Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Cake Hell

The Candyman and I are actually contemplating baking our own wedding cakes. We don't want anything fancy, just something that tastes good and is LESS than $350 (including tax and delivery). To be honest, we can't find one reliable resource that tastes good in all of Nashville who charges less than $3.50 a slice. I think that's sad. I think it's sad that regardless of the amount of work put into a cake (and I know that it's a tough gig), the power-bakers still charge the same amount per slice. I am just looking for a two-tiered cake (bottom to slice, top to keep for our anniversary) and I don't care how big it is. I don't want any decorations, just a butter cream frosting with piping at the base seams. Simple. We are totally cool with serving from sheet cakes in the kitchen. No one will know and no one will care, as long as it's yummy!
Even though I love Martha, this is the kind of cake I do not want: a highly decorated, gum pasted, fondant tower of hell.

Photo courtesy of Martha Stewart Weddings.

I want something simple and pretty, like this:
Or this:

The best price I got was around $275, but it took that bakery a week to get me a quote that was incorrect. I fixed it and sent it back and then they took another week to reply. I don't think that's the kind of vendor I want. I need a little more attention to detail from the get-go. Sadly, her cakes were awesome tasting.

I had some email discussion with another, affordable and reccommended baker. I sent her an inquiry email, which she replied to after several days. Her tasting appointments are limited, so I asked her where she was located and what her last appoinment could be (her tasting times are Monday and Tuesday 10-6pm, not the most convenient for working peeps, right?). A week went by with no reply. I resent the email and I got the same, cut and paste email I received the first time, most of which outlined her costs, cake stand rental fee, late fees, depostits, etc. This was annoying, at best. She failed to answer my original questions so I have let her fall off the radar.

We got another very affordable quote from a lisenced home-baker, but her cakes weren't that good. :(

All the other quotes have been through the roof. I spoke to one well-known, highly publicized baker who, when I mentioned other smaller bakers, started slamming them. He claimed one was operating illegally (I checked it out, the claim is false) and that all home-bakers aren't serious about their craft and most don't have health inspections. The one home-baker we spoke to is legal and licensed and insured. I guess my point is that this fancy-schmancy baker was a little rude and unnecessarily competitve.

I read last night on That Bride's blog that she and her groom had a "Cake Buffet." I think that might be a great idea, whether we bake ourselves or not. I think a couple single cakes, decorated with flowers would be quite pretty. We have one or two more independent, small bakers that we need to talk to before we figure out what the hell we're doing. I am not opposed to the cupcake idea either. We have some great cupcake people in Franklin, TN, that I did some preliminary tastings with (meaning, I went in and bought a bunch of cupcakes to try). One was The Curious Gourmet Cupcake Cafe and the other was Ivey Cake. Both had yummy cupcakes and were about the same in price. I think I need to go back to them to chat about cakes. There's also a new-ish bakery in East Nashville called Sweet 16th (it's on 16th Street) and there are some options there too. We need to schedule a tasting at all these places and get some quotes. One of the issues I'm having with cupcakes is that the stands are: a) expensive to buy or rent b) ugly c) don't hold a whole lot of cupcakes. What's a Cakeless Thirty-Something Bride to do? Any tips?

The funny thing is, I don't really enjoy eating a lot of cake. I mean, I LOVE cake. I LOVE icing even more. I just can't eat a lot of it. I was oogy feeling all night after our first cake tasting. I ate much less at the second tasting and still felt a little gross.



  1. This might sound nuts, but have you checked out Publix or Kroger Marketplace in Thompson's Station. Both have very cool looking cakes, I know Publix bday cakes are amazing and since you want something simple, I am certain that they will have something for you.

  2. Perhaps you should skip the cake and go with strawberry-rhubarb pie!

  3. Sharon, you're not nuts! Some folks have suggested the Publix in Brentwood too. We tasted one of Publix cakes at the Bridal Show and we were way bummed out. However, this Cake Buffet concept might be an easier execution through them. I'll check it out! Thanks!

  4. I think it would be fun to bake your a day or 2 before the wedding you and your hubby can just have fun doing it. Like you said it really dosen't matter. What people remember is the atmosphere and the fun they have... not the cake or the food which is always so expensive! Or you can do a candy/cookie bar instead of a cake?

  5. Louise, how large do you want the 2 layers to be and how many people do you want to feed? It could be within your budget to have the 2 small cakes for presentation - I think 6" cakes are about $30 and 10" $50 here. Then maybe the rest of people get served by sheet cake?

    Though if you're not finding good-tasting cake, that's another problem...

    How about an assortment of tarts, petit-fours, cookies, or cupcakes? I'm doing ice cream cake and our most likely venue had a dessert buffet will just keep banana cake and nix the cake-cutting fee for us.

  6. Louise I wish I were closer to you. I'd bake the damn thing myself for cost, an invitation, and as many martinis as I can drink without vomiting. (That's about 4. Maybe 5). This is one of my lesser known skills from my adolescent years that has resurfaced recently. I too abhor the fondanted Towers of Pisa you see on the Food Network and much prefer a luscious, beautifully flavored and frosted confection. Although I do like a gum paste flower or two!

  7. Aw! That would be awesome, Andy! I'd totally hook you up with all of the above! I baked my own cake this weekend to give it a shot. I'll blog about that later. It was interesting. What are you baking these days, do tell!

  8. i recommended maples before reading this post. maples is def not for you:) BUT Publix is a great option. what do you think of them? email me id you want to discuss. i have other recommendations and really love the square cakes with the flowers! so cute yet simple.

  9. Louise,

    Are you still contemplating baking your own cake? A friend of mine noticed that every time she said the "W" word, a baker's price went up. She finally decided on just ordering cakes in three sizes, renting a tiered cake stand, and decorating the tops with fresh flowers - not lots, just a few. She didn't mention "wedding" to the bakery. I helped with the decoration, so of course I thought it looked great.

  10. Yes, I have sort of "caught" some bakers in that "game" of per slice versus per cake costs because of the "W" word. To their credit, only one charged a per slice fee, regardless of the set up, which I think it total crap. The baker charged the same per slice for a sheet cake as they did a 3-tiered butter cream single-flavored cake. I don't think so....

  11. How about a build your own cupcake bar?