December 3, 2022

Why a Cake is Expensive (and How to Make it Cheaper)

Cake display at a cake shop
Source: thetastesf.com

Are Cakes Expensive?

Who love to spent money on pricey cakes? I think we can agree that cakes are irresistable. Imagine the soft texture of cake mixed with the sweetness of syrup and jam and covered with various kinds of icing. Not to mention the wide selection of toppings. Starting from fresh fruits, rainbow sprinkles, or creamy chocolate. Its range of variety makes cake become the king of desserts. However, we can also agree that some cakes are expensive.

Supermarket cakes might be cheap. They won’t cost more than two bucks per slice. However, if you go into cafes and cake shops, the price is around twice as much for a cute slice of cake. As for a whole cake, it can cost up to one hundred bucks. That is the average minimum price. Some might cost two to three times higher.

At a glance, the price seems normal. Yet, if we consider the size and the type, some cakes have a seemingly unreasonable price. For example, a 10 centimeter lunch-box cake can cost twice as much as a 30×30 centimeter size brownies’ cost. Or maybe you can find a 200 milliliter dessert box that has the same price as a box of cheesecakes. Not to add that half of it is just cream and sauce. Moreover if you compare it to cakes found in traditional markets or small cake shops, the gaps become more visible. 

So, why are there cakes that cost up to hundred dollars while we can get a big pan of cake half much cheaper? Before you judge these cake sellers for scam and such, you must know the reasoning of the prices first. There are factors that affect the pricing of a cake. Those factors are ingredients, type and shape of the cake, and branding. 

They are made using premium (expensive) ingredients

If you watch cooking and baking videos, you must notice that they mostly use good-quality ingredients. Or we can say, branded and original ingredients. You may see people alternate some ingredients with cheaper ones, but most of these expensive-looking products  use “proper” ingredients without much “hacks”. You see the key here: good-quality ingredients. 

When you go to a convenience store or supermarket, for one ingredient, there are rows of selections right? From different brands and with different prices. Commonly, the better the quality is, the higher the price is. For example, a cocoa powder costs twice as much as the other. This is because the expensive one is made of 100% cocoa while the cheaper one is already mixed with flour and sometimes sugar. So, expensive ingredients are usually 100% pure ingredients. In other cases, for cakes that use jams or filling paste, the bakers often make the ingredients themselves. You can watch them on baking vlogs on YouTube.

The use of premium ingredients results in premium-quality cake. Yet, it also results in expensive cake. Because when you only use the best-quality ingredients, that means the production cost will increase and that definitely affects the cake pricing. You may want to buy cheaper cakes or make easier cakes, but I cannot guarantee that the taste will be the same. Moreover, cakes you buy at the supermarket or traditional market usually use food additives like baking powder as leavening and emulsifying agents. 

Emulsifiers are not only used for cakes. If you are familiar with bakeries, you must have known that products like bread use emulsifiers too. You can learn more about emulsifiers for baked goods here.

The difficulty level of the cake (and visual appearance)

Each type of cake went through a different baking process. There are cakes that can be made in one go, there are cakes that contain layers of various toppings, and there are cakes that need certain baking techniques. Basic and plain cakes are cheaper than the decorated ones right? While custom cakes are definitely much more expensive. That is because decorated and customized cakes took more hours in the making process. Usually, the more complicated the cake is, the more ingredients needed. Not to add the time needed to finish the cake. So, it is actually reasonable for a cake to have expensive price, isn’t it?

Just for your information, a cake can take as much as a day and even more in the making process.

Try watch this video:  I made the hardest birthday cake in the world

The appearance or platting of the cake also very much matters. As also mentioned previously, some cakes use a lot of toppings and decorations. This of course adds to the production cost of the cakes and further affects the selling price too. Some decorations can be more expensive than the cake itself. Sliced cakes at Michelin restaurants often come with gold sparkles decorations. Cafe desserts on the other hand usually appear in a simple appearance. Commonly they use whipped cream and ice cream as the decoration.

Still, gloriously decorated cakes may seem more appetizing for you. Just look at this video:

Cake decorating has its own techniques and rules. It also requires good skill. If you are interested to learn the basic of cake decorating, you might like this article: CAKE DECORATING 101

They came from a well-known (and high-end) brand

Last but not least, the reason behind the expensive price of a cake is the brand which it came from. Each cake shop has their own name right? In other words, they have their own brand. Not much different from other goods like clothes or electronics, cakes’ brands affect their price in the market. A brand not only says something about the products’ characteristics and history but also their quality. Although famous brands do not equal expensive price, it is a fact that well-known brands put higher price compared to small brands and no-brand cakes. You can try to compare cakes from Starbucks to those from local cake shops, bakeries, and cafes. 

Make Your Cake Cheaper

If you are interested in cakery, or maybe pastry and bakery as well, you can try to make them your own. By making your own cake, you not only can save your money, but you can adjust the cake to your personal taste. Sometimes you go to a cake shop and find a delicious brownie, however the sweetness of it does not match your liking. In another case, you finally discovered the best cheesecake in town, but the toppings ruined the taste. That is why making your own cake can be a solution. 

Homemade cake can also be much healthier. Check out these Healthy Cake Recipes

However, the result might not be much different if you just follow the recipe(s) without much consideration and adjustment. Especially if you are on a tight budget. You cannot afford buying expensive cake from shops but you are also afraid baking one at home will cost around the same. For that reason, this article has some tips on how to make cheaper cakes.

Do research on the cake you would like to make

As mentioned above, each type of cake went through different baking processes. Meaning that each cake has a different recipe and characteristics. If you have no experience in baking, it is highly recommended to do a lot of study about cake. You can start from learning the basic types of cakes. Read another similar article here

Don’t forget to learn about basic baking skills as well.

Though, that does not mean one type of cake only has one recipe. One type of cake, for example sponge cake, can have plenty of recipes. However, each recipe won’t be that much different. They may only have slight differences in the ingredients and measurements. Different countries might only produce certain ingredients and different people might use different measurements as well. 

You can start to explore Classic Cake Recipes on the internet or you can find it on Best Sellers Baking Books.

Try to find as much selection of ingredients as possible

Now that you have the basic knowledge of cakes and their recipes, you can try to modify the recipe. As this article has mentioned before, cake becomes expensive because it uses good-quality ingredients and well-known branded ingredients. If you want to make it cheaper, try to alternate some ingredients. It will be better if you can shop at a baking supply store rather than a supermarket. Baking supply stores usually have a wider selection of ingredients ranging from famous brands to local small brands and with the highest grade to the lowest one. 

Now that the technology is already far advanced, you can easily shop from home too. It also will be more effective to do online shopping because you can scroll through different shops at once without having to transport here and there. 

You can check this article: Where to Buy Baking Ingredients Online

Do not buy unnecessary ingredients and equipment

When you first bake, you may want to buy every single baking ingredient available in the store. Because it is your first time and you aren’t really sure about what you will need and what you won’t need. In the end, you end up buying too much. Even pro bakers still do this sometimes. If you are on a tight budget or want to save more budget, then try to buy only necessary ingredients. Hence, the reason you should learn about the recipes first. 

In case things have already happened, don’t worry! You can save the ingredients for the next baking session. Read about How To Store Baking Ingredients.

Here comes the last tip from this article. Baking at home means you will need all of the baking equipment too, right? If you’re a kitchen person, I am pretty sure it is just hard to hold yourself from filling your kitchen with different equipment. I am pretty sure as well, that you all know that baking equipment is not cheap. Therefore, all the previous tips will be useless if you failed in deciding which baking equipment is worth your money. You should only buy equipment that you need and you will use most of the time. To give some enlightenment, read about Essential Baking Equipment

Now you understand why a cake is expensive–very expensive sometimes.

Some might not be worth your money, but cheap does not always mean good, right?. It is up to your decision whether to choose price or quality. If you still want a good-quality cake at a low price, you can try to make them at home to save more money. However, remember that without good calculations, you might end up spending more than your planned budget. 

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