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Can You Make This Cake?

Posted on June 29, 2012 at 2:00 PM

Sometimes I get a picture from a customer with the request, "Can you make this cake?" Now, don't get me wrong - I LOVE to use photgraphs when discussing cake design. I am a visual person, and photographs are the best way for me to understand what kind of effect or color or shape a customer want

But will I make THAT cake? The short answer is, "No. We can do something similar, but I don't duplicate cakes."

 Wow! That answer sounds really rude! Let's go on to the long answer so I can explain.

 First, cake, icing, and fondant are silly creatures. Being mainly sugar, they are easily affected by the weather. Humidity and temperature change how quickly things set up or melt down. Even with designs I've done before, the final product has never come out the same way twice. It may not be obvious to the casual observer, and it's not necessarily a bad thing, but believe me, it is different. Each time is a new adventure. That's just the nature of the beast and what keeps life interesting.

 Second, you're contacting me for a CUSTOM cake! Let's customize a cake for YOU! You're not a cookie-cutter version of someone else, so why would you want a cookie-cutter version of someone else's cake? You like how that bow sits on the side of one cake or love how the flowers drape down the sides of another? You love a particular icing border or piping design or the way the cakes are stacked? Great! We can take elements from different cakes and apply to it to your design, but let's not be copy cats and try to re-do the whole cake someone else had designed for them. You wouldn't like it if someone came later on and asked for an exact copy of the cake that was designed for you, now would you?

 Third, that cake was made by someone else with their own technique. My technique might be similiar, and I may have even taken a course on that artist's technique, but that doesn't mean the end result will be the same. The original artist may also have over 20 years experience, or have a degree in art, or was just born with an awesome God-given knack for a particular type of work. I'm learning and progressing, but let's face it: I will never ever be a Debbie Goard or Ron Ben-Israel or Ann Heap . You know what? No one else will ever be them, either. If you fall in love with a photo of a cake and you want yours to come out just like that, the only way that will happen is if you order a cake from the original designer. However, don't be surprised when you find out that it will cost $300-$700 for many high-end designers to just turn on their ovens for your cake. You know the saying: you only get what you pay for!

 What if you can't afford to spend $700 on a cake? Give up and order a sheetcake? No way! You just need to carefully shop around, being realistic about your expectations and your budget. Again, keep in mind - you get what you pay for.  You can still get a nice cake to fit into your budget. It may not be the cake in your original photograph that you thought you HAD to have, but it can have elements that you liked about it, and it will end up being a better reflection of you and your personality. No duplications, please! Let's make a cake as unique as you!

Now, If you send a photo of a cake to a cake decorator asking them to duplicate someone else's work (or even worse, asking "Can you do it cheaper?") and they agree to do it, be VERY careful. Red flags should be waving in your mind if someone tells you they can exactly duplicate a cake. The flags should be on fire if they are quoting you a bargain basement price. Look at their portfolio of previous work. Is their degree of detail or skill level shown acceptable to you and does it look like the decorator is capable of the work you've asked of them?  Does the photography look like it was done with the same camera or background each time, or does it vary severely? Does the caliber of work look about the same on each cake? Are there watermarks on the photos? Is it the same name as the decorator you may hire? Unfortunately, photo stealing and claiming as one's own work is not uncommon, especially among cake decorators that are trying to break into the market. They'll say that they are using the photos as examples of what "they COULD" do for clients. Could they, though? Make sure you are looking at photos of work they really did do.

Too many times people have fallen into the trap of promises of a duplicated cake only to be disappointed . How bad can it be, you ask? Cake Wrecks has a collection of examples so you can see for yourself!  

Wedding Whoopsies  and Bridal Tears

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