The Beginner's Guide to Ordering a Bespoke Cake
Updated: Nov 2
I am asked several times a week, "how much for this cake", with a photo of a beautiful cake which has been pulled off the internet which appears to tick all the boxes for the event. Now, that appears to be a simple question, requiring a simple answer, so why do cake makers make it so flippin' complicated!?
The reason is this, it's because its no where near as simple as you might imagine. 90% of the time the cake in the picture is the wrong size. And in order to make it the right size for the event, the layout and decoration need to change, or they might not work at all. Or even if it is the right size, the design might be totally inappropriate for the event, or it might have been chosen for the exact colours used, but many photos of cakes online have been edited, colours enhanced, whites whitened etc... the exact colour may not be possible. There is sometimes a case of the original creator not wanting their design, which might have taken hours to come up with being made by another cake maker, and basic manners, and occasionally copyright, need to be respected. Would you like to find a piece of your work blatantly copied?
Many cake makers do not like copying another cake maker's work for many of these reasons. Usually we have been creating cakes for years. We have our own skill sets, elements we are confident with, ways of incorporating elements of the event, and often ideas you may not have thought about, all of which we are here to offer you. We love an opportunity to let the creative juices flow, and make a cake just for you, which no-one else has ever had, that you can remember as part of your event. Would you ask Picasso to recreate a piece of art originally made by Michelangelo? Ok, perhaps a little extreme, but the basic idea is the same. Each cake designer has their own style, and being asked to create an exact copy of another person's work isn't always possible. Taking inspiration from other cakes is another matter however, and elements of other creations can usually be incorporated into your chosen design.
When you order a bespoke cake you are not just paying for a hunk of cake; you can get that from Marks and Sparks. You are paying for years of experience in creating cakes to fit perfectly to events. Someone to spend time, blood, sweat and occasionally, literally tears to create your perfect cake. Someone to care about the details. Someone to realise that it's not just a cake. And above all of this, you are paying for a cake which isn't full of nasty preservatives, and has a taste to die for.
Now finding out all about you, your event, your ideas and preferences and where required redesigning a cake from a photo you send to match your needs takes time, and a lot of questions. And all of it is subject to availability. No-one likes spending time researching an event and design possibilities, chatting to potential customers, agreeing costs and getting to the end if all of that only to find, their event is at a time when you cannot cater for them. Giving a few more basic details initially is far more informative than sending a photo.
So, What do you Need to tell Your Cake Maker?
Start by telling them a few more basic details.
When is your event? First things first.
Where is it?
Cakes with multiple tiers may not be easy to transport. Over two tiers often need transporting in bits and assembling on site, and only trained individuals can usually do this. As our name is on the cake, we want it to look as perfect as we can, and so, we like to do this ourselves so we can be sure its safe, stable, and still edible before we leave.
Where is the cake going to be displayed? If you've chosen a beautiful buttercream finish, and are having your wedding reception in a marquee in the height of summer, melting is a real issue. It may be possible that the cake will need to be inside rather than in the tent, or a totally different style of cake is a wiser choice.
How many does it need to serve? If you really want a larger looking cake, but don't want to feed the 5000, there are ways to do this, but it does affect the cost. Again, if you don't want a massive looking cake, but its not going to be big enough for you're event, extra cutting cakes can be made and kept in the kitchen, and no-one needs to know...
What flavours would you prefer? This is usually only a small variation in the costing, but for example if you have your heart set on fruit cake for one of the tiers of your wedding cake, but have chosen a semi naked finish, alternatives arrangements will need to be made as the two don't go well together.
If there are flowers or foliage on the cake design you like, would you prefer them to be handmade in sugar, fresh flora, or silk//artificial. There are many considerations regarding the use of fresh flowers, and a considerable different in costs to make them all by hand out of sugar, but with many more benefits. Your cake maker can discuss all these with you, but I will be writing another blog about these.
If you have absolutely no idea past the when and the where, that's fine! Don't be afraid to ask for help or advise, or even better, let your cake maker come up with some design ideas for you! Initially we just need to know when it is and how many if needs to serve to work out if we can help. The rest of the details we can work out together!