Like any creative or artistic enterprise, cake decorating is very labor intensive, and it can be difficult to receive remuneration that properly reflects the time put in. There are, however, a number of things that can be done to streamline the process and maximize productivity—greater efficiency leads to greater profitability.
Maintain an inventory of frequently used decorations such as candy flowers, chocolate bits, and candy sprinkles. Most of these items can be made in advance and ready to use whenever needed.
Experiment with cake storage. It’s a good idea to test freeze cakes—most of them freeze well, but some may not. Many of the rich fruit cakes used at weddings can be stored without freezing for months if packaged properly. In fact, for certain types of cakes, this will improve their quality.
Be prepared for emergencies! Always have a "Plan B' for when things go wrong. Bakers need to be able to respond quickly and effectively to any problems that arise. Part of this is maintaining supplies of baking materials and keeping your equipment updated. And with new advancements in the baking industry bakers can now keep pace with band ovens in their cake production lines.
Stewart MacPherson, the Vice President of Unifiller Systems Inc. was recently asked to discuss the contributions automation has made in the bakery equipment industry. “There are several reasons that have in the past prevented us from going faster," MacPherson says. "The first issue is that a baked sheet cake always ends up domed in the middle, or what the industry often refers to as 'a crown.' This creates a variance on the side wall height cake that requires manual touch up, usually done with a spatula. It may be true that nearly anyone has the ability to touch up a sheet cake; the challenge however is finding skilled operators who can do this quickly. Twenty cakes coming down a two-lane system is difficult for anyone to keep up with; 70 cakes is simply impossible with a spatula," he says.
“We needed to devise an innovative solution to overcome the production limitations of the wholesale cake business,” states MacPherson in a recent interview with Baking & Snack magazine. For two years, Unifiller engineers have been working on new technology based on the principle of “touchless” cake decoration. In order to reach the goal of 70 cakes per minute, the manual touch up had to be eliminated. Unifiller’s developed a cake decorating system with patented applicator heads that automatically correct for the imperfections of a baked sheet cake. The final product deviates from the traditional combed look and provides a very attractive alternative.
Unifiller has launched The Cake Finishing Center (TSI-B) which allows bakers to keep pace with large band ovens by giving them the ability to automatically adjust top and side icing parameters to suit icing consistency. The Cake Finishing Center will be featured at the 2010 International Baking Industry Exposition in Las Vegas September 26-29. Or to see video demonstrations on how the equipment works, visit the "Building a Cake" series at www.unifiller.com. The series covers depositing cake batter, transferring cake batter and decorating and finishing the cake.