PLAIN POUNDCAKE....BUTTER CREAM ICING...yum! I'm a simple gal when it comes to cakes and sweets but for today's bride, their tastes are all over the board and bakeries like Patty Cakes in Tennessee, helping today's bride with that perfect cake is NOT a problem. Today, we sat down with Patty Russell to learn a little more about her bakery and the wonderful cakes she designs.
You worked in the business world for many years before opening Patty Cakes. What made you decide to start your business?
I had taken a cake decorating class not long after graduating from college and had been making wedding cakes and other custom decorated cakes for about 20 years “on the side.” I kept trying to quit making cakes but my friends and customers just wouldn’t take no for an answer! After much prayer, I took a leap of faith and decided to quit the “day job” and just do cakes. I have been blessed to be asked to make cakes for the packages at several great wedding venues nearby (Cedarwood, in Nashville, and Epic Event Centre and Rock Creek Farm, both here in Gallatin). So, I didn’t really decide—my customers did it for me!
That is awesome and what an honor to be asked by several venues to do their weddings.
Have you always baked?
My mother was a home economics teacher and taught me to bake at a very young age. Cakes were always a part of any celebration or holiday in our family and I have many cherished family recipes that I have been using for years. I also like trying new recipes and discovering new favorites!
What differentiates you from the other bakeries in Tennessee?
I think what pleases me most is hearing back from brides and their mothers after a wedding that many of their guests had told them that not only was the cake the best wedding cake they had ever eaten, but maybe even the best cake they had ever eaten. It is very important for me for my cakes to taste as good as they look. That said, design is important as well and I think as a cake artist that I have a certain style that is different from other bakeries in Nashville. I think that I, as with any artist, have developed a style that is unique. Not that the other bakeries are bad—they are just different!
You are the preferred vendor for three different venues. What made you decide to go that route?
I started with just one venue, Cedarwood in Nashville, and added the others later when I realized that many brides are choosing to go the “all-inclusive” route when planning their weddings. I really enjoy working with the venues because I am familiar and comfortable with the personnel and the properties and it makes the delivery and cake set-up go very smoothly.
How many weddings do usually do a year?
100-120 weddings per year—some of those include a groom’s cake in addition to the bride’s cake, so it would be more than 120 cakes!
Wow, I'm not sure I could handle that many weddings a year, although I would love to try.
Not only do you create wonderful cakes but you also bake pies, cupcakes and cookies. What do you find the most popular with brides?
Other than cake, pies seem to be most popular. And believe it or not, I am a pie person! Maybe that’s why it’s important for me that my cakes taste good. They’d better be worth passing up that piece of pie!
How far in advance does a couple typically contact you?
It really depends. Some call a year in advance. Some wait until the last minute. I prefer at least a month’s notice for a wedding cake. It’s really important for October and May weddings for the bride to book ALL her vendors as soon as possible. Those months will get booked pretty quickly—sometimes as much as a year in advance.
How many cakes can you create in a weekend?
I like to limit my cakes to 5 weddings per weekend (that may include groom’s cake, so there would be more than 5 cakes). I do everything myself and sometimes there is a very small delivery window, so there is a limit to what I can do and get delivered on time. I have done as many as 8 weddings in a weekend before, but I don’t like to do that!
Okay, I'm not sure whether to be impressed (which I am) or think you are crazy.
What trends do you see with the current brides?
I am doing a lot of naked cakes and barely there cakes right now. Many brides are going with a more laid-back, rustic theme, so there has been less demand for fondant covered cakes, which is a good thing in my opinion as I hear from many of my customers that they do not care for the taste (or texture) of fondant.
What is the most popular wedding color so far this season?
Metallics have been big this year with rose gold usually combined with pink or blush.
What times a year do you find are the busiest for this area?
October would be the busiest month, then May, then June. September is usually a fairly busy month as well. A lot of the venues in this area are for outside weddings, so it really drops off in the cold, winter months.
What do you love most about working with brides in your area?
I enjoy meeting the brides and talking with them about their dream wedding cake. I enjoy creating new designs, so it’s always fun when a bride wants me to do something I’ve not done before.
If you could create your dream cake, what would it be? Size, shape, colors, etc.
Oh my! That’s difficult--I like so many different designs! It would depend on where and what time of year--I would also have to choose a venue and theme for the wedding and then design the cake around that. So I guess my dream wedding would be on a secluded tropical beach with a very informal, laid-back, beach-themed wedding. Then the cake would also be very simple but romantic with lots of fresh white flowers. My favorite color is pale aqua so I’d probably incorporate that color, but I really like a traditional all-white cake, so there would be small pops of the aqua and maybe some muted blush flowers. I would like to invite everyone I know to celebrate and have a large, Lady Windermere style, round cake with each tier being a different flavor to satisfy the guests’ different tastes. I am a chocolate person and my chocolate toffee cake is my favorite so that flavor would have to be included!
It’s always fun to learn a little about the people behind the business…
What do you like to do when you are not working on weddings?
I enjoy reading and traveling. My favorite vacation would be with a good book on a sunny beach!
What’s your favorite restaurant?
I really like fresh seafood and I have favorites depending on where I am. A recently discovered favorite would be Doc Ford’s on Sanibel Island, Florida.
What are the five presets on your car radio/ipod?
The Pulse (Sirius XM 15), The Blend (Sirius 16), Classic Rewind (Sirius 25), Classic Vinyl (Sirius 26), and because my teenage daughter likes it (and I kinda do too) Alt Nation (Sirius 36)
If you weren’t a baker, what would your dream job be?
For a bride on a budget, what is the #1 thing a bride should not skimp on?
This is as personal as each bride is different. I think it really depends on the bride and what her individual priorities are. The photographer is really important. When the day is over, the wedding dress will be packed away, the flowers will die and the cake will be gone, but your pictures will be there forever. It’s important to choose a photographer who can capture your day as you want to remember it. However; if your dress, flowers, cake, venue, etc., are not pretty, then that will be reflected in the photos.
If you could tell the brides one thing about your business, what would it be?
My number one goal in this business is to please each and every one of my customers. I try to always do my best on every cake I make--No one bride/customer is ever more important than another. I would tell each bride to trust her instincts when choosing her vendors. If she is not entirely confident that a cake artist can make the cake she envisions, then she should choose another, and that includes me! I would much rather the bride choose another cake artist than to choose me and be disappointed. The wedding day is too important to not be entirely happy with all vendor choices!
I totally agree on that point Patty. Thanks for sitting down with us today. I loved your answers and I am definitely in awe at the number of wedding cakes that you do in a season. For those of you that want to learn a little more about Patty Russell of Patty Cakes...please be sure and check out her website and other social media.