I dare to say every cake artist goes through this. And many of us get a little mad/uncomfortable when it happens. It’s the dreaded “I want you to make me an exact copy of this cake”.
I must admit, before I started making cakes, I said those words when I was looking for the cake for our wedding. Back in pre-Pinterest times, brides were all about wedding-inspiration site theknot.com. So, there I went looking for my perfect cake. I knew I wanted something different, simple, and petite. I fell so in love with my cake I even went on an online quest to find the exact pedestal it was pictured on, bought it and paid the ridiculous shipping to Puerto Rico. But now I’m sure that if I describe what I decided on, you’ll know exactly what cake I’m talking about! Flash forward to four years later… It’s been done hundreds of times, just by what you can find on the internet. Some exceptional, some good, some bad…
“In a world where almost everything is already invented, a truly “new” idea is a challenge to come by.”
I do have to say, my cake really was one of the most beautiful cakes ever, and incredibly delicious, and guests at our wedding still rave about both the design and the taste. By the way, my cake artist did make some changes to it that I didn’t expect, but I ended loving it more because of them. One change she made is not really related to the theme of this post, but was really important: size. A “petite” cake would have not worked for 240 guests (Yeah, I know, I’m Puerto Rican with a Puerto Rican guestlist), although we did order a separate sheet cake to compensate. But with such a large guestlist, a small cake would have seemed lost in the venue. Of course, my lovely 14″ inch ceramic pedestal didn’t work and they had to make a last minute substitution. From the 16 inches tall cake I expected, I ended with a humongous cake that was about twice the size, so much so that the sheet cake only was enough to feed most of our guests. I mean, this cake artist really loved making giant cakes, apparently.
The point is, I too was one of those customers that would probably drive cake artists crazy -although a more understanding one because I did have some caking experience. But after getting further into cake-making, I learned it’s not ethical to make exact replicas of other people’s cakes.
I guess there’s some cake artists that don’t think like me. Some would prefer to be given exact directions or pictures to copy, maybe because they don’t feel confident in their own designing abilities. Others prefer to sit down with the customer and talk about ideas, colors and things the customer likes to create a custom sketch. And others mix and match textures and techniques from cakes around the web to create something “new”. Sure, in a world where almost everything is already invented, a truly “new” idea is a challenge to come by. Sometimes I’ve thought something was “my” idea just to find out later that someone else did it before.
But I think the extra work is worth it. You’ll expand your creative horizons and be more proud of your creations every time, because they are YOURS. Plus, I think it’s kind of special to have a cake made where all thoughts went into pleasing you. And although I’m just starting to create original sketches, that’s what I see myself doing from now on and I hope to get more awesome customers who trust me enough to design for them. I challenge you as a cake maker to give yourself the opportunity to start designing for yourself, if you don’t already do. True, it will not be easy, but this is one of those times when we just need to get out our pad and pencil (or iPad) and say: “Okay… I can cake this!”