Tuesday, March 21, 2017

How To make Chocolate Leaves

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Here's a quick look at how to make some chocolate leaves. I actually used candy melts for these, but real chocolate would taste better! Make sure to temper the chocolate correctly if you use the real thing so that you avoid the dusty-looking bloom on them when they cool off.

Start with some leaf presses or veiners, or some real rose or lemon leaves. It's best to use leaves that have no pesticides on them if you use real ones. If you're lucky enough to own some tacky plastic-leaved artificial plants from the 1970's, you can use those leaves, too!

Melt the chocolate or candy coating.

Using a clean paintbrush, paint a layer of the chocolate onto the BACK of the leaf. You want to use the backs so that the veining shows up the right way when you take the chocolate off after it cools off.

After the leaf is painted, paint more chocolate onto it so that it's about 1/8" thick.

Put the painted leaves on a piece of waxed paper to allow them to set up.

Using a leaf veiner is the same process. Paint the veiner and set it aside to set up.

After an hour or so (wait longer if you can to make sure they're really set up and ready to be removed) peel the leaves off of the chocolate carefully to expose the imprinted side of the chocolate leaf.

You might have to pick the edges of the leaves off if the leaves tear a little when you remove them.

And here are the leaves:

To remove them from the veiner, peel the veiner off carefully to detach the chocolate from the veiner.

This gives you some really nicely detailed leaves that people can actually eat. It's pretty easy to do, and it gives you a nice result.

Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC,  online cake supplies at  www.acaketoremember.com and www.acaketoremember.etsy.com

Friday, March 17, 2017

How to Sugar Roses

I made this cake years ago, but I've always liked it because of the sugared roses. Sugaring roses or other flowers gives them a crystalline appearance and helps preserve them so the color doesn't change as quickly. You can do them ahead of time then use them when you need them...You'll need to experiment to see how long various types of flowers will last, though, since they all behave differently.

Here's the video:

Always remember to put a barrier between the flower and the cake if there are pesticides on the flowers, and never insert stems directly into a cake!

Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC,  online cake supplies at  www.acaketoremember.com and www.acaketoremember.etsy.com

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Worst Business Advice I Ever Heard

If you're in the business of selling cakes, you're going to get a lot of advice from people who don't know what they're talking about. Frighteningly, some of them will also be in the business of selling cakes too.

I was thinking about what the worst advice I'd heard was, and it all came back to pricing.

The first bad advice is to take the cost of your ingredients and multiply it times three to get your selling price. No, just no. That won't give you enough profit to maintain a business.

The second part to this is to price low to start with because "You're just starting out." No. You don't need to price at the top of the range in your area, but if you're good enough to sell cakes, you should be charging the correct amount. It's a really bad idea to gather a client base that wants to underpay, then try to raise prices later.

The third part to this is the idea that everyone "deserves" a custom cake, so you should sell them for cheap. No, they don't. A custom cake is a luxury item, not a right. You'll end up being the cheap cake lady who burns out from being overworked if you try to give everyone more than they want to pay for.

If you see yourself in any of these three pieces of advice, go get my pricing guide and force yourself to take a hard look at your process. Go through the worksheets and do the math to figure out how much you should be charging, then stick with it. Don't fall for bad advice, do the math and figure it out the right way.

Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC,  online cake supplies at  www.acaketoremember.com and www.acaketoremember.etsy.com

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Adding Royal Icing Flowers To Your Molded Sugar Cake Topper

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Last month I made a little molded sugar cake topper, and then added some royal icing flowers to it. The blog post about the topper is here: Molded Sugar Topper, and the video of the flowers is here: Royal icing flowers

To put these together, add some royal icing to the center of the cavity in the topper. You can also use a small styrofoam ball in the topper if all of your flowers are wired, but in this case some aren't. I used a mound of icing to attach the larger flowers, then added the smaller ones in.

You could also put a ball on the top of the topper, then pipe rosettes or attach other flowers to it to make a rounded topper.

Fill in the spaces between the larger flowers with the wired royal icing filler.

Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC,  online cake supplies at  www.acaketoremember.com and www.acaketoremember.etsy.com

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

How To Make Self-Promotion Feel Less Slimy

After my post about being a shy introvert who hates networking meetings, I tried to think of a few things that I've learned over the years that have made self-promotion less icky-feeling.

I couldn't think of many. Self-promotion always has that hint of "ugh" around it, but at the same time, we need to learn how to do it if we're going to run our own businesses. Whether it's networking or just writing the copy for an ad, you have to be willing to tell people why they should hire you.

If you have your elevator pitch worked out, that's the first step. That should sum up the point of your business and what you do. You can take that and elaborate on it for writing ads or website copy, or for social media posts. Keep it in mind and use it as the basis for what you put out there if you get stuck.

Also remember that you're in business because you provide a useful service that will help people out in some way. You're not there to just take their money and give them nothing, so look at self-promotion as letting people know how you can solve a problem that they have. Telling someone that you do custom cakes can be useful for them because they'll know who to call when they have to get a special birthday cake for someone. Or they'll be able to refer you to a friend, and that makes them look smart.

Another way to keep self-promotion less sleazy is to do it judiciously. Think of the people who tag you incessantly on facebook on those posts where they're selling candles or whatever's in style to sell this week. That's just aggravating. Don't just scream "BUY MY STUFF" to anyone, make sure that you're targeting people who might actually be interested in your stuff. It goes back to solving their problem...If you target your promotions, you'll be more likely to be helping instead of harassing.

There are a lot of marketing theories out here about how many times people have to see your company before they'll buy from you. Don't take that too far, like the company who started sending me about three emails a day after I signed up for their mailing list. It was ridiculous, and I ended up unsubscribing about four days after I signed up. If you contact people with information that's useful and consistent, but not excessive, they'll be more likely to not end up hating you.

I send out my newsletter when I have a reason to. Some people like to send one every week, but I don't like to send them out unless I have something that I think is worth promoting. Every newsletter I send out is going to have some kind of discount, or link to something that I found interesting and thought my VIP Club members would also like. I don't self-promote just to self-promote, because that's what feels slimy to me.

If you try to provide some value in every piece of self-promotion, it will make it feel better. Try it for a month and see if you feel better about tooting your own horn.

Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC,  online cake supplies at  www.acaketoremember.com and www.acaketoremember.etsy.com