Thursday, January 20, 2011

Why are cakes so pricey?

As you plan your wedding day, you are inevitably going to be surprised by just how much things cost.  The wedding cake is certainly one of those things.  After all its only flour, sugar, eggs and a little butter, right?  Not so fast, there is way more to it than you think!   Read on, from a blog I posted originally on my vendor's website from

As a baker and cake artist, I know first hand what goes into baking and decorating a cake.  To keep up to date on the latest trends (yes there are trends in cake, have you seen some wedding cakes from the 80's ;) I have read countless articles on how to choose a baker for your wedding cake.  Of course there are those that give great advice and those that seem to know little to nothing about actually making a cake for such a special occasion.  The latter seem to give out more poor advice than good advice, so I would like to clear up just one of many wedding cake myths that some brides may have heard or read.  So, is the cost of the wedding cake going to be cheaper if I order sheet cakes and use a dummy display cake?  Is is cheaper to order mini cakes or cupcakes?  I doubt it, and here's why:

The cost...
 Every bride is on a budget, or at least the brides in the real world are.  I mean, David Tutera can't surprise us all with a free wedding.  But you should know what is realistic when it comes to paying for a custom made cake.  Sure, the ingredients can be expensive for a fresh baked cake, but the time that goes into buying ingredients, mixing, baking, cleaning, mixing buttercream or making fondant is only the beginning.  Easily 4 -5 hours can go into creating just a small two tiered cake.  Imagine that multiplied by 3 if you order a larger cake.  Basically, the times will vary depending on the baker, but many don't just have the size you want laying around in the freezer ready to decorate.  (Well, some do, but that is a grocery store cake and not exactly what is considered a fresh baked, custom designer cake)  Baking is its own art form, or even considered by some to be a science, but that's only the beginning.  Once baked, it is the decorating that really takes the time and talent of someone special; someone who is willing to put long hours into making a beautiful cake just for you to enjoy with your guests.  I won't reveal any decorating secrets or timelines here, but every bride should know that it is not just cake, and it takes a lot of time and work to make one beautiful.

Wedding cakes by Sweet Art Cakes

The myth...
     Now that you know a little about what goes into creating a custom cake, its easier to see why some of the other options will not be cheaper.  The great ones are way more than just flour, sugar and eggs.  The dummy or display cake comes up a lot in articles about saving money, but unless you rent one already made your baker has to take the time to decorate it, plus creating the actual cakes to be served.  Cupcakes and mini cakes are becoming very popular at casual and upscale events.  But, the time it takes to bake and decorate 100 cupcakes can be just as time consuming as a 3 tier cake.  Also, if you think ordering a "simple" cake with save you some money,  be aware that you and your baker may have a different opinion on what "simple" is.  What looks like a perfectly smooth cake with just a plain ribbon,  still took a lot of time and talent to create.

When you begin shopping, compare the price per serving, that is how nearly all bakeries and cake artists determine the price of a cake.  Depending on where you live, you could pay as little as $2.00 per serving, or as high as $8.00-$14.00, and even more.  If going to a grocery store is all that is in your budget for cake, then that is fine.  Just do not expect to pay grocery store prices for a custom made cake.  If you want a designer cake, you will have to pay the price. 

But be realistic about your entire wedding budget... if you can't afford to buy cake for 200 people, should you really be having a wedding with 200 guests?  Can you imagine taking those 200 people, all dressed up in their dresses and suits, to a fine restaurant to have dinner, and then expect to buy them dessert for $1.00 per person?  It doesn't work that way, even Burger King charges more than that for a slice of pie!

Looks good, huh?  Sure does; but not many brides are serving these for dessert! 
There are other wedding cake myths out there, I look forward to debunking those as well, so stay tuned...

Til next time, thanks for reading and feel free to send comments and suggestions!

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