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Wedding Cake?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Hi everyone,

This is my first post, so be gentle with me! =) I'm looking for an affordable wedding cake for about 100 ppl (with sheet cake for 70) and have had some trouble finding cakes under $4 per person. Does anyone have any recommendations in the LA area? I'm looking for a basic round cake, buttercream, three tiered, with some gold scrollwork along the sides of each layer? Here is a photo (I clipped this from a bridal gallery and am afraid I don't know who to give credit to) that I like, but without the red fondant. I would post it, but it says I'm not allowed until my me if you would like to see it.

Also, I have read that using culinary students is a great idea for the savings but also in adding to their portfolio. What do you guys think? How would I even go about finding a student?

Thanks in advance for your help!
post #2 of 10
Try and Sugar buzz. Both memberships are cake decorators and sugar artists. There a few that are better than several of the big names and there are many good ones. Most are very good bakers as long as box mix cakes do it for you. There will be someone in your area or they will be able to suggest some one who you could meet with about your cake.

Sug I hope I do not offend you but if I do please forgive me. A wedding cake is not a need it is a want. It is a luxury. If your boss came to you and explained very nicely that he now had a budget and what you were paid an hour was to much, he needed you to do it for two dollars less an hour than your current salary;what would you tell him? He is cutting into your livlihood yet very few people ever think about that when they want a wedding cake or caterer to cut them a deal. You tend to get what you pay for. If you have a really tight budget then costco or sams or your local grocery is where you need to go. For a fondant cake 4/serving is well within reason. Treat the people you are going to consult with for your cake with the same financial respect that you require. Many times your cake artist may be able to suggest a simpler style of cake that will work for the best for both of you.
post #3 of 10
I kinda resent your statement and snobishness about a cake decorator using box mix!!!

Why would I EVEN think I'm superior to the Millions of Dollars a Cake Mix company has spent on Market, research and development?

Most scratch cakes are dry and inedible and have no taste!!

I'm sorry to say that I am a mix baker all the way except for my signature flavors like Carrot and such.

To make my cake mixes more signature, I add Evaporated milk, butter and a few extra secret ingredients. I use the Mix as a base and thank Goodness that I do NOT have to spend years and years trying to perfect my cakes as the CAKE MIX company has done so for me.

and no, my cakes do not taste nor have the texture of a Large Chain Bakery cake and 99.9% of the people that have one of my a repeat customer! Knock on wood!!!

A lot of bakers may have a Kick ***** scratch cake recipe that they cannot translate into larger quantities for wedding cakes and such, in other words, their Mom's Red Velvet cake is to die for when they make an 8" cake to serve at dinner...but taste like Crap when making it to serve anything over.

Especially if they are not familiar with Baker's Percentages or Formulas.
Food may bring us together, but a CAKE makes it a PARTY!!
Food may bring us together, but a CAKE makes it a PARTY!!
post #4 of 10

wedding cake

first, 4$ per serving for fondant is very low for LA.
You can ask, you can also drop the fondant and get a round bc cake and put your own flowers on it.

Also, are you serving another dessert? Than cut the amount of cake servings in half, serve half a slice of cake with your desserts.

Box mix? I have been in business for years and when its just one wedding cake out of the restaurant I have used Paris Gourmet powder genoise mix for consistency sake. When I had my wedding cake operation it was scratch all the way.

Always let the cake set out for an hour or so at room temp to allow the creams and flavors to soften and meld together. 15 min sliced on a plate should do it. Makes a world of difference.

We don't drink cold red wine or cold cheese, so let your cake come to room temp before eating.
bake first, ask questions later.
Oooh food, my favorite!

Professor Pastry
bake first, ask questions later.
Oooh food, my favorite!

Professor Pastry
post #5 of 10
I am sorry that I offended you over the box mix remark but I stand by it. It is not unreasonable to expect a professional pastry chef to have the skills to be able to create and bake a scratch cake that lays a box mix in the shade. It is not unreasonable to expect any other sort of cake baker who wants to excell at their craft to teach themselves to be able to do the same. At the risk of hijacking this thread somewhat.....

For me personally it is a matter of pride in my craft and my ability as a baker that I make a better cake than the average bear and to create a superior product to a box mix. Please remember I said that this is for me personally. The companies who do the research and spend millions of dollars creating a box mix need a product that appeals to the masses and and is essentially idiot proof; they do a very good job of producing that product.

The client I seek and engage is the client outside of the mass market who wants and can afford the very best. What enables me to charge the prices I do in the area I live is incredible detail and excellent texture and taste. So I think maybe in this area of our posts it is an apple and an orange thing.

The only thing in your post I truly disagree with across the board is the comment that you have a recipe that is wonderful in a small batch but doesn't translate to a large one and not being familiar with bakers formula etc. To me, if some one is truly passionate about what they do and they product they make then they will take the time and make the effort to experiement and do the research to make it work. Then they have an exclusive product that may well become their signature.

There are clients who have never tasted a excellent scratch cake or who have grown up on the "chemical taste" of box mixes and if it does not taste that way it ain't cake and then there are those who know and appreciate a quality scratch product.

I do agree that there are some doctored mix recipes that are great and I agree that the largest sector of the cake decorating market that is not bakery or chain is a box mix cake and folks are very happy with that product.

Most, not all but most, chains and some "bakerys" buy premade frozen cakes that in some cases are prefrosted and merely need put together and some trim work done. Those cakes, in our area are usually under two dollars per serving and in some cases 1.50. On a tight budget that is acceptable, home bakers start fondant at 2.50 and BC at 1.50 to 1.75. I have cake friends in LA and knowing what they charge, to me ,4 bucks for fondant is a steal out there. I charge 4-15 to start for my cakes and that is way above the usual here but my product warrents it.

The point for the original poster is that there are definetly options for you to have a wedding cake that you can afford. I know that some of the grocery chains even have wedding cake kits that you purchase from them and then put together yourself. The decorations are very simple but it takes the price per serving down to a little over a dollar a head. There is the option of renting a beautiful cake dummy that has a insert for real cake for the bride and groom and serve the guest kitchen cakes. Not every baker will do kitchen cakes cheaper but many do. Sheet cakes from your grocery could fill the bill in this scenario. Don't give up your quest for your cake but do be prepared to think outside of the box. The best to you
post #6 of 10
To add another POV here, I read your statement heartsease to mean that some or most of the decorators the poster might find on those two sites use mixes, not that all cake decorators/artists do.

findingmoxie: I suggest you also look at some bride forums and specifically look for a geographic listing and in your area post the same questions, e.g., the knot has local boards where you can probably get about a dozen or so brides in your area to answer with several options for bakeries close to you. BUT, you take it from there and do your research; complete with phone calls, questions, tastings and checking references.

Good luck in your search.

IMO I also think $4 is a steal for a fondant cake. I'm not in your area but my couture fondant cakes usually run the range of $8-12 per serving. If cost is your driving issue, refer to heartsease comment that a fancy wedding cake is not a need but a want. Just be flat out honest with the bakeries you contact that price really may be your main focus - you will save yourself and the bakery a lot of time and frustration.
post #7 of 10
All I have to say is that you must have a LOT of time on your hands and a bottomless pocket to afford to spend your time experimenting on formulas.

I do NOT even beging to think myself arrogant enough to say that I'm better than a multi million dollar company.

I just bake what my customers like, I know that I can make a scratch specialty flavor wedding cake, if my clients ask for it, but that's not my market.

My market is one of a kind, each one a unique work customized for my client, and when I have 9 cakes to get out on a Saturday @ about 3 hours each from start (mixing and baking and decorating) That's a long day and I'm not going to spend time stressing if my recipes are working or not.

I grab my box, add my "SUPER SECRET INGREDIENTS"..and go to town.

My cakes, ...moist and yummy.

My yellow cake, my landlord keeps on bugging me for scraps as they taste like what he remembers having when he was growing up in the Ukraine. (so, no chemical or mass produced flavors for this baker!!) It's my best seller! and my prices for the type of cakes I make and being open less than a year, are pretty much at their ceiling for now.

( I guess I can raise them when I get better

I'd rather do consistency over arrogance any day.

and YES, I am a CHEF, by education and avocation!
Food may bring us together, but a CAKE makes it a PARTY!!
Food may bring us together, but a CAKE makes it a PARTY!!
post #8 of 10
I read this thread with much amusement. Box mix cakes at a unique cake bakery? Please! While you are at it ask Daniel Boloud where his instant hollandaise sauce it. A cake mix is only a pre measured cake recipe with loads of stabilizers and chemicals. YUK! If you think a scratch cake cannot compare you are dreaming. Heartsease is correct it is taking pride in the craft, that is not arrogant. Could you actully look a client in the eye and admit you use a mix?
I would be ashamed to admit that fact to a customer who has just dropped 2000-3000 dollars on a cake.
As for spending time and money researching formulas isn't that what it is all about? Learning, researching, coming up with the best product you can make? It is worth it, after 20+ years in the business I have a large repitoire of cakes any of which I can pull out of a hat to make a 6 inch or a 10 tier wedding cake. Of these I have my standard cakes which would rival any box mix.

A small batch recipe will translate to a larger anyday too FYI. Companies spend millions of dollars researching recipes for box mixes so the average home baker can make a passable cake. I have never used a box cake mix in fact I would be embarassed to admit that most professional bakers would agree.

Sorry if this post offends but reading the post irked me.

Findingmoxie: In your search I would try the culinary student route, many of them would love to make a cake and some programs have projects like that in their curriculum. I have 3 apprectices working with me and all of them have to make a complete cake at some point or another. Check with a local culinary program or tech school and talk to the program coordinator. Again 4 dollars a person will not get you super far definitely if you are looking for fondant work, in my shop the cakes usually go for 8-24 dollars a head. As someone here posted consider a smaller cake and a larger sheetcake, a grocery store type cake would fit the bill nicely here and maybe consider buttercream instead of fondant. If your baker is competent the finish of a buttercream cake can be just as smooth as fondant.
You could also ask anyone who is a baker or pastry chef if they do sidework, often their prices are much cheaper "out of the shop".

Another suggestion would be to barter for a cake, I just traded a cake for some kitchen cabinets, sweet deal.
Hope this helps.
Fluctuat nec mergitur
Fluctuat nec mergitur
post #9 of 10
You have gotten a lot of great ideas here.
$4 a slice in LA is going to be hard, I think you are going to have
I don't know that I would recommend a student either - stacking a cake takes knowlege and experience, don't find out the hard way.
Bartering is a great idea, try a post on craigslist. I do it a lot, and have gotten use of vacation homes, tattoos, photos and more.

Have you thought about cupcakes or a display of cakes instead of a stacked one?
post #10 of 10
rat, your post did not offend, that's why we ALL have opinions and as long as we share them respectfully, there is NOTHING to get riled about.

If my customer asks me if I use a mix, of COURSE I tell them I do, as a base. By the time I finish adding all my "ingredients" the mix, in my eyes no longer is a mix. and no, I don't call adding a box of instant pudding to a cake mix making it "scratch"

and I do have my scratch recipes and I find that I and my customers don't really like them, the ones that are yummy are actually like I stated, the Carrot, spice, and such.

We learned 2 cakes formulas in school. One for yellow cake and one for chocolate...and EVERY single cake that came out of the kitchens...including the SACHER TORTE were made with these layers.

I found them a bit tasteless...bland.

I am a teeny tiny shop. I do not have the time nor the resourses to do a lot of R&D on Cake recipes..not when I have 9 custom designed cakes to get out in one day and I'm the Cheif, cook and bottle washer in my shop.

If I was on someone else's dime and time, maybe I could branch out and become as creative with my recipes as I am with my cakes.
Food may bring us together, but a CAKE makes it a PARTY!!
Food may bring us together, but a CAKE makes it a PARTY!!
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