How to become specialty cake baker produces extraordinary cakes to the exact needs and wants of the client
Read More Articles
|The specialty cake baker produces extraordinary cakes to the exact needs and|
wants of the client, customizing flavors, fillings, styles, shapes, and decoration.
A child may want a cake in the shape of his favorite superhero or her beloved
pop star. You could score points with a serious sports fan by making a cake in the
shape of a football stadium or a baseball diamond.
A corporate gathering could celebrate a sales meeting with a cake formed and
decorated to look like its latest product launch.
A custom wedding cake could include decorations and elements that make
reference to the story of the bride and groom.
One of the newest touches in cake decorating is the image cake, which uses
a computer-scanned photo or a digital image to control a special printer that
applies food coloring to icing to re-create a picture on a cake. Similar effects can
be created freehand by a capable painter using edible inks.
You can’t become a specialty baker without having spent more than a little time
in front of an oven. Develop a collection of tried-and-proven recipes (and know
how to scale them up or down for different sizes of groups.
Special shapes for cakes can be accomplished by using shaped baking tins or
by carefully sculpting sheet cakes.
Image cakes can be created using freehand artistic skills or with the aid of
some high-tech equipment. For freehand work, you can use an overhead projector
or a slide projector to display a photo or drawing on a plain frosted background;
special airbrush equipment can spray food coloring onto the surface.
The high-tech solution is to use a computer scanner to copy a photo or image
into a digital file, or to directly import a digital photograph. The resulting file can
be edited using a digital image program such as Adobe Photoshop. Once the file
has been prepared and sized to fit the cake, you can use special edible inks and
an ink-jet printer to apply the image to a thin, edible carrier sheet that can then be
put on an iced surface.
Finished cakes can be picked up by a customer or frozen and packed with dry
ice for shipment anywhere in the country. (Again, you’ll have to follow regulations
about preparation and shipping of foodstuffs.) Frozen cakes are usually
shipped in insulated coolers for overnight delivery; products shipped in this way
can be sent to homes or businesses, but some carriers do not deliver to post office
boxes or overseas locations.
Start locally by advertising your services on bulletin boards at community centers
and schools. Place ads in newspapers and shopping guides.
Make contact with area party planners and caterers. Offer a commission for
jobs they send your way.
Ask satisfied customers to recommend you to their friends and acquaintances;
offer a discount or bonus for business they refer to you.
Rent a table at wedding and holiday shows to display photos and actual
examples of some of your work. Consider offering a “sample day” where, by
appointment, customers can try some of your cakes.
To begin, you’ll need a commercial or high-quality consumer oven plus mixing
bowls, baking pans, pastry bags for filling, icing tools, and other utensils. You’ll
need to invest in basic ingredients and store them properly.
For formal cakes, you’ll need elegant presentation platters and cake plates.
To create image cakes, you can choose to draw pictures freehand using a
food-grade airbrush system with food coloring. The high-tech solution requires
a computer and scanner to create digital files from photographs or an Internet connection
capable of accepting digital images sent directly by customers; you’ll
also need image-editing software such as Adobe Photoshop. Finally, you’ll need
an ink-jet printer, a supply of edible food color ink, and special edible transfer
sheets that can be laid on top of an iced cake.
Ink-jet printers range in price from about $150 to $350; ink and edible frosting
sheets cost about $2 to $4 per cake.
You will also need delivery boxes for local customers and shipping containers
and access to packaged dry ice for cakes that will be sent by air freight
In most situations you can set a fixed price for creating specific types of cakes at
particular sizes. Add a fee for special icing or decorations and/or for special
ingredients such as costly marzipan, fudge, or liqueur.
For local customers you can include charges for slicing the cake and renting
display dishes and utensils. For customers out of your area, add to the price
charges for packaging, dry ice, and shipping.
Prices for custom cakes deserve to be somewhat higher than for off-the-shelf
offerings from commercial bakeries or out-of-the-box cakes from supermarkets.
However, keep in mind all these competing prices your customers will find if
they shop around.
Typical prices for customized sheet cakes start at about $20 to $25; image
cakes typically cost about twice as much. Fancy multilayer cakes can rise in price
to hundreds of dollars.