I’ve always wanted to be able to make display cakes. Unfortunately for me, my store is too small to accommodate a display window or even a small display case to hold cakes in their actual sizes as samples for potential customers. All I have to present to clients are photos of my previous works. It’s really killing me that I don’t have a show piece, but what can I do?
When a friend informed me that there was going to be a three-day bridal fair at our local mall (Kasalang Filipino 2015 at Robinson’s Mall, Dumaguete), I jumped at the opportunity even if I only had less than a month to prepare. My friend and I shared one 2×3-square meter booth (she had a photobooth), and despite the space constraints, I was excited. I searched Pinterest for ideas on how to present my display. I came across a picture of a cake cart, and I liked it. It seemed like a novel idea in our place. I still haven’t seen anybody using a cake cart before. Besides, I’ve been wanting to have one built since last year. As a matter of fact, one of my goals for 2015 was to own a cake cart/booth that I could rent out to interested clients, but I slowly forgot about it as I realized how costly it would be (I initially thought that I would have to hire carpenters to be able to build one). The bridal fair was the perfect opportunity for me to have a cake cart built and ready for rentals.
My ever dearest supportive husband set out to build me the cake cart. It was his labor of love. I was so happy with how it came out. It was dainty and simple, painted in just black and white so that it would easily match any theme or color in case somebody would rent it.
I also had a little wooden wagon to hold my other displays. I was only able to prepare three cakes, 12 cupcakes (some of which got damaged during transport), and some decorated sugar cookies. I wish I had more time to plan out my display, but well, I had to make the most out of the time and resources that I had.
I decided to make a four-tier buttercream cake with buttercream flowers in sweet pastel colors for my main display. I had just learned the Korean style of piping from Jing Fernandez of Sorelle Floral Cakes, and I wanted to showcase my newly acquired skill. I realized that I enjoyed making piped buttercream flowers more than I ever enjoyed making sugar paste flowers, so I decided that this was going to be my specialty. My central display cake during the bridal fair would be the perfect way to announce this to potential clients.
I used four styrofoam dummies and secured each tier with toothpicks and double-sided tape. After the bridal fair, I would have to take the display cakes apart since I don’t have any space available to store them in. I was going to wash off the buttercream and re-use the styrofoam dummies for other cake projects. If I glued them on top of each other, I would have difficulty taking them apart and the dummies might be damaged. But if I would just “nail” them together with toothpicks reinforced with double-sided tape, I would only be left with little holes on the surface that could easily be covered up. As for the cupcakes, I also had styrofoam cupcake dummies that fit perfectly well inside a cupcake liner.
I used “butter-less buttercream” to decorate the dummy cake. Since nobody was going to eat it, taste wasn’t important. I used vegetable shortening, a few cups of confectioners sugar (lesser than what is required in a real buttercream recipe), and a few tablespoons of cornstarch. I ended up with a paste that had the same consistency as buttercream, but at a lesser cost.
I had two other display cakes for the bridal fair. One was a two-tier (8×4 and 6×6 inches) buttercream covered cake inspired by Queen of Hearts Couture Cakes.The other one is a three-tier fondant and buttercream cake in navy blue, white, and gold. The top tier (5×3 inches) was covered in fondant, and the pattern was cutout using a quartre foil cutter by Not Just Cakes by Annie. The middle tier has a chevron pattern, and the bottom tier is ruffled buttercream. I also made a sugarpaste couple after instructions taught by Brenda Walton’s Craftsy class. This cake is the only one that I could keep inside my glass display case at my store.
The bridal fair was a stressful event, but I learned a lot and got to try out new things from it. It was certainly a costly event and a high gamble. I spent a lot more money, manpower, and time than I initially estimated, but it was definitely very good exposure for my business. I actually had a boost in my wedding cake sales since joining the bazaar, and a lot of customers who asked me to make cakes for other occasions told me that they saw my booth during the bridal fair. I am already looking forward to the next bridal fair. In fact, my husband is even more excited than me. He already has plans for the next one. We both can’t wait!