Sweet Julias’s Blog

Cookies, Cakes, and More…

What to check for when choosing a cake designer. April 13, 2009

Filed under: Introduction,The Learning Center,Wedding Photos — sweetjulias @ 1:12 pm
A couple of weeks ago I received a call late Saturday afternoon as my husband and I were relaxing on the deck.  I gave my normal spiel “We are not a retail store front, all of our cakes are custom made to your order and we do not have any cakes for emergencies or last minute orders. Thank you so much for calling”.
Then I heard a rather frantic young lady say “Do you do “omigod I can’t believe I bought this cake I have to take it to the party in 3 hours and I am so embarrassed”, please can you help me…”

Hmmm, sounds interesting….Apparently this lady bought her cake from someone that said she “does cakes”.  Now, I too started out “doing cakes” for friends and family, I understand how it works.  Once I made a Thomas cake for my then 3 year old son…let’s just say it is a sad affair when a 3 year old does not recognize a Thomas cake for what it is!

At any rate, the cake was not all all what the young lady expected and certainly not up to professional cake standards.  It reminded me of the Cake Wrecks Blog in a sad, it’s real kind of way.  I would never begrudge someone the practice of making a cake for someone, as long as the recipient is informed in advance of the skill level of the decorator.

So I helped repair the cake as she and her companion watched.  We talked about the important things one should inquire about when buying a cake… Most importantly in her cake would have been pictures of prior cakes.  This would have given her an idea of the skill level and a leg to stand on when she asked “What in the world is that cake supposed to be”? 

In North Carolina bakers are allowed to bake from their home as long as a few rules are followed.  One, there must be an inspection by the Department of Agriculture.  These are the same inspectors that inspect bakeries at the grocery stores; we just do not get a number rating.  The inspector looked in my cabinets, checked my lights for safety bulbs, made sure that I do not have any pets, and checked to make sure my food and cleaning supplies were stored separately and properly.  Secondly, all food must be labeled with full disclosure labeling (for allergens).  And lastly, all of the items I produced are not allowed to require refrigeration.  So things like pies and cheesecakes are out.

Another indication of a serious baker is proof of insurance.  I carry a liability policy to cover both me and my clients in the event of an issue.  This policy is not cheap, trust me, so most hobby bakers do not carry insurance.  For weddings I require a contract that is signed by me and the client.  This covers both of us in the event of an issue as well.  Last summer I helped two brides that could not get in touch with their decorator a month before their wedding.  Luckily I had availability, but that is often not the case.  I would imagine trying to find another decorator in August would be a very stressful event.

So remember… check your decorators portfolio, ask about the licensing and insurance policies, and make sure you sign a contract to avoid those late Saturday afternoon calls…I might be at the beach next time!