One of the most common questions I get asked, well apart from ‘how much does it cost’ is how long does it take to make a cake? It’s kind of like ‘how long is a piece of string?’
Like many cake makers, I spend hours on a bespoke cake order especially if there are lots of bits n bobs to make. On one of my latest cake orders I decided to record how long it took me to make the cake. From weighing out the ingredients to putting the cake in the box ready for collection.
I will talk you through what was a few days of my caking life so you can see how long it took to make the cake. So hopefully you will understand why a bespoke cake costs more than a simple cake.
So here’s a break down of the steps taken to create your cakes
Now some people might think that preparation is just weighing and mixing the ingredients for the cake but actually it’s a lot more than you think.
To me as an award winning cake designer I try to get to know and understand what my customer wants. Some want a simple cake and others require a quite detailed cake with lots of bits n bobs that relate to the person who the bespoke cake is for.
The two images above are a prime example of a ‘simple cake’ and a ‘bespoke cake.’ The one on the left was for a quiet Birthday celebration. The one on the right was made for H&M on the opening of a new store in Peterborough.
I have customers who know exactly what they require and others who will take on my ideas and go with it. Just the kind of customer I love as this is where I can be really creative
Talking through the design, looking for ideas and sketching, this is the preparation in making sure my customer is happy when they place an order for a bespoke cake.
What do I need?
The cake order has been placed, now I have to make sure I have everything I need for it. I can almost hear you saying ‘you only need some butter, eggs, sugar and flour.’ If only it was that simple. Cakes nowadays are more flamboyant and most customers want the cake to have the wow factor or even personalised.
When I make a cake it’s not just the cake ingredients that I have to think about. I have to take into consideration any cake boards, internal structure or supports, coloured sugarpaste and even cake dummies. Do I need any new tools or larger cake boards for the project? All these things are just a few of the items that can be used when creating that bespoke cake order.
As you can see above that we have a thicker board, threaded rods, nuts and bolts. These are used when I have a large cake that requires internal structure. This basically allows me to create a large carved cake that will stay in place
To give you an idea of what goes into making a Bespoke Cake, I will be talk you through one of my recent cake orders ‘Twins 1st Birthday Cake’.
Most cake makers know which part of a cake order takes the longest and most of the time it won’t be the actual making of the cake.
From weighing out the ingredients, the making of the sponge (and I’m lucky as I have a large mixing machine so I can make a few cakes at a time!) Lining tins, flavouring, getting the cakes in the oven and including washing up etc this took around 1.5 hours
The buttercream and ganache are made the day before I assemble the cakes and this takes around 45 mins – not forgetting the weighing out and washing up!
I usually cover the cake boards a week before and depending on the design they can take anything from 3 – 15 mins. The unicorn one took me 5 mins using the ‘Stone/textile mat from THE OLD PIPING BAG
Models and bits n bobs
As a bespoke cake takes longer than a normal cake, I try to get as much prep done beforehand. Any models/characters are started at least a week before so it gives time for them to set. This gives me time to sort out any mistakes and to prevent me from getting too stressed at the last minute!
Hot air balloon basket
The bespoke cake topper was made using polystyrene which I cut to size and stuck on a cake board. Then covered with sugarpaste to make it perfectly square and decorated. This took me 1.5 hrs.
The clouds took longer than what I imagined as they were quite fiddly to do and had to be quite light in weight too. I also wanted them look like clouds and not balls of icing stuck together. These took me 2 hours
Preparing the cake
This is where the cake is split, filled and covered with ganache. As some of you know this isn’t a 5 minute job and gets messy! It was a 7″ cake and it took me 20 mins. The cake is then covered with clingfilm and placed in the fridge over night. I always do this so that the cake is nice and firm for me to work on the next day.
Time doing these procedures will range from person to person, as well as the size and shape of the cake. I have found this the best and easiest way that I prefer doing, which again differs with each person.
Covering the cake
I had to the colour some sugarpaste for the cake as my customer asked for a specific colour. Mixing the colour into the paste, rolling out and covering the cake with a flawless finish took 30 mins. I used my sharp edge smoother (acrylic cake smoother) to create those super sharp edges.
You can watch a video HERE to see how it works
The cake is then placed onto the pre iced cake board before I start to decorate it. I usually leave it for an hour or so to settle. This gives me time to finish any models and fiddly bits done.
Finishing off the bits n bobs
This is where I finish off all the little bits n bobs so that I can start applying them to the bespoke cake.
The unicorns, one for the basket and the other one that is on the cake board. The smaller clouds that are dotted about the cake and on the cake board and the rainbow. All this took me 2 hrs
I am often asked, which paste I use for modelling and for a few years now it has been Saracino. It’s so easy to use, stays in place and you can just about make anything with it!
The final part
So this is where it all comes together in creating that bespoke cake order. Placing the bits n bobs takes time as not only do I want it to look great, I want it to be balanced. By this I mean not just plonked on the cake! The cake was dowelled to support the hot air ballon and stuck in place with royal Icing.
Finally, the names are painted on and the board is ribboned. This takes 20 mins.
Oh but thats not it!
What do I mean thats not it, I hear you say…..
There’s the photographing stage, this can take anything from 10 – 30 mins.
There’s the setting up of the backdrop, making sure you’ve enough light. Getting that perfect pic of the cake to show off that ‘bespoke cake order’ takes some practice (and boy I’ve had some years of it.) As I’ve mentioned in a previous blog post, what you think will look great as a backing doesn’t always work.
You can read about this blog ‘How to make your cakes stand out from the crowd’ HERE
Taking the photographs took me 10 mins, this includes close ups and different angled shots.
Here’s the finished cake and with my calculations it took me 9 hours and 10 mins, (which in truth probably took me longer)