You’re having a party and you need cake, so you decide to go to your local grocer/bakery and order a cake. You approach the counter and let the service staff know you want to order a cake for a birthday party, and ask what options are available. They then point you to a book with a few standard theme cakes they offer and you’re to choose from that book.
Now, when you speak to a baker that does custom cakes your cake is indeed custom, made specifically to fit you and your event. Yes, there may be previous cakes that a client has seen in our photo gallery or have photos of other cakes they want done, their particular cake still won’t be a direct duplicate of a previous cake, there will be similarities but no two cakes will be the same. On that note, we won’t point you to a book and tell you you have to choose from selected cakes. In fact most bakers want to know about You! and your event so that your cake is uniquely made to suit you and your taste. I would start with this, the initial consultation, idea/concept for your unique cake but just decided I may write about that separately as that’s a beast in and of itself!
But let’s get into the construction of your custom cake.
Cake ingredients are not cheap and I will not make something for someone or use ingredients/materials for a cake that I wouldn’t use for myself and my family. I also use the highest quality natural and organic ingredients, including fondant (which is quite costly for the “good stuff”). ; Unless you’re making fondant yourself (which is quite costly for the “good stuff”) lol.
You get what you pay for! Supermarkets are able to produce high volumes of cake because they get their cakes shipped frozen from the warehouse then iced with buttercream from the bucket with additives most of us can’t pronounce.
Since we’ve been in our “recession” there’s been nothing but price gouging and inflation on everything. I’m sure they’ve been figuring out how we’re going to pay for air for the longest, and I don’t mean air conditioning. There are price increases on everything from vanilla to even sugar. And let me tell you your vanilla cake isn’t made with Imitation Vanilla, remember, highest quality ingredients. Vanilla alone is expensive and comes in oz.’s most recipes almost always call for vanilla, so you’ll want to keep gallons around lol. And when you want to get fancy and have gourmet cake you can opt for vanilla beans. One jar of vanilla beans, which contains 3 count beans, in a few markets costs $11.99. A 9 x 5” loaf pan (smaller than a piece of paper) for Vanilla Bean Pound Cake uses 1 bean, so imagine what’s needed for your custom cake. For most two tiered cakes you’re looking at a minimum of a dozen eggs, at least 3 lbs. of butter (more including the butter that goes into making your buttercream), half a bag of flour, sugar, then there’s flavorings.
Then there are the decorating materials. I’m starting from the bottom up.
- There’s the cake board starting roughly at $4.25 each and some decorators use ribbon to cover the sides of the board which start at $2.99
- Fondant to cover the cake board and the bottom tier cake. At least 2.5 – 3 lbs. of fondant. The highest quality fondant runs about $17 for 2 lbs.
- Buttercream to fill the cake layers
- Dowels to support the cake – a pack of 4 cost about $5
- Cake boards for each cake
- Fondant to cover the top tier. About 1.5 lbs. which costs around $6.50
- A cake box which starts at $5 each
- Then there are the extras for figures, gumpaste flowers or using the picture above pearls, modeling chocolate/gumpaste for the shoe and lots of coloring for everything that isn’t white! Which in this case, the entire cake.
Decorating cake is time consuming and no cake decorator wants to walk away not even making minimum wage because we simply enjoy what we do. And this is just the baking and decorating, we’re not even talking Overhead expenses, sheesh!
Time is valuable and should be treated as such. If you’re seeking advice from a Financial Advisor, Psychologist, Planner, etc. they charge you for their time. The same for cake decorating, you’re not only getting cake, you’re getting a work of art. And as an artist, I take my time to create a piece of art for my client. When I’m painting a painting, there are countless hours that go into creating a final work. Cake is the same as I aim to create an experience for the recipient, one that’s memorable and makes the person overjoyed.
These are some things to think about when you ask a private cake artist for a quote on a custom cake. You will not get the same cake at the supermarket and you will definitely not get a custom cake at supermarket prices. It’s time consuming, yes, but it makes it all worth-while when I see someone’s face light up or a kid that’s in awe of their birthday cake. Just gives me a warm fuzzy inside :D