Today everyone is looking to be unique and have a unique experience. They want everything to be customised and personalised. Think about your clothes, your mobile, your car, your laptop. So why won’t you personalize your cake? Ever wondered what is the cost to make a custom cake? I have been thinking of writing an article for quite sometime on this. It is a luxury you experience when you pay for a handcrafted masterpiece. The joy on your child or loved one’s face when they see a cake that is unique and made especially for them. It makes them feel cherished and certainly makes you as a host proud of organizing it, especially in a party or get together.
I have had many customers ask me why my cakes are expensive compared to the ones in the commercial stores. Some even ask me to make cakes at budgets which will just cover the cost of ingredients. I am considerate and want to take care of my clients. However, I do need to take care of my business as well. I have seen many home based cake businesses going out of business, as they sell cakes at cost prices, just to get business. There are a lot of hobby cake makers as well, who make cakes for a period and then stop because they get fed up, as they can’t sustain. I respect my clients and am happy to work around their budget. In fact, one of the first things I always ask is ”what’s the budget?”.
The budget need to be logical, as everything comes with a cost. It’s like they say, “you get what you pay for.” A 6 inch cake in a commercial bakery will cost $20, but a home baker would start with a higher base price and then add onto the price as per the design.
Cakes produced in mass quantity differ from home made custom cakes. But then, the question arises, ‘shouldn’t cakes being made at home, be cheaper? ’. The answer is ‘no’. Cake bought from the stores are mass produced. The raw materials are purchased in bulk and cake are made in bulk. There is usually more cream and less cake. They are stored in the freezer for months, before they hit the shelves. To maintain long shelf lives, preservatives are added. There is also the limitation of customizing it to the customers requirement, be it in flavor or in design.
On the other side, Home made cake are baked to order, using tried and tested recipes. They are baked with passion and handcrafted to the client’s requirements. There are many factors that contribute to Home made cake being expensive. For example, if I were to use dark chocolate in a mud cake, I need to ensure that there is at least 70% cocoa in the chocolate block, of good quality. Usually chocolate blocks with 70% cocoa cost more, compared to other chocolate blocks. Another example is butter. Butter comes in different price ranges. Again, good quality butter contributes to the lovely taste in the cake as well as buttercream and fondant. Specialty cakes like carrot cakes, coconut cakes or fruit cakes would cost more because of the quality ingredients that go into it. Home bakers usually don’t buy in bulk like commercial bakers, so, the prices cannot be on par with those that are mass produced. Quality ingredients, freshness and handcrafted designs are the key to making customers come back, placing repeated orders.
Home bakers usually spend more time designing and decorating the cake compared to what they charge. Sometimes, just to get the cake perfect, I do the cakes until the early hours in the morning. Especially if these involve flowers, figures or time consuming decorating works. We attend expensive designing and decorating courses, as well as get trained in techniques. This skill that make the handcrafted cakes unique isn’t available at commercial bakeries nor can it be done by clients at home (Unless they are passionate about designing and make cakes as a hobby). We constantly educate ourselves, keep buying books, subscribe to cake magazines, attend seminars and expos, so we are aware of the current trends. Baking equipment like heavy duty stand mixers, fridge, ovens, digital thermometers, variety of baking pans, cutters, air guns, decorating stencils, sculpting knives and tools, the list of things we buy and use is endless. We also spend in legalizing and maintaining our business.
Last but not the least, you are also paying for the luxury of not going through the stress of baking and designing, as well as the mess of cleaning up. After I finish baking, I have pans and bowls with grease from butter, leftovers of the melted chocolate, flour and icing sugar all around and not to mention the mess if an air gun is used to decorate the cake.
I hope after reading this article, you will understand why home baker’s cake cost more.
My advice, be open minded and logical when you make a budget. Let your home baker know your budget and be willing to loosen the strings, if you want to achieve a particular design. After all, they are handcrafting a masterpiece for you.