Wedding Cakes and Custom Cakes Contracts

When I was baking at home my company was Event Cakes Pgh. I’m going to be sharing my contract and all the other ins and outs of my decade in the cake industry on this site.

The majority of problems that cake newbs come across with clients can be solved with a solid contract and non refundable retainer. Retainer is a down payment. A deposit can be refunded. A retainer covers all of the work you do leading up to making the cake, the sketch, the planning, the communicating. All of that takes time and time is money. Don’t sell yourself short! We have to charge for our time! Our industry doesn’t magically not have labor costs just because most cakers don’t charge enough to cover their own pay. #realtalk

Cakes take a lot of time to make! I  would schedule at least an hour per tier minimum – just for stacking and decorating. Most cakes are 5-10 hours on average depending on the complications and skill needed for decorating. That doesn’t include baking, making icings, sourcing supplies, delivering, consultations. And you better be charging at least $10/ hour minimum!

You also have to charge for supplies! Butter is expensive, Fondant is expensive, boxes, boards, tools, ribbons, dragees, all of it cost money. Making cakes is expensive. Please please please don’t make cakes at a loss! It’s bad for you in the future and all the other cakers out there. It’s bad for our industry. Yes you should charge less when you’re starting out, but less means like $12/ hour instead of $15/ hour. It’s hard to figure out how long each cake is going to take. That was my biggest trouble in figuring out prices. I’ll make another blog post more about how to charge for cakes, showing my price charts and such, so stay tuned for that.

This one is about the contract. It’s useful in remembering to get all the information needed, to track payments, and everything else. My wedding cake contract at the bakery was 4 pages and more comprehensive. Ill post that too for yinz below.

I’m not a lawyer, haven’t had these looked over by a lawyer, so idk how iron clad it is in that aspect. Luckily I’ve never needed it for that. Going over the terms and conditions is just good business practice to make sure everyone’s on the same page. During the wedding consultation and cake tasting I’d suggest they read over the fine print while I    go to into the kitchen and gather their tasting trays. I’ll have another post about that!

Why would someone need a refund? Mostly because of a wrong flavor or filling. A cake that fell. Maybe the wrong size. Accidents do happen. It’s people making the cakes and not machines after all. We have gone out of our way to rectify problems at the bakery as far as refunds go. At home I didnt have the capital to offer refunds. The payment was already spent before the cake was finished. I’ve had a cancellation and gave a credit towards a future cake rather than a partial refund.

Here it is! Two different contracts that I developed and used in my cake businesses. Feel free to make it your own. Just don’t hold me liable for anything!


Event Cakes Contract .pdf – Google Drive
— Read on drive.google.com/file/d/0B-WAhqezI9CmTk5YSG9fVzZqODA/view   


Grandview Bakery Wedding cake Contract

Wedding Cake Contract


Please Let me know if you find this info helpful!!! What other topics do you want me to go over for you?

Leave a comment, share, like, follow, subscribe.

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Sweetly,

Brandi Janine

Geode Wedding Cake

Oh my beautiful Geode! How lovely and serene. June, 2017

I loved this bride. She was gorgeous and so lovely. We bonded over laughter about how some geode cakes, with pinks and red rocks look like vaginas.

She was Laid back but also an artist so she was particular but also really appreciated what went into making cake. This was Both of their second marriages. The geode cake was actually the second wedding cake I made for them. The first one was a beach themed cake for their beach ceremony in Baltimore. She was worried it would come out too much like a kids birthday cake and not a wedding cake. I was worried about the cake making that big drive! Her car was packed and She kept it on the floor of the passenger side. In a box, obviously. Buttercream with fondant accents. I used the wilton seashell fondant mood and satin ice fondant. She had a special custom cake topper. She sent me a good pic with the topper at that dinner and I’ll add it if I come across it.

March, 2017

Here’s a few progress pics i took during the making of the geode cake.

Wedding tiers are four layers of cake and 3 layers of filling. You can see one of the tier supports, jumbo bubble straws.

Carved for shape, cut the cardboard tier separator round. 6″ top tier, 8″ middle, 10″ bottom. The 10″ stayed in the fridge while the top two got worked on.

Covered in buttercream and fondant. Use an edible marker to outline where you’ll cut. Carve it already stacked so you’re sure it lines up.

piping gel is the glue that keeps the sugar rocks glued in. Layer of piping gel on top of the buttercream and then you’ll want a piping bag of piping gel to use as you go.

Rock sugar colored with airbrush color. I used the airbrush color instead of gel color because it’s already so liquid y. If i had needed to use gel color I would have diluted it with everclear. It didn’t take a lot of color, the sugar rocks took the color brilliantly. I needed three shades of purple and this was the darkest. I divided them and stirred more .Here i moved into the other room so i could sit while i worked . You can see the brides’ geode on the table, she lent it to me to look at while I worked. This was a tedious task, inserting each rock individually with a pair of long tweezers. Darkest color in the center gives added depth and shadows.

This took several hours of work to complete. The bride even stopped in with her friends while I was working on it to check out the progress. They were big geode buffs and fell in love with the cake.

The rock cave gets outlined with gold leaf, and the inspiration cake she liked best had that big section of gold leaf. Gold leaf has a slight learning curve, but is easy to use as long as there is no breeze. A dry fan brush helps to smooth it out, but the wrinkles add another dimension too. Make sure you get the single Individual sheets. Gold leaf isn’t exactly edible, but it is non toxic.

Finally, at the reception. The bling band bottom border, topper, and cake stand really bring it all together.

Photo credit goes to Flip. He was the first person to get a new phone with the new portrait mode. 😻

This is the inspiration cake, seen in a store window on a vacation. I think i knocked this one out of the park.eliminated that very top 4th tier,

The inspiration cake from a far away land.

I don’t like to copy other artists cake designs exactly, but I don’t mind at all if someone else makes one of mine. It’s great to make adjustments when and where there’s room for improvement and if i can get the client to go along with the changes. She was pretty set on this style. We eliminated that very top 4th tier and used amethyst rocks instead of blue.

A picture one of the guests took and sent. The cake matches well with the chandeliers of the LeMont. – that’s a super fancy restaurant in Pittsburgh with incredible views of the city.

The bride Emailed me From her reception!

I felt pretty good about this cake, but it’s always magnificent to hear from the client when they enjoy a commissioned art.

My mom didn’t like this cake. Our oldest baker didn’t like it either, on a personal matter of style or taste. It stings a little anyways. It was my first geode cake after all.

A week later she sent this:

Thanks, Brandi!

I have yet to get the photographer’s photos & will pass those along, (including the 3/18 cake images), in a WELL DESERVED thank-you note…

Your incredible talents added SO much to our 3/18 wedding & 7/21 reception.

I ran into her again a few years later and she still raves about the Cakes. It means so much to be so appreciated. An amazing reminder of how truly important your cakes actually are.

Sweetly,

Brandi Janine

60th Gourmet Cupcakes & disappointing 80s colored cupcakes

1 1/2 dozen cupcakes

Assortment of gourmet cupcakes: almond torte cupcakes, carrot cake, red velvet, coconut, peanut butter, and vampire bites.

This customer was disappointed with her number cupcakes when she came to pick it up. She was taking it to a fancy dinner and she said it wasn’t fancy enough.

She was very happy when I brought it back out to her. I didn’t really know what she wanted or how to fix it, other than with writing on the board. Then I outlined the cupcakes with icing (messy messy). Its hard to get around the cupcakes and not bump their icing with the piping bag. I didnt love the way the numbers outline border looked, it wasn’t clean or straight enough. but she said it was exactly what it needed, that it brought it all together.

Phew that was a close call. I’m always glad when I’m able to fix complaints right then and there.

I don’t like cupcake cakes. I have these orders in mind as well as others when I’m taking a new order or reading and interpreting an order someone else took.

So Here we go again.

This was for an 80s themed party. She requested black and white swirl and bright 80s colors.

33 cupcakes, the 8 are chocolates and 0 vanilla. The cupcakes are “glued” to the board with a dot of icing on the bottom. The trick is to set them all out how you want and then carefully lift a corner one at a time and push a dot of icing from a tip 12 between the wrapper and board.

I was not there to fix this one. I thought it was good and what she ordered. A lot of mistakes are misinterpretations of what the order says. Not sure in this case as I had taken the order. She hated it. I’m not sure if we heard from her when she picked it up or after the fact, and I wouldnt have known how to fix it either. Maybe she would have wanted a border outline too. She said they could have done this themselves. In my mind of course they could. Everyone can do all of it themselves. I can teach you how. You’re paying the bakery to save yourself the time and hassle. In fact I think she said her daughter could have made it. Anyways her complaint was also that it was whipped cream icing. We can’t know every time when someone’s never had our icing or if they’ve never had swiss meringue buttercream before, which is what we use. It is NOT sweet American buttercream. If someone places an order and asks about our icing I’ll tell them it’s SMBC and that it’s wedding cake icing not sweet buttercream like Walmart or Giant Eagle. It’s light and fluffy and not too sweet.

(Come back here)

Link to recipe for SMBC – coming soon

Link to American buttercream – coming soon

Which kind of icing is your favorite?

Leave a comment and let me know!

Let me know too if you want to see more cake fails, cake fixes, and customer complaints?

Remember to like, share and follow!!

Sweetly,

Brandi Janine

Peacock cupcakes Wedding cake

June 27, 2016

The peacock was made over a course of several days . I guess i lost the rest of the step by step pictures 🙁 It looked cool all white too. It was fun for the bakery staff to watch it come together too, since I did a little bit every day.

The skeleton was a flexible thick gauge Wire wrapped with aluminum foil, then covered with a combo of fondant and modeling chocolate.

The cupcake “feathers” were fondant disks and hand painted, with a mix of petal dusts, airbrush colors, dye and everclear. When fondant dries it gets real hard, so these would have been crunchy sugar. I dont think they would have been pleasurable to eat and I did tell the customer beforehand.

The scrollwork and bead border were done with a stiff royal icing.

Here’s the cake gossip with this order:

The interesting story of this cake was that the man whom ordered it wasn’t the groom, but a friend. I’m not sure i remember this correcting but The Bakery owner told me about how when they first opened the bakery, 5 years prior, this man got away with a free cake and she was still mad about it. She said we were scammed because he claimed he paid when they ordered it and hadn’t or something. Possibly even doing this twice or telling a family member how to get a free cake too. So we weren’t sure if this going to be a real order or not. I give out a lot of quotes that don’t turn into orders. It was hard getting the necessary info from him for delivery. I talked to the groom on the phone once, from the customers cell phone. The cake was a surprise for his partner. I made it clear that it wouldn’t be delivered without payment in full. It took several phone call reminders and he finally paid it off on the cut off day, the week before the wedding.

Their reception was at the West End Overlook. It took two of us for set up, which our boss always hated because of labor costs.

I had gotten so many requests for cakes like this and tagged several times on other peacock cake pics. I would probably do the feathers differently next time . I would change the colors, this teal matched their wedding.

The viral inspiration pic
Another viral pic I was sent

The customer came back on several occasions and asked for me when getting cake quotes. He always reminded me about the peacock cake and how everyone loved it. We never talked about the alleged stolen cake. We did get more customers from that order. I charged a reasonable price but maybe i didn’t charge enough because one such referral said they came to us because our “cakes aren’t too expensive”.

Let me know if you like hearing the back stories of the cake orders? I dont have a ton but there’s a couple juicy ones to share. Thanks for stopping by !!

Sweetly,

Brandi Janine

Cupcake Bouquets

June 2016

While I was at home baking as Event Cakes Pgh the bakery had another decorator. I knew of her from the Midwife Centers Let Them Eat Cake contest/ charity event. She’s an incredibly talented artist and I was bummed that she left before I got there because I wanted to work with her. This shifted my role at the bakery from General Manager, which I was hired on as, to cake decorator. There were so many orders and so much work that I couldn’t do both positions. Maybe I could have when I was younger or before kids. But it became apparent that the artistry that goes into decorating custom cakes just isn’t something anyone off the street can do. We tried to find someone else to hire to no avail.

There were a bunch of orders that were already taken before I came on board. I was able to pick up where she left off for the most part but there were a few orders that didn’t work out as planned.

The inspiration

The bride was very concerned, especially with the switch in staff. She asked me to make a mock up to try it.

I had done this before, and I have since successfully pulled off cupcake centerpieces for my cousin’s wedding. It was a huge production and I’ll write it’s on post on how to achieve that.

A year prior I had taken a Craftsy class on cupcake bouquets. I made this arrangement for my sister-In-laws birthday . The leaves were homemade fruit leather! American buttercream. Tips 2D and 1M . I love the colors and the variegated look of the flowers.

January 5, 2015

Now I knew there would be challenges for this order. Such as – all that red dye is going to stain people’s mouths. How are the cupcakes going to stay on and how do we stop the icing from sliding off? Our cupcakes are so soft that they would fall apart. The swiss meringue buttercream melts so easily. How do we transport them? How long would it take to assemble each and can we accomplish this on site? How much icing would we need to bring? We were trying to figure out delivery boxes like what florists use to deliver arrangements.

Trial

I explained that I didnt want to waste all that red dye for the trial, and asked her to ignore the color. Even still, she wasn’t comfortable with me pulling it off and she canceled her wedding order with us.

Fail.

I felt horrible about losing the order for the bakery but in all honesty I’m sure it saved a lot of aggravation. It was a hectic and busy time. I hope it all worked out for the couple!

Brandi Janine

July, 2018

Here are some tips and tricks I learned from doing my cousins cupcake centerpieces. There is a lot of prep work that needs done ahead of time. Baking the cupcakes, of course. And making tons of icing, coloring and prepping piping bags. I also has the flower cupcake liners and some filler tissue paper glued to the styrofoam ball ahead of time. I hired 3 extra people to help assemble on site at the reception. We could have used more. We used two toothpicks in each spot, angled out. To put the cupcakes on we squeeze the toothpicks together, insert the cupcake and let go. Pipe on the icing after it’s attached. We also tried piping it before affixing it. I dont remember if there was a difference, but each of us cake decorators has slightly different techniques. I also had a massive cake at the reception so I was stressing out about assembling that too. I’ll get to that in another post.

All in all, cupcake centerpiece bouquets can be done successfully with a ton of planning and preparation. (I’d prefer not to do that again any time soon)

All the Fall cakes!

This is my absolute favorite time of year! The colors of nature are truly brilliant and remind us of the magnificence of our earth. Especially here in Pennsylvania!

Buttercream!

Swiss meringue buttercream. Floral cakes. Fall flowers. Roses. Rosettes. Mums. Leaves. Sprinkles. Dragees. Borders. Swags. Ruffles. Drop flowers. Stars. Watercolor.

Darker colors. Fall colors. Shades of orange and yellows. Purples and reds, burgundy. Dark blues and greens

Supplies used: spatula, piping bags, couplers, scissors, turntable, gel colors, Buttercream, cake, Cake board, box, rags, and a smile 🙂

various tips: Rose, leaf, star, mum, dropflower, rounds

Orders and “case cakes”

There’s always a reason to celebrate!

Cheers!

Brandi

The Ultimate White Wedding Cake

When I was first learning how to become a better cake decorator I needed a lot of cakes to practice on, and then to teach with, and then I quickly started selling and had a business. We tried a million different recipes. They were all delicious and we gained a ton of weight. This is the recipe that was tweaked just the right amount that I stopped playing around with it and ran my business with it. A doctored box mix that allowed me to sculpt and tier with confidence. Where I can call it my own recipe since I’ve tweaked it a bit, but is also still the WASC-White almond sour cream cake recipe that we Bakers love. Us Americans love the box cake mix. It’s light and fluffy. We think scratch cakes are too tough, and they’re often likened to a cornbread consistency and we think that they’re dry. Whereas Betty Crocker and Duncan Hines know what they’re doing. This is almost a no fail recipe, and baking at home with a full house leads to its fair share of mishaps and mayhem.

This is a slice of a 2 layer 8″ white cake with strawberry filling that Josue made at the bakery. Yummmmm. Demonstrates 2 layers

I couldn’t figure out how to use the recipe plug in so here’s the recipe not formatted nicely, so i could quickly get it out to the class:

The Ultimate Wedding Cake Recipe:

18 Oz white cake mix

1cup plus 2 Tablespoons Cake Flour

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 cup White sugar

3 whole eggs

1.5 cups warm water

1/2 cup melted butter

1cup sour cream

1 tsp vanilla/ almond extract

1. Weigh box mix, measure dry, sift together in a large bowl and set aside

2. Melt butter

3. Add butter, sugar, water, extracts, and sour cream to a mixing bowl.

4. Add dry ingredients a cup at a time .

5. Add eggs.

6. Beat on medium high for 2 minutes.

7. Add to cake pans, 2/3 way full or measure batter and use a chart:

https://www.wilton.com/cake-serving-guide/cms-baking-serving-guide.html

Tips:

1. Pan release! Options:

A. baking spray that includes a grease and flour.

B. Make your own mason jar full with equal parts shortening, oil, and flour. Mix in mixer until creamy, spread on bottom and sides.

C. Grease and parchment paper

D. Grease with Crisco shortening, coat with flour (or cocoa powder for chocolate cake)

Recipe customization:

2. Extracts: can substitute any flavor.

3. Can substitute water with milk or creamer, I like french vanilla coffee creamer

4. Can substitute white cake mix for vanilla, or any other flavors.

5. Can make a true white cake by substituting the whole eggs with egg whites.

6. Chocolate cake can substitute box mix and cocoa powder for cake flour.

Let Them Eat Cake

The Midwife Center for Birth and Women’s Health has an annual cake walk fundraiser.

The theme was “Once Upon a Time”. This is my fifth year participating, my first time at the swanky Kimpton Hotel Monaco. When I went before it was at the Pittsburgh Opera House in the Strip district.

There’s a silent auction, hors d’ouvres, drinking, beautiful cakes on display and tons of cakes to sample!

Here’s a behind the scenes look at the work I put into this cake:

https://cakesburgh.com/the-brothers-grimm-inspired-cake-behind-the-scenes/

Here’s the cake:

Ravens and a bloody Heart topper

Rumpelstiltskin’s spinning wheel, spinning hay into gold

Big Bad Wolf chasing Red Riding Hood

Hansel and Gretel fleeing the Witches gingerbread house after they throw her in the oven

Rapunzel Rapunzel let down your hair

I wish I couldve gotten a better picture inside the house with the witches legs sticking out of the top of the oven

That little bag on the table is where the guests put their slips in to vote for their favorites. There were a few in there, but I didnt win. But we had a really good time drinking and eating cake!

Here’s are the other competitors amazing cakes!!

Profession 2nd place winner

Professional 1st place winner

Amateur 1st place winner

Amateur 2nd place winner

Taste Cakes:

Here’s our chocolate cake with cherry filling and cherry Swiss meringue buttercream. Yuuuummmm. There were some reallly delicious cakes to sample!

Hard to enjoy it too much after our scrumptious dinner at Sienna Mercato. Shawn and Sara are fabulous dates!

That’s that! Now there’s another cake to display at the bakery! A baker I met there suggested taking my cake to the White Rose cake show competition coming up in a few weeks. We’ll see how my orders look that weekend.

Here’s a look at my previous cakes entered to Let Them Eat Cake :

None of these cakes won either. But it’s always a good idea to stretch your imagination and push your own limits and grow as an artist and try out new techniques.

Thanks for stopping by!

I’m glad to have the opportunity and space to share my art with yinz!

Buttercream kisses 😘

Brandi

The Brothers Grimm inspired cake: Behind the Scenes

Behind the Scenes!

The Making of the Brothers Grimm inspired cake, progress photos.

A sketch:

4 tiers and a tree with an owl 🦉

Heart topper, Rice Krispie treat

Whoooo whoooo

Tree stump. Working at my regular cake station at the Grandview Bakery. Notice my “Radiate Positivity” note. There’s also a reminder that says “You are Awesome” 🙂 Cakes are a hella stressful business. It’s good to look up from your work and REMEMBER to BREATHE.

Background painting with Airbrush colors and gel colors mixed with Everclear. Moved to the Party Room to sit and work.

Little Red riding hood and Rapunzels tower

Heart on top

Who’s afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?! Wire to keep his arm up while he dries/ hardens.

RKT Ravens/Crows, black fondant, wafer paper wings. On wires

Packed up and ready to go dahntahn n’at!!

She traveled great! Set up for display at the fundraiser!

Cakes on display

My heart went into this cake, and a lot of time…..

Friday’s hours didn’t even make it into the list, that was probably another 6 hours to a 12 hour day. and add another 1-5 hours for picture editing and social media, blog posting, etc

If this cake were an ordered decorated cake it would cost the customer approximately $1000.00 !!!

Thanks for stopping by my page!! Let me know what you think!! Enjoy your day!!

Radiate Positivity!!

Brandi

Lipstick Cake

Lipstick 💄 Cake

The making of the lipstick cake:

Lipstick Cake Lipstick Birthday Cake

1. First: See it in your brain. Draw a sketch to work off of. Figure out the size and proportions- part of this happens during the ordering process, when finding out how many guests they want to serve and determining price. This also includes Figuring out which cakes you need baked and what size board you need.

2. Translate step 1 into reality. It all starts with a couple sheet cakes. 1/4 sheet vanilla. 1/4 sheet chocolate. Whip up some Vanilla buttercream. Double check the order to make sure you have the right cake flavors and fillings. Put it on a 1/2 sheet board, write something on the bottom so you don’t get any cakes mixed up. Measure proportions and make some marks.

3. Start cutting. Refer back to your sketch. See it in your brain again. Like really really see it so much that you can look at the pile of cake and buttercream and see a lipstick instead. Breathe. Carve.

4. Look at it from a bunch of different angles, remember to keep breathing. Don’t cut off too much, but if you do you can fix it with extra cake pieces and buttercream. You can build up on areas too, depending on what you’re making.

5. Cover with buttercream. We call this “base iced”. Move it to the fridge to get it out of the way while you clean up your mess. Sometimes I’ll put cake scraps in cupcake wrappers for bakery samples. Everyone loves free samples.

6. Get a coffee. Work on a couple other orders. Pull it out of the fridge and Cover with another layer of buttercream. Get it really nice and smooth. Keep breathing. Tell your internal critic to be quiet. Put it back in the fridge, clean up and get out the fondant supplies.

7. They wanted it to be black, white and red. I use Satin Ice fondant to cover the cake. This is the part that I always get super involved in and forget to take pictures, which is a shame because there’s a lot of artsy things going on. I used a wilton mold to make the pearls. Other Tools used: fondant mat, Crisco, rolling pins, fondant smoother, scalpel, gloves. As soon as I figure out how to set up a camera I’ll start doing videos.

8. Take a bunch of pics. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Try to remember that it’s just a cake that’s going to be eaten and even though we’d all like them to be perfect and flawless, it’s still just a cake that’s going to be eaten. It’s a very special labor of love.

Thanks for stopping by and checking out my first lipstick cake.

Cheers!

Brandi