The following story is true, as shared with me by a local (Indianapolis) bride who shared her cake disaster story with me, along with photos of the cake.
The home baker showed the bride beautiful photos of finished cakes. The bride ordered her cake from the home baker and said, “I felt that the cake was one thing I didn’t have to worry about.”
When the bride picked up the cake from the home baker, the boxes were sealed. Admittedly, the bride’s mistake was in not opening the boxes anyway to check the cakes, but as she explained it, “there was no flag to indicate I should have checked them.”
When the cakes were revealed, the bride was devastated. The fondant was lumpy and appeared to be falling down the sides of the cake. The gumpaste flowers were sprayed (airbrushed) with color and the overspray was all over the cake. (Why the decorator didn’t airbrush them away from the cake is beyond me.)
The bride tells me the fondant was “painted on”. It was streaked and had white spots showing thru. This bride had a little experience with decorating cakes and was aware that fondant can be purchased already colored or the color can be kneaded into the fondant. Either of these techniques would have been a better effect than streaked brush strokes on her cake.
The bride had gotten a very good price for the cake … $125 for 3 tiers. But she ended up spending, in addition to the $25 in gas to pick up the cake, over $40 (total $65 ….. 50% of the price of her cake) for large silk flowers to replace the poor quality gumpaste (and it’s questionable whether these were actually gumpaste or not) roses and to try to cover the overspray that mottled her cakes. She tells me her guests were appalled at the quality of the cake and she spent the day being embarrassed about serving such a cake to her guests.
This story is not to paint all home bakers with one brush and it is not to imply that every home baker does shoddy work and will refuse to make it right if there’s a problem. I have many friends who bake for a hobby and they do beautiful work! And it does not imply that a bakery cake is always perfect. The odds of them sending such a shoddy cake out to a wedding are very slim. (Remember, I saw the photos of the cake …. when I call it “shoddy”, I’m being very nice.)
But as was mentioned in the previous blog, a legal licensed baker has much more at stake, financially, than the lady-down-the-road who makes cakes “under the radar”. The legal, licensed baker has gone thru the Food Safety courses and knows how to handle perishable icings and fillings, knows how to properly sanitize their decorating tools (no, just washing them in your sink is NOT sufficient!), has been inspected (and is surprise-inspected) by the health department frequently, has obtained all of the proper licenses and insurance, has paid a small fortune for the very expensive equipment required to operate a commercial kitchen ….. and all of this investment is risked on their decorating and baking skill.
The bride asked the home baker for a refund and the baker just refused to discuss it. The bride is now questioning whether the photos she saw were actually made by the baker, because those photos were very nice … a complete contrast to the cake she received.
I guess the baker doesn’t have a vested interest in making this right for the bride.
Debi Brim can be reached via email at email@example.com
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