Whether you're looking to order a cake from me or someone else, you need to make sure that the business you choose to place your order with is suitable, reliable and most of all delivers your cake with love!
A bespoke celebration cake is usually for a very special event and is a significant investment of time and resources for everyone involved. So you need to be sure that the business you order your cake from is the right one for you and that you have a great rapport with your Caker of choice.
There are some simple questions that you can ask to make sure that you will be getting what you want, quality wise, money wise, design wise, and of course cake wise. Some questions that will ensure that you won’t be getting ripped off at the end of the day. Some questions that you may not have even have thought to of asked.
So here they are:
1. Are you a registered business?
If you are ordering from a shop, this will already answer your question. However many quality Cakers work from their own homes to reduce overheads or increase flexibility. DID YOU KNOW, that to operate a food business from your home, you must have council approval?
And insurance is always a plus. You know that they are a smart business with having insurance. Asking this question may very well give you the answer if you would like to proceed.
2. What flavours do you offer?
Simple question. There are a few more options than vanilla sponge with jam and buttercream, but even so if you're paying for a bespoke cake, you want that cake to taste great so look for a baker who can offer a variety. Their vanilla cake will be outstanding if they are capable of other more creative cakes too! For reference, here's my flavour list. And yes, vanilla is my most popular flavour :)
3. Are you available for my date?
Again, simple. But this is actually a biggie. What’s the point of going through a whole ordering process, only to find out that this baker you think you have absolutely fallen in love with, is actually booked out, or away that weekend? Remember the earlier you book the better. Particularly if it's around a public holiday such as Easter or Christmas.
4. How far in advanced are you booked? (alternative to the previous)
This could give you some indication of how popular and in demand the cake business is. It will also give you an indication of when you will need to know your details by, and get in contact again to organise a quote and place your order. A Caker will also need extra time if you're looking for a highly detailed cake or need to source special components for your cake.
5. What is the ordering process?
This question can really gauge if you are dealing with a professional, a hobby Caker (which is totally fine), or someone you may want to be wary of. Most legitimate cake bakers will ask for a booking fee to secure your order. And this is because they like to cover their ingredients, materials, packaging etc costs before going out to buy any of it, just in case the customer cancels last minute. If your Caker is not asking for a deposit, or doesn’t have any terms & conditions outlined so that you can see your rights as the customer, maybe move on to another cake business.
6. Do you have any references / testimonials?
It’s always a really good idea to see what other people are saying about the business you are considering placing an order with. Sometimes a new business may not have any testimonials as yet, and that’s completely fine, every body needs a chance to get off the ground, and it really is up to you in the end who you choose to go with. But if you can see what other customers’ experiences are, then you might be able to gauge what your experience will be.
7. Ask for details of your order.
Don’t simply just send a Pinterest photo to your cake business and say ‘How much’? Different cake flavours, different sizes and all that cakey jazz, come in to play in the cost. When you first make contact, it's really helpful for us cakers if you have an idea of how many people you want to feed, flavours you might like (point 2), dietary needs (point 8) and decorative detail - pictures always help. Remember your Caker will most likely respect the creative copyright of the person who created the cake in your chosen picture and will only be able to produce a similar design (sometimes restricted further by the availability of specific moulds or cutters that are required).
After the initial conversation your Caker should be able to provide a written quote for you to review before payment of the booking fee. For example: 8″ round chocolate and 6″ round vanilla cakes tiered, covered in blue fondant. 'Max' and 'Josh' in red fondant to top tier. Hand-made Thomas the Tank Engine with countryside theme. Presented on a fondant covered board train track detail and trimmed with matching ribbon.
8. Can you cater for special dietary needs?
Your Caker should ask you this as a matter of course when baking. It's important to make sure everyone is catered for at your event and nobody feels left out. If you have someone with a food intolerance attending your party, talk to your Caker about 'free-from' options. Perhaps a special box of cupcakes themed to match the main cake. Or even going 'free-from' for the whole order.
It is worth noting that many cakers (myself included) will not be able to cater for people with serious allergies - particularly those that are nut-based - due to the strict controls around producing nut-free products. Referring back to point one, this is why always choosing a registered and insured Caker is an important consideration when ordering your cake.
9. Do you bake from scratch or use pre-made mixes?
This question is hugely contentious in the caking world - and often leads to quite heated debates. However both approaches have their place. Pre-made mixes allow cakers to manage their stock control with more simplicity as the mix contains a lot of ingredients that would ordinarily have a short-shelf life (e.g. dried rather than fresh eggs and milk). It also reduces the time required to produce the basic cake allowing a faster turnaround time for a busy business.
At the other end of the scale, if you're looking for a business that uses ethically sourced and/or Fair Trade products and bakes totally from scratch you will have to expect to pay more for a premium product.
Somewhere in the middle is your average, passionate Caker who believes that great cake comes from using great quality ingredients and is able to deliver not just beautiful but also tasty cake.
Always have a chat with your Caker about their approach to the cake to make sure it's the right choice for you.
Ordering a cake with a particular cake business, at the end of the day is all up to you. Us cakers, charge what our cakes are worth, and ‘cheap’ cake, generally isn’t that good. So, if you are thinking about celebrating and spending a little bit of money on your celebration centrepiece, it may just very well pay off for you to ask a few questions first.
If you would love to enquire about your next occasion, simply click here for a free quote.