The ‘reality’ of cake…..

19 Jul

This posting is off of the beaten path for this blog.  Oh, and to clarify, this is just Frosting Chick’s opinions.  In fact, Fondant Chick may or may not have an opinion of this, I’m not sure.  She’s been on vacation and we haven’t had a chance to chat yet.  Anyway, on with my gripe.

Have you seen any of the new ‘reality’ cake shows popping up everywhere on t.v.?  DC Cupcakes, The Bakery Bunch, etc….  As a home baker, these shows are frustrating beyond belief.  First, a disclaimer…

I do not own, operate, or even participate in any kind of commercial bakery or reality show.  I like decorating cakes.  I like trying to do things out of frosting that I see on shows that say you can only do it in fondant.  I like pushing myself and seeing what kind of ideas I can come up with.  I like making cakes for folks who can’t afford $5/slice for an original cake.  I can’t be creative at the $ job, so I get to be creative in  my cake room.

Ok, so on with the gripe.

“The Bakery Bunch” on TLC.  A couple runs a California bakery while raising their 4 1/2 year old triplets.  WTF?  Are you serious?    What small biz baker, in their right mind, would convince a bride that instead of the cupcakes the bride wants, that her bakery will do 145 FONDANT COVERED MINI CAKES??????  All the while the hubby is bumbling around, taking care of the kids and the dogs (why do people who are overwhelmed by kids think it’s a great idea to throw pets in the mix, didn’t ya’ll learn anything from Kate Gosselin?)   Are you freakin’ serious?  And then pisses and moans that she got 18 hours sleep in 4/5 days, and had a LOT of over-time with the employees.  Well, hell yeah you did.  YOU decided to convince someone that the 145 cupcakes they wanted wouldn’t do, and then talked them into fondant covered mini-cakes, which is a helluva lot more work, and then didn’t plan accordingly.  Don’t get me started on the use of fabric ribbon…  And also, you decide to do this the week one of your children is scheduled for surgery?????  Oh, and then you also take  2 of your 4 1/2 year olds to the bakery so you can have some time together, and they can make a get well cake for their brother (insert messy/chaotic scene here).  And then you’re exhausted at the end of the week?  Really?  Maybe it’s just me….  Oh, a suggestion for the biz owner; keep the hubby as a supply runner only.  Anyone who takes on more orders for an already over-scheduled bakery without checking has no business taking orders.

“DC Cupcakes” on TLC.  I was really interested in this show via the promo’s.  I gotta hand it to anyone who dumps their corporate jobs to strike out on their own.  I liked the fact that they showed some stumbling and bumbling, cocoa flying out of a mixer, and the usual/unusual fumbling that comes with running a commercial kitchen.  Sigh, then the usual crap begins.

I watched the episode where the girls took on a cupcake job for a local dog shelter.  Wonderful charity and I give the girls props for volunteering.  Then “my” problems begin.   Neither of these girls have any idea of how to build the structure for the life sized dog made of cupcakes.  They call in an artist/friend, who gets the structure made out of chicken wire.  Then they fill it with newspaper and spray foam that looks like it’s made for home improvement projects.  NOT STURDY!  They didn’t show if/how they secured the structure to the board, but by the end, the dog had a mean looking lean.  Too many mini cupcakes on a structure made of chicken wire.  I’m just sayin’…  Then they bring in “Mommy” and her dog Poochie.  Into the bakery!  Poochie is not a trained dog, and any kind of canine chaos you can imagine ensues.  Then Mommy brings Poochie to watch the girls load this huge cupcake dog into the delivery vehicle, and of course, Poochie jumps right on in.  Um, HELLO!  Don’t call to Poochie in a high pitched voice while you’re loading hundreds of cupcakes into an SUV.  My next issue.  Only 3 people in the bakery, the 2 owners and 1 employee, know how to do their “signature swirl” for frosting their cupcakes.  Really?  You have customers lined up for up to an hour to buy your goods, and only three of you know how to produce the final product?  Me thinks you should start your interviews with a piping bag and a few cupcakes, to get a feel for your prospectvie employees.

“Cake Boss” on TLC (seeing a theme here?  Maybe all of those critics of TLC/Jon & Kate + 8 are on to something….)

I like Buddy.  I really do.  I like that he tries to make the cakes as close to 100% edible as possible, and doesn’t use a lot of styrofoam like some baker in Baltimore we all know and love.  My problem is the term “edible”.  Has anyone eaten a fondant covered hunk of cereal treats?  Or piping gel? Yuk.  Everytime I see these materials used, I just want to gag.  And if I have to see the employee’s of Carlo’s Bakery go down a flight of stairs with a cake instead of using the elevator they seem to forget we have seen, well, it makes me angry.  I understand that there is pressure for some ‘excitement’ and all, but we don’t watch the show for the train wrecks.  We watch to see the artistry that we know Buddy has.  He has some mad piping skills that he doesn’t get to use that often, but man, when he does, it’s heaven.   Maybe some of that will change when they move to their bigger facility.  And maybe I won’t get the urge to slap his sister Mary as often.  I’m sorry, but if my sister (or anyone) tosses a cake on the floor to get my attention, she’s wearing the damn thing home.

*Whew*, ok, I think I’m done kvetching…  If the scenarios I described above are all scripted for “good t.v.”, I’ve got news for TLC, it’s NOT good t.v.  These shows make these professionals look like morons.  I admit, I have been behind the 8 ball many a time, due to my inexperience of time management (you try holding down a full time job and doing cakes), and there hasn’t been one cake I’ve done where I haven’t learned something.  And yes, I don’t have the pressure of making a t.v. show, but damn, TLC, let these folks do their craft and show us the beauty of their edible art.  It’s really all I ask.  I’m going back to watching cake competition shows only.  At least on those, if the cake falls, it’s not for the sake of ratings.

14 Responses to “The ‘reality’ of cake…..”

  1. Fondant Chick July 19, 2010 at 10:22 am #

    Geez, I leave for a week and you spend it like this? LOL
    Actually, I agree. Mostly.
    Have you seen this?

  2. Debi Brim, Indianapolis IN July 19, 2010 at 1:13 pm #

    What a wonderful rendition of what many of us professionals are saying! These shows just make us look like boobs and give the wrong impression to every cake-buyer out there! This blog entry needs to be sent straight to TLC executives!

  3. Denise Leo July 19, 2010 at 9:52 pm #

    Yes, so true. I ‘ve always hated the idea of an “entirely edible” cake that I’d only want to eat 75% of. Ridiculous. I guess for them, it’s the challenge of perfect presentation. Thanks for saying what was on my mind. And keep making 100% delicious cakes!

  4. Frostine July 20, 2010 at 9:35 pm #

    I can’t stand all the ridiculous drama. These people can’t realy run a bakery that way, can they? I’ve just stopped watching them all together.

  5. Hayden July 21, 2010 at 9:46 am #

    I was laughing out loud at your post! I have been saying that cake shows are “horribly” scripted for so long. I wish I had a dollar for every person who came in the bakery and asked me “So, do you watch those cake shows on tv?”. UGH!

  6. fakhikid August 2, 2010 at 12:00 pm #

    I’ve been all over the internet the last few days digesting every piece of information I can get. Sorry my english, but this is great site and nice text , I wil add to my bookmarks. Thank you.

    • chick2 August 2, 2010 at 11:23 pm #

      Your English is just fine! Thanks for bookmarking us and I hope we help with whatever you want to know!

  7. Desiree August 3, 2010 at 3:30 pm #

    Have you seen the episode of Cake Boss with “Bridezilla”? The bride came into the shop, went upstairs into the bakery, and when she saw her white on white cake said, “Eww, it’s so ugly” and told him that she wanted a new cake-by tomorrow! Somehow this crazy nut got left in the room with all of the piping bags full of colored icing (and, the camera man, who I’m sure had NOTHING to do with what occurred during Buddy’s absence). Anyway, when Buddy came back into the room she had taken the colored icing and did some colorful piping of her own on the wedding cake and had the nerve to tell him that she wanted a new cake and that he should look at that one as an “art lesson” and “inspiration” !! O..M..G!!! THEN, he actually MADE HER A NEW CAKE!! Now, I am a home baker also and have never worked in a bakery. But, I do not know ANYONE who would actually have made her a new cake that was bigger and better (and prettier) than the first one. Everyone that I know of would have either delivered the one that she “helped” with (and put up a sign that said “Cake by Buddy however, decorating courtesy of the bride, herself”) OR would have just let her wedding go cake-less!!!

    • chick2 August 4, 2010 at 8:14 pm #

      The “Bridezilla” episode, and the one mentioned earlier about dropping a cake down a flight of stairs, really disappointed me as far as Buddy goes, but then again, I don’t have a camera crew here while I’m making Grandma Betty’s 85th birthday cake, so I kind of forgive…. but still!

  8. Scott August 22, 2010 at 3:36 pm #

    I have to agree with everyone here!
    Being a home baker, no official business yet…I’m beginning to HATE how badly the cake world is being represented by most of the “for-ratings’-sake” “reality” shows.
    My friends and family, gods bless ’em, see or hear about the antics on the above mentions programs, and ask me some of the CRAZIEST questions. “Do you do this, like I see on tv?” “Do they really do THAT?” On, and on, these far out questions come, from very well-educated people. For them to believe it’s really “as seen on tv”…I shudder to think what those un-initiated to the cake world truths must think.
    I do my best to represent…and to teach those around me how things really work, and am always open to hearing what is perceived by the public. I hope that my work, and willingess to be open makes some little bit of difference.

  9. Tammy March 14, 2011 at 12:49 pm #

    I totally agree with your dislike for “reality cake shows”. As a home-based cake designer I am frustrated by the expectation from people that I will create a 3d gravity defying cake for $50. But I find that your criticism of ribbon, cereal treats, piping gel, etc. a little harsh. I think it is important to remember that many top quality, established cake designers use these things to achieve beautiful results! ie: Peggy Porschen, Kate Sullivan etc., etc. Anyway, I think you’re right on with all the staged stuff! Just wanted to put in my two cents about other “cake tricks”! BTW, I make my fondant and gel from scratch and it tastes pretty good.

    • 2 Chicks March 14, 2011 at 2:37 pm #

      Tammy, thank you for leaving a comment! I love hearing from home bakers from all over. I’m sure cereal treats, piping gel and the like have their place, it has just been my experience, however limited, that these do not go over well with my customers. I think cereal treats are over used – especially on television, when I have, in fact, done things with cake that I have seen the tv bakers do with cereal treats.

      I would be interested in hearing about your homemade piping gel, because the store bought stuff is NASTY!

  10. Flower June 22, 2012 at 11:54 am #

    This comment is late…but thank you! Thank you for voicing what I have been thinking for the longest time. In the age of the internet I should know that there are bound to be other people who feel the same. I hate that Buddy makes this gigantic over the top cake…and in reality it is rice crispy treats covered in fondant. Or he makes a huge sculpted cake…our of modeling chocolate. I want to see cake! Not rice crispies all the time.

    /end rant.

  11. Wilda March 20, 2013 at 11:22 am #

    Your entire article, Custom Window Treatments “The reality of cake.
    . | Chick2’s Blog” was indeed worth writing a comment on! Only wished to announce you truly did a wonderful work. Regards -Courtney

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