This is the most common question I get asked when I’m quoting for a celebration cake, so I thought I’d go through some of the costs involved in making a cake. A popular response from the person asking for a quote is that they can buy a cake for under £10 in a supermarket – which is true. You can get a cheap celebration cake in a supermarket… because it is a supermarket. They make things cheap because they are HUGE, but I’m betting they don’t put in the time and effort of a local cake baker and it won’t be personalised exactly to your specification. And I can pretty much guarantee that it won’t taste anywhere near as good! I recently saw a quote somewhere (sorry, I can’t remember where or I would have credited them) that said “Good cake isn’t cheap, cheap cake isn’t good” – I think that sums it up pretty well.
I am the first to admit that there are some cake makers who charge extortionate prices, with cupcakes starting at £4 each and price hikes once they know the cake is for a wedding. However, this is not the norm amongst independent bakers and I for one, never add anything extra onto a wedding quote. If anything, I often undercharge for my cakes.
Those of you who bake at home will know that good quality ingredients aren’t that cheap and recently there have been huge price hikes in the supermarkets. To make a 2 tier cake, for example, with 9″ and 6″ tiers you are looking at quite a lot of ingredients – a dozen eggs, couple of packs of butter, half a bag of flour, half a bag of sugar, flavourings….
Then you have the decoration materials:
- Sugar paste to cover the cakes and the cake drum (approx 1kg for an 8″ round cake at £4 per kg)
- Buttercream to fill the cake and stick the icing on
- A cake drum for the base (approx £1.50 for a 10″ round drum)
- A cake box (approx £1.50 for a 10″ box)
- Thin cake card for each cake that is going to be stacked to sit on (otherwise the supports will squish into the cake above and disaster will ensue – approx £0.60 for a 6″ round card)
- Dowelling rods – 3 or 4 per tier (these are vital if you are stacking cakes otherwise the whole lot will collapse -approx £2.00 for 4)
- Then you have extras such as wires, jewels, posy picks, modelling materials and not forgetting electricity/gas to bake the cakes.
All in all, for a 2 tier cake (such as the christening cake here) you are probably looking at £25-30 worth of materials and ingredients before you take into consideration my time. To make a sugar model you are looking at a good few hours work, depending on how intricate the model is. Decorating a cake is a time consuming task and very often I am working for less than the minimum wage. This is not meant to be negative and you may ask why I’m doing it, and the simple answer is because I love it. I love being creative and I love seeing the look on a customer’s face when they collect their cake. It’s all worth it.
So please remember, if you ask an independent cake maker for a quote, you are not going to get it for supermarket prices – but it will look and taste an awful lot better. Promise!