Delivering cakes is simply part and parcel to having a cake decorating business. Most cake deliveries go off without a hitch, but small accidents do happen. But be prepared, and chances are nobody but you will know anything was ever amiss.
Be clean and tidy – kit items:
1. Clean apron
2. Hand sanitizer
3. Clean towel
Many cakes are delivered fully stacked and ready to hand over to a customer. But if you need to assemble a cake at a venue, be sure you have everything you need to follow food safety rules. As soon as you have moved everything to the setup area, and before you touch the actual cake, wash you hands. Use your own towel if you can. If hand-washing facilities aren’t available, use hand-sanitizer. Put on a clean apron from a Ziplock bag.
Be sure you’re level – kit items:
4. spirit level
5. cake board
Use a spirit level to check the table or staging area you are setting up on is level. A few degrees lean either way should affect the stability of the cake. But if the table is leaning because it’s on an uneven outdoor surface, or because the stylist thinks an antique chair would be a cute way to display your cake, speak up. If you don’t, you could receive the call to say the cake is on the floor in a few hours. If you make your concerns known, the onus is on the customer or the venue if anything goes wrong.
If you want to try and find a solution to a lopsided table, cut small pieces from your cardboard circle to help support table legs. You could also wedge pieces underneath the cake on the stand to level things out.
Sometimes, once the cake is assembled, you’ll find that a tier has settled a little and started to lean. Small pieces of fondant strategically placed under the tier can help correct the lean. Pipe royal icing into any gap that has opened up to disguise it. Smooth the royal icing with a finger lightly moistened with alcohol.
Clean up and repair – kit items:
9. corn starch
11. sugar glue
12. royal icing
Be prepared to clean up any little accidents with a few useful items. Clear alcohol like vodka on a Q-tip can wipe away areas where color may have run. A buff with cornstarch on a large paintbrush will remove any shine the alcohol leaves. On items where shine has been applied at home, but has dulled, a quick rub with some shortening will restore a glossy finish, at least for a few hours.
A pin is useful for removing tiny specks of lint or dust that may blow onto the cake in an outdoor venue.
Any decor that has become loose during the journey or fallen off completely can usually be secured back in place using royal icing or sugar glue (a mix of tylose and water). If cake features a large feature flower or item of decor that is precariously placed, it is often better to add this at the venue or make sure you have a replacement!
It’s so easy to stick a finger into your pristine buttercream finish while setting up a cake. Piping bags filled with buttercream in your cakes colors can be quickly applied and smoothed with a small spatula and piece of Viva paper towel.
A travel bag that includes small bottles, jars and a toothbrush holder is the ideal place to keep alcohol, corn starch, shortening and paintbrushes. Many pharmacies sell empty nail polish bottles which is perfect for storing small amounts of sugar glue that you can grab from the refrigerator and add to your kit before you leave on a delivery.
Taking care of business – kit items:
15. cutting guides
16. food labels (if required by your state)
18. Customer and venue phone number if applicable
20. business cards
Most regular customers won’t use your cutting guides. But as long as you supply them, there can be no arguments later than the cake wasn’t large enough to serve all the guests. If you’ve given them guides and they choose to cut large wedges of cake, you are not at fault. At weddings, many venues like you to provide cutting guides.
Many states require Cottage Food Operators (licensed home bakeries) to provide labels that list all the ingredients in the cake in order of prevalence. If this applies in your state, ensure you complete this in plenty of time before delivery. I may be necessary to weigh each tier before it is assembled.
Sometimes, your customer may not live on the street you thought she did, or a venue has moved, or has a different entrance for deliveries. Call the venue beforehand and ask if they have specific delivery instructions. Have telephone numbers on hand in case you get lost or delayed and be sure to charge your cell phone before you leave!
Photo via Royal Bakery
Although you may have taken photographs before you leave, sometimes the cake looks so much better in situ. In the case of a wedding cake where you are left to set up by yourself, always take a photograph before you leave so you have proof that the cake was delivered in perfect condition should problems arise later. If possible, ask the event manager to sign a contract to that effect once setup is complete.
Always have a stack of business cards to pass on to your customer or the event manager at a wedding venue. The party hostess can do wonders for your business, and venue
Lastly, take a snack and a bottle of water! Chances are you haven’t eaten for many hours – days perhaps if this is a large and stressful order, and it’s easy to become dehydrated and woozy. Energy bars or granola cookies can be packed into your kit and will always be handy when you need them.
Photo via Royal Bakery
Accidents can happen. Colors run, things break, fingers poke. But with a delivery kit full of the essentials, you are better prepared to deal with them when they do, and be able to pose next to your cake with a smile on your tired face.