Custom cakes are for special occasions, not the everyday. So its natural that certain questions come up, repeatedly for me, but the first time for my clients. I’m happy to answer any questions, and the blog is the perfect place for these.
Today’s question, How long does it take to make a specialty cake?
-The process of making a custom cake starts with brainstorming in the very first phone call. From there, ideas are refined and developed until its time to sketch. 10 minutes to 1 hour
-Depending on the amount of detail and your sketching abilities (or lack thereof in my case) a sketch can take any where from 15 minutes to an hour. There are often revisions as well, each sketch adding on to that timing.
-Once the design is set, supplies are ordered. Research is begun to find the right source material. 1 hour minimum.
-Many cakes require that detailed plans and templates be created. 30 minutes to 2 hours.
-The amount of details incorporated into the cake will determine how early you have to start working on it. For something with say sugar shoes, each piece needs to be made, and then dried overnight, so those would need to be started almost two weeks in advance. And over that time, will take from 1-4 hours to complete one shoe. Most things will be made in the beginning of the week the cake is due. Sugar flowers are made petal by petal and can take anywhere from 1 to 12 hours over several days to create. A design heavy in sugar flowers will take much longer. A design that includes modeled sugar figurines will add at least one hour per figure for simple ones, and several hours for more complex, layered ones, again, with days of drying time in between.
-Then there is baking. Its about 15 minutes to mix cake batter, and about an hour or so to bake a 3″ thick cake. The cakes then cool for hours, but that is not active time. There’s 30 minutes for making buttercream, 10 minutes for making sugar syrup, and additional time if the buttercream is flavored, say caramel. Then the cakes are split, filled and chilled. Then they are covered in buttercream and made ready for their final covering of fondant. If its a shaped cake, you’ll also carve it and it will get a few additional layers of buttercream. For a basic shaped cake, the time required is about an hour. For carved add at least another 1-2 hours onto that.
-Once the cake is prepared, it gets covered in fondant, 10 minutes per tier, stacked, 15 minutes, and then decorated. Lots of details lots of time. A simple cake can be completed in about an hour from here, more complex structure would add as well. Sculpted cakes can be dressed, painted, details added and take anywhere from 2-6 hours down to the ribbon being glued on the edge of the board.
All told, I can spend anywhere between 6 and 30 hours on a cake. And after this list,
I’m sure you can see why!
Let me know what cake question you’d like answered in the comments and I’ll be sure to get to it.