Getting The Most Custom Cake For Your Buck
You just saw a cake that was stunning and awe-inspiring. Breath taking even. You quickly save the picture and send it on to your local cake artist asking for a quote. When you get the familiar ding from your phone indicating you have a message, you excitedly open the message and...your chest falls. That cake was just quoted at $740 Your budget was only $150. You are a tad angry. After all, it is JUST cake! You could easily go to the supermarket and get a large sheet cake for $32.99. Just what in the world is this cake artist thinking in regards to ripping you off! So, you quote around. And sure enough, there is a cake artist out there who is willing to take on your order for $150. You are ecstatic. You get the cake you want AND within your budget. On your big day, your cake arrives and...you are sickened by the result. What is THIS atrocity?!?
First, I completely understand budgets. I live on one myself. Spending $740 cake is not something that tends to fit inside my budget. So in that, I completely understand why you would balk at what feels like an insanely overpriced amount. But before you rush to the cheapest baker, I want you to know that I have many, many times seen the above scenario play out. As the old saying goes, "You get what you pay for." Here were I live, custom cakes range from $3-$7 a slice. What a baker determines is a slice is typically a 1"x2"x4" size. There is a lot to factor into pricing a cake such as premium flavors or fillings, fondant wrapped or buttercream or even ganache, the time is will take to make and bake the cake, the time it will take to properly ice and decorate the cake, any gumpaste or fondant decals, the time it takes to make the fondant and gumpaste decals, wear and tear on kitchen equipment, ingredient cost, and so on. When you buy a custom cake, it is not the cake you are buying but the talent of the cake artist. It is the hundreds, if not thousands, of hours he or she spent learning how to properly make a cake that not only tastes great, but looks amazing too. It is the hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars he or she spent on the equipment and training needed to make your cake look perfect. It is the hundreds, if not thousands, of tears spent crying over that one complete cake fail and swearing for it to never happen again. A custom cake is expensive. And I assure you, not a very profitable business. Over 50% of the cost of a custom cake is spent on supplies and ingredients. Then you have to factor in taxes us cake artists have to pay that we must set aside. Not to mention the depreciation on our kitchen equipment we will one day have to replace since it is getting used a lot more than its original intention. If your cake costs you $740 and is going to take me 18 hours to bake, ice, decorate, and clean my kitchen, that means $370 is for supplies and ingredients. I must set aside about $120 for taxes. I need to place about $74 (10%) aside for kitchen depreciation. Another 5% needs to be set aside for the extra electricity I used to make your cake, so that is another $37. That means I truly only get paid $139 for 18 hours...or $7.72 an hour...just barely more than minimum wage. When a cake artist charges you $150 for that same cake, I can assure you that he or she is not using quality ingredients (most likely using box mix,) does not have proper licenses, is not paying taxes, and you are very, very likely going to end up very disappointed with the end result as they very, very likely do not have the necessary skill set to do what you are asking for. I completely understand if my prices are way outside of your range. My services are not for everyone. My skill set might not be the skill set you need. But before you rush off to the cake artist who is going to disappoint you, here are some things you can do to get the most for your buck: 1.) Ask your cake artist for an extensive photo portfolio and unbiased references. 2.) Read up on your cake artist and find reviews from previous customers. 3.) Ask your cake artist if he or she is willing to provide a cake tasting for a nominal fee (the average is $15-$30) 4.) While reviewing your cake artists portfolio, see if he or she has a wide range of skill sets or if it is primarily only one skill set. Often times, if the pictures only show one skill set, that is the only skill the artist will have. Do not expect a wonderfully carved or tiered cake if the cake artist primarily makes sheet cakes. 6.) Consider asking your cake artist for cheaper options. Dummy cakes an option? Would cupcakes be cheaper? Can the cake be made smaller for less people? Sometimes, these are the questions you need and do not realize it. 5.) Consider saving up for the custom cake you would like...and go ahead and buy the grocery store cake for now. At least then, you know what you are getting. You can then check on Pintrest or Google and see if there are any hacks you can use to make that store bought cake look custom.
In the end, before you decide to buy a custom cake, regardless if it is a cheap one or an expensive one, please be sure to check up on the cake artist you are using (including me!) I pride myself on being forthright and upfront and I would hate for you to spend your hard earned money on a cake wreck. And maybe, just maybe, with me being so truthful with you, you would be willing to one day give me the opportunity to make your next event magical. Because everything I make is baked with love, from me...to you.