Cakes come in all different shapes, sizes and styles. They can have plain decorations or wild, elaborate decorations. They can have flowers or models; in fact cakes can be made to suit any client’s desires.
If you go for an elaborate cake, what can you expect to pay? Well, whilst I can’t give a definitive answer here, I can at least explain how a cake decorator comes to the price that they charge.
The first element to take into consideration is the size and flavour of the cake. It stands to reason, that a 6” round sponge cake will cost less than a 10” square fruit cake. I have a spreadsheet called ‘Cake ingredients’ which I update every few months. This is quite an elaborate spreadsheet and is fairly time consuming to update! The first worksheet is a list of all the ingredients that I use and their cost. Then I have a worksheet for each flavour of cake and this is broken down into size and shape and the cost of each cake is calculated that way.
This gives me a starting cost to base my calculations on. It is worth pointing out here, that cake decorators will charge more for a cake than a supermarket. There are a number of reasons for this. Firstly, cakes are baked to order, according to the client’s requirements. Secondly, cake decorators are unable to charge similar amounts to supermarkets due to the cost of the ingredients used. We are unable to bulk buy ingredients on the scale that supermarkets can. Thirdly, if you compare the ingredients of a supermarket cake to a handmade cake, they will differ wildly as we do not use preservatives or additives. My sponge cake contains butter, sugar, eggs, flour and vanilla and nothing else. I hand make the strawberry jam I use to fill it using strawberries, sugar and lemon juice. Finally, a handmade cake will usually be at least 3” deep. Supermarket cakes are shallower.
Other costs that have to be factored in to the final cost are the costs of insurance (most cake decorators will have comprehensive insurance), the wear and tear of tins and instruments used, the cost of electricity and the costs of presentation (I always put my cakes on a cake board, with a ribbon around this and in a box).
Then we come onto time. To make a cake, bake it, clean up, cover it with icing and then finally make all of the decorations takes time. The more complicated the cake, the longer the time that it will take, even for the most skilled cake decorator. This time should be rewarded and therefore some cake decorators will add an hourly rate and others will add a figure that they think does them justice.
The local market is also a consideration as most cake decorators will research the area, find out competitors’ prices and charge accordingly.
Finally, if you purchase your cake from a well-known cake decorator, as you are paying for their name, you will pay more.
Coming up with a price is never easy, as I hope I have demonstrated. The next time that you choose to have a cake, if you go for a bespoke original cake, whilst you can expect to pay more than a supermarket cake, you are having a creation which is unique to you and your celebration and which will hopefully cause a talking point for time to come.