One of the most common questions I get “How long does it take you to make something like this??” Well, I work in the lab until about 4pm every day so I can only work on these cakes in the evenings. I usually bake the cakes on Wednesday evening. Then, I can start the decorating on Thursday evening. If the cake is due on Friday, I have to get it all done on Thursday. If it’s due on Saturday, I have a little extra time.
For example, the pool cake was due Saturday morning. All the stuff you see on top of the cake (chairs, dog, girl, beach ball) were made a week in advance because they need time to dry and become sturdy and hard. That cake was decorated in all buttercream so it was much faster than one with fondant.
The poker tournament cake was especially difficult to find time for this week. Adam’s parents came into town on Thursday evening because his mom had surgery on her back on Friday morning. Like usual, I made the cakes on Wednesday and iced them with the chocolate buttercream on Thursday. On Friday, I covered the cake in fondant and then added all the hardened, pre-made poker chips, signs, and cards on Saturday. It may seem like I’m taking too long to do each step, but I like to let the cake “rest” between each major change. Sometimes, the weight of the icing or fondant can cause the cake to slide or slump. If I let it rest between each step, it’s easier to fix things like that.
If I had more time during the day, these cakes could be made in a couple of days but it’s more difficult for me right now since I can only find a few hours here and a few hours there. What’s nice is that I can make a lot of stuff ahead of time – cards, chairs, etc – and have them ready to just set on the cake. One day, I’ll log how many hours I put into a cake. I’ll be willing to bet that I easily work 30-40 hours on any one cake. That’s how many cake decorators can charge so much! I imagine that the poker cake could EASILY be sold for $150 at a bakery. One day, maybe I will be able to charge that too!
Speaking of …if you’d like me to make a cake for you, I prefer at least 2 weeks notice so that I have time to completely think it through. This way, I can think through any problems that may occur and make a lot of stuff ahead of time. If worse comes to worst, I can make a cake with 1 week notice but it’s a bit more stressful for me. When someone comes to me with an idea, I like to hear what they have in mind and then work up a couple of sketches over the next 24 hours. Then, I’ll run those by the person, get their feedback, and make the final cake plans.