- Build a good portfolio of designs- they are great starting point and brides (and it's usually brides) need something ‘concrete' at times. This will also help you to cost as you know materials/time took.
- Consultations: usually a good idea, get the couple to bring along their ideas/colours/venue. You may want to include tastings, some people make cakes and freeze them sliced and individually wrapped. Others use cupcakes for this. Some people charge for a consultation, others are free or some charge and then offer the cost off of the placed order.
- Produce a contract so that all is clear for you and client. Include payment dates/who is picking up /delivering/times. This can be finalised 6 weeks before then wedding.
- Cost well- use an app like the one here on Cakewire.co.uk, or The Cake Makery have a great one...cost a cake is free, cost a cake pro has a small charge but more business based.
- Contact the venue/client re cake knife/stand....find out what is provided. Also find out if you can work on the cake at the venue if required.
- If delivering are you going to charge?
- Don't take on a cake that is totally out of your comfort zone, this could be a disaster. Challenge yourself, this the only way to improve/become unique but I don't think it's fair to do something for the first time for someone's big day...that's what competitions and college courses are for!
- Try new cake flavours out on friends and families before including them in your range.
- Keep up to date- read magazines/ articles like this, take short courses, visit shows/demonstrations. Look at wedding magazines that contain dresses and flowers too, they show trending colours themes. At the moment it's all about texture and lace.
- And plan ahead...work backwards from delivery/ pick up date to put your timetable together. Cake should be finished 12hrs before this in an ideal world! Even madeira type bases can be coated 4 days before the wedding as once sealed by icing the shelf life is increased. If you buy ready-made bases from a company such as Sweet Success, the shelf life is long. And of course fruit cake is much longer!
Sue Haskell has been a bakery lecturer at Brooklands College, Weybridge for twenty years. She is well known in the baking industry, participating at exhibitions such as Cake International and Food and Drink Expo. She has helped with the competitions at the Alliance for Bakery Students and Trainees annual conference since 2000.
Brooklands College in Weybridge, Surrey, offers part time catering and sugarcraft IVQ courses, such as a Level Two in Professional Bakery and an ABC Sugarcraft Award Level One as well as one day courses including Design and Create an Easter Egg, Valentine's Cupcakes and Sugar Flowers for beginners.