Sunday, May 11, 2008

moving into may... it's wedding season

ok, could it look much less like SPRING???
I saw snow on Mt Elphinstone this morning as I'm driving to the bistro... what is with THAT??

According to the weathernetwork, however, we're in for a HOT one on the long weekend... that will be a nice change. I think it's been a really long time since we had a blistering hot Victoria Day long weekend.

So prepare yourself. There will be no tolerance for whining about it being TOO HOT after whining about it being TOO COLD all winter long. (yes, that goes for me, too.)

Anyway, bistro-wize, things are ok. We've booked some catering this month, which is always great. It's a lot of fun, and allows us to get quite a bit more creative than the day to day food we make which keeps it interesting. Are you having an event? Need food? Call us.

And wedding cakes... those are for sure my favorite. I made one yesterday that turned out really well, I think. Just a small one, but it still takes creative juices and concentration which I really enjoy. Wedding cakes are funny... well, maybe it's brides that are funny. Some know EXACTLY what they want... they saw it in a book, or at another wedding, and know precisely the flavours, the sizes, the design... others - not so much. The cake I made for yesterday's wedding was one of those... "just make it pretty."
I like that, because then I can really put myself to the test. What exactly is "pretty" going to mean to this particular bride? What will be "too pretty" (ie. too girly, too prissy, too much) and what won't be "pretty enough" (ie. too simple, wrong colour, too abstract maybe).

The best you can hope for in that situation is that you have a good feel for who the bride is, and have had enough chats with her to determine her general style... and then HOPE that she tells you the truth afterwards about how she liked - or more importantly, didn't like - the final result.

I realize that my attitude somewhat bucks the traditional convention... I'm sure Martha Stewart would be appalled at my approach. Whatever.

The other thing that I have to say about wedding cakes is... WHAT'S WITH THE MARKUP???
Who decided that for a wedding cake to be viable it has to cost hundreds of dollars??? That is so damn ridiculous I can't even PRETEND to go along with it.

Yes, I've made cakes that cost hundreds of dollars... because they required special, organic, fresh, top of the line ingredients, and tens of hours of preparation and decoration. But they don't ALL HAVE TO.

That lovely cake I made this weekend cost the bride under $100. And you'd never think so to look at it, judging by "wedding cake standards." Just because it's got the word "wedding" in front of it, somehow bakers take that as a license to print money. I don't get it.
I've done more than one wedding cake for under $100.

Yes, part of that equation is the number of servings required... it's easier to get a cheaper cake if you have small wedding... but you know what? Most folks don't even get around to eating the wedding cake, so you can cut itty bitty slices and get LOTS of servings out of a smaller cake.

When I started making wedding cakes - just two years ago - I was under the impression that the standard was to charge "by the serving"... and the cheapest cake I could find on the internet was about $3.95 a serving. And a serving is typically a 1"x2" or 1"x3" slice of cake - do you know how SMALL that is? A veritable sliver of cake. So a 12" square cake should then, technically, get up to 72 servings... so suddenly this 12" cake is now apparently worth $284.40 - and that's just one layer. Ok, I'm sorry BUT... I already make fantastic, rich, dark chocolate or moist dense sweet lemon cake on a daily basis that would rival any $284 wedding cake... how can i justify suddenly charging that much for a cake I would otherwise charge $55 for??

There are a few things that make the bill start to add up...
- buttercream - have you seen the price of butter lately? and if you get fancy and go with organic, fresh churned butter, forget it.
- fresh berries out of season - $7 a pound for cherries out of season... excuse me?
- fancy fillings that take extra time to prepare - ie lemon curd or creme anglais
- fondant covering. THAT is the kicker. If you want a flawless, smooth, inedible looking cake, THAT is where the cashola is going to come in. Fondant takes time... and it takes extra ingredients like marzipan to smooth out the cake before the fondant is applied, and that ain't cheap.
- and well, intricate decoration. That's where the time comes in, really. If you want me to spend 5 hours making sugar paste roses or golf balls or multi-coloured fish then you can certainly count on spending a lot more than $100 on your wedding cake.

Or you can keep it simple.
Elegant & simple.
Even crazy & simple.

All I'm saying is... weddings already cost enough... why blow the budget on a cake that is going to be looked at for 5 minutes and likely not eaten by many.

Spend it on your honeymoon.

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