Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What REALLY Goes Into Your Birthday Cake...

I read A LOT. In my spare time, especially lately, I am often reading blogs, and articles and websites about cakes and cake business'. A recurring theme seems to be people wondering why a custom cake costs what it does and cake designers wondering if people will pay what a designer/baker needs to charge in order to see ANY profit. Anyone can walk into (insert big box supermarket name of choice here) and buy a sheet cake, colorfully decorated, and large enough to feed a football team for less than $30. But what are you really getting for that price? A cake made from a mix, with filling made from a mix and icing made from a mix, decorated generically at best. And there are times when maybe that is the type of cake that is most appropriate, but certainly it is not fitting for all events...and that is where cake designers/bakers come in. Yes, my cakes are more expensive than the big box store, but there's a reason for that...

finished bottom tier iced in buttercream

To really produce amazing custom cakes, it takes a few things: talent, creativity, ingredients, time and equipment.
You need a good mixer, bowls, and assorted pans in so many shapes and sizes it would make your brain hurt to think about it, most of them x2 for the layers involved. If a cake involves fondant/gum paste, there is the cost of the product itself, then the cost of the multitude of cutters, and tools, and drying racks/cups. If the cake has multiple tiers, the cake has to have a structure built into it, in the form of dowels, to support the next tier and prevent collapse. Frosting the cake smooth alone takes a good turntable, and a truly good lasting one is not cheap. And then there are the gel colours for tinting the frosting, fondant, etc. And the non-pareil. And the boxes for transporting. And these are just the basics. Granted, once these things are bought, that's pretty much it. Most of these things will last many years if bought in good quality. But there's always a new flower cutter to purchase, or a new colour to mix, and a bigger pan to buy. There will always be ongoing costs, and supplies to purchase specifically for that cake.

stacked and ready for finishing details

These are also not cakes that can be cranked out en masse. The big box store bakes a whole bunch at the same time and takes less than 20 minutes per cake to decorate. The cake in my pictures took 8 hours total to complete, but over the course of 3 days. One day to bake and completely cool, one day to cover in buttercream and stack, then chill until everything set, while making the decorations and allowing them to dry at least 24 hours, then final assembly the day of...and that doesn't include delivery and setup on site.

gum paste/fondant details going onto the cake

I also only use REAL ingredients. I bet you can pronounce every single ingredient that goes into one of my cakes. Butter, good quality eggs, buttermilk, sugar, vanilla, fresh berries, rich cocoa. These ingredients just cost more than a mix. They also make a 100% better product. They make cakes that taste like your grandma used to make, and didn't her cakes always taste the best?

little sugar monkeys sitting to dry for 24 hours

Last, but certainly not least, is talent and creativity. I will lump them together, because to me they go hand in hand. These are things that just can't be taught. You are either a creative person, or your not. You either have a talented hand at cakes, or you don't. Sure there are varying degrees of talent and creativity. I'm no Colette Peters or Ron Ben-Israel. But I'm me, and I know I can do something not everyone does.

the finished product, ready for delivery

Oh, and one last thing, passion. Without a true passion for what I am doing, those 8 hours spent molding tiny sugar figurines and flowers would last forever. Instead, I forget to eat, and hour takes 5 minutes, and before I know it 8 hours (or more) has passed. Love what you do, do what you love and the rest will follow.

a sugar-free (!!!) creation also ready for delivery

Thanks to Melissa and Sarah-Jane for this weeks orders :)

No comments:

Post a Comment