How do you order the perfect cake?
This is the information you have been searching for to order the perfect cake. Cake is a delicious dessert that is so versatile for any occasion from the backyard barbecue to a formal occasion like a wedding. So how do you order a cake? The shapes, sizes, and flavor combinations are endless. Have you been online looking for the perfect cake? With so many choices in design, shape, size, and finish, it can be a frustrating process and disappointing when you don’t understand what the baker is talking about. Have you avoided ordering a round cake because they seem too difficult to cut and serve? My goal here is to teach you how to plan and order the perfect cake!
Whether it is a dream Wedding Cake or a simple Birthday Cake, here is some great information so you are not lost in cake land!
Let’s break down the process of ordering a cake into sections. There are some pretty simple industry standards that most bakeries follow when it comes to available cake sizes. We will start with the amount of servings needed, then size of serving, layers and fillings, tiers, flavor and design, and last, but most important, cost. I hope that by covering this subject you will be better educated when you call to order your perfect cake.
Servings and how to cut it right!
Let’s talk number of servings and along with that, serving size, which will help you know how the cake should be sliced to get the correct number of servings. This chart is really useful when it comes to sizing and slicing round cakes. It is also a great example of how many slices you get per cake depending on how large or small the slices are; a great way to simplify cutting the cake.
The servings on this chart are shown as Generous, Sensible, and Event sized portions. I hear quite often from customers that they find it difficult to know how to cut a round cake so they just want a sheet cake because it is easier to cut. As you can see from the guide, slicing those round cakes is not as difficult as one would think. The guide is for the average 1-2 layers of cake. Many different charts exist for different cake sizes and shapes. An excellent standard followed by a lot of bakers and caterers is Wilton, which you can find here; Wilton Wedding Cake Cutting Guide or for sheet cakes go here Sheet Cake Cutting Guide.
Something to think about for your event is who is going to be cutting and serving the cake? Designate someone with experience and explain to them your cutting plan. It even helps to ask the baker for a template if necessary to get the serving sizes you need for your event. For a great article on cutting a wedding cake I love The Knots: All About Cutting The Cake.
How big of a serving size do you serve?
At an event or formal gathering, like a wedding or anniversary celebration, where your guests have typically had dinner and cocktails already, small slices of cake are cut and served. This is referred to as wedding sized, formal, or event sized portions. An example of the need for a sensible, party, or standard sized portion would be a baby shower or birthday party where cake and ice cream are all that is being served. For small informal gatherings like a family reunion or church potluck, generous sized portions make sense. At every type of event, you will have guests who will come back for seconds and those who skip the sweets. How large a serving you will need is up to you and a big factor in deciding the size of cake you need to order your perfect cake.
Layers and Filling
A single layer of cake is approximately 2″ high. A single layer of cake split and filled is a little over than 2″ in finished height. This makes the perfect smash cake for a baby’s first birthday. How many layers of cake are in the cute 6” round birthday cake? It is common for bakers to have a standard of 2-3 layers of cake in rounds. Some refer to this as a barrel cake. A double barrel is 4-8 layers of cake with a divider between.
A double barrel cake is an awesome way to design a small cake on a budget but still get the amazing presentation for a small formal event. A sheet cake is one layer of cake which can be split: meaning that the single layer of cake is sliced through the center for the purpose of placing a filling between layers. Not all bakeries split a single layer sheet cake so be sure to ask or request a split and fill if you want a filling. A 2 layer sheet cake really is double the cake so the cost will change drastically from a 1 to 2 layer cake and so will your serving size. Sheet cakes are not the only cakes that can be split and filled. Any shape cake really can be split and filled. Refer to your baker on this decision because splitting and filling a multi layer or sculpted cake can lead to instability or even to much weight squishing the bottom layer of cake!
Make sure your filling complements the cake and frosting! Be creative and don’t be afraid to ask the baker what they suggest. Fresh fruit cuts the sweetness a bit. Alternating fillings, for example, chocolate cake with a raspberry filling in the first layer alternated with a semi-sweet chocolate or hazelnut filling in the next layer is delicious! A fruit preserves filling is a delicious variation and things like salted caramel add a unique twist to your cake. Again, ask your baker what they suggest! Each baker has a flavor combination that their customers love or that is a bakery signature flavor.
For an Amazing Presentation add Tiers
When looking at a stacked cake, each level of cake is called a tier. One of the purposes of a tiered cake is for space economy. It takes less table space to stack 300 servings of cake rather than spread out across a long table. Another reason for a tiered cake is the attention it draws due to the cakes height. You have to admit a tiered cake sure attracts more attention than a flat sheet cake!
A tier can be one or more layers of cake with filling between the layers. A cute trend is to mix up how many layers of cake are in each tier. Take a double barrel 8” round with 8 layers of cake and stack a single barrel 6” round with 2 layers of cake for a fun different look. A single layer split and filled is approximately 2 – 2 1/2″ in finished height. A tier with 2 layers of cake and a filling is approximately 4″ in finished height and so on. Add about 2″ of height for each layer of cake in a tier or barrel.
So now that we have added this aspect to your cake design it gives you a better idea as to how much cake you need when looking at serving sizes and how much cake is actually being served. Last I have some Flavor and Design suggestions.
Flavor should be as amazing as the Design
Now that you have an idea on size and number of servings let’s talk flavor. Know what your favorite flavors are. Cake tastings are designed for this purpose! This gives you a chance to taste a specific baker’s product before deciding on a Baker/Cake Artist. When ordering a cake from me I send you to my Cupcake and Cakes page for some flavor combinations that are customer favorites. Something that you have budgeted so carefully for should be delicious and beautiful!
Where to look for ideas
Pinterest and Google are an awesome resource for design ideas. If this is a birthday cake, a person’s hobby or a child’s favorite toy or cartoon are good places to start. For an anniversary, the element that is the gift for that year is a good place to start. For example the 50th wedding anniversary is the golden anniversary. Wedding Anniversary Gift by Year is a website that lists Traditional and Modern ideas. For weddings, your color choices, decorations, and wedding dress design can be good inspirations for your cake. Design inspiration can come from things as simple as your favorite flower, a piece of fabric, a hobby etc.
Go with your baker’s strengths. Really communicate what you are thinking with pictures but remember the cakes you see online are like the Mona Lisa; no artist will copy the exact artwork. It is unethical first of all, so do not ask for an exact replica of the work; use the cakes you find in magazines and online as inspiration points.
Factors that determine cost
Most bakeries have a basic ‘starting at’ cost; typically that is a per-serving cost. The industry standard right now is $6 per-serving for Wedding Cakes and another $1 or $2 per-serving is added for Fondant covered Wedding cakes. Gold or Silver leaf, edible lace, hand painting, handmade sculptures, handmade sugar flowers, edible sequins, fresh fruit, and supports for stacking add more to the expense.
How We Price A Cake
OUR PRICING: Here at Angela’s we charge by the cake. We have some set prices for our cupcakes but a custom cake is a handmade work of art. Please call for a quote. If you are running on a very tight budget make your goal a delicious cake using your favorite cake, filling flavor and a basic buttercream finish. Some very beautiful cakes are just simple and delicious.
I have heard the phrase that ‘it is just cake and frosting’. My dear friends, for ‘just cake and frosting’ your local supermarket has a freezer full of cake and buckets of pre-made frosting. What I am writing about here is a Custom Made Cake where I start from scratch with unbleached flour, real cane sugar, salt, baking powder, real sweet-cream butter and bake a cake that is free from fillers and preservatives. Then I beat together real sweet-cream butter, fine sugar, milk and quality extracts for a delicious American Buttercream frosting. Ask if your baker starts from scratch or uses a pre-made mix. Every cake is shaped and hand decorated to your specification.
In this business you have endless options for flavor combinations, shapes, sizes, and variety. Every Cake Artist puts a lot of time into becoming educated on the decorating, sculpting, baking and stacking techniques that become your delicious custom cake. Remember that you are paying a professional when you call to order your perfect cake.
There you have it; some good solid cake ordering information from number of servings, size, flavor, design, and cost. I hope that this helps you feel more confident as you call to order your perfect cake. I would love to be your Cake Artist. I am Angela at Angela’s Bakery. A fully certified cottage food business located in Quincy, California.