Why Custom Cakes Are So Expensive?
Have you ever wondered why custom cakes cost more than your typical big box store and typical bakeries cakes?
There are lots of important differences that go into a custom cake and I would like to explain what those are and why it should matter to you!
There are cheap cakes, but they are NOT CUSTOM made cakes
You can get an inexpensive cakes at your local grocery store and have words of your choosing spelled out on it, but that is not what I call a ‘custom cake’. These ‘non-custom cakes’ are made in large batches to keep the cost-basis down and frozen for long periods of time until the time of demand.
Have you noticed how snow-white the buttercream on the ‘non-custom cakes’ are? That is because the buttercream is made from vegetable shortening, which is essentially all hydrogenated oils that is extremely bad for your health. I use genuine buttercream in my ‘custom cake’, which is never snow-white, but you can taste the difference and know it contains no hydrogenated oils. This is just one example, and you should look at the label of a grocery store cake and see how many different ingredients (some you may not even be able to pronounce) that are known to be bad for your health.
While grocery stores mass produced ‘non-custom cakes’ use ready-made icing and fillings that contain unhealthy chemicals and preservatives, I make everything from scratch and fresh near the time of delivery. I use the highest quality fondant, gum-paste, isolmalt, and chocolate.
Every detail on each custom cake is made specifically for that design. Even the colors of fondant, gum-paste or molding chocolate is hand-matched and hand-mixed for each cake individually.
Cakes are not just flour and sugar.
Though flour and sugar is the foundation of any cake, the taste is a direct reflection of quality of ingredients used. For example, I use only the best quality chocolates that can’t be found in supermarkets and need to be special ordered. High quality fondant and gumpaste is another special order item that makes a big difference in the taste and texture of the cake.
But one of the most overlooked cost of custom cakes are the special equipment and molds that I need for a custom cake. Let’s just say I have racks and racks of equipment, yet almost every new custom design I still need to buy some special equipment.
Besides all that there is also level of artistry and experience you are getting. I specialize in 3D sculpted cakes and gum paste flowers, learned from the masters in the industry who has taught every high-profile cake artist in business today. I have spent hours learning and training my skills and many thousands of dollars for those courses.
Many designs take hours of work.
Custom cakes can take upwards of 40+ hours to make. You may be curious why it takes so long!? Is it because I’m slow or lack experience?
Here are some factors that contribute to very time consuming cake design:
1) Sharp corners
2) Clean look (smooth flat surfaces)
3) Details (every single one) – even if it’s the same little flower (I had a customer that wanted the cake covered with little flowers – I had to make 265 of them in different colors and place them so the colors would complement each other).
Even with time, the overall perfect execution highly depends on the level of skill and experience of the cake designer.
One of the examples is making a single peony flower that has on average 30 petals individually cut, wired, ruffled, shaped and colored. It takes about 4 hours of labor from start to finish even from the most famous and experienced cake artists, and three to four days of drying time (depending on the humidity level); a rose (another popular choice for wedding cake gum paste flowers) requires 2 hours of labor from the time the first petal is created to the time all of the petal dust and luster dust colors are applied. Multiply that quantity, and expect to hear a high price per slice quoted, as it’s impossible to charge the complete hourly rate for what will go into that cake.
Except some basic colors, most of the fondant, gum-paste and molding chocolate are hand-matched and hand-mixed to the exact color according to the client’s needs and only for that specific order, this process takes from 20 minutes to sometimes even couple hours to get the proper color and also depends on the color intensity and quantity.
This is a good reason why I suggest custom cakes to be ordered way ahead of time. All the many pieces can take days to create just simply because of its structure.
I am humbly thankful that you let me share my thoughts and insight into custom cake design business.
I feel that working with a custom cake designer is for those who wants a cake that’s out of the ordinary, and who wants to feel fantastic about the process from forming the design concept to sharing that special cake with their loved ones, friends and family. As a professional cake artist I am delighted in having clients who are a pleasure to work with, and who inspire and energize me in the collaborative creative process. My goal is to make your experience something so amazing that you want nothing more than to share it with everyone you know!