According to the latest reports, home baking and cake businesses are one of the biggest business growth areas at the moment in the UK, with lots of people turning their hobby into a business. Yes, I’m one of those; I started several years ago and now have a fully-fledged award winning business, and I’m incredibly proud of it. It’s a long hard 24/7 slog but I love it; Cirencester Cupcakes is my baby, and there’s definitely sleepless nights as with any baby!
This week I was dropped a message by one of my likers on Facebook, to tell me that another lady was advertising my cakes as her own, and was even selling the cakes in online auctions. To say I was angry was an understatement. Regardless of whether your business is new or old, there is just no excuse for passing someone else’s cakes off as your own. To top it all off, she was also using, Anne’s photos from I Heart Cupcakes (the UK’s top cupcake blog). It really got to me and after some searching I found some actual cakes that the lady had made. Now I don’t want to sound terrible, but the cakes were not to as professional finish as my cakes. The thing is that these are cakes that we have created, not the person advertising, and you will not receive the cake advertised, as this lady found out with an Angry Birds cake. When it comes to cakes like this, cake makers and decorators may often find themselves the recipient of an cake emergency phone call, and back in the summer so did I!
I was asked by a very lovely lady, R, to create mini cupcakes to be served at the evening reception of her daughter’s wedding. Not a problem. All in the diary, and ready to go! I normally bake and decorate wedding cupcakes as close as possible to delivery, so they are fresh every morning. R had asked if she could collect on the Friday as they were setting up and organising the wedding, rather than the venue, again not a problem. The Friday arrives and the cupcakes are oooh-ed and aaah-ed over. When I was chatting to R about the preparations, she mentioned that she was a little worried about whether the wedding cake would be ready. R was told when she had gone to collect that it wouldn’t be ready until the Saturday, 24 hours later, and that she couldn’t see the cake. As I do, I said if there was any problems, give me a shout and I’ll see how I coud help. Two hours later, the telephone rang…
The cake had been delivered to the venue whilst R was at my shop, and was not anything like was expected. The price had gone from doubled from the quote to over £200, and payment was being demanded. R said she was heading back to Cirencester with the cake to return it. The baker refused saying there was nothing wrong with it, so with less than 24 hours to go, I said to R to bring it to me, and we’d try and sort it out…
To be honest, I do not think I’ve seen a cake so terrible before. We have often create cupcakes to go alongside someone else’s wedding cake, and this cake was made by a well respected caterer and baker in Cirencester, whose cakes are raved about!
The brief for the cake was a classic two tier wedding cake, 1 fruit tier, 1 sponge tier, with roses to match the wedding colour palette. The photos below are exactly how the cake was when it arrived.
The cake was fondant iced, but rather than drape the fondant over the cake, it was iced in panels. The panels were then joined with royal icing, with a scallop border. The piping nozzle was too small and in places there were to borders side-by-side.
Fresh roses had been stuck straight into the cake.. no posy picks nothing. They were the wrong colour and different sizes. They were also in the sponge and the fruit cakes, and sticking out the side of the icing, and had started to go brown. The baker told R that the moisture of the cake would keep the flowers fresh until the end of the wedding on the Saturday night, over 24 hours later. To be honest, what a load of utter rubbish. You never put flowers straight into cake, and the cake certainly won’t keep the flowers fresh.
In addition, neither of the cakes had been levelled, either across the top, nor the sides. The sides of the cake were wibbly wobbly and definitely not straight. Also is it too much to ice a cake board and ribbon the edges, to give a clean and elegant finish.
The ribbons attached to the cake were all different sizes, not level, the wrong colour ribbon, and not requested by the bride. The were just stuck on the cake with a blob of royal icing, and most of them were covering a crack or gap in the icing.
Due to the time we had to turn the cake into something that the bride and groom could cut and have lovely photos of them cutting their cake, I stripped the cakes of all the fondant and levelled them, making sure everything was nice and straight as well. The marzipan on the fruit cake was so thick in places and thin in others, I had to shave a fair bit off to make to look presentable.
The sponge cake had such a bow in the top that a lot of the top tier had to come off to make the top flat. It was then re-coated with a buttercream crumb coat.
Both cakes had been securely stuck to the cake boards, that in order to fondant ice both, the board and the cake, these were iced all in one drape. The cakes were finished off with matching ribbon, this time, that went with the bridesmaid dresses, and flowers. The florist also supplied us with matching roses. Unfortunately we only had less than a dozen available to use and a small piece of oasis. As it was decided to re-use the original separators, the oasis was shaped to fit between these, so that the roses would fill the gap between them. The oasis was nicely soaked and prepped for use on the cake, without causing any issues. The roses were not inserted until the final setup of the cake at the venue, and I’m told by R, lasted a week in the oasis, rather than less than a few hours, being stuck in a cake. Although the final cake was not the style of cake I normally create and wasn’t perfect, as the starting point wasn’t good, I was incredibly proud of the final creation.
After all the chaos of the wedding, R dropped by the shop later in the week, with a very lovely and touching letter. I was so pleased to have been able to help rescue the wedding cake. The bride herself never saw the actual cake, only the photographs that we took between us as we sorted things out; R didn’t want to panic her with less than a day to go. They had an amazing day, and have some fabulous photos including them cutting the cake… yay!!
I hope that this is the only cake rescue I have to perform, but unfortunately there are rogue bakers out there. Cheap cake is not always the best option. When choosing your cake, whether for a wedding or birthday, it’s always best to get recommendations, see photos of their ‘actual’ portfolio and have a full consultation with your designer. We’re there to help and advise, and create fabulous bespoke cakes especially for you!
All the best