How Much Is A Cake?
It's one of the most asked questions I get, but the answer is not quite as simple. Think of it like a wedding dress, they vary a lot in price, right? You might find your perfect dress on the high street or you may have the budget for a bespoke designer one of a kind creation. There is no right or wrong choice, the only choice is the one that is best for you, your wedding and your budget.
Off The Shelf Wedding Cakes
You can get wedding cakes from supermarkets these days or other high street stores. This is great and I'm sure these cakes look and taste very nice and are the right wedding cake for some people as they are both convenient and budget friendly. They will however, most likely have been mass produced in a factory, not by hand and will require you to assemble them yourself which could be stressful on the wedding day. If you look at the list of ingredients in the cake, it will not be just flour, eggs, butter and sugar, you won't know when it was made. It won't have been made 'just for you'. Again this is not right, or wrong, but it may be something you wish to consider when choosing your cake.
Budget Friendly Options
If you are on a smaller budget, then a naked or semi naked cake might be your best choice. These require minimal decoration so can be cheaper than iced and decorated alternatives. They can look really beautiful decorated with fresh flowers, fruits, berries, figs or even herbs. Sometimes less is more with this style of cake. But similarly you can go all out with beautiful blooms to create a real statement cake.
What will make my cake cost more?
The general rule of thumb, is that, the bigger the cake and the more detail on a cake, the greater the cost. Sugar flowers, ruffles, intricate piping, complex models or detail are all going to add to the final cost. If you don't have a huge budget, you can still have an amazing cake, without tons of detail and complex design elements - think 'less is more'. A few statement focal points or elements of detail can still give you a wow factor cake. Your cake maker should be able to advise about working within a budget so be honest with them before you embark on the design process, so that neither of you is left disappointed.
Why do different cake makers charge different prices?
This is something I think a lot of people have misconceptions about. A cake is just a cake, right? No, this is wrong. Let's give you a couple of examples:
Cake Maker A: They love baking. They use cheaper 'Savers range' supermarket ingredients and baking fat, not butter to keep costs down, They batch bake cakes from home and freeze them so it's quicker to put orders together at the last minute. They are making at least five cakes a week, so can't give too much time to each order to ensure a high quality of finish. They are happy just to charge enough to cover the cost of their ingredients and enjoy baking as a hobby rather than a business.
Cake Maker B: They have been making cakes for a few years and now run a business from home in a private studio. They are fully insured, registered and food hygiene qualified. They have undertaken lots of professional training to hone their skills and stay on top of new techniques. Quality is key with this baker. They buy the best of everything to ensure their cakes taste as good as they look. They pride themselves on attention to detail and a flawless finish. Nothing leaves their kitchen until its absolutely perfect. They limit the amount of orders they take to ensure perfection.
Cake Maker C: They have a high street store front and have been established for 20 years. They employ five staff. They run a very successful business and have won numerous awards for their intiricate wedding cakes. They specialise in making wedding cakes for celebrity couples and are often in OK Magazine.
Obviously there is going to be a cost difference between these three cake makers. It is down to you to ask the right questions to establish what kind of cake maker you are employing to make your wedding cake and whether you are happy with the level of service and product they are going to provide. If they are very cheap, there will be a reason for this, if they are extortionately expensive, it might be they have a very well thought of brand and luxury product. Most reputable cake makers will have a good website and social media presence where you will be able to see examples of their work and read customer reviews. Just make sure you are completely happy with what you see and read before you commit. If you are not sure, ask to meet your cake maker and taste some samples of their cakes before you place an order.
How is the cost of a cake calculated?
When calculating a cake cost, lots of things need to be take into consideration. Each cake maker will have their own way of calculating costs that they are happy with. These are some things that will be taken into account:
- Ingredients - This will form the very basic starting price for a cake
- Time - Not just time for baking, there is also lots of other time to consider: answering queries, sending quotes, preparing for consultations, baking for consultations, the consultation itself, designing the cake, shopping for ingredients, mixing, baking, making fillings, filling and ganaching cakes, icing, making decorations, attaching decorations, contacting venues and florists, preparing the cake for delivery, delivering the cake, assembling the cake at the venue, washing up, cleaning workspace, admin time.......I am sure there are more things that take up precious time too.
- Other costs - overheads, equipment, training, utility costs, car insurance, house insurance, cake boxes, dowels, advertising, stationery, fuel, accounting......etc.
So, it is by no means, just the cost of the basic ingredients themselves and a little bit of time.
Dummy tiers will make my cake a lot cheaper - This is not necessarily the case. If your dummy tier has a lot of decoration on it, then chances are, there won't be a huge difference between the cost of a real cake or a dummy cake. Also, dummy cakes, particularly large, or unusually shaped ones often cost more than the ingredients for a cake. Decorating a dummy cake costs exactly the same as decorating a real cake.
I'll just have a small cake and then cutting cake to keep the cost down - This can actually end up costing almost as much as a larger tiered cake. There is still the cost of making and icing the cutting cake, and the portions needed will still be the same. So it might be worth thinking about having more of a showstopper cake rather than a smaller cake and cutting cake that never gets seen.
Cupcakes will be cheaper than a bigger cake - Again, this can actually be incorrect. If there are 100 individual cakes to bake, ice and decorate then this could actually be more time consuming than making one tiered cake. Particularly if each cupcake has individual decoration e.g. sugar flowers. It is unlikely a tiered cake would have 100 sugar flowers on it, but 100 cupcakes might.
You are a lot more expensive than XYZ Baker's down the road - This may well be the case, but a cake is not just a cake (see previous paragraph). The level of training of the cake maker, the quality of ingredients used, the height of each tier (this may vary from 3" - 5" or more), the finish of the tiers (rounded edges v's sharp edges), buttercream v's ganache, the quality of the fondant used....the list goes on. It is not possible to directly compare two cakes unless every single aspect of the cake maker and the make up of the cake is the same. Which it is never going to be. Would you expect a Skoda and a BMW to cost the same? No. Well, it's just the same with a cake.
You are asking my budget to try and rip me off and charge me more - This is completely not the case. As a professional, I always try to establish a budget before meeting couples so I can make sure I can achieve what my customer wants within their budget. There is no point in me spending time meeting with a couple planning their dream cake, only to find out we are on a completely different page budget wise and actually I cannot make what they want. I think honesty is the key from the beginning so as not to disappoint anyone. Whatever your budget, I can help advise on how to achieve the best cake within that.
It is very rare that any two cakes will cost exactly the same from me as there will always be some small differences. Be that, different flavours, different sizes, different decoration. Because I limit the amount of orders I take to 2 or 3 in one week, I do have a minimum starting price of £400.00 for my wedding cakes. Most people do tend to budget between £450-650 but often it is more. It really is dependent on the cake design we come up with and the individual needs of the couple.
So whilst I can't say exactly how much a cake will cost definitively, if you send me some ideas as to the style of cake you would like and the number of portions required, I can give you a fairly accurate quote before we progress any further.
Hope this is helpful.