HAPPY NATIONAL COOKIE DAY Y’ALL!
After a heartfelt ceremony, a custom picked buffet & hours of dancing, everyone is looking forward to one thing:
Our featured vendor of the week is a Cleveland based cookie connoisseur. Katie Spanier-Zegarac creates custom cakes, cake pops, cupcakes and cookies. When the city of Cleveland needs treats, Katie Cakes is called upon – she was even nominated for 3 separate categories on Cleveland’s Hot List. Whatever your preferred theme or palette, Katie is your go-to gal. Read on for her background and tips for brides getting ready for their first cake tasting!
MMW: Nice to meet you, Katie! Tell us about how you got into baking cakes professionally.
KC: My very first cake was actually a Bubble Guppies cake for my boyfriend’s daughter’s 5th birthday. I’ve always been super artsy/crafty/DIY kinda girl so I did tons of research and made it myself (she’s my whole world and if that’s what she wanted I was determined to make it happen for her!) It turned out adorable and next thing I know I was being asked to make graduation cakes and birthday cakes for other people so I decided to go for it. Two months later I received my LLC in July 2015 and Katie Cakes was born! We moved to Strongsville in October 2015 and had my home inspected by the Ohio Department of Agriculture – Food and Safety (being licensed was extremely important to me so all my customers rest assured that their cakes, cookies, etc. were produced in a clean and safe environment!) I’ve been a fully licensed home-bakery ever since which also gives me license to ship my goodies nationwide. I design all my cakes through my love of unique art which helps me specialize in unique sculpted, hand painted, 3D cakes, etc. and my best work always comes from the “here’s what I like, come up with what you think looks best” kind of customers.
A profession built on passion. I love it! So how many months before the big day do brides usually start cake browsing? Any advice before the cake tastings are scheduled?
Ok so some of you are going to riot when I say this… My #1 suggestion when you get engaged is to delete your wedding boards. Wait! Hear me out! The majority of us have wedding boards that are 10 years and however many ex boyfriends old. Your tastes change so much in that time! You pinned things that you felt represented a relationship you were in previously, and lets not forget to mention its impossible to find anything. This relates to all aspects of your wedding planning (not just cake!) so I suggest going through your board and creating individual boards to organize for your wedding. Re-pin any old pins you still love to a board/category it fits with and once you’ve gone through them all DELETE YOUR OLD BOARD. This will not only help you stay organized bit its ridiculously easy to send inspiration photos on your board to your photographer, bridal boutique, wedding planner, cake decorator or any other vendor you have consultations with that don’t require them to scroll through 50 photos of dresses to find one photo of a cake.
Once that is done here are the basics for scheduling cake planning:
- You should have your cake booked 6 months to a year before your wedding.
- When contacting cake decorators you can keep quote inquiries short and sweet by providing your wedding date, photo(s) that best represent the style you’re looking for, how many people you need it to feed and your budget
- Have a realistic budget in mind. The average price per serving in our area is $4-5 per serving (that will vary based on buttercream vs fondant and the design intricacy as well as how much experience the decorator has). Multiply the average by the number of guest you plan on having (Ex: 100 guests = $400-500 and up) if your budget is lower than that average you may want to consider a chain store (Costco, Walmart, Giant Eagle, etc) rather than a custom cake decorator to stay within your budget.
- *ALWAYS* look for photos of cakes a decorator has made themselves that show the style you are looking for – if you can’t find them then chances are the decorator hasn’t done them and is not a good fit for you. Your wedding is not the time to let someone experiment with a new cake style they aren’t familiar with.
- The majority of decorators charge a fee for cake tastings (this covers the cost of their time and ingredients used as well as ensures you are a serious inquiry) FUN FACT: Within the last year or so a trend surfaced where people began pretending they were getting married to get together with girlfriends and sample free cake- this is why a tasting fee has become common practice. Most bakers will apply all or part of that fee as a credit if you book your cake with them so if you do your research and find a decorator that seems to fit your style before having tastings you shouldn’t be concerned with that fee.
- Each decorator does their tastings differently – check with them on their policy of how many people they can bring.
What are some of your favorite 2017/2018 cake trends?
I could spend hours going through current cake trends. If you’re a laid back country at heart girl you may be in love with the rustic/naked cake trend. If you love things that sparkle to the glamorous geode cakes may be your new obsession. I personally love things that sparkle and have a pop or “wow” factor to them and try to make each cake unique. I do not replicate cake designs – some people want it exactly like the photo and I’m not the decorator for them. Majority of couples love that I make a completely unique design inspired by their favorite trends that I will never replicate for someone else. Again – this is where it’s important to look at the cakes/cookies a decorator has done to see if they fit your style – you can tell what style they prefer and are most comfortable with by their portfolio.
If you want to experiment with fun flavors I always suggest cupcakes. They make adorable displays and are super fun way to try a variety of flavors. Wedding in the fall? Try s’mores cupcakes or pumpkin spice. Spring/summer wedding? Try a variety of fruity flavors or experiment with pink lemonade or key lime pie. You have so many fun options going this route.
Let’s chat about the cookies! It seems like they’ve suddenly surged in popularity from dessert tables to favors?
Yes! Favors are something a lot of people struggle with because you want to give your guests something personal but you also don’t want to waste money buying koozies that are just going to end up in the trash or in someone’s junk drawer with all the other koozies they never use. The increase in popularity can definitely be attributed to people wanting to make sure they’re not throwing money out the window. Cookies are by far my favorite wedding favor and with the industry standard starting at $3/cookie it’s totally affordable! Everyone loves cookies (and if they don’t I bet they have someone at home who does!) Guests are more likely to take home edible favors than any other favor. Plus they can snack on them at the wedding if they’re not big on cake (my boyfriend is one of those who doesn’t like cake but he’s a total cookie monster.) They can be personalized in so many ways to fit your wedding theme/colors and present beautifully on tables. I think they’re the best way to go so always suggest cookies for favors.
“Guests are more likely to take home edible favors than any other favor.”
Let’s get personal – what was your favorite cake you’ve ever designed? How bout your favorite cookie design?
Dang it! I hate getting this question but knew it was coming – It’s so hard to choose one favorite out of all the cakes/cookies I’ve done so I’ll cheat on this one and mention a couple. To touch on a few wedding cakes I just love the simplicity of these designs and how each has their personal touches to represent the couple. Football for the groom, starfish topper to represent the bride and groom, a galaxy theme for a fun LGBT couple (#LoveWins <3) , and a beaded and ruffle tiers to add elegant texture to a soft color pallet of blush and ivory.
I also have to throw in some of my favorite non wedding cakes that are near and dear to my heart. I am a Sugar Angel for a non-profit organization called Icing Smiles. They provide cakes for critically ill children and their families and I’ve been honored to make each one of these cakes.
Princess Peyton was my first Icing smiles cake and the smile on her face just melted my heart when she saw her Barbie cake. We became Facebook buddies and I still follow all her adventures online. She’s staying strong and mom is doing an amazing job by her side.
Christopher had a Winnie the Pooh theme and I spent hours drawing to make every character detail perfect for the 100 acre woods scene here’s a video of it while it’s still in progress. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to meet him since he wasn’t doing well that day but I received a wonderful thank you email from his mother that I have saved and pinned up at home.
Then – there’s 5 year old Jack aka Boomer. Jack was fighting cancer and doing such a kick butt job he is now in remission! I cried when I got the message from his mother I was so happy for them. Knowing I created a special moment of celebration for Jack and his family at such an emotional time in their lives was a great feeling. Finding out that they made it through that struggle was that feeling all over again and beyond. Of course I have to throw in some cookies on here! Will you be my bridesmaid cookies, will you be my flower girl, theme shower cookies, wedding favors beach cookies are my personal favs.
When choosing a cake, should the bride consider the guests preferences or focus on her own preferences?
I’m a firm believer that it’s your day so do what makes the bride and groom happy. People with allergies know what they can and cannot have and will be just fine not having a piece of cake that day if need be. For flavors, I suggest doing at least one of the staples of vanilla or chocolate so anyone who is a picky pants can eat cake then you can play with other fun flavors that you like for different tiers or cupcakes.
Let’s say a bride really loves a classic cake with watercolor accents, but the groom isn’t going for it – what should they do?
If you love watercolor cakes you call me of course – I LOVE hand painted cakes! But seriously – there are tons of ways to incorporate two designs together so find a photo of what your groom likes and what you like and see if your decorator can find a way to bring them together flawlessly. If you’re absolutely set on watercolor opt for a fun grooms cake or cookies to go with your water color cake – it’s the perfect way to represent BOTH the bride and the groom side by side. So if you’re both video game nerds think outside the box and get a hand painted watercolor Mario Brothers scene cake OR have a watercolor cake to match your colors and a separate video game console grooms cake. Whatever you choose find a decorator who can make it yours – the love you two share is unique so why can’t your cake be?
I see you have a rewards plan on your site! Can you explain how a bride could use that?
I sure do! It officially launched August 2017. Anyone within the continental US is eligible to sign up. You’ll get exclusive deals, limited time discount offers and every month a few members will be chosen at random to receive desserts shipped right to their front door! Use it to your advantage to see what specials I’m running and be eligible to win some of my sweets to try for FREE!
One last bit(e) of advice: What are the most common mistakes you see when brides (or people in general) order cakes?
Most common mistakes brides/grooms make when ordering cake (and other wedding services) is they make their budgets without actually looking at average pricing for that service. All too often brides book their venues, dress of their dreams, etc. and when it comes to their cake/photographer/DJ they never researched what the average cost is and are left struggling to find vendors within a very limited budget because they didn’t realize the actual cost of those services. It is important to find averages for all vendors and then make your budget based off the information you have gathered. You may end up choosing a different venue or menu options so you can adequately budget for the videographer you must have. If you have a specific cake style in mind and you’re trying to find it on a budget that is below the average cost per serving more likely than not you may not like the results you end up with on your wedding day. The biggest mistake I see is brides (and customers in general) book orders/services with vendors who do not have contracts.
If a vendor doesn’t have a contract walk away immediately. Contracts protect you and the money you have invested and any vendor who doesn’t have a set contract is not a reputable business. I see it over and over again someone scrambling to find a new cake decorator/photographer/DJ who has cancelled last minute and are fighting to get their deposit back. Always carefully review contract and make sure you understand them completely before signing.
How can my brides order/contact you/see your portfolio?
My business Facebook page
is usually the most up do date with photos of orders I’ve done. Make sure you like my and follow my page to stay up to date on any contests or giveaways i’m doing. Every year I gave away a FREE wedding cake
! You heard me – FREE! I’ll be posting photos of the cake from the winner of last year’s contest later this month! You can also follow me on Instagram (@katiecakescle)
Book Katie Cakes for your next pre-wedding party or for the big day!
*HER SCHEDULE IS FILLING UP QUICKLY – SO ADVANCED NOTICE FOR ORDERING IS MANDATORY!
YOU WON’T NEED ANYMORE CONVINCING, BUT PURCHASE 2 DOZEN COOKIES & GET 1 DOZEN FREE! JUST MENTION “MEG’S MODERN WEDDINGS” WHEN YOU ORDER.