Updated: Jun 5
You've got a wedding or big celebration coming up, or maybe just a special birthday for your nearest and dearest, and you want to order a show-stopping cake. Where do you go?
The supermarket? You can buy ready made celebration cakes in most supermarkets and for some occasions these will be fine but for that extra special occasion you don't want a preservative laden, mass produced product that everyone has seen a hundred times before when doing their weekly shop.
The local high street bakery? You can get a fairly simple decorated cake from the bakery on the high street. They usually have an album of photographs for you to look through and you can choose a predetermined style. They will usually also add an inscription of your choice but designs are often quite limited.
But what do you do if you want something more unique, incorporating certain elements that fit with the theme of your party or something that is designed to your own specification? What do you do then? Do you make it yourself? Probably not as you will be far too busy organising the party or maybe you are not confident enough to do it, so you want to find someone with the skill and artistry to pull off the cake of your dreams. This is where the professional cake designer comes in. You know, that person you met at a party a while back, the one that made the show-stopping cake that everyone was talking about and that was so scrummy yummy you kept their card for future reference. So you decide you will contact them and ask for a quote.
This is me with one of my favourite cakes - a hanging basket cake stuffed full of beautiful flowers.
A professional cake designer will work with you to create something bespoke, designed specially for you, so will ask you a number of questions when you contact them. Apart from discussing any design ideas they will also want to know the following:
The date of the celebration. Cake designers get booked up quite a long time in advance so it's a good idea to contact them as soon as you can to avoid disappointment. This is probably one of the first questions they will ask as they will want to know the date to check that they can fit you in. After all, there's no point in going through the design and quoting process if, at the end of it all, the cake designer is fully booked for the date of your event.
The number of servings you will require. It's all very well having a fantastic cake but it would be so disappointing if there was not enough to go around. This may also influence the design too so even if you don't know exact numbers it's helpful to give your designer a rough idea so the cake can be designed to be big enough.
Flavours. Some cake flavours are more expensive to produce and if having a tiered cake it is quite common to have different flavoured tiers so this will also influence the quote.
Style and design. You may have seen a picture on the internet of something that would be perfect for your occasion so you send a picture to the cake designer. Most cake designers welcome your ideas and inspiration pictures but do bear in mind that you could be asking the cake designer to infringe copyright law by copying a cake made by someone else and they may be reluctant to do it unless some changes can be made to the design to add your own personality. This is particularly relevant with some cartoon characters for children's cakes.
You can see more of my cakes here.
Collection or delivery? If your cake needs to be delivered and set up at a venue there will most likely be a fee for this too so it's best to mention this at the start so it can be included in the quote. That way you will avoid any nasty surprises later on.
Budget. Some cakes are very elaborate these days, especially the carved and sculpted ones or anything with hand made sugar flowers or models. These things are very time consuming to make and will add to the cost of your cake so the design will need to be agreed according to your budget. Some cakes, particularly larger cakes, sculpted 3D cakes or those with detailed designs, need to be made over several days as some decorative elements need to have time to dry and set before they can be attached to the cake. Very often, customers don't have much idea how many hours of work go into making a custom cake and what the likely cost will be as all they have to compare prices with is the cakes that they see in the supermarket. It's therefore sometimes quite an eye opener when they receive their quote.
When asking a professional cake designer to quote for a custom-cake, please don't be tempted to compare the price with what you see in the supermarket, or even your friend across the road that makes cakes for a hobby. Supermarket cakes are often loss leaders and hobby cakers are restricted in how much they can charge. Legally the hobby caker is only allowed to claim back the cost of ingredients. Anything more than this and they should be classified as a business, registered with the local authority and HMRC and paying tax on any income they receive otherwise they will be breaking the law. A professional cake designer makes cakes for a living and will also be charging you for the time that it takes to make your cake. Even at minimum wage, you are going to be looking at something that is considerably more than the supermarket price. Custom-made cakes are not cheap, but nor is anything that is made to order - custom-made for you. Custom-made clothes, a custom-made car, custom-made furniture - they all cost more than off the shelf ones. Cakes are the same. Custom-made or personalised cakes will cost more than a mass produced one off the shelf. You cannot expect to pay the same price as a factory cake for a custom-made cake that has taken hours and hours, or days and days, to plan, bake from scratch and lovingly decorate, to say nothing of the expensive specialist tools required to create high end cakes.
I touched on this subject a while back and you can read more about it in this post.
So now you have got all the basics covered and have agreed everything with your cake designer, you can relax, safe in the knowledge that the star of your table is in good hands so all you will need to do now is enjoy yourself
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