Why do cakes cost so much? By Sin City Mad Baker
This blog entry is from an incredibly talented cake designer in Las Vegas, that I call a Myspace friend. She’s incredibly talented, and someone I love to hear from.
“The best place to start is to discuss why cakes DON’T cost so much. You can find your cheap cakes readily available at grocery stores, price cutter stores, like your “W-Marts”, and some bakeries. They use cheap ingredients, such as dairy products that contain “Growth Hormone”, bleached flours, eggs from chicken farms that have deplorable conditions….The icings are either Non Dairy Whipped Cream (yuck) or a shortening based icing that I call, “cupcake icing” (double yuck) …basically the most cost effective way to make a cake. The cakes are made at a central bakery from a “mix”, frozen and trucked all the way to your local grocery store. Upon arrival, the cakes are cut down into various sizes. The main question to ask is, “How Many People Have Touched the Cake?” The cakes are then decorated in some of the crustiest, filthiest environments known to man….The health department would quickly shut them down if it were not for the fact that the Health Department is typically understaffed, so they typically go “uninspected” for a period of time.
Why do cakes cost so much? I can tell you why I charge what I charge for my cakes. First and foremost, I use the finest ingredients available for all of my cakes and everything is made from scratch. I do not use dairy products that contain “growth hormone”…I use local, “free range” eggs. I only use the finest extracts (Nielsen Massey) and chocolates, such as Peter’s, Callebaut or Valrhona. If I use a whipped icing, it’s made from scratch and the cream is free of growth hormone and from a local dairy. I refuse to use “cupcake icing”…My cakes are either made with an Italian Meringue or Swiss Meringue Buttercream. I don’t make my own fondant, but I use a wonderful brand, that tastes good and is from a reputable company. Every flower that I make, be it Gumpaste, royal, fondant or buttercream…is made from my own hands. I use “kosher certified” gel colors to color my icings, fondant and gumpaste, and every detail is finished as if I was Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel.
The cake process starts with gathering ingredients, mixing and preparing the cake. Then the cake is baked, cooled, torted, filled and iced. I use a crumb coat, then a regular coat of icing, which is more time consuming. My kitchen is pristine and I treat each cake as if I were baking it for myself.
Beautiful cakes take a lot of energy, time and effort to make. I have made cakes that have taken as much as a week to make. Not to mention the planning stages…the design and drawings.
When you order a cake, be sure to consider how much work is required of your baker. Also, be sure to respect their time by ordering your cake well in advance and don’t nickel and dime them to death.
Kerry Vincent will not fire up her oven for less than $4,000…Cake Works in San Francisco has a $600 minimum charge, the Cake Girls in Chicago have a similar minimum….I’m positive that Ron Ben Israel, Colette Peters, Debbie Brown, Norm Davis, Toba Garrett and tons more charge in the thousands for their cakes.
I refuse to be a $10.00 cake whore. “