Sunday, October 23, 2016

Are Fake Cakes Less Expensive Than Real Ones?

I see advice about getting fake cakes to reduce the cake budget all the time, and once again it's a grey area. Just like the argument about getting sheet cakes to supplement a smaller wedding cake, it's not always going to save you money.

Let me just say right off the bat that dummy cakes are pretty expensive, so the cost of the fake tier is going to be comparable to the cost of ingredients for a real tier. The only real savings that the baker will see is in the time that it takes to bake the cake. It still takes the same time to ice and decorate the fake as it does to do the real cake.

There are a few ways that you can incorporate a fake cake into your reception, and which you would use would depend on what your needs are.

First, if you only need a small number of cake servings and you want to make your cake look bigger, a fake tier can be added to the cake in order to make it look more impressive. As far as I've seen, most bakers will charge from 75 to 80% of what a real cake tier would cost for something like that. (Some, however, will charge full price, depending on the size of the fake tier.)

Doing this will add to the cost overall, but maybe not as much as adding a real tier would. In this case, the decorator has to ice and decorate the fake tier as a part of the whole cake. The time and materials to decorate are the same, so the decorator is only saving time by not having to bake the tier.

The second option is to serve sheet cakes, then get a fake cake to display at the reception. This probably won't save you much money unless you're buying really bad-to-mediocre sheet cakes. You'll still have the expense of either buying or renting the fake wedding cake on top of the cost of the sheets.

If you buy cheap sheet cake to save money, chance are that people won't eat it (that's what happens when you provide "inferior product.") That will waste a lot of money, so in terms of efficient spending, it's not a good idea. On the other hand, if you buy good sheet cake, you might as well just buy a good wedding cake and leave the dummy cake out of it. The cost of the good sheets plus the cost of the fake display cake will likely be close to, if not more than, what a good wedding cake would have been on its own.

The third way to use a dummy cake would be to either buy or rent a fake cake and not serve cake as the dessert at all. If you have a dessert included in a package at your reception then you'll save some money unless the cost of the dummy is comparable to a real cake. If you have to buy the dummy that might be the case, but a rental could be cheaper. One drawback to doing it this way is that you'll have a wedding cake on display during the reception, but you won't be serving any to your guests, which is a little strange.

And don't think that nobody will notice. They will, and they'll talk about how odd it was even if they don't tell you. Unless that's the normal thing for people to do in your area, and your guests expect it, they'll talk about it.

Another drawback is that rentals are rentals, and there's only so much you can do to personalize a fake cake that's been used by a number of people before you. If you want a basic design you can change some things on it, but as soon as you want to make a custom design, the charge for the rental will go up.

Basically, styrofoam dummies won't necessarily save money, and if you do a rented dummy cake you'll have an extra task to do after the wedding as far as returning the rented cake. Make sure that you do price comparisons if you think this an option you want to pursue. I've seen styrofoam cakes online that cost more than a wedding cake would cost, so I have no idea why anyone would want to use one. I've also seen them that are very cheap to rent, but I don't know how the cost would add up once you include the price of cake that you would buy to serve, if you needed to buy sheets. It all depends on how much you have to buy and what your particular situation is.

I've done fake tiers to add height to smaller wedding cakes, but I've never done entirely fake cakes for weddings. For the very reasonable amount that I charge for cakes, the savings would be eaten up by the cost of sheet cakes, and my clients would end up paying more for the fake than they would for a real cake.

Just do your homework and price everything out before believing that styrofoam cake=cheaper option!

Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC in Richmond VA, and cake supplies online at and

Friday, October 21, 2016

How To Wire A Flowering Vine And Attach It To A Cake

Now that I don't bake wedding cakes anymore, what would the next logical thing for me to make be? Yes,that's right, it's fake cakes.

But not those cakes that are meant to take the place of a wedding cake with a chunk cut out of the back to stick a real piece of cake in for the cake-cutting photos. I mean really fake cakes, made with totally non-edible materials. People use them for props for photo shoots, photo booths, staging houses, and theatrical productions. And it's fun to make a cake that someone can't eat, for some reason. So I've added some fakes like this one to my repertoire:

This cake was made from totally inedible materials, including the silk flowers. I could have used gumpaste, but for the purposes of fake food you don't want to do anything that could be affected by humidity or draw ants...

So anyway, I was making a vine to put around this little faker, and I decided to do a quick video about how to make the vine and attach a flowering vine to a cake. A real cake, not a fake one. And how to anchor it to the side of a tier so that it won't move around and take out half of the icing on the cake. Here you go:

Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC in Richmond VA, and cake supplies online at and

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Facebook Marketing Part 3- When And How Often To Post and An Extra Tip For You

Click here for part 1--Analytics and Ads, and Part 2- What To Post.

The next part of the Facebook marketing puzzle is when to post. There are a lot of articles and charts out there that will tell you when the best times are, but the most accurate thing to do would be to check the analytics for your own account.

Go to your business page and click on the Insights button at the top. This will take you to your analytics page, which you should be fairly familiar with by now if you've been looking at your post engagement. Once the insights page is open, click on the left side on the Posts section. This will bring up a chart that shows WHEN your fans are on Facebook. If your fans are on in the late afternoon, you should post in the late afternoon. If your fans are on in the middle of the night, you might want to look to see if you have a lot of fans who aren't actually your local customers, because they might be in a different time zone!

This brings to mind an extra tip...You might want to go through your fan list occasionally and get rid of fake accounts. Yes, it will drop your likes number, but your goal is engagement, and if a bunch of fake accounts have liked your page it will penalize you. If you have 500 fake likes and 100 real likes, and those 100 people all like your posts, that's 12% engagement. If you get rid of those 500 fake profiles and the real 100 still like your posts, you now have 100% engagement, which would be amazing.

So anyway, get rid of fake accounts. How can you know that they're fake? Let's just say that if you start getting a ton of likes from foreign countries that are known as scammer countries, it's likely that they're not real people. Or they're real people, but they're earning money by liking Facebook pages for pay, and they've chosen yours as a random one to make them look legitimate. Scammers will like Facebook pages and group to make their fake accounts look real so you'll get a wave of people from that one country liking your page if they've found you. Just delete them, they're not your customer anyway. 

Okay, so back to analytics. Once you see when your fans are online, start posting during those hours. Schedule posts or do it "live," but post a lot. 4-6 times a day is not unreasonable, even though it seems like a lot.

You don't need to keep that pace up, just do it for a while to get some traction on your page. Your posts won't be shown to everyone who's liked it, so don't worry about that. You might lose a few likes, but don't worry about that either. I guarantee that if you increase your engagement, and you post things that people like, you'll earn more fans than you'll lose. Once you get your engagement numbers up, and Facebook is satisfied that your page is worthy of being shown to people, you don't have to post as often.

And one more thing...If you want your posts to be shown to more people, rumor is that if you choose a category for your page that isn't business-related, it won't be treated like a business. Business page posts are choked off because Facebook wants to sell ads, so if you choose any category that does NOT give you the review section, it will probably be seen more often. I tried that out when they first stopped showing business posts as often, and it did increase my views, so who knows. But it's worth trying.

Next week: After all of this advice, I discuss whether you should even bother working on your facebook posting at all.

Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC in Richmond VA, and cake supplies online at and

Friday, October 14, 2016

How To Make Realistic Fondant Or Gumpaste Popcorn For Cakes

Fondant popcorn that most people make is pretty cartoon-y, which is fine if you're going for that look. If you want to make more realistic popcorn, though, you should get some real popcorn to study first, then ditch the cutters, since you don't need them. If I'm going to go to the trouble of making fake food, I like it to look more realistic, so this is what I came up with:

I'll add that if there's a cake that you could just use real popcorn on, do that, it's a lot faster! But if you want to be fancy and impress people, here's a video showing how I figured out a way to make realistic gumpaste popcorn without cutters.

This is the kind of thing I would sell online, but it's a little time-consuming, so it ain't cheap...Honestly, I'd use real popcorn on it, probably kettle corn (which is the best kind of popcorn if we're telling the truth). Try it out and let me know what you think of this way of making it, or if you can figure out another way to make it better!

Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC in Richmond VA, and cake supplies online at and

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Facebook Marketing Part 2-- What To Post and Not To Post

Last week in Part 1 I went over the basics of using your analytics to check your business page posts for engagement. If you haven't read that yet, you should, unless you already know about checking for engagement. Click here for that information

So let's talk some more about engagement...Facebook rates every post that you put up for how well it engages your page fans. (Remember that engagement is likes, comments, and shares.) If you post a bunch of stuff that nobody engages with, FB's ratings system sees that, and says"well, this account posts stuff that nobody wants to see. So we're not going to show its other posts either." So if you post the most amazing thing you've ever seen, it might not be shown to your fans if the ten posts before it were garbage.

That's why you need to pay attention to what kinds of posts are interesting to your readers. If you see what people like, you can post more of that and get more engagement, which will then make Facebook show your other posts to more people. And if you've run some targeted ads like I outlined before, those posts will be shown to your actual customers, not to a bunch of people who will never buy your cakes.

I've seen a bunch of cake pages that basically post nothing but memes and pictures of witty sayings and slogans. But guess what? Those are the things that people are liking and sharing on that page. Those posts have lots of comments and shares, but when the page posts a link to a blog post, their likes and comments go WAY down. It could be that those memes are the only thing that keeps their blog posts from being totally ignored by Facebook's algorithm. If they didn't post the memes, which drive engagement, their blog posts would likely not be shown to people at all.

I'm not saying to go post only memes, but it does explain why people post so many of them. I did an experiment once where I posted a picture of two pies and asked which flavor people preferred. Here's the photo:

Okay...Want to guess if this photo got a lot of attention or not? Yes, it did! So it increased my engagement, and Facebook increased the probability that my other posts would be shown to more people as a result. And all because cake ladies like pie. A LOT.

My point is that there are ways that you can manipulate the system so that the posts that you actually WANT your customers to see, get seen. Check your analytics to see what's popular, post more of that even if you think it's not completely business-relevant, and then when you do have something that you want people to see it will be more likely to be included in their feeds. Don't go meme-crazy, but you get the point.

What should you post?

Start with cake photos and photos of work-in-progress. Sneak peeks, finished wedding cakes set up at the venue, people cutting the cake, kids with their birthday cakes, etc. Make sure to tag people in the posts if you can, because that will lure people to your page to see where they were mentioned.

You can share other people's photos, tutorials, etc. Go through the business pages that you follow by clicking on the "see pages feed" buttons on your personal page and your business page and save posts for later sharing. To save a post, click on the little down arrow at the top right of the post and click on "save post." Your saved posts will show up on your personal page's home page on the left side under "saved." Posts that are share-able will have the share button on them, and you can click that and choose which page to share it to. Make sure to share it to your business page!

Rumor has it that Facebook loves it when you use the word "facebook" in posts and will show it to a lot more people than usual, but I haven't found that to be 100% true. If you want to try it out, be my guest.

Facebook seems to love video, but put it directly into the post, don't link off-site (more below on that).

You can post a question (add a photo to it) to get people to interact. Make sure it's not just a yes or no question, and something that's slightly controversial will usually get people talking! But on that note...

What should you NOT post?

Posting controversial topics is okay BUT you need to make sure that you keep it on the clean and less-than-hideously-controversial side. Remember that your page is for your customers, not for you! Posting about politics, religion, or anything that will cause a fight at the dinner table is probably better left off of your business page. Ask whether people think that internet dress is blue or white, but don't talk about this election (oy...).

Don't post things that lecture customers about why cake decorators need to earn a lot of money. That meme that goes around occasionally about why a cake isn't "just flour and eggs" and has a long list of how long each part of making a cake takes comes to mind. Don't berate your customers. And don't complain about customers on your business page, that's rude, and you're not going to get a lot of likes from people for that kind of thing.

Facebook tends to downgrade links that take people outside of Facebook. If I link to a youtube video directly so that it takes people off of Facebook when they click the link, FB will show that to fewer people than it would if I embeddded the video on my page. They want to keep you on FB so you can see more ads. Leaving will make them lose ad money and Facebook doesn't like that. So try to avoid outside links. One way to get around this is to post the link directly under the post, in the first comment area.

Facebook also tends to dislike posts that have only text in them. Try to use a photo with every post.

Next week: When should you be posting?

Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC in Richmond VA, and cake supplies online at and