A week in the life of a cake decorator…

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A cake is never ‘just a cake’ but takes many hours of creation. People often ask me how long a wedding cake takes to make and it’s quite difficult to answer exactly as it involves so many processes. I try to plan cake orders that I know I can fit into my week and sometimes have to say no to an order which I hate doing if it’s somebody I know or have made a cake previously for. So here is a list of what I do each day  which will help my planning and help others understand what goes on in the Sweet Bliss kitchen…
Clean kitchen – although the kitchen needs to be cleaned and disinfected each day before use, this is a deep clean. It needs to be thorough and includes checking fridge temperatures and sell by dates of any ingredients.
Check upcoming orders and baking schedule. Plan recipes for the week and shop for ingredients.
Admin – answering enquiries, preparing quotes, order forms, receipts and accounts, ordering boards, boxes and ribbon, adding pictures to the website and Facebook, there is always plenty to do and this will go on throughout the week!
Make flowers and models for upcoming cake orders. This can take many hours and can’t be completed in one day. Some flowers and models need to be started a few weeks ahead so that each element can dry before adding the next. I will continue this job through the weekday evenings.
Boards need to be covered for this week’s cakes so they can set hard ready for Friday.
Bake. Depending how many cakes and how many tiers this can take a very long day. It’s not possible to batch bake as every cake will be a different size and flavour meaning that they will need to be prepared and baked individually at different oven temperatures and times. Concentration is required so that there is no mix up with the flavours! The cakes are cooled and wrapped as the crumb needs to set for 24 hours before decorating. All ingredients used have to be recorded with sell by dates and batch numbers.
Fill and cover. This is the longest and most difficult day. Some cakes are baked in smaller layers and some cakes are cut to create layers. Each cake layer is brushed with syrup to keep it moist. They are layered up with fillings of buttercream and conserves in between, which all have to be made first. The covering process then starts with a thin covering (a crumb coat) and the cake needs to go in the fridge to set a bit so that the layers don’t slide around. It will then need another coat – this can be either a buttercream or ganache- and sometimes a third coat to create a completely smooth surface.
The cake will be cooled again to set the final coat and then it’s time to cover with roll out fondant. This is the difficult part, smoothing and cutting just perfectly to get a nice finish on the cake.
Complete decoration. Tiered cakes need to be dowelled, stacked and placed onto their base board and a ribbon added. The cakes are piped in between each tier with royal icing to give a neat edge. The cake will then need the decoration added. This could be lots of piping, ruffles or adding pre-prepared flowers and models. If there is a lot of last minute decoration needed the cakes will have to be baked a day earlier to complete the work in time. Fruit cakes are usually made six weeks ahead to allow time to mature then need to be covered with marzipan and have about three layers of royal icing added before decoration.
Delivery. The most stressful day of the week. All the hard work from the week to get the cake as perfect as possible is now culminating with a journey to transfer it to its venue. Phew! It’s also the most exciting day as I can see the cake design coming together with all the other elements at the venue for the first time. Lots of photo’s.
Time for an afternoon off and lunch or a tea and cake somewhere to unwind.
A well-deserved lie in (unless attending a Wedding Exhibition!!) Check the diary and make plans for the coming weeks. Try and get a bit of time in for some flowers and models to get ahead or start a fruit cake.

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