The New Bakers Dozen
Thoughts from a wedding cake expert, please?

The The Bakers Dozen: Thoughts from a wedding cake expert, please?
By W.DeBord on Monday, May 14, 2001 - 05:21 pm: Edit

I'm making a wedding cake for 250 from Martha Stewarts' pink wedding book (her most current wedding book) the one on the cover (upper left). I hope I'm not the only one who has this (surely you all have customers carrying around that book too?).

It's a rolled fondant covered cake with gum paste flowers attached to the sides of the layers not on top of the layers. There's space between each tier and gum paste flowers covering the supports so each layer kind of looks like it's floating.
Anyway, there's a fair amount of detail in the 3D flowers with the stems and leafs.

The cake has a lemon cream (similar to buttercream)and fresh raspberries filling, so I can't put it together until the day before, decorating on the day. BUT I'm thinking it's going to be too much to do on the day (since I have many other responsibities) and I'm leaning toward using dummy layers (except one, for them to cut)....UNLESS....someone can give me some specific advise on simplifying this?

By W.DeBord on Monday, May 14, 2001 - 05:34 pm: Edit

I know I could and will need to pre-make some leafs and some flowers to achieve the right look. But my best guess is that this cake will take 8 hours to assemble and decorate since I'm sure there will be plenty of distractions and I'll have to hold items till they set, plus brushing them with color as I go. I'm doing 5 tiers instead of 4 in the photo, anyone willing to guess a different amount of time?

I'd love to know how Jeff would handle this (you do FAR more cakes then I)? Are you familar with the cake I'm mentioning?

By Panini (Panini) on Monday, May 14, 2001 - 10:11 pm: Edit

I'm not, but will get a look at it tomorrow. Don't worry, you pull it off. Why cant you make the cake ahead of time? You might want ti go three layers of cake and 2 layers of filling.
on the first layer pipe the lemon cream in circles starting from the outside, working in. Pipe the rasp filling in the well that are formed.
ya know, like black forest. Your flowers will have to be wired to dowels it sounds like. Let me look and I'll let you know. Don't let this cake defeat you before you start. Type A ha ha

By W.DeBord on Tuesday, May 15, 2001 - 07:29 am: Edit

It's the gum paste flowers that are bothering me. The timing of this is June 30 and July 4th I have 24' of sweet table to put out, in addition to my regular 2 weekly buffets, ala carte and golf outtings from a really small kitchen. Given a different date for this event I'd be fine, nothing to worry about. But there's too much happening with too much detailed work involved in a couple of days. I'm even looking at buying cookie dough (so I'm letting go of somethings).

Unforunately, I don't have tons of experience with gum paste, I've always used white choc. plastic which is much easier to handle. But it won't work in this application.

The flowers are so darn small and hand colored, with alot of microscopic glueing to the side of the cake. This is where I'd love some advise, any advise.?? I just bought powdered colors and I need to learn how to handle them also. (I made an fab. tea pot cake for Mom's day to practice and found the colors harder to control then expected).

By W.DeBord on Tuesday, May 15, 2001 - 07:50 am: Edit

Am I right? Or would you approach this another way?

I'm thinking most of my color I'll marble into the dough before I shape it. Then brush on color to accent. Do I want to use the colored powder dry or with a slightly damp brush?

If I covered the cake with the rolled fondant the day before. Maybe the slight dampness of the dough would make adhearing the gum paste no work at all???? Or once it came down to room temp. it would sweat too much and hurt my adhesion??? I guess I have to do a trial run.... Would you use egg white or h2o to adhear GP to fondant?

As far as the actual cake....after read alittle last night I'm thinking about baking, filling and freezing the cakes in advance. It was the fresh berries I didn't want to ruin by assembling too earily (yet alone freezing) but I don't think the taste will be affected too greatly. Plus I'm passing rasp. sauce with it.... Think it's really unfair to do that????????

By Yankee on Tuesday, May 15, 2001 - 10:53 am: Edit

As long as it is wrapped properly, freezing it will be fine. Just remember to defrost it in the fridge two days before you need it. Those raspberries take a while to defrost. Plus, if you put fondant on a partially frozen cake, it will sweat like crazy. You can also macerate those berries in some framboise and symple syrup to add a little punch.

As for gum paste flowers, yikes. I will always tell people that fresh flowers are a much better way to go, since they smell great and can be matched to the flowers in the wedding, etc. I don't have the time to roll those things out, and if I did I'd never make any money on it. But, that's just me.

You can also buy some really good pre-made gum paste stuff if you want to save some time. Good luck.

By d. on Tuesday, May 15, 2001 - 04:18 pm: Edit

W., since I don't have the time to be making sugar flowers we order them from a company called Sugarflowers Plus. However, they are not cheap. I will get you the number from work on Thursday. If you decide to make them yourself, start now if you can. You can color the gumpaste or paint the flowers with luster dust after they are dry. I would stick them onto the cake with royal icing.

By Panini (Panini) on Tuesday, May 15, 2001 - 06:06 pm: Edit

Again I dissagree with everyone, but thats par for the course. I would do all the flowers in fondant. We do all our calla's, roses, etc with cheap pettinice, it also comes in colors now. I could not find marthas mag, can you jpg an email me it. Sugarflowers are good but I have a source for Indonesion made flowers which have lots more detail.

By d. on Tuesday, May 15, 2001 - 08:41 pm: Edit

Jeff, out of curiosity, why fondant instead of gumpaste?

By Panini (Panini) on Wednesday, May 16, 2001 - 06:24 am: Edit

We find it a lot easier to work with. Plus you can smooth it up before molding which makes it easier and a nicer finish when painted. Also easier for swag type work. I don know, maybe just a personal preference, oh yea, if the guest should eat some it's not that bad.

By W.DeBord on Wednesday, May 16, 2001 - 07:35 am: Edit

Making them out of fondant would be great! It's much easier to handle but I didn't think it would work (hold shape enough)? So if I get your brand pettinice it will dry and hold a shape? Please tell me who sells it, because that would be perfect!????

These aren't big open flowers like you think of with gum paste. They actually look like their make of fondant because they are rather thick.

I don't have a scanner but this cake is shown in every Martha magazine, it's in an ad for her wedding book (in the back of the magazine). It's really more leafs and less flowers in volume which is great.

How do you adhear your fondant decorations to the sides of your fondant cake? Royal?

P.S. The brides mother is kind of goofey. She is soooo wealthy (unbelievable), they think real flowers look cheap on wedding cakes (everything should be "special" and handmade). They always want the most expensive of everything (their newly rich, our old money rich people are cheap). Ha, can you imagine!

By chochip on Wednesday, May 16, 2001 - 01:40 pm: Edit

W. or caljava for all ready made flowers.

Attach with royal icing.

You can do 1/2 fondant 1/2 gumpaste. It is more firmer/easier to work with. I use that ratio for swags. But, I would use gumpaste straight for those flowers. Good Luck!

By momoreg on Wednesday, May 16, 2001 - 04:54 pm: Edit

I made that exact cake (twice) a few years ago. The first time, I used a real cake, and the 2nd, I used a dummy. Both times, it took MUCH longer than I expected. Start making your flowers now! They hold indefinitely, and you don't want to have to worry about that on the week of the wedding (this is true for any cake, by the way). I used gumpaste for the flowers, and colored the gumpaste, before making the flowers. For the center of each flower, I painted on food coloring, and used white food color to give that 'patina' effect to the leaves.

Whatever you do, DO NOT make this with a dummy cake! Boy, did I have to rack my brain to figure out a way to use those invisible pillars with styrofoam. Not easy. But those pillars (Wilton) work exceptionally well with a real cake, and I do recommend them.

I know what you mean about those clients. I am dealing with a few of them right now too.

By Panini (Panini) on Wednesday, May 16, 2001 - 05:46 pm: Edit

Renee has done this cake, I would take her advise on it. Hey, if she is "loaded" tell her you would like to consult with me. She can fly me up, I'd love to visit. I love the idea of painting the leaves with white color. Do you have resin molds for your leaves and things.Sorry off the beat and track.

By momoreg on Wednesday, May 16, 2001 - 10:09 pm: Edit

I have a metal mold. You really need one to get the effect on those leaves.

Who's Renee?

By Panini (Panini) on Thursday, May 17, 2001 - 06:29 am: Edit

oh yea,
see what happens when you get old. sorry momereg I was thinking of Ramodeo. Gosh! sometimes I think I'm really losing my mind, now what was I talking about?

By W.DeBord on Thursday, May 17, 2001 - 07:30 am: Edit

(I didn't negotiate bonuses for doing cakes etc...before I began working, I'll never make that mistake again!).

I'm delighted to have words of wisdom from someone who's made this!!!! It's pretty obvious this isn't a quick cake.

I definately plan on making my flowers now...I assume you used a thin wire in them. Did you also wrap the stems with GP and shape earily too? Then all I'll have to do is assemble with the leafs.

It looks like a stardard two layer cake 6", 8", 10", 12". Or did you use a 3 layer, which would be easier because you could work on a larger scale shaping the flowers?????

I don't own any leaf forms, who has good ones that you could recommend????????

Momoreg, did you use royal to attach your leafs and flowers? Any tips handling that? Temps., timing etc...???

Also did you use GP or fondant for your leafs? Their rather thick for GP don't you think?

P.S. After doing this twice how much time would you budget for assembly?

By W.DeBord on Thursday, May 17, 2001 - 07:54 am: Edit

Panini, as to your suggestions about building up my leaf bases ahead of time and molding them to a dumby to shape...

I can see how I could make them over something slightly rounded/mounded (laying flat on the table). I'm a bit scared that if they get heavy they aren't going to hold on the cake sides.

What do you think Momoreg about pre-making the leaf bases? At the least I'd like to form them and cover tightly to hold a couple days in advance so all I'd be doing is assembling on the day.?

Sorry for the tons of questions...who says I'm a type A? Na, probably a double AA or triple A.......HA (Mr. Mom movie fan)....

By momoreg on Thursday, May 17, 2001 - 07:21 pm: Edit

Hmm...I would say I spent at least 10-12 hours on the flowers and leaves alone. I never timed it, but it was at least that. The flowers have to be attatched to thin gauge wire. I wrapped the wires with floral tape, and then taped the flowers together in bunches. The stem is inserted into the tier below, then camouflaged with the leaves, which I attached with royal (tinted that same green).

I don't remember whether I used fondant or gumpaste for the leaves, but I think it was gum. It dries faster and holds its shape slightly better than fondant. You really can use either one. As for the mold, I bought it at JB Prince in NYC over 15 years ago. I don't know if they still have it, but I'm guessing they have something like it.

I did all the flower assembly a few hours before the wedding, and it took a good hour to do that. I didn't have any prob. with the leaves being too heavy and falling.

I don't understand what you were asking about the # of layers in the cake?

By W.DeBord on Thursday, May 17, 2001 - 10:18 pm: Edit

The number of layers and filling....usually I do two layers of cake and one of filling on a wedding cake vs a torte. 2 cake layers are shorter in height then a 3 stacked layers. The photo looks like two layers which makes the flowers and leafs rather small in scale(making flowers smaller is harder then larger).

Lots of companies sell veiners but it's hard to tell from drawings (in catalogs) which ones are best....size and depth of the pattern, etc...I got some a while ago that were a joke (I guess I got what I paid for).

Thanks for the input Momoreg (and others), I feel more relaxed already knowing some of the answers to the questions I kept playing over in my mind. Every now and then when I get stuck it's great to have a place to turn to for answers!

By momoreg on Friday, May 18, 2001 - 06:52 am: Edit

I made my tiers 4" high. That's 3 slices of cake, 2 filling, and 3 cardboards taped together under each cake. My flowers are a little bit smaller than a dime in diameter, if you look at them from the top. So your wires should be about 6" to start. You can always cut them down, or stick them deeper into the cake if you need to.

By W.DeBord on Friday, May 18, 2001 - 07:13 am: Edit

...thanks, I was curious and you've been SO helpful!!! I really appreciate it!

I might have more questions when I get closer to production, I hope you'll be around.

By momoreg on Friday, May 18, 2001 - 05:24 pm: Edit

When is it for? I'm happy to help in any way that I can.

PS- You do know I'm coming to Chicago on Sunday, don't you? I'll be there until Wed. Maybe we can get together.

By W.DeBord on Saturday, May 19, 2001 - 08:33 am: Edit

The wedding is June 30. Thank-you, you have helped and I'll probably be asking more questions later.

Yes, I know about the meeting tommarrow. I can't possibly make it....between work and not having a day off with my husband in weeks I'm pressured to the max. timewise. I really wanted to attent the show at least, but that's out too.

I'm not in a happy phase right now with this job. On top of everything we're dealing with a manager who seems to be in the middle of a mental breakdown (for real)....thank god for these sites where I can get some help when I'm overwhelmed!

By momoreg on Sunday, May 20, 2001 - 12:28 am: Edit

Understood. I know how that can be. Maybe next time. Anyway, I'm glad I could help. I just had the most stressful cake today, and it came out beeeautiful!! I live to see the bride and groom when they just love the cake.

By DeBord on Sunday, June 24, 2001 - 06:17 pm: Edit

I just thought I'd update this info. incase anyone else makes this cake. I discovered that the white chocolate plastic from Albert Uster works perfectly for the leafs, much easier, much quicker than gum paste and it seems to resemble the photo exactly! Tint it moss green then brush on or sponge white petal powder disolved in extract over the surface. I made my flowers out of gum paste they were a breeze (now I'll go back and paint them) I didn't use any wires found it wasen't needed I'll just use royal icing to hold them in place.

P.S. My favorite personal discovery (that someone told me about) was using the back of silk plants leafs, that worked great for veining!

By momoreg on Monday, June 25, 2001 - 07:36 am: Edit

I hope you take lots of pictures. When is it for?

By debord on Monday, June 25, 2001 - 08:16 am: Edit

This coming Sat. the 30th.

I take tons of photos, always. When I was looking for my current job (after having almost 10 years off from this field), I believe the photos I enclosed in my cover letter and resume' must have weighed heavily with employeers because I had ALOT of responses to my mailing. Many calls came from the hot side asking if I'd consider changing paths (I can't spell garmenga??/).

By George (George) on Monday, June 25, 2001 - 09:24 am: Edit


It's Garde Manger.

BTW If you like I can put the pictures up here.

Let me know.


By momoreg on Tuesday, June 26, 2001 - 06:35 am: Edit

That would be fun...

By debord on Tuesday, June 26, 2001 - 07:08 am: Edit

I was thinking of trying to borrow a digital camera from my husbands work. I've never used one before....if I can get it, I'll write back and ask you how I transfer them here.

It would be really cool if we could exchange ideas through question though....can other people "borrow" your posted work and claim it as their own? Not that I'm doing anything that exciting but I wonder how that works?

By George (George) on Tuesday, June 26, 2001 - 09:17 am: Edit

Yes and no. It is possible to steal any image off the web (even if you try to prevent it there many work arrounds) but it is a violation of copyright law.

One way to prevent it is to put a "watermark" in the image in a key area.

If you have regular pictures send them to me with a return envelope and I'll scan them and send them back. I can also set up a FTP area where you could upload them to me.

Digital would be much easier.


By Yankee on Tuesday, June 26, 2001 - 12:04 pm: Edit

Digital cameras are great, DeBord. We got one a few months back before our wedding. After some up front frustrations, it's working out quite well. Now we don't have to rely upon the 24 hour places to give us back crappy photos.

Best part is you can see what you have shot right away, so if it sucks, you just delete it and keep shooting till you have what you want. Then, you can edit and crop at home. There are many good printers available as well for not that much money, even the price of the photo paper is dropping.

By momoreg on Tuesday, June 26, 2001 - 08:18 pm: Edit

I have lots of photos; some digital...

I would love to participate.

By debord on Wednesday, June 27, 2001 - 06:53 am: Edit

What's a FTP area?

I'm just a typer and a talker, I really don't understand ANY of the tech. stuff with the computor, YET alone all the details with the internet. All I can do is the bare basics. I'd like to learn.....but I need someone to teach me (I'll have to get my husband to teach me more)>

It would be very interesting to post photos it would bring a verbal discusion to a whole different level.

By George (George) on Wednesday, June 27, 2001 - 09:55 am: Edit

Sorry about that, geek speak got out. FTP is File Transfer Protocol, a way to exchange files with different machines over a network.

Thanks to Chef Tim it really isn't necessary anyway.(he found a how to put up images in the Formatting help area to the left.

I have posted directions under System Announcements.

Should really be interesting.


By debord on Sunday, July 01, 2001 - 01:06 am: Edit

I didn't get to borrow my husbands work camera. But I did shoot a roll of reg. film and the video guy said he'd e-mail me a photo of my cake. Soooooooooooo I have to admit I don't know how to forward a e-mail. Maybe I'll give him your address George and then (if he comes thru???) could you e-mail it back to me (I'd like to print it at least).

It was one of those the 90's, with like 99% humidity. Everything that could go wrong seemed to. My sous left my cart uncovered over night (again) so my cake was dripping WET with condensation. The manager wrote the menu very different for this party and I almost missed baking powder biscuits (found it in the small print) and chocolate chip cookies on the sweet table (but I had some in the freezer for the 4th). Went my usual nine rounds with the chef....

I was on pins and needles worried about the humidity (it was REALLY bad weather)! But in the end everything turned out great...the brides Mother kissed and hugged me and that made my inconsiderate co-workers disapear from my mind.

2 seconds of praise justifies 12 hours of frustration and anger.........I am crazy and I don't know why I do it!

By momoreg on Sunday, July 01, 2001 - 10:19 am: Edit

Sounds like my job!

I just gave my notice, after 5 years there!!!!!!!!!

W., I completely understand! I'm happy that everything turned out well. I know how weather can wreak havoc on a fondant cake. I've had a couple of close calls, myself. Good job! Can't wait to see it.

By George (George) on Sunday, July 01, 2001 - 10:54 am: Edit

Congrats momoreg!

D you can have him send to

I'll modify it for the web and send you both copies.

By momoreg on Sunday, July 01, 2001 - 10:33 pm: Edit

Thanks, George! I feel great!

By debord on Monday, July 02, 2001 - 07:48 am: Edit

How have you kept sillent soooo long Momoreg if your work has been crazy too? I woke-up today thinking how I'd love to march into the managers office and lay out the crap the chef put me thru on Saturday! I'll spare you all the details.

You say it sounds like your job......I've posted some of the details over the years....what's the deal?, do chefs really not understand how to work with pastry chefs or is it an ego thing?

Of course I wish you MUCH LUCK, no I wish you HAPPINESS IN A JOB!

I hope to be following in your foot steps shortly. For some reason I'm compelled to look for another position before I give my solid reason why.....

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Monday, July 02, 2001 - 08:04 am: Edit

DeBord, yes, look before you leave but don't feel compelled to find a job before you leave, because that in itself might give you an excuse (concious or subconcious) to stick it out longer where you are now.
I remember I quit this job once that I hated, I had no intention of doing it but this a------ Exec. Sous was busting my balls because the Exec. Chef did not like the fact that I was put in charge of a restaurant by mgmt. and not by him; anyway I went in one day and I don't even remember what set me off but I told this idiot, F U, I am out of here. I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders, I got in my car and went to the beach.

By George (George) on Monday, July 02, 2001 - 11:11 am: Edit

The Photos from WDebord


By tom on Monday, July 02, 2001 - 03:46 pm: Edit

The cake (as well as your artistry) are incredible. After looking at the pictures, I went up to the top of the this thread and re-read all of your planning discussions. I was new to this sight last month, am not a pastry person, and didn't know a lot about what you were saying. The pictures really helpful to explain all that you went through planning for this. Did the bride go crazy over it?
Just curious, and it's none of my business, but about how much would a cake like this cost?
Thanks for posting this, would like to see more pictures.

By momoreg on Monday, July 02, 2001 - 03:48 pm: Edit

WOWWWWWW!! Nice replica, W.! Looks great. Did you find it challenging?

In response to your question,
Well, my job has had its high points over the years, so I always tended to focus on the positive. But lately, the lack of regard and respect has become more noticeable.

Back in January, my assistant gave her notice. I was scheduled for foot surgery (again) at the end of the month.The chef tried to keep me from having the surgery, because she wasn't sure whether we would have an assistant in time.

However, the owner was not willing to pay money for an ad, which left me trying to find every possible method of FREE advertising. For her business! I had the surgery anyway, and was out for 6 weeks. They had nobody in the pastry dept. The chef was in charge of my dept., and that alone is a scary thought.

Eventually, by April, the chef agreed that maybe it's time to place an ad. I interviewed about 10 people, and of those 10, I liked a lot of them, but none were willing to work for the pathetic wages that she was offering.

So into the busy season I went, with no assistant, until finally, I decided to hire one of the applicants. He was WAAY overqualified, and he knew that too, but I guess he was desperate. He lasted 1 month, and quit one day w/ no notice. Leaving me alone for the 2 busiest weeks of the season.

Not a single person in that place lifted a finger to help me. And to top things off, the owner had the nerve to complain that 2 of the 4 cakes were not detailed enough!!

That was the last straw!

I wrote a very nice letter of resignation, giving 6 weeks notice, which everyone tells me is much too generous, given what's been going on there, but anyway...

This past Friday, I called in sick (which I do once, maybe twice a year). When I told the chef I wouldn't be coming in, there was this dead silence on the phone. I thought the phone had died. Finally, she said, regarding the owner: "what do I tell her? She's not going to want to pay you".

So now they're playing this game. Okay, she doesn't have to pay me then. But I won't stay the full 6 weeks, if we're playing this game. I sincerely hope it doesn't get ugly, but it's starting to look like it might.

The main force behind my idea to leave the job, was that I will be turning 35 this week, and I can't bear the thought of entering my late thirties, still working there under those conditions. I have 18 years of pastry under my belt, and feel I can do much better!

So wish me luck. It's a very exciting time.

By momoreg on Monday, July 02, 2001 - 03:50 pm: Edit

I just took another look at that cake!!!

Fab. Just fab...

I'm sure the bride went NUTS.

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Monday, July 02, 2001 - 04:12 pm: Edit

DeBord that looks beautiful, great job!
Momoreg, sometimes it's just time to go, you know in your heart when that time is, it sounds like now.
If she does not pay you that day on the next payday, don't go back the next day, go find a lawyer and sue her ass!!! If she does not pay you and you are on salary, that means you are hourly now and she will owe you backpay from the day you started for any time over forty hours. Not paying you that day could be turn out to be very costly to her, I don't think she'll do it unless she is dumb!!!

By junior on Monday, July 02, 2001 - 06:15 pm: Edit

debord,the cake rocks! to use a chefmanny are a true artisan. i'm gonna show my wife the pictures of this cake. also,debord,you have inspired me to possibly look at the cold side of the kitchen.there are a lot of wonderful and professsional people on this site.keep up the professional ethics and putting up with a wet nose like me...junior

By Peachcreek (Peachcreek) on Monday, July 02, 2001 - 09:41 pm: Edit

Beautiful work. I catered a wedding also on the 30th. I don't do cakes, out of respect for the pastry chefs of the world. But I think even I could have done better than the cake they ended up buying. They had to just about fight with the bakery to insist on something besides Crisco frosting. I don't know enough to know if a REAL bakery would make it around here. But it would be nice.......

By debord on Tuesday, July 03, 2001 - 06:22 am: Edit

We have two subjects happening here.....thanks guys, I hope this will be a start to many more posts where we can share photos of our work. Once I figured out the best media to use it was easy actually. I figure out everything in my head (thanks to some good input here) well in advance then doing it becomes easy. As for costs I really don't know what they charge and it's better that way because I get nothing extra for extra work not even a pat on the back from my chef.

He did a big push that night to get me to walk out on him. I'm still debating how I want to handle him. I know he cheats on his taxes, breaks several health dept. regulations and knowingly employees illegals plus I believe his wife sells stollen property (he brings stuff to work ocasionally). SO I thinking why does this guy keep fuc*ing with me? I can't get him fired but I can burn him pretty bad.......

Momoreg I walk in your shoes, I do know what your talking about. Even down to the salary games, they do that at my makes my husband furious. Try turning 40 (I just did) and evaluating where your at.

These are just a few issue I try to discus on other threads. Theres so much illogical crap that goes on in this biz. The disrespect and total abandiment from the hot side is most frustrating. I accomplish more work faster than anyone in the kitchen not to mention the level of diffuculty in pastry compared to mashing potatoes. I bring multi. tasking to an art form. I'm sure you do too! You have to to survive!

I'm stuck though......I see no where to turn. Everywhere you go it's the same situation the same type of people. I really don't want to go into business myself (then I have to be the business person not the creative). I wish I knew an answer. Of course I wish you luck, TONS and TONS! You are me, I am you. Where do we go as pastry chefs in a world that wants to pay us nothing and treat us like morons?

By debord on Tuesday, July 03, 2001 - 06:42 am: Edit

Hey George I have an about resumes on line.... Not like what you have now or other sites do where it a written plea for a about a place where we can post our resumes' with photos and let the jobs shop for us? Something like "a gallery of the best chefs available in your area"........

Hunt Heads at Webfoodpros.!

P.S. If you actually did some work to get us exposure, I'd pay for the service (instead of sending resumes' blindly) so would they.

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Tuesday, July 03, 2001 - 08:53 am: Edit

DeBord, if you are at this point in your job w/ frustration. Get out!!!. Do your own thing, I work with this lady who makes cakes and sells them to party boats, when I say party boat I mean, nice, they do weddings every weekend....etc.
There is always a niche for your talent, and you can actually do this from a proper set up in your home. I know you said you did not want to deal w/ the business aspect, maybe have your husband help you w/ that or someone you know. There should not be too much desk work involved.
Eventually if you need to find a place that has gone out of business, folded or whatever and make your move when you know you can. It is scary to think about that move at any age, it's just that when you are younger you don't think as much about what could go wrong because you are just dumber and more naive. I'm 42 now and I feel I'm semi-retired just teaching and at this point in my life is when people come to me w/ propositions to open businesses w/ them and I'm like, I don't need those headaches and stress now, I have a 7 year old, I get home at 1:00PM. Why would I want to do that? They show me the $$$ and it is tempting!!!!but.......................

By bratgirl on Tuesday, July 03, 2001 - 09:26 am: Edit

Oh your cake is simply be-yooooou-ti-full!!!!!! I love it!!! COME TO NY!!!! I will wash your bench down a million times a day!! I will clean the crumbs up from the floor! I can be your Radar O'Reilly! Talk about making a splash!! There are talented people in the city, but many are just awful!! There's a market for someone like you here!! Such a waste of talent..I am sure that goes for a lot of you all! Unite and conquer! or at least have a great time doing what you love to do! Am currently taking some cake decorating classes at a school here in stuff looks like a childs playdough creation :> but gosh durn it I am inspired to greater heights when I see cakes like yours...the cake part isn't bad at all..just the outside stuff...breads are my forte oh well...let us just contemplate the beauty of the cake! oh boy! this is a long post for me...ummm..sorry...I am normally quieter...but this cake is wow!

By momoreg on Tuesday, July 03, 2001 - 10:37 am: Edit

debord, that is a good idea, and I hope it is something that you might consider, George. Fortunately, we pastry chefs usually have TONS of pictures of our work, whereas chefs normally don't. But even so, I love the idea of including a photo.

I just had my home kitchen remodeled, and I told the owner of the kitchen design place that I quit my job. He immediately offered me an office manager position. I actually considered it for a second. Then I was like, WHAT AM I THINKING? I don't know anything about that! Pretty funny.

I don't know where I'll end up, but I do know that my stress level has already dropped, and you know that stress is what causes most diseases. If you are stressed, you know that is true. Please try to do something that makes you happy, and balanced.

I do have a business idea, but I haven't researched it enough yet, to know if it is feasible. Stay tuned...

By George (George) on Tuesday, July 03, 2001 - 10:58 am: Edit

I like the idea but with a slightly different twist. I pay the bills arround here with my CJN site and charge employers to view the positions sought area so we can't call it that.

Perhaps we can have a who's who kind of thing where regular contributors can post a bio and examples of their work and maybe a photo of themselves. It would be the same thing as Debord suggested but with a slightly different idea.

Folks could then put the url on their resumes or if they wanted to to show their work to a prospective employer it would be easily seen

How's that sound?

By bratgirl on Tuesday, July 03, 2001 - 11:08 am: Edit

genius! Excellent idea Sir George!

By momoreg on Tuesday, July 03, 2001 - 12:17 pm: Edit

That sounds very good to me.

By panini on Tuesday, July 03, 2001 - 09:30 pm: Edit

Are you going to charge me if I persuade DeBord and her hubby to relocate to Texas?
Wendy,your work speaks for itself. Very NICE!!
ps I just came across you extenders at the wholesale kitchen, my brilliant manager forgot to mail them, they were addressed and everything. I'll through the in the mail Thurs.
I want to post pictures!!! how about my 66 merc.

By George (George) on Tuesday, July 03, 2001 - 10:10 pm: Edit

Get me an order of that "Venison and blueberry sausage" app and I'll go help them pack.

BTW I would not have a problem with the 66 merc photo in that thread where it was discussed. Just read the specs in system announcements so it isn't too big and displays OK.

By debord on Wednesday, July 04, 2001 - 08:32 am: Edit

Panini, I kind of wondered but I didn't want to push.

If you have mountains were I can ski, I'll pack my bags tommarrow! Big bash today 500 plus, ahhhhhhhhh! Husbands delighted to spend yet another holiday alone....not!

I'm excited to see more photos of everyones work...all I have is regular photos (their not great photography wise but they show my work) can we get those posted George? That would be really really interesting to see what other people are doing...but how can we proceed unless we have digital cameras?

I'm not a tech. geek.....go slowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.

P.S. I'm up for sale, if only they wouldn't read all my negative posts though? Oops......?

By momoreg on Wednesday, July 04, 2001 - 09:55 am: Edit

Hey, don't worry, there are a lot of really informative posts by you as well. :)

I have several digitals, but way more regular photos. What do I do?

By panini on Wednesday, July 04, 2001 - 10:07 am: Edit

"Panini, I kind of wondered but I did'nt want to push." I mean this in the kindest way, but maybe this is something you can work on. It's a dog eat dog world, sometimes you have to bite!
I may seem laid back, but if you saw me throw out a vendor Monday who showed up unannounced you would think different.
A 12 pack smoke today. A beer for all every hour till we carve. Ribs, pork butts, brisket,turkey,corn. Happy 4th everyone, sorry
Hey, trade in those snow skies for water skies.
Great lakes here. We're close to New Mexico, good skiing.

By d. on Friday, July 06, 2001 - 11:59 pm: Edit

Hi W. and everyone. Amazingly beautiful cake!Really gorgeous. I've been on vacation and slammed at work, so I'm catching up on the posts. Momoreg, good for you! May you be happier at your next position.
I've been planning and working for the past week on a wedding cake that was featured in a Town & Country book that a bride requested we copy. 6-tiers of cake(20-16-12-10-8-6) with 5 tiers of solid jampacked roses, fondant and buttercream scroll work. It's been a feat just covering the 20" cake with fondant! Is there an easier way to do this? On my first attempt the fondant broke, plus the fact that the largest cake board circle I have is 20" and the fondant was 30". Wedding is tomorrow, so I will take lots of pics.
George, that sounds like a good idea.

P.S. If anyone has a copy of June 2001 Chef magazine, I was mentioned in an article regarding the Rich's pastry contest. Got 3rd place.

By debord on Saturday, July 07, 2001 - 12:39 am: Edit

Hi d. I'm here too late at night. Always good to hear from you. What do you mean your fondant you mean a crack in the surface?

I'd be scared to use cardboard under that large of an area....what about wood or a metal tray? You'll need 3 cardboards stacked up to handle the load.....

If the cakes happening tommarrow you better get some sleep!

Good Luck!!

By George (George) on Saturday, July 07, 2001 - 07:57 am: Edit

Congrats d! If you have a pic of the winner put it up.

By Panini (Panini) on Saturday, July 07, 2001 - 02:28 pm: Edit

We find it a lot easier to roll the fondant up on a large pin or even a heavy duty wrapping papper dowel. Then just reroll over the cake.
If it is going to be stacked we roll 7" wide and cover the circumference of the cake, wet and make the seam dissapear, this way your not wasting all that fondant under the next layer.
I don't know how you all do it with the sizes. I'm not a very symmetrical person but I insist on the same graduation all the way up the cake,
Wailting for pics.

By MarkG on Sunday, July 08, 2001 - 08:25 am: Edit


There's a "cake lady" who just bought a $425,000 house in our neighborhood with a big kitchen. She does all of her cakes there and is overbooked for weddings all year. You might want to offer your freelance services to caterers in Chi-town and cake services to smaller hotels who might not have pastry chefs capable of the quality you obviously have. I know freelancing is tough but the great thing about it is that you can say "no" to a job, arrange your schedule to please you and, if you're good at marketing, can be successful.


P.S. The cake is beautiful

By debord on Sunday, July 08, 2001 - 01:37 pm: Edit

I'm lost Mark, I'm trying to find myself though..... Been trying all these years since I began visiting this site. I fall between the cracks in two professions I need to figure out which way to go but there are so many land mines in my path.

For some reason I was born with talent in a couple areas. You'd think that would be a blessing but so far it's been more of a huge curse!

By tom on Sunday, July 08, 2001 - 10:30 pm: Edit

Ms. Debord,

At the inn where I work on weekends I saw a copy of the Martha Stewart wedding book on a shelf. There on the front cover was Your Cake! Except, of course, yours was nicer. great job.

We do many weddings at my inn, and I've seen many spectacular cakes recently, but yours was awesome. I hope you're well compensated for such artistry. thanks again for the pics. (would love to see more.)

By d. on Sunday, July 08, 2001 - 10:31 pm: Edit

I had a difficult time covering the 20" cake tier because the cake was 5" high and 20" across. Draping a 30" circle of fondant over it and centering it was damn hard. I thought of the rolling pin method but it was just too short.

Anyway, I set up the cake last night an hour before the service and it became the worst nightmare in my professional pastry experience! The tent was too hot and the cake topper was a Lladro piece that was pretty heavy(and which I knew nothing about until the last minute), which meant my cake was in trouble since it was over 5 feet tall. That's 6-5" tall tiers, 3-2 1/2" tiers of roses, 1-5" tier of roses and 1-7" tier of roses. First hour the cake was fine and absolutely the most grandiose cake I have ever done, so I took lots of pictures. After 30 minutes the cake started tilting to one side because the cake topper was too heavy(even though there were dowels in the cake)and it was too hot. I spent the next 3 hours in nerve wracking stress and fear waiting for the cake to topple, trying to adjust the tilt to no avail since it was just making it worse. My boss and I finally decided to remove the top 2 layers and place them on the side since the 4th tier was sliding/tilting from all the weight. Our idea saved the cake and it still looked beautiful, but I was extremely disappointed in myself and spent the rest of the night in misery while everyone else was gushing how wonderful it was.

Lesson learned:
1. Secure cake layers with tape, not buttercream.
2. For such a tall structure, make the top 3-4 tiers dummy cakes. Why did I not think of that???? I feel really stupid.

Good news is I still have my job.

By debord on Sunday, July 08, 2001 - 11:44 pm: Edit

Isn't weird, you go thru sooooo much, you try soooo hard and it crushes you when things aren't perfect. Only you, really know your failures, what obsticles you tackled and won, what demands were unreasonable that hindered your efforts. I know that feeling d. sometimes you just can't walk on water. But you always come away stronger from each effort!

D. I cover big surfaces two ways either on the back of my out streched arms or I prefer to place it on cardboard sheets under the fondant to pick it up. Sometimes their so large that you use several to cover a large enough area to support it properly to pick it up. Find someone to assist you and they take one half and you take the other and meet in the middle then you both pull away dropping it onto the cake.

If your doing something at that scale d. you have to build a real support system. Then work out how to hide it and build the cake around it. You can't acheive a cake at that scale with normal purchased cake supports. I've also gotten crazy about who cuts my dowels 1/16th of an inch off in the wrong place can throw the whole thing off! Even then their not perfect. I size them myself making sure they are percisely the same height on the same layer. The next layer can be 1/16th of an inch taller (know one will know) but, as long as each is exactly again the same perfect length to each other on the same layer you'll be fine. Follow??, that's all it takes for a lean to happen and no human can cut each of the dowels perfectly. Then I use a hollow tube and pull out all the cake and fondant where the dowel will go so I know for a fact the dowel will go straight down to level board and not have a edge caught up on gunked up fondant.

There's some books you should look at, check out Roland A. Windbeckler. His stuff is abit dated looking at times but his info. is great. He might have a web site. He does LARGE scale cakes and shows how to build a support system. I have a couple of his books I'll look up which bakery supply store had a huge selection of his books and post that info. for you.

By debord on Monday, July 09, 2001 - 12:15 am: Edit

D. also dummy cake layers aren't the answer for the lean. A lean always comes back to a couple of factors and unless your support system broke due to weight a dummy cake would not have made a difference. It can also be the darn cake table or the floor it's on!!!!!!! It might seem queer to an outsider, but having a level with you when you set up isn't a totally dumb idea. A wobblie cake table is practically the norm at most places.

You should have known what was going on top, what happened? The Llardo piece was a definate screw up on someones behalf not informing you. You would have needed to insert a cake plate under your fondant for that, no cake can support that. Thats a shame!

I hope you'll post your photos, I'd love to see your work. I'm not totally following your decriptions with the flower work you did...I'd love to see what you mean.

P.S. Tom thanks for the compliment but I feel abit like a theft (I can't design cakes half as well as what Martha is showing in her publications), but that's what my bride wanted....I'm just a copy cat. Also the photographer made it look good, my photos never look that good.

By Panini (Panini) on Monday, July 09, 2001 - 09:15 am: Edit

we do at least one 5-7 tier cake a week.
You must use the plates that have bottom posts that go through to the next cake. We stock a wilton flat plate with 7-9"clear twist columns.
We even use these plates inside a cake that is stacked for support. Never use dowels, they can go through the upper cardboard.
A clean broomstick will work well for fondant on the larger cake, making sure you use a little extra corn starch on the top of the fondant.
You are in a better position for using more plates because you will get them back.
Always use a mitar box to cut your posts.

By d. on Monday, July 09, 2001 - 09:21 am: Edit

I agree with you on the dowels. I personally cut them myself because I don't trust anyone else.
My support structure seemed fine and sturdy, there wasn't a problem with the cake being squashed. I did place dowels under the Lladro piece and glued it on with buttercream, but the figurine was about 7" high sitting on a 6" tier that was about 5" high. Remember the cake was over 5 feet without even taking into account the table. Here's how I set it up:
Each cake had a support system of dowels to support the separator plate set-ups where the oasis and the flowers would go. If you've seen Martha's TV wedding cake show I think she has a cake set-up this way. Each cake layer is followed by a "cake sized" tier of roses, meaning if I have the 20" cake there's a tier of roses about 2-3" thick sitting all the way from the cake edge to the top of the next tier. Am I making sense?
For the separator plate set-ups(which went on top of each cake) I used 2 plates of the same size attached to each other with 4 wooden dowels about 2" long so the free space in between the plates was 2". A large piece of oasis would go in the center and then the roses are secured to the oasis, hiding all the dowels and giving the illusion of a 20" "cake tier " of roses. The table where the cake sat was sturdy and even, but the idea of bringing a level is good. All the problematic factors I can think of is that a dowel was not even and that the heat made the cake boards slide a bit on the plates(hence the tape next time), plus the weight of the centerpiece(which screwed up the center of gravity).
Thanks for the advice! I cried my eyes out afterwards and still feel like crap from the experience, but I've learned a good lesson.

By debord on Monday, July 09, 2001 - 02:52 pm: Edit

O.k. I think I'm following you d.. Actually it sounds exactly like another martha cake (I've done before) are you working from the same book I mentioned? On my cake the florist didn't use an oasis (she just stacked them up thinking they'd balance. So the roses looked horrible between the layers (I was quite mad, I could have done abetter job then the florist) it totally ruined the look of the cake.

I can recall that happening to me before d.! As I recall I had put too much frosting between the layers (thinking it would hold better, but it made things worse). That will cause a problem definately (oh man, I do remember doing that)!! Then add in all the weight and heat, you bet, that would kill you! Loose the cardboards all together, I have. Such a small SMALL mistake. I know people have thought us rude when we warn them not to attempt making their own cakes as their first step into making wedding cakes....their alot of tiny little things that can happen!

Panini the flat plates with the clear plastic dowels is the way I go always for my support system (I never use loose dowels with-out this plate) always. Except I use wooden dowels/pillars the same width as the plastic pillars (so they fit into the plate tightly) so I can cut the pillars/dowels to the exact height I want.

I almost always build my cake dirrectly on the plastic plates without using any cardboards. I do it for a couple of will never slip as d. describes, you can finish your edges cleaner/more perfectly, on cakes where you need to wet down the sides to get a mirror finish carboard soaks up you h2o and ruins the strength of the cardboard.

Sorry d., that sucks! Just the smallest mistake you could possibly make..........

By Panini (Panini) on Monday, July 09, 2001 - 07:29 pm: Edit

d. Your guests probably didn't know anything was going on. Don't beat yourself up so much.
After doing a couple of thousand cakes you learn to take these pictures the people bring and adjust them to your needs, explaining to the client that it needs to created just for them.
ps: make yourself a cake order form asap,
put spaces for all information. If sales is doing it than put a date for you to follow up to get numbers and toppers etc. I can fax you ours if you like.

By d. on Monday, July 09, 2001 - 09:44 pm: Edit

Panini, what is a mitar box? I know which Wilton plates you're talking about, I used the 7" double plate system for the top of the second plate.

As soon as George posts the picture(mind you, I've got one of those freebie Earthlink digital cameras, so the photo is not as clear as DeBord's), feel free to dissect and advice me on how I can do better next time.
I have no control over the sale of the cakes, the party managers do that and 1/2 the time I'm in the dark until a week or two before the wedding!
Yes, I would love to have a copy of your cake order and see whether I can persuade them to use it. I will email you my fax number.
Do you think a single plate system going through the cake is a more stable option than dowels and double plate system?

P.S. I'll be changing my user name to
angrychef since I had to re-register.

By George (George) on Monday, July 09, 2001 - 10:07 pm: Edit

Here is a cake from angrychef (formerly known as d.)
Cake Photo

By Panini (Panini) on Monday, July 09, 2001 - 10:59 pm: Edit

We almost always never use the two plate system. I'll fax you a sketch of the way we put these together.The cake looks fine, I see now why you did not use symetrical graduations. There might be a picture of this on our website. I believe the cake was approx$1000. and the flowers were a little more.

By Angrychef (Angrychef) on Monday, July 09, 2001 - 11:54 pm: Edit

Panini, I tried e-mailing you and I got the mail returned. Fax me at (818)343-1140, attention: Dana Handron.Or you can e-mail at Thanks for the help.


By panini on Tuesday, July 10, 2001 - 06:11 am: Edit

Hum, more tech problems, I did receive your e-mail though.
Talk to you soon

By debord on Tuesday, July 10, 2001 - 08:09 am: Edit

d. HAAAAAAAAA I really thought that was you posting as angrychef on the other side (too many similarities) but I just couldn't beleive sweet you would ever pick that name, I've never heard you become close to being angry!!! You!!!

I think it looks great! I hope you stop beating your-self up, it's happened to everyone at some point! You were there to catch the problem and no one had a clue.....

I can think of two cakes that's based on...their from the same martha book, I've done both. The rose cake doesn't have a topper so I bet the Llardo WAS a last second addition.

It's really hard having other people taking such major orders. I have a order (long detailed)sheet but they never ask the questions of the guest they only fill in the answers the person offers. Leaving 3/4 of my questions un-answered.

At the least, come to an agreement with sales to let you contact wedding cake customers for final details if they aren't willing to dot all the i's.

I get b-day cake orders daily that don't tell me for how many and what flavor cake they want.....then management gets mad/frustrated because they don't want to recontact the I just guess at what the person wanted, Yeek!

I hope you'll consider using the support system as I've mentioned....but I have to add....I think it really becomes to great of a risk using plastic cake plates with that heavy of a cake, too. (Cardboard does nothing for support, it's just technically extra weight.)

I don't know exactly how I'd do it, but I think I'd go with using a thin wood on top of the plastic plate to help distribute the load more evenly on each layer. Because each following layer sits into the middle of the plates with nothing below it but plastic to carry the weight. So the wood would prevent bending the plastic...But still you run the risk of the plastic plate cracking around the legs.

How do you support larger cakes like this Panini? I really don't think the Wilton system is good enough to support this sized cakes. Ideally I'd like a similar system as the ones with the clear plastic legs (from Wilton) made out of wood. I've seen it done before, but I can't remember who had it.

By Angrychef (Angrychef) on Tuesday, July 10, 2001 - 10:09 am: Edit

Jeff, got your info. Thanks!
W., at work they misinterpret my focus and silence for being angry all the time, hence the name. Will write more work and busy.

By debord on Wednesday, July 11, 2001 - 07:26 am: Edit

Oh my god, I've had people ask me if I was mad at work too...many times..........even the manager. Same EXACT thing! You have to focus in when your doing a zillion things at once.

Do you have people who get offended with you that you don't stand still while having a conversation with them? I'm always in the process of something and I can't stop for long with-out ruining whatever (my oven is on the opposite side of the kitchen from my work space). Their are certain people I avoid because I know a simple hello will mean I'll have to stay an extra 30 min. that night to make up for the time lost.

One guy used to play the game of completely blocking me from moving as I talked. Not getting my Nicer hints until one day I had to lay it out for him to "get out of my way". He got upset and was like "why are you in such a bad mood today" but I wasen't at all! I just can't afford to loose the product and start over!

This is something my co-workers COMPLETELY don't get! When they have orders in or a party happening, no one plays behind the line. No one walks behind the line that doesn't have business there. But my busy time isn't when the party is in, it's before them. They think I don't experience "rush" time.

My work space is small, one of the dishwashers is quick and can get in and out with-out me even noticing him, another guy thinks I should stop everything and give him space while he puts away spatulas....I get so frustrated when this happens AT THE WRONG TIME I just ask him to set the stuff down so I can put it away later.

When THEY are slow I can barely get a clean dish from the dishwasher...I can't get it across to them that THAT'S when I'm BUSY. I can't seem to ever find the right words so they understand my job too. AHHHHHHHHHHH!

P.S. Does that happen to you too? It never accured to me I wasn't the only one in that situation.

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Wednesday, July 11, 2001 - 09:33 am: Edit

That happens to everyone who is focused and cares about their work. I get asked all the time, especially by students; what's wrong with you today? There is nothing wrong with me today, I just have 16-20 beginning cooks, some asking things they should know already know, like where is this and can I have a cup of answer usually is; "It's in the same place you found it last time you asked me where it was". Then they wonder why they get a crappy grade.

By chochip on Wednesday, July 11, 2001 - 03:54 pm: Edit


Everyone swears by this support system. I'm going to ICES next month, will purchase there.

look into it

Also, Angry- have you tried using a 2 sheets of plastic to roll your fondant on large cakes?
2 large pieces of heavy weight plastic (10-12 gauge) from fabric stores. I bought mine thru Sandy Hargrave
Grease both sides w/ sweetex. place fondant between both sheets, roll out. Flip the plastic/fondant over a few times while rolling out to keep each side even. Peel back one side of plastic, then lay it back over the fondant. Turn the whole thing over, then peel back the other side. Now lift the plastic sheet w/ fondant on it. Up, and place over the cake. Then peel the plastic sheet away from the cake.
Does this make any sense?
Angry - your cake is beautiful!

By momoreg on Wednesday, July 11, 2001 - 06:01 pm: Edit

Yes, I like it too!

By momoreg on Wednesday, July 11, 2001 - 06:03 pm: Edit

And angrychef, you would only be allowed to be upset if you HAD NOT saved your cake. A good pastry chef is able to see a problem, and quickly create a solution, the way you did. Beautiful work!

By Angrychef (Angrychef) on Wednesday, July 11, 2001 - 06:16 pm: Edit

chochip, thanks for the tip. I actually don't have a hard time rolling it out since my maple table top at work is very large, so I just dust with cornstarch. The trouble is picking up the fondant for the very large cakes and centering it. I will try your method for the larger cakes. Thanks!
Wendy, since we are only 2 in the pastry side, the pastry department seems awfully quiet and serious as compared to the hot/savory food side were they are constantly talking and joking around. Plus the fact that I don't really like to talk too much while I'm working since I have to run from the ovens to my table and my walk-in, and it distracts me if I'm making something very detailed. Anyway, the saying in the kitchen is "uh-oh, angrypastrychef is in, stay out of her way!". Yes, I constantly get asked if I am mad(even my boss sidles up to my assistant and asks him if "mamacita" is angry today). But that's what I love about working in the kitchen/back of the house --- I can come in and sometimes scowl(for real) all day! I'm a great scowler, specially PMS week.
When someone in the office needs to talk to me while I work, I make them walk with me and then they realize how busy I am and come back at a better time.
It's pretty funny how much in common our pastry chef stories are.

By Angrychef (Angrychef) on Wednesday, July 11, 2001 - 06:20 pm: Edit

thanks momoreg.
I still will not rest until I have talked to the pastry chef who created the original cake and ask him abou the support system he used. I gave him a call, he still has to get back to me.

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