Frequently Asked Questions
Where is your store?
Top Tier Cakery is an appointment-only couture cake design studio and bakery located about seven miles south of Traverse City. Since everything is made fresh and to order, we do not have items available for walk-in purchases. Does that mean we're doing business from our dining room table? No!! Rest assured we are a licensed, legal custom cake boutique operating within the highest possible standards of quality and cleanliness.
What flavors do you offer?
We do not limit ourselves to a set list of cake, filling or frosting flavors. If you can dream it, it's likely that we can make it! So far, there hasn't been a challenge that we couldn't meet. Our most popular flavor combinations are: classic white cake with raspberry filling; French vanilla cake with American buttercream filling; dark fudge cake with chocolate buttercream filling. If you are having an outdoor event there are some items that we would not use because of food safety (example: cream cheese) or practicality.
How much are your wedding cakes?
At Top Tier Cakery we love brides and everything wedding, and we are happy to work with you to bring your vision to life within your budget. Your couture wedding cake will be an original and unique work of art. Its price will be determined by the intricacy of the design and time required to achieve it. The majority of our wedding and tiered cakes are $7.00-$9.00 per serving. A good rule of thumb for comparison is to look at cakes featured in magazines or on the web: they generally range from $7.00 - $30.00 per serving. Even though our cakes are equal to or better than what you'll find there, our price point is considerably lower. Keep in mind that the more elaborate, extreme and time-consuming a cake is to make, the greater the price range will be.
Do you deliver?
Delivery fees are based on distance and time required, with a $35 minimum. Our delivery van is well-behaved and obedient, and has been known to make deliveries hundreds of miles from the bakery. Cakes up to three tiers can be picked up at the bakery, with a nominal fee for a user-friendly professional transport box.
Can you make a gluten free or vegan cake?
At this time we have suspended making certified gluten free cakes. However, we do bake with gluten free ingredients upon request.
I'm having a small wedding. Is there a way to still have a centerpiece-quality cake without a lot of leftovers?
The easiest and most cost-effective way to add height and presence to your cake is to display it on an elegant cake plateau; we have several styles and sizes available for a nominal fee. You may also want to consider adding a non-cake "dummy" tier --decorated as if it were cake-- or separating the tiers in one of a variety of ways. Your designer will be happy to discuss options with you at your consultation.
Do you offer consultations/tastings?
Yes! We offer a 1-hr., one-on-one consultation and tasting with your personal cake designer. Tasting cakes are our most popular vanilla cake and filling samples are based on what we have available at the time of your visit. If you have a specific flavor that you would like to sample Top Tier Cakery will be happy to custom-bake additional iced but undecorated tasting cake for $20 each. All consultations are $25.
Please contact us to schedule your consultation and tasting.
What should I bring to my consultation?
Your appointment is your opportunity to share your plans and ideas with Top Tier Cakery. To get the most out of the time with your designer, bring everything that is an inspiration for the cake you are envisioning: photos, drawings, fabric swatches (color matching is an art; please provide us with an actual sample -- paint chips from your hardware store work well if you don't have swatches), magazine clippings, pictures from the web, invitations, pictures of the wedding gown --you get the idea! If you have a Bride's notebook or folder, bring that, too. Your gorgeous wedding cake will be the most important dessert of your life; it should be exactly what you want!
Bring any elements (Grandma's brooch; Mom's cake topper) that you would like incorporated in your cake.
Bring your budget. If you're envisioning a $50,000 cake and your budget is $500, we'll work with you to incorporate the elements that are most important to you while keeping an eye on the bottom line.
Bring your fiance`, your mom, or a friend or two. Because your time is valuable and our space is limited, do not bring the whole family or wedding party. This hour is all about you and your special day. Too many voices at the time of your consultation will leave you frustrated and stressed, and this should be fun! Children are not allowed in the bakery.
We are pleased to recommend the following excellent articles from theknot.com on factors that you should include when designing your cake. Please review them with pen in hand, noting any questions, comments or concerns that you have for your decorator. It will help ensure that the centerpiece of your reception is truly the cake of your dreams!
Look at these articles for more help:
Do you make groom's cakes?
We love to make groom's cakes! Weddings tend to be "bride-centered", and this is where the groom can have a moment in the spotlight. The sky is the limit, and tradition now gives way to fun and personality. Often the groom's cake will reflect the interests, hobby or profession of the groom. It may tell a story or hint at the honeymoon destination. It could depict something that only the bride and groom understand -- until they share the secret with their puzzled guests! Your groom's cake is a fabulous way to make your wedding reception or rehearsal dinner uniquely yours.
What are gumpaste flowers? Why are they so expensive? Why do they matter?
Gumpaste is a dough made from egg whites, sugar and tylose powder (or CMC). In the hands of a skilled sugar artist beautiful, botanically correct flowers can be formed from dough that has been rolled extremely thin. (Hint: you can tell poorly or commercially made sugar flowers, bows, etc. by how thick they are and how well they're colored. At Top Tier Cakery one rose petal has a minimum of 10 individual steps.) Stunningly beautiful gumpaste flowers -- made one petal or leaf at a time -- are very time-consuming and, done right, are extremely fragile. This means extras must be made to allow for breakage. It would be impossible to adequately charge for the hours required to produce these exquisite pieces; in stead, a token upcharge is applied when gumpaste flowers are used.
Why does it matter? Several reasons:
Some flowers are poisonous, including the popular calla lily, hydrangea and English ivy.
Virtually all flowers have been sprayed with pesticides. When used on a cake, a guest could get sick; an allergic person could die. If the flowers come from your pesticide-free garden, they should at least be washed -- you can't know what that dog who went through your yard last night did when he stopped at your rose!
Gumpaste flowers are usually arranged in bouquets, and make a wonderful keepsake.
Gumpaste flowers are always "in season" and come in any color you want them to!
A friend told me I could save money by getting a small "cutting cake" and then serving sheet cakes from the kitchen. Is she right?
Yes, but be careful how you do this.
Your beautiful, elegant wedding cake will not only be a work of art, it will also be a minimum of two layers of divine cake separated by delicious filling. It will be the centerpiece of your reception. It will represent your style and tastes to your guests. Each slice will be at least 4" tall (with a few exceptions, based on design preference).
Conversely, a sheet cake is a 2" slab of one-flavor cake with some frosting on it, and can be found in most grocery stores. It is cheap. There's a reason for that; several, actually.
The best alternative to a sheet cake is a kitchen cake. There are two occasions when kitchen cakes make sense: first is when the main cake is done in the form of a display cake. In that case --since the main cake will not be served at all-- it's appropriate to serve slices of cake that have been made in the same manner as our wedding and celebration cakes. These cakes would be made fresh according to your flavor choices, would be 4" tall, including filling, and would be iced simply. Second is when the guest list is extremely large (over 500) and a cake of that size does not fit its setting. This usually happens at corporate events where catering areas are limited. However, if space is not an issue this can be an opportunity for a magnificent show-stopper cake.
I want cupcakes for the guests. Can we do that?
We only make cupcakes as a minor add-on to the centerpiece wedding cake, usually for children or to add variety. Cupcakes are presented in elegant white laser-cut wrappers.
My mom/aunt/sister/friend is making the cakes we serve, but I'd like you to make a pretty cake to have on the table. Ok?
No. For liability reasons it is our policy that Top Tier Cakery makes all of the cake for an event.
What is a display cake?
A display cake is made exactly as an edible cake with one important exception: the "cake" part is (usually) styrofoam, thereby enabling the cake to be displayed over a long period of time -- in some cases, years. Everything else is of the same edible materials that would have been used on the "real" cake: frosting; sugar paste; gumpaste; candies; pulled and blown sugar; chocolate; etc. Because of this, it is essential that the cake be kept in a dry environment. Humidity is cake napalm!
Can you make a cake that looks like a car, purse, contractor's tape measure, etc.?
You betcha! One of the differences that makes Top Tier Cakery unique and set apart from others is the knowledge and ability to produce fabulous 3D and extreme cakes. These one-of-a-kind cakes take your celebration to a new level! Prices for sculpted and extreme cakes begin at $225 and are based on the complexity of the design.
What is your payment/cancellation policy?
At Top Tier Cakery we want your wedding cake experience to be as smooth as our fondant and as sweet as our buttercream! In order to maintain the level of superb craftsmanship that we are known for, we strictly limit the number of cakes created each week. That is why a $400 non-refundable retainer is required to reserve your wedding date, or any event of 100 guests or more. We understand that not everyone knows their date a year or two in advance, and we will of course do everything possible to accommodate you. However, we will ONLY accept your order if enough time is still available on our schedule to give your cake all of the attention that it deserves.
You are welcome to make incremental payments at whatever rate you choose; final payment is due one month before the event.
Celebration cakes of less than 100 servings require a minimum 50% deposit; remainder is due upon pick-up.
Sculpted and extreme cakes require a 50% deposit; remainder is due one week before event.
All due-date payments are non-refundable, subject to individual review. Missed "payment due" dates will result in automatic cancellation of the order and forfeit of deposit unless we hear from you before the due date. We want this to be a good experience for everyone! Life happens. If something comes up please contact us. We will do whatever we can to work with you.