.(I don't understand it either)
She absolutely, positively will not share her recipe(ancient family secret I guess). The only thing I know about it is that, it is a chocolate poured icing that dries hard. I think i remember something about hershey bars. Anybody have any ideas or an old hershey recipe book?
I tried to talk her into letting me do a second layer of icing over the chocolate, but that was also a no go.
I have searched net/books/magazines all day for ideas and have come up with nothing.

By W.DeBord on Sunday, June 04, 2000 - 08:36 pm: Edit

Well if that's the case I wouldn't go near trying to match it, because you never will and it will show. What you wrote is so close to what I was mentioning. Don't use bows or make it look gift like, BUT this is not traditional. I'd steer her away from using glasses with a two tone cake that has shape differences happening (way too much going on!!).

I think you need to really have a talk with bride. She's asking for too much crazy stuff to fit under a traditional (or anything less than funky)title. Try to show her a photo or drawing of what she's asking for, explaining she needs to narrow her design wishes down. OR if MOMs' cake has to be there maybe MOM should make the whole cake...because it doesn't sound like MOM is a good sport.

P.S. In my experience (I've maded cakes for several friends and gotten frustrated over most of the situations involved) it is cheaper, easier and more appreciated to buy them a lovely gift instead of making the cake...but I couldn't say no either.

By momoreg on Sunday, June 04, 2000 - 10:08 pm: Edit

Very strange and delicate predicament... That said, perhaps you can try a white 'traditional' style cake, decorated with traditional designs, but with chocolate icing. That ought to bring the chocolate into the theme, and if it doesn't match exactly, it won't be too obvious. The glasses (if that's what she insists on having) can be used to set the top tier apart from yours, and perhaps you can convince the mother to let you decorate it with contrasting white designs that match your designs on the white cakes.

By Yankee on Sunday, June 04, 2000 - 10:39 pm: Edit

Yikes. Sounds like you need a separate "Mom's cake." Her "cake" goes on top and will be different than all the rest? Is she going to wear white, too? I don't know who I fear for more, you or the groom.

IMHO, champagne glasses work better in your hands, hopefully filled with something yummy. Sounds like you need one in each hand, fast.

It's also a gift. Right? Just roll with it. Take a step back.

Sounds like she may be using a version of the traditional Sacher Torte glaze. As I remember, you cook sugar & water to soft ball, add chocolate. Then drop some on a marble slab and work it until it starts to crystalize. Put it back into the pot, warm it a bit and pour it over the cake. It cools hard with a nice dull shine. Reminds me of fudge. Someone here may be able to help with the specifics.

By Raine on Sunday, June 04, 2000 - 11:35 pm: Edit

As of about 2 hrs ago the square cakes are no longer a problem.(outta here!!)
Definately fear for the groom!
What I need right now is a couple of asprin!
I can't let this go, if it looks like crap I will have to take the full credit for it. With 400 people in attendence that I will have to face all night.....(I think I'm going to puke!!). Did i mention the pink roses. (I'm definately going to puke!!!)
momoreg, it's a very workable plan, but the pink roses I think would throw it off.

By Panini (Panini) on Monday, June 05, 2000 - 06:45 pm: Edit

I feel sorry for you, I've been in that position and learned my lesson. What about pedestals? I will even ship you a set if you return them.

Yankee, you crack me up! I can see the chef's in the Sacher Hotel looking for the Hershey bars.
"It cools hard with a nice dull shine"? Which is it, dull or shiny?
Please don't take this the wrong way! I really enjoy reading you posts, you have alot to offer.

By Raine on Monday, June 05, 2000 - 07:58 pm: Edit

Pedestals are going to be a problem. I need them tall enough to hold champagne flutes. Think I read in old thread were someone custom made theirs with sugar molds, but I couldn't find it again. Does any one have any info on this?

Thanks for the offer Panini, but I'd like to try to make them first. At the very least, this cake is going to add to my knowledge.(and patients)

Yankee, I'm quite certain, that is not what she's using. I don't think she's that advanced, she is making her cake from a box, so odds have it that the icing would be much more simplified.

FYI...the reason she won't let me use her recipe is because, it is made in a special pot that belong to her mother, and to make this special icing in a different pot,I guess, would bring down some kind of ancient curse that would curdle all the cream in the world :}

By d. on Monday, June 05, 2000 - 09:28 pm: Edit

I feel for you Raine. My guess is Mom's probably using a 10x sugar, chocolate and hot water type of icing or maybe even Hershey bars and Crisco??? And why a 9"? Momoreg's idea was what I was thinking too, though I'd want to end up covering the top tier with most of the pink roses! Good luck!

By Yankee on Tuesday, June 06, 2000 - 12:52 am: Edit

Sorry, it was late. Perhaps "smooth, matt finish" would have made more sense. As for "mom" being able to pull off an icing like that, well, you never know.

Yeah, Hershey bars at The Sacher Hotel. That's funny. Bet they use Smuckers apricot jam, too!Next time, I'll just reach for the "Easy Bake Oven" recipe book we keep on the coffee table.

I'd also make a remark about "mom" not having a pot to piss in, but, oops, my cream is curdling.

By Panini (Panini) on Tuesday, June 06, 2000 - 03:41 pm: Edit

ha ha!
When I suggested pedestals I was refering to individual pedestals varying in height. They are seperate from each other. They have acrylic plates on the top and bottom. We normally use 3-4 plus the cake on the table. I have different diameter tubes for them, 1".2".3" I don't know if I'm explaining these right.

By Ramodeo (Ramodeo) on Tuesday, June 06, 2000 - 04:49 pm: Edit

Panini - do you mean a pedestal for each tier? I could see that working. Or using one of those stands that are basically three or four platters attached together vertically. That would at least provide some separation between each tier, which would help with all the different style elements. Could the pink roses be attached to a vine like thingy that would then be wound around all the tiers to tie them back together?

Also, using an off white frosting - like white chocolate cream cheese - would minimize the clash between tiers. That could look really nice with the right colr pink rose, too. Or, use white chocolate plastique to cover the other layers. That has a definite beige tint.

By Panini (Panini) on Tuesday, June 06, 2000 - 05:41 pm: Edit

Yes, each pedestal will have a cake, varying in size and height. You can spiral, stagger, what ever you like.
We se3nd these out alot. Down here it can eliminate the cost of a sererate grooms cake, they make one or two of the cakes choco. I was'nt sold on these at first, but it is quite an impressive centerpiece when you use numerous pedestals and elevations garnished with floral.

By Raine on Tuesday, June 06, 2000 - 06:52 pm: Edit

I'll have to run that idea by her.
Panini are your stands clear? The ones I have are white. I've also seen them mirrored (like disco ball) and a cheap one made from styrofoam and cardboard tubes. Since the glasses and the other ornament are crystal,the supports would almost have to be clear.
If she doesn't go for that idea, perhaps I can do something like d. suggested. Make the top tier into a bouquet of roses with a large bow, and use pillars to separate it from the rest of the cake, that way, the remaining bottom tiers could be all the same color....problems with this ...9" to large, and would need to be dome shaped (damn,damn,damn).
FYI... It must be a 9" cake because, again, that pesky curse of grandmas hand-me-down pans. I offered to borrow or buy her smaller pans, she said no. Is this some kind of Quaker thing? I used to live in Iowa, and even the Amish weren't this wierd.(now those women knew how to bake!!)

By Panini (Panini) on Tuesday, June 06, 2000 - 09:21 pm: Edit

Yes, there are clear and white.

By W.DeBord on Wednesday, June 07, 2000 - 09:24 am: Edit

Just a thought... what if you did all your cakes in choc. then used rolled fondant (or even rolled white choc.) as a over-lay like a lace doily. You could cut a pattern into fondant (with small cookie cutters), crimp or quilt it to give it a more fem. look tieing back to pink roses and crystal glasses?

By Raine on Wednesday, June 07, 2000 - 12:22 pm: Edit

Wow, cool. Hmmmmm. Yes if i do the doily effect far enough down the side. Like 1" from plate,the difference in chocolate would be greatly reduced. Yet, another possibility.
I'm trying to come up with few options for her to look at. I plan on drawing them out to give her a better idea.

Since the color of the chocolate is a major problem. If I were to have some white and dark chocolate on hand to correct the color of my icing. Do you think that would be possible? Kinda freaks me out, cause I have never made a successful white chocolate ganache.

By W.DeBord on Wednesday, June 07, 2000 - 05:24 pm: Edit

You lost me a little...? How do you mean "on hand to correct the color"... mixing ganches' to come up with the right color?

I have a good white choc. ganache recipe (thick enough to coat a cake...if that's what you mean by unsuccessful) if you need it.

By Raine on Wednesday, June 07, 2000 - 07:02 pm: Edit

Yeah, if I have a dk chocolate base ganache, and then add white to correct. I don't know if it would really effect the color enough to make a difference. I've never had to match chocolates before, but hoping it might be like matching colors. I'm pretty good at that.
I would like to try your recipe. If you could include the brand of choc. that would be great too. I think that is my problem.

By Panini (Panini) on Wednesday, June 07, 2000 - 07:34 pm: Edit

The lace is a great idea, what about if you just went bone, ivories, creams all the way to the chocolate with lace overlays. cream and pink roses?

By Ramodeo (Ramodeo) on Wednesday, June 07, 2000 - 07:54 pm: Edit

That's the idea I was thinking of, Panini. Everything just a little antique-y looking. Unless they're looking for the non-chocolate part of the cake to be pure white....

By Raine on Wednesday, June 07, 2000 - 07:55 pm: Edit

I'm not following you Panini. Could you explain further, please?

By Raine on Thursday, June 08, 2000 - 08:30 pm: Edit

I think she'll give on the pure white if necessary.
I still don't get it. What's going on with the overlays?

By Panini (Panini) on Thursday, June 08, 2000 - 09:17 pm: Edit

What about if you made all the layers different shades of creams ,ivories, light browns to include the moms cake. Cover each layer with fondant lace overlays to bring in the white.
Then use creams and pink roses. Just an idea.

Borrow aspic cutters from one of your chefs, this makes the lace work go faster.

We have actually done this before, I don't know if the picture is in the books?

By momoreg on Friday, June 09, 2000 - 06:48 am: Edit

Hey, if you make each tier completely different in style and color, without tying a them together at all, you may end up with just the cake they're asking for!!!

By W.DeBord on Friday, June 09, 2000 - 08:36 am: Edit

Oops, I forgot ganche recipe at work, will try to remember tommarrow.

By Matt (Matt) on Sunday, June 11, 2000 - 01:10 am: Edit

This may have already been addressed and I don't have time to read through all the messages, but why don't you just have the Mother make all the icing for the cake. Just tell her how much you need and she can make it. Saves you the time and she does't have to share her recipe that is in a dozen recipe books already. But don't tell her that :-)


By W.DeBord on Sunday, June 11, 2000 - 09:56 am: Edit

Raine...I can't find my ganche recipe but I'm pretty sure it's 8 oz. white choc. to 1/4 c. cream.

P.S. I'm not picky about brands.

By Raine on Sunday, June 11, 2000 - 01:04 pm: Edit

Thanks, W.DeBord. 1/4 c. cream that is way less than I was using. I'll try it, and see how it works for me.

Matt, what a great idea, I'll see what she says.

Momoreg, yeah, The first cake she described to me had Snoopy, Lady and the tramp, and Cinderelle. It took every ounce of diplomacy I could muster, not to laugh my ass off. Had to explain that she was 30 not 3, and all that hoopla wasn't appropriate for a wedding. Thankfully her hubby to be agreed.

Panini and others, I really like the lace idea, but she didn't. She did, however, like the idea of covering Mom's layer in roses. Now I just need to come up with a plan to make this work.

By ramodeo on Sunday, June 11, 2000 - 07:29 pm: Edit

You've got to be kidding?!? Snoopy? ROTFLOL :)

By Mikeh (Mikeh) on Sunday, June 11, 2000 - 09:26 pm: Edit

Not only is it inappropriate for a wedding, but those are all licensed characters and you can easily be sued for copyright infringement.

By Raine on Sunday, June 11, 2000 - 09:57 pm: Edit

Snoopy! not joking! LOL

Really? Even if the cake is free? I though it was only a copyright infringement if you make a profit from the sale.
Living in Disney territory (FL) I won't duplicate any image from them (or others) at work. We have those over priced cheap plastic toys for that. Or I have the customer bring in their own toy and I make a backround for it.

By Mikeh (Mikeh) on Sunday, June 11, 2000 - 10:26 pm: Edit

I'm not sure about the free thing, but the last two issues of Batter Chatter which is the California Cake Club's newsletter have had a feature by a lawyer for the Retail Baker's Association. The RBA works extensively to educate bakery owners in return for Disney, Warner Bros. and other copyright owners not enforcing their rights as vigorously as they could. However, he still notes that lawsuits are very common and the average small bakery could easily pay $2,000 to $5,000 to settle, plus legal and court fees.

The article was kind of an eye opener, especially when they noted that the Wilton character pans are licensed for home use only. We can't use them to produce theme cakes. The solution to this problem is purchasing commercial stencils and figurines.

Here's a few more things about copyright law. I'm not sure if anyone here prints images onto rice paper for cakes, but if someone brings in a professionally done photo, you can't reproduce it on the cake. Also, playing CDs or tapes in your shop or playing the radio over some sort of professional speaker system is against copyright law and requires payment of royalties. The exception in most states is playing the radio for the convenience of your employees and customers as opposed to providing entertainment.

For more info call the RBA at 800-638-0924.

By Doucefrance (Doucefrance) on Monday, June 12, 2000 - 07:53 am: Edit

Where in Florida are you?

By Raine on Monday, June 12, 2000 - 06:44 pm: Edit

Orlando, or I should say Winter Park, a suburb of Orlando. Right under the mouses nose,and watchful gaze. We've made a few deliveries on Disney property, but they prefer that people use their services,and make it difficult for customers to bring anything in from outside the resort area.

By Panini (Panini) on Monday, June 12, 2000 - 08:09 pm: Edit

You can reproduce any professional picture unless it has a disclaimer on the back. Many people buy their pictures outright + neg. The customer can do whatever he or she feels like .

By W.DeBord on Tuesday, June 13, 2000 - 07:51 pm: Edit

A major copying center (I can't think of their name) will not allow you to use their copy machines with-out written permission for almost everything obviously published (therfore not your work).

I think your wrong Panini unless you have purchased the neg. which is rarely done or possible. I know ALOT of photographers and none of them will give their customers permission to copy their work. Their name stamped on the front of a photo is notifying you of their copy right ownership.

There are laws about the right to change/or alter art that you own. Copyright remains with the artist after sale unless so stated and written at the time of the sale.

By Raine on Tuesday, June 13, 2000 - 08:21 pm: Edit

I worked at a photo studio many years ago, and any reprodution required written permission if they were less than 5 years old. Most places will tell you how long they keep the negatives/copyright. But I don't think a copyright would apply if you are airbrushing or piping a photo of a regular person, only if you were using the new photo systems were the studio logo would appear.
I have a customer from southwest airlines that orders cakes all the time. I had her bring in a release form(about 5 pg long) so that I could copy their logo.

By Mikeh (Mikeh) on Tuesday, June 13, 2000 - 10:20 pm: Edit

I bet even airbrushing from a photo would be considered a violation of copyright, although much harder to prove than a rice-paper transfer.

By W.DeBord on Wednesday, June 14, 2000 - 07:34 am: Edit

No one is going to chase every pastry chef down and sue for copy right infringment. All though they could. Small time artist/photographers do NOT take the time nor spend the money to registar their copyright (which has to be done for each piece of art). Those people aren't going to sue you.

It seems to be an issue only with a few big companies like Disney, McDonalds, Wendys etc... where we all have heard stories of them sueing companies who have names anything similar to theirs etc... They have the money to set a few examples to detour other future infringers.

If I lived next to Disney I wouldn't put Disney cakes in my portfolio of available designs.

By Raine on Wednesday, June 14, 2000 - 08:27 am: Edit

The disney characters are popular for children's birthdays. So we thought it best to order in the toys. They are expensive, about $4 each. We charge an extra $7 extra, and people are willing to pay it.

By Panini (Panini) on Wednesday, June 14, 2000 - 09:36 pm: Edit

The disclaimer I speak of is the the name stamped on the photo. Amost every photo contract includes the copy price and the originals price. I know of many people who buy their negetives.
Photo's of my work are frequently used by the home decorators. They take my brochure to another decorator to copy the cake. I don't have any recourse. It takes money to sue someone!
It's art. What about a photographer who is hired by a bride and he shoots my work, uses it, sells it? I've done scale replicas of auto's, stadiums, Where does it end?
I'd love Volkswagon to sue me, the publicity would put me on the map, and the evidence would be eaten! ha ha $%^& that's why we have insurance.

By Mikeh (Mikeh) on Wednesday, June 14, 2000 - 09:41 pm: Edit

W. DeBord, there is no requirement to register a copyright.

By W.DeBord on Thursday, June 15, 2000 - 08:19 am: Edit

Making the copy right symbol on your work does stand up legally as your notice but as I understand to complete the copy right it needs to be filed. I also recall you can register several pieces or a body of work under one application.

Panini artists have problems like you mention all the time. Other artists ripe-off popular/well selling styles from each other. If you go to an art fair often you'll see several people with closely similar styles (it didn't just happen that way). Try to bring a tape recorder into a concert....

Art dealers use to pass out smaller size "sample" copies of a painting (to promote sales). Someone (in great mass)started making photocopies of the work and putting it in frames then selling it as if it was art from that artist. Now in large transparent type on all art photos & brocures artists and their dealers write the words "sample" over the image so no on can sell that promotion piece as art.

Unforunately that won't help you from getting ripped off.

By Raine on Friday, June 16, 2000 - 09:18 pm: Edit

Panini, aren't you flattered that someone else appreciates your style? Granted there is nothing to be done about customers going elsewhere for whatever reason. But I would still consider it a compliment. I have people bring me magazines and even brochures from other bakeries, and I find that insulting. It's like giving blueprints to an architect.

By Panini (Panini) on Saturday, June 17, 2000 - 05:45 pm: Edit

Your right.
It really does't bother me that much. Every other bride comes in for a consultation clutching the latest Martha. Wedding cakes are about 50% of our business. I tell you! sometimes I really wonder if they are really worth it! The customers are very high maintenance and require alot of communication. We sell 10" cakes retail all day long without any hassle.

By Raine on Sunday, June 18, 2000 - 03:42 am: Edit

High maintenance is an understatement! Had a customer this week order a wedding cake with only two and a half days notice. She called twice and came in twice. So much hoopla for a 6-10 stack! Ended up having to strip it down and re-ice it, because we had a dispute over Ivory vs beige! Used more $ in wasted labor than the cake was worth.

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