A cake designer is a professional baker who specializes in making and decorating cakes for all occasions. Examples include cakes for weddings, birthdays, holidays, and other special events. Cakes are often the centrepiece of the food and drink table. As such, they have to look amazing. Designers bake and decorate custom cakes based on the requirements of customers. Creative designs are used and adapted to produce a unique and visually striking product for each customer.
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Designers start with baking the cakes. This process involves mixing ingredients using commercial quality baking equipment and tools. The cake batter is then transferred to pans where it is placed in ovens and baked for the appropriate amount of time. After the cake is allowed to cool, the designer begins to assemble the end product. This can often involve placing one or more pieces of cake on top of one another to get a desired look. Cake stands and other similar products may be used to help achieve a desired multi tier presentation. Once completed, a cake designer is then able to decorate the cake.
To decorate a cake, he or she uses various specialized tools including moulds, spatulas, decorating pens and stencils. Frosting or fondant is placed on the cake and then moulded into a certain shape. Cake designers manipulate the frosting or fondant to create a custom designed cake based on instructions provided by the customer.
Once finished, the cake is either picked up by the client or it must be delivered. Delivery involves packaging the cake for transport and driving the finished product to the appropriate location. Designers ensure that cakes are delivered safely to the customer's location at the date and time requested.
Creativity is the number one requirement to become a successful cake designer. It is a constant requirement to think outside the box and to push the limits of creative cake design. Customers expect to be impressed with the final product. As such, you have to be willing to work hard to develop new design ideas.
Cake designers must also be dedicated to their work. As with any creative profession, having to constantly think of ways to impress the customers can take its toll. Designers must be willing to work long hours and to redo work when necessary. They are also required to meet specific deadlines. This can become an issue if equipment breaks down or some other unforeseen event occurs. Having the dedication to persevere through difficult challenges can often be the difference between failure and success.
Designers must also possess a degree of business acumen. The majority of them are business owners, and as such, they are required to juggle the creative side with the business side. Customer and employee relations are important issues they have to contend with. Established cake designers often have a small number of employees that work under them, and coordinating the activities of these employees is often a time consuming task. Supplies and equipment also have to be reordered when needed. To do this, a designer has to keep an account of how much stock is on hand. Finally, they have to make sure the needs of the customers are being met. This includes honouring deadlines as well as communicating any potential issues or problems with customers.
Multitasking is a required skill, and the ability to shift between multiple roles within the business is very important, as is being able to complete two or more tasks simultaneously while maintaining quality standards.
Designers typically own small shops from which they work and produce their cakes. A large workspace for baking, assembling and decorating cakes is required. A commercial quality oven is typically used. Busy cake designers work long hours and weekends to fulfill the demands of their customers, and long stretches of work without sitting down or taking a break is fairly common.
Cake designers often hire assistants, as there are usually a series of different jobs being completed or planned at the same time. Typically, all hands are often working together in an assembly line fashion to make sure the cake is created and delivered on time.
As with any small business venture, the money that cake designers can make varies greatly depending on the demand for their service. The majority make between $20,000 to $50,000 per year after expenses. Those with businesses located in metropolitan and wealthy suburban areas will typically do better than those in rural areas.