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Saturday, January 11, 2014

"The Best in Town!"

I've heard this exclamation all over the place, about all sorts of things, uttered by many different people.

If you're asking family, friends, or social networks, it's hard to know what they think is "the best." They could have grown up with dry cake all their life, or grocery store cake, or maybe their grandma was the best baker on the east coast. Whatever their preference, the person recommending this place or person will always be biased, so it's really hard to know who to choose.

Pretty cake board!
When a person says, "Go with so-and-so. They're the best," ask them why.

Why are they the best?

Was it the presentation?
If it was presentation, what about the presentation made you like it? Cleanliness of the work? Was the board it was sitting on plain, covered in aluminum foil, or did it look like the rest of the cake? Were there wrinkles in the fondant or gumpaste?

Was it the taste?
What kind of cake did you get? If it was chocolate, was is rich and dark, or more light and milky? If it was fruity, did it taste like the fruit was frozen, from a boxed mix, or fresh? Did the buttercream actually have a buttery taste, or was it mostly sugar?
Probably shouldn't eat that.

Was it the texture?
Did the cake seem dense, or was it more like a sponge? Was the cake falling apart as you were trying to eat it, or did it hold its shape well? Did you feel like a glass of milk would've gone nicely with it? Was the buttercream airy, creamy, and melt-in-your-mouth-y, or did it leave you with a greasy feeling in your mouth?

I know it seems like these questions are what judges at a cake show might ask, but if you're getting a cake for a big event, it's important to ask these questions so you know what to expect. If the people you're asking can't answer these, or at least one, then you probably shouldn't trust their judgement when it comes to cake.

Sometimes you can't get any sort of legit information from people. They'll say the phrase "best in town" like they literally could not have lower expectations. When that happens, it's always good to ask your cake decorator/artist if they offer tastings. Especially when it's a wedding cake, many bakers will have tastings available so you can sample what they have to offer, as well as what they think are good combinations of frosting, filling, and cake flavors.

I know, I know... most people out there aren't pastry judges or connoisseurs of food, but if they're going to make such a bold statement, they should be able to back it up. You can't possibly take advice on what luxury car to buy when this person has only driven lemons from the junk yard.

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