How long does it take to make bespoke birthday cakes?
Because a lot of you googled how long it takes to make bespoke birthday cakes I thought this would make the perfect topic for this week's blog post.
Honestly, there's no simple answer to this question as each and every of my cakes is bespoke. Although, I took some time to document how I made one of my bespoke birthday cakes. And now it's time to share that with you. Hopefully this will give you a good idea of how much time and work is involved when making bespoke birthday cakes.
Firstly, when I get an enquiry I discuss what kind of design the client wants. Clients often send me pictures which helps to establish the design and those important parts they would like for their bespoke birthday cakes. I start looking at items online straight away so I know they're available and so I can include them in the quote.
Taking an order could take anything from a few messages to several phone conversations over days or even weeks.
Taking this order and giving a quote was pretty straight forward as I was sent a picture and asked to produce a very similar cake.
2. Sourcing the tools and ideas for bespoke birthday cakes
I often have to get my tape measure out to check dimensions. This way the cake will look in proportion with the topper and everything else that goes on it. I have to check delivery dates too. Making sure the items will get to me about a week /10 days before the order is due. This is in case any issues occur during postage and that would give me some time to rectify them. (eg. wrong, damaged item or not the correct colour sent)
For this particular cake I ordered items from 3 different websites.
3 different silicon moulds that make 4 different patterns, cake lace, a special white cake board, cake dummies and gold paint.
This could be several weeks or months before the cake is due. Finding the right items and ordering supplies could take a few minutes to half an hour or even longer.
3. Preparing decorations
Couple of weeks before the cake is due I start working on sugar and wafer paper decorations if those are required. I also cover the cake board with sugar paste in the colour that matches the theme of the cake.
Modelling and flower making can be quite time consuming. Simple models could take 20 minutes half an hour to make. Meanwhile, the more detailed ones take over an hour or 2 particularly when painting and texturing is involved.
In this case, the celebration was downsized so only the middle tier of this cake was real cake. Which meant I could prep the board, the crown topper and the fake tiers in advance. These took me about 6 hours including painting the gold elements.
4.Making the cake
The week when the cake is due I purchase the ingredients. Afterwards, I bake my sponges, make the buttercream and the ganache. The duration of baking and prepping the batter depends on the size of the cakes. It can take any time from 35 minutes to just over an hour including washing up, tidying and cleaning. However, layers for larger cakes have to be baked separately so double the work and time.
Then there's levelling, wrapping and storing the cakes when they're cooled down. My jam is homemade, too. Usually I make it in big batches so it's enough to fill a few cakes. Making one batch takes about half an hour to 40min. Making Swiss meringue buttercream takes about 40min to an hour depending on the quantity I need. Also, if different colours are needed that's an additional 5 to 15min. This 10" cake was baked in two tins using a 16 egg cake batter and took me about an hour and a half. The buttercream took me about 40 minutes to make. The more ganache I need the longer it takes to make. It's technically melting chocolate and cream together. For this cake I used just over a kilo of Belgian white chocolate.
To fill the cake, cover it in ganache and fondant and to get those sharp edges took me around an hour and 15 minutes.
Overall, just to make a non-decorated cake took me over 4 hours.
5.Decorating and finishing touches
Finally, this is my favourite part. I love it how cakes come together at the end, when all the decorations are put in place. Although, the day, before collection could be a long one depending how detailed the decoration required is.
To make the plaque for the middle tier and the gold moulded design plus stacking the tiers and securing the crown on the top took about 2 hours on this vintage style cake.
6. Documenting for marketing and content creation
Whilst working on a cake I often take videos and pictures for later use.
The final touches most often happen late at night the night before collection. So I have to wait till the morning after for natural light conditions to take pictures and videos of the finished cake. I send a picture to my client before they turn up for collection. In fact, I can also use these pictures for marketing in the future.
Lastly, my job is not at all finished here. After all, I box the cake, cover it in cellophane and make sure all the allergen stickers are clearly visible and easy to read. Along with these I put any other important information like non-edible items, transportation and storage instructions onto the box too.
Taking pictures and delivering this three tier birthday cake took another hour and a half.
All in all, around 16 hours of work for a three tier cake with two fake tiers and a real one which was 10" in diameter. This is how long it took me to make this particular cake. Hope you enjoyed reading :)
Here's a video as well if you'd like to see more of the process
Another read if you'd like to know more about Swiss meringue buttercream: Celebration cakes Lincolnshire - 3 reasons to choose a Swiss meringue buttercream cake