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Customer requesting I use their recipe


atcake
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But I'm just not sure how stable this would be. They've requested a rootbeer cake, which is fine, but I don't think I'd recommend using it for an entire wedding cake. Here's the recipe they've requested:

Makes 8 servings.

Ingredients:

1 and 1/4 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cups sugar

1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened

3/4 cups A and W root beer

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking sod

1 egg

2 rootbeer flavored candy sticks, crushed

1 container frozen whipped topping, thawed.

Directions:

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom and side of round pan, 8x 1 and 1/2 or 9x 1

and 1/2 inches, with

shortening, lightly flour.

2. Beat all ingredients except whipped topping in large bowl with electric mixer on low

speed 30 seconds,

scraping bow constantly. Beat on high speed 2 minutes, scraping bow occasionally. Pour into

pan.

3. Bake 30- 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes remove

from pan to wire

rack. Cool completely abotu 1 hour and 30 minutes.

4. Cut cake horixontally to make 2 layers . (Mark side of cake with toothpicks, and cut with

long, thin serrated

knife.) Spread about half of the whiped topping over the bottom of the cake. Add top of cake.

Top with

remaining whipped topping. Store covered in refrigeration

My question is, does this sound like it would be a stable cake? I could recommend it for a groom's cake, but I just don't think I like it for a wedding cake. Also, I can't even imagine how this would be to make it for over 100 ppl. You certainly couldn't do one giant batch of it.

Any recommendations?

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I hope you're a personal chef and not a professional baker: My first instinct is, a line got crossed here.

I'm a canning clean freak because there's no sorry large enough to cover the, "Oops! I gave you botulism" regrets.

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I am not a professional baker, but maybe you could suggest making this for the top tier and they could have it for their 1st anniversary or when they get back from their honeymoon.

I hope you suggested frosting with something other than coolwhip.

I would be concerned that not all of the guests will like rootbeer as I stated above.

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If the cake sucks, collapses, disintegrates when cut or is otherwise screwed up you'll be blamed.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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my concern is that the cake would have to stay refrigerated until right before they wanted to cut the darn thing. It would not be displayed at all. Besides, lukewarm coolwhip is just not all that appetizing to me tastewise. A major health issue of having a refrigerated item held at room temperature for several hours before it is intended to be eaten is not a good idea.

It is good to be a BBQ Judge.  And now it is even gooder to be a Steak Cookoff Association Judge.  Life just got even better.  Woo Hoo!!!

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What I would do is make the cake once & see how it does. Test the recipe, see how you like to work with it. I mean did they make it up or have they had it before? Now the cool whip thing you can get around with substituting Rich's Cream I think it is called in my neck of the woods, or Bettercreme. It's non-dairy & does the same thing as cool whip.

I think this root beer formula might work well in a cup cake, I mean assuming it flies at all. But cupcake wedding cakes are big now.

To me, I'd try it out & charge a fortune IF you like working with the cake. As a groom's cake is a definite possibility but if it works for a groom's cake it would work as a bride's cake.

I would NOT use a formula I was not comfortable with. Period, end of the world.

To me, as a decorator, I don't really enter into what their guests will like or dislike. It's their wedding so I'm an advocate for the person paying me. If nobody eats/likes their cake it's not my concern. I mean I advise them of whatever pitfalls I may forsee but it's their decision. Like if they send out 200 invites & order a cake for 75 I'll mention that they're probably gonna run out--but again it's their call.

Best thing is umm, you can charge a fortune for this. And to be honest I think it's cool. A&W all the way, baby!!! :biggrin:

(If I had some root beer soda & candy, I'd have it in the oven myself right now) And I think I'd put some crushed candy in the whipped topping too.

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A root beer reduction was recently discussed. That might help your plight.

If the cake sucks, collapses, disintegrates when cut or is otherwise screwed up you'll be blamed.

What I would do is make the cake once & see how it does. Test the recipe, see how you like to work with it. I mean did they make it up or have they had it before?

Both the liability and the research/testing/development should be reflected in the fee. I would make this very clear to your client right off the bat.

At our place, we'll do just about anything a customer wants, but we bill accordingly.

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Thanks. I plan to do a test run today. If it sucks or is an unstable mixture, then I'll tell them so. Also, I was thinking the Bettercream or something like that, but I don't work with it as an icing. They did mention in the email that I could substitute something that might go with it, but I just don't know how well a crusting BC or IMBC would be with this.

My other concern was that I don't think most people would want to eat it. Root beer is certainly something you either like or don't like. I'm one of those who likes root beer plain or in floats, but not flavored otherwise.

Forgot to mention, this is their 'grandma's recipe'.

Thanks for the input!

Edited by atcake (log)
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If you use a contract, make sure there's a clause in the contract that stipulates you are using the client's recipe, and you cannot be responsible for any problems that occur with the cake.

If you don't use a contract, consider writing a letter to the client, indicating that you're confirming the time, date, and place, and then outlining that since you're not using one of your own recipes, you cannot give them the standard guarantees of quality that you would give to a client when using your own product. By confirming the time and location first, you're softpedaling the impact of the real reason for writing the letter. If the letter, as a whole, is upbeat and states how pleased you are to be working with this client, it should go over okay.

Personally, although I love A&W root beer, I would not be interested in consuming this particular cake. But that's just me...

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If you use a contract, make sure there's a clause in the contract that stipulates you are using the client's recipe, and you cannot be responsible for any problems that occur with the cake.

If you don't use a contract, consider writing a letter to the client, indicating that you're confirming the time, date, and place, and then outlining that since you're not using one of your own recipes, you cannot give them the standard guarantees of quality that you would give to a client when using your own product.  By confirming the time and location first, you're softpedaling the impact of the real reason for writing the letter.  If the letter, as a whole, is upbeat and states how pleased you are to be working with this client, it should go over okay.

Personally, although I love A&W root beer, I would not be interested in consuming this particular cake.  But that's just me...

I see your point, but if my decorator is not going to be responsible for the cake & wants me to sign off on it in advance, I'd go elsewhere. I mean that's why I, as the baker/decorator reserve the right to say no I will not use this formula. And why You charge astonomic megabucks if you do use it.

I mean it's gotta meet a huge list of criteria. It's gotta serve perfectly. And that's where the rubber meets the road. Wedding cakes are beautiful, fresh, engineered confection, that have to slice & serve with pinpoint accuracy. It cannot crumble.

But like you could still incorporate one little portion of it in there for them to cut & feed each other & people to twitter about as the homage to Grandmother. Lots of possibilities there.

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I mean it's gotta meet a huge list of criteria. It's gotta serve perfectly. And that's where the rubber meets the road. Wedding cakes are beautiful, fresh, engineered confection, that have to slice & serve with pinpoint accuracy. It cannot crumble.

I think you raise an important issue. (BTW, I'm not a professional baker.) If this root beer cake is a mess, there goes the best advertising a baker could have. And like Fat Guy said, if there are any problems, the baker will get the blame.

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why not do a fake cake for display and make a sheet cake of this rootbeer delight.

the name of the game is really customer service, who cares if the cake sucks, find a way to make the money and make them happy. charge them up the wazzoo for your time and energy (not to mention mental anguish)

nkaplan@delposto.com
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Like my father taught me, never say no, just ask for more than they're willing to give so they say no. If you explain that the root beer cake will involve X, Y and Z and as a result will cost three times as much as one of your regular cakes, chances are they'll just opt for a regular cake. If they're actually willing to pay a super premium for the cake, sure, it may be worth your while to make it, though a single baking test in the shop probably isn't enough -- transportation and service are, as you know better than I, the big pitfalls for wedding cakes.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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These people think 1 container frozen whipped topping, thawed is cake icing. "Nuff said. :huh:

I think it's nice of you to try out this cake as an experiment, but you need to consider what these people are telling you when they approach you with a recipe. You're a baker/pastry chef and they're emailing you a recipe to use without considering your skill or experience or knowledge. That makes me think they really don't put much value on your abilities to begin with, and your entire time spent dealing with them is going to reflect that. It's your business, so you're in charge. I can tell by the ingredients list this cake recipe is trouble and it won't have a proper crumb..... I think you should just advise them it's not up to your standards and recommend a good recipe of your own.

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if they are looking for the rootbeer flavor, try using your standby white cake and make syrup with the rootbeer.

use the syrup as you would simple syrup to moisten the layers and impart the sarsaparilla/liquorice flavor....im a huge fan of stewart's root beer if you can find it :wink:

i second everyone else's concern with using an untested recipie.

its not like your going to aunt lucy's backyard barbeque. this is their WEDDING, and everyone is going to be looking at the cake supplier if it sucks. no two ways about it

jmho good luck!

watermelon lizards catch bass in charleston!

simplicity is the mother of all beauty - Big John's Tavern

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....who cares if the cake sucks, find a way to make the money and make them happy.  charge them up the wazzoo for your time and energy (not to mention mental anguish)

Oh I disagree wholeheartedly with this.... people seeing and eating your cake is your biggest advertising. If the cake sucks, it means you as businessperson suck. Charging heftily for a substandard product is a really good way to run yourself out of business real quick.

Like my father taught me, never say no, just ask for more than they're willing to give so they say no. If you explain that the root beer cake will involve X, Y and Z and as a result will cost three times as much as one of your regular cakes, chances are they'll just opt for a regular cake. If they're actually willing to pay a super premium for the cake, sure, it may be worth your while to make it, though a single baking test in the shop probably isn't enough -- transportation and service are, as you know better than I, the big pitfalls for wedding cakes.

Ah, but NO is the most powerful word in business Fatguy!! :biggrin: I don't think you should tell them it'll cost too much because they've probably made it themselves and know exactly what it costs..... I think you should just be honest and say it won't hold up as a weddng cake. Simple.

You know, so many people subscribe to the notion that the customer is always right, and it's so untrue. Customers do not know more about the products or services they hire professionals for, so we pros need to stop pandering to this....we're the professionals here, we know better.

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Well, I made the cake, without the candy sticks. The crumb is actually pretty decent, the texture is dense but feels a little 'oily'. I've tasted it and it seems more like a brown sugar cake rather than root beer. In fact, it doesn't taste like root beer at all, except for a subtle aftertaste. I would, however, be somewhat concerned about making this in a large batch. I have a feeling, based on the current tiny cake, that it might not be firm enough to withstand dowelling and wedding construction.

The recipe barely made enough for a single layer 7" round pan. It baked up about 1-1/2", so I guess the 8 servings it estimates is a tad high.

I'm more of a doctored mix person myself, so I made a doctored cake too. I don't mind experimenting at all, as that's how I came up with all the flavors on my menu. I'm thinking it may be better with a yellow base, but I tried a base. Haven't tasted it yet, but still, no root beer smell or anything.

I'm thinking the flavored syrups would be better, should it mean to have a full strong root beer flavor.

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How does this reply sound???:

Hi xxxxx. Thank you for the recipe. I've done a sample run on the cake, without the candies, and have a few items I'd like to discuss with you.

Firstly, how strong is the root beer flavor supposed to be? I've not had this before, so I wanted to be sure that the flavoring was right. The sample I have made does not have a root beer flavor except for the aftertaste, but I'm wondering if it could be from the exclusion of the candy sticks.

The other item would be creating this for a larger crowd in a standard wedding cake construction. It is certainly moist, however, it might be a bit 'wet' for a tiered cake. This means that the butter content is high in ratio to the flour content and that creates a more oily cake, offering a less stable cake.

Based on these items, I would recommend using it either in sheet cake form or as a groom's cake. If necessary, we could work with a fake cake or partial fake for the front and serve the cakes from the kitchen.

Let me know if this is something you'd be interested in doing and we can work from there. Please refresh my memory as to how many guests you are expecting.

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I think using one of your recipes, modified to have a bit of root beer flavor, would be an excellent solution.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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When clients ask me to use a family recipe, or something out of the ordinary where they are providing me the recipe, I tell them that I will be charging a small fee for the tasting/consultation. They understand that, it's because I'm doing something outside what I usually do and no one has ever had a problem with it. (I explain that I don't charge for consultations - which is a one hour time and includes tasting my house recipes, but they choose, obviously, what they want to taste.)

At the meeting, I get feedback from them - is this what it is supposed to taste like? (etc). And because I've made the recipe a few days in advance, I can also adjust my recipes to see if I can come close to what they're asking for but with a known formula that I'm comfortable with. Then I can suggest to them what kind of configuration will work - maybe this won't do for a traditional stacked cake, but will work for individual cakes on stands (or cupcakes as K8 mentioned). This gives them an option to consider, and allows me to price accordingly. It might help you in this case.

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I mean my longtime response to such requests is "Sorry, I don't do legends." Meaning of course, I ain't Grandma, it's not gonna be the same.

But I'd like to recommend that you consider putting it in the construction like if you had a 7" tier in there, you could use the root beer cake for one quarter or one half of that tier of the cake. Just splice it in. They can cut that part when the bride & groom do their thing.

I don't think it's supposed to necessarily taste like root beer. I think it's supposed to taste like Grandma's. Maybe she can't be there, maybe she's gone now who knows.

It's likely Grandma did something to it that she didn't write down too. Hence the phrase, 'I don't do legends'... But I can follow a recipe. Key here is that they have to have that same understanding. Since it baked up for yah halfway decent you could splice it in there up top somewhere & make the rest something more serve-able & all. Just an idea for yah.

I like Cool Whip.

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