Before becoming an artisan cake designer, I never understood the value of a wedding cake. When planning my own wedding I accounted for the prices of the ingredients, butter, flour, sugar, eggs, some vanilla extract I thought... a wedding cake must be around £100 - £200 right?
Then I came into the business, and there were a gazillion cost I would never have accounted for.... that's when it occurred to me that these items are never set out clearly when you are searching for someone to create your dream wedding cake. Its very hard to imagine the skill and time that goes into a cake, until you start baking one yourself and realise... 'man! is this ALOT of work!'
Often, clients believe that a wedding cake price is inflated , purely because it is for a wedding. I can certainly tell you this is not true at all, and that would be an awful practice if it were true. Lets take a look at what you are really paying for;
Hours spent creating a wedding cake
Ingredient shopping 30/40 Mins
Lining tins 15 mins
Baking various sponges and making the fillings 2 hours (on average)
Washing up/Packing 1 hour
Level and torte cakes 35/40 mins
Fill and cover cakes 2-3 hours
Dowel and stack cakes 30 mins
Decorate cakes (dependent on design) 3-8 hours
Flower work/Cake toppers and other decor 4-8 hours
Paper Work 1-2 hrs
Ordering specialist equipment and tools for specific cake design 20/30 minutes
Research 40 minutes
On average 15 - 18 hours are spent in total on a wedding cake, and that is just creating it. There is also the time it takes to pack the cake safely, transport it, and negotiate crazy stairs and inclines to finally set the cake up at the venue.
Included in the cost, is the price of flour, sugar, butter, free range eggs, extracts, jams, spreads, a high quality fondant to finish the cake, the cake boards, and cards, sugar paste ( this is a very costly ingredient used to make sugar flowers), florist wires, florist tape, florist tips, royal icing, dowels, electricity for the use of the oven, extended use of mixers and the running of additional refrigerators, and a percentage of the water rates.
On average we use up to 30 eggs for each cake, 15 sticks of butter, and 2.5 kg of sugar.
So where does the artisan come into all of this you may ask?
Unlike M&S, Waitrose and other big chains, we are far from a corporation. That is why we ask for a 50% deposit upfront, because this job is our only income, and that deposit is a guarantee that we can now pay the bills and put food on the table this month. When customers miss their agreed payment dates, we go without. Prices reflect the cost of the ingredients, power, water rates, the insurance coverage and most importantly the labour to create the beautiful piece of art that is a wedding cake.
Everything you see is handcrafted. Therefore, economies of scale does not come in to play. The more mini cakes, for example that are ordered, the more labour time involved.
To smartly give our customers a great price for the value of work they are receiving, I shop around constantly for the best price on ingredients, and supplies. So, when orders are cancelled last minute or changed, we are left with additional stock that may spoil, or is so specific to the desired order, that we cannot recuperate these cost in the form of any other sale.
So there it is... a true outline of the cost of a wedding cake. Hopefully for those reading, it will help you not to have mild dizziness, if you ask for a quote on that gorgeous 5 tier floral cake with gold embellishments, that you have seen on Pinterest.