A Day in the Life of a Wedding Cake Baker
After the exchange of the vows, and the first look, kiss and dance as newlyweds, the sweetest thing about weddings is inarguably the wedding cake. This multi-tiered celebratory confection is often considered one of the most eye-catching (and delicious!) focal points of the event. That’s why couples always shoot for the stars, and why bakers put in the hard work to bring those visionary designs to life.
But what does it take to create a beautiful dessert display? Here, we sit down with Walters Wedding Estates’ exclusive Partnered Bakery, The Jenny Layne Bakery, for insight into the life of a wedding cake baker. As a boutique custom cake bakery, Jenny Layne dreams up swoon-worthy creations for couples every day; get a glimpse into her process and how she makes it all happen.
What Does a Typical Day Look Like?
While no two days are the same, there are certain routines and everyday occurrences that Jenny can depend on. “Every morning starts with my little girl crawling in my bed saying, ‘Momma, I want cereal,’” she says. “This is the best way to start my day.” On her commute to the picturesque gray-and-white bakery she’s been running for close to 18 years, she begins making lists. First, she takes a moment to reflect on the things she’s thankful for. Next comes the grocery list. “The bakery has been my only constant for the last 18 years,” she says. “To say it’s on my mind all the time is an accurate statement. Everyday is a different schedule, but every morning starts the same.”
Setting the Agenda
Work days start with a clear sense of purpose. Once Jenny arrives at the bakery, she gathers the team for a morning meeting to discuss the day’s agenda. During this time, she goes over prep and schedules, and addresses any pending questions before moving on to tackle the day ahead. For Jenny, this means heading to the office. “I am often called a baker, but in reality, at this point in my career I am overseeing operations,” Jenny says. “About six years ago, I really needed to place special talent in each department to help this little bakery grow.”
Making Magic Happen
Throughout the day, the kitchen is buzzing with activity. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, the team is usually busy with organizing and pairing orders. The bakers are whipping up fillings, applying crumb coats (the first layer of buttercream icing that seals in the sponge and prevents it from drying out), icing and finishing fondant details that will be added to cakes during the design stage. On Thursdays through Saturdays, the cakes begin to come together. Seeing those initial hand-drawn sketches come to fruition is one of Jenny’s favorite parts of the week. “I also love seeing a cake in its ‘final landing place,’” she says. “They always look so much better in the venue – where they belong – than in our bakery.”
Cleaning and Reset
Just like the morning starts the same way every day, the work day also ends with a familiar ritual: cleaning. After a whole day of preparing dough, making fillings, and baking cakes and desserts, Jenny has to make sure everything is spick and span before she leaves for the day. “This is how we end every day – lots and lots of cleaning,” she says. “Baking and decorating is messy, and we always have to reset for the next morning.”
The Process of Creating A Wedding Cake
Take one look at Jenny’s breathtaking celebratory confections, and you’ll immediately realize why The Jenny Layne Bakery has been garnering so much praise from happy couples. But how do Jenny and her team achieve this many-layered, tiered perfection? Jenny says it starts with verbal communication – and lots of it.
“Some people know exactly what they are looking for; others need to go back and forth in the design process,” she says. “This usually requires a couple of conversations outlining ideas, and then sketches are designed and sent to the couple to review.” After a round of revisions, clients typically land on a final product they love. Then, Jenny’s team of talented bakers get to work.
“We have a 72-hour turnaround from when a cake goes into the oven to when it is delivered,” Jenny says. This allows ample time for baking, cooling, filling and crumb-coating, cooling again, then icing and cooling again. The next steps involve stacking, sealing, decorating, and cooling until delivery. “A refrigerator is pretty vital at the bakery, as is an oven and mixer,” she says. “Everything else is done by our own hands.”
Jenny’s Favorite (And Most Challenging) Cake Projects
With so many incredible masterpieces created over the years, it’s difficult – if not somewhat impossible – to select just a single favorite. However, there are a handful of unique projects that stand out in Jenny’s memory. The first: her own wedding cake – the first one she ever hung upside down from a rafter beam. “Time, research, and my team made this one a success,” Jenny says.
Of course, who can forget the five-foot-long Stoker’s Motorcycle cake, which was featured on the Food Network? “We actually had a motorcycle parked in the hallway of our bakery so we could recreate all the tiny details from the hand-painted gas tank,” Jenny says. “I spent over 24 hours building a structure to shape the cake to.”
Another creation comes to mind: a three-foot-tall brown bear cake the bakery dreamed up for a 50th birthday party. The entire cake was decorated with chocolate buttercream; it took about four hours for three people to hand-pipe the fur. “There have been so many fun and challenging cakes in my past, each one using the knowledge gained from the cake before it,” Jenny says. “I think the constant need to challenge myself is what has made this bakery and all of its cakes a success.”
Part of Walters Hospitality, The Jenny Layne Bakery is the exclusive partnered bakery of Walters Wedding Estates venues and can’t wait to bring your dessert dreams to life!