Charging For Dummy Cakes

Decorating By kimkake Updated 6 Jan 2011 , 9:26pm by tryingcake

kimkake Posted 4 Jan 2011 , 7:52pm
post #1 of 24

I am going to be doing a wedding cake in the spring and I'm not sure how to charge for it - I do a per slice charge as most do - but they want the whole cake to be styrofoam - and just sheet cakes to serve to save money.
Could you give me some input on how you charge for a dummy cake - like is it the cost of the dummy and an upcharge - or the time it takes to frost it?
Thanks so much for your time in advance!!

23 replies
leah_s Posted 4 Jan 2011 , 8:18pm
post #2 of 24

Dummy cake = 80% of what the cost would be if it were real. The styro costs about the same as the cake and the decoration is the same. Transportation/delivery is the same.

BTW dummy cake + sheetcakes does NOT save money. Worst "advice" ever foisted on brides. And make sure they're buying the sheetcakes from you, not some cheapo grocery cake.

Overheard at reception, as guests look at the display cake, "Gee that Kimkake sure makes a pretty cake. Too bad it tastes like cardboard."

gr8yf Posted 4 Jan 2011 , 8:22pm
post #3 of 24

The work is in the decorating. Compare the cost of styrofoam forms with the flour and sugar, there isn't a big difference. Look at your charts and make a slight deduction but I always tell the brides what I said in my opening sentence and they usually get it.

AnotherCaker Posted 4 Jan 2011 , 8:26pm
post #4 of 24

That option would cost her wayyyyy more money than a real tiered cake. I don't make sheet cakes, but if I did, and since the dummy would cost exactly as much as real cake, she'd be paying hundreds of dollars more. I hate that stupid advice floating around out there.

AnotherCaker Posted 4 Jan 2011 , 8:29pm
post #5 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by gr8yf

The work is in the decorating.




Truthfully, I spend way more time baking/assembling than I do decorating. I am pretty quick with that part, no matter hor fancy or detailed it is. But I am not about to go against the grain and say that out loud anywhere but amongst other cakers. icon_cool.gif

KHalstead Posted 4 Jan 2011 , 8:55pm
post #6 of 24

I charge 25% less for dummy cakes (only because I hate baking!) but honestly there really isn't less overhead for you, dummies generally cost MORE than the ingredients for cake, sure you save time baking, but most people can bake all the layers of a 3 tiered cake at once in about an hr...you'll probably spend more time than that ordering dummies.

I would explain to the bride that YOUR cost is exactly the same and the time spent on the cake is exactly the same so the price should be exactly the same, if you decide to offer a discount because you don't have to bake and dowel the cake, do it......but I would definitely let them know it is NOT any less expensive. In fact, when the whole thing is a dummy you have NO cake, so you have to go to the expense of getting actual cake as well.

The only people that benefit from dummy cakes are people who only need to serve 50 but want an 8 tiered cake, and don't mind paying for an 8 tiered cake...they just don't want all that cake leftover.........THOSE are the people that dummy cakes were made for.

cupadeecakes Posted 4 Jan 2011 , 9:19pm
post #7 of 24

I have never sold a dummy cake, but I have had several inquiries, also from brides thinking they will save a ton of money. It just doesn't work out that way. The styro I buy costs more than the flour, butter, and eggs and takes just as long to decorate. I do not offer a discount for dummy cakes for this reason. And then the couple still have to purchase sheet cakes (from you)!

artscallion Posted 4 Jan 2011 , 9:37pm
post #8 of 24

The only way it's cheaper for a bride to get a dummy cake + sheet cakes is if she rents the dummy for a rental fee plus deposit that is returned when the dummy is returned so it can be rented out again to other brides. Otherwise, it costs more to do a dummy + sheets. And not a lot of folks are in the dummy rental business anyway.

kimkake Posted 5 Jan 2011 , 2:03am
post #9 of 24

Well put by all of you - I'm glad my thoughts were confirmed.
The prices of the dummies are in fact the same if not more than
actual cake!!

SweetIslands Posted 5 Jan 2011 , 2:01pm
post #10 of 24

I agree....Styrofoam is way too expensive! Bride will not save at all! Here where I live, Styrofoam cost more than a real cake!

indydebi Posted 5 Jan 2011 , 2:29pm
post #11 of 24

what leah said .... its the biggest LIE being told to brides.

i think the logic behind the LIE is that "sheet cakes are cheaper than wedding cakes." Well .... that COULD be true. But what they are leaving out is the cost of the fake cake IN ADDITION to the cost of the sheet cakes.

Feel free to show your brides my blog where I actually run the numbers to show them how they will pay MORE for this idea: http://cateritsimple.blogspot.com/search/label/dummy%20cake

indydebi Posted 5 Jan 2011 , 2:33pm
post #12 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamie-

Quote:
Originally Posted by gr8yf

The work is in the decorating.



Truthfully, I spend way more time baking/assembling than I do decorating. I am pretty quick with that part, no matter hor fancy or detailed it is. But I am not about to go against the grain and say that out loud anywhere but amongst other cakers. icon_cool.gif


I agree with you. After making cakes for 30 years, I can decorate a 3-4 tier cake in no time. But this is not a job where they are paying for the TIME .... they are paying for my skill and talent.

I can sing an opera in the same amount of TIME that Pavarotti can sing it ..... but I'll guarantee you that you'll pay more for a ticket to hear Pavarotti sing than you will me! icon_lol.gif

Skill and talent. It's ALSO part of the pricing mix. thumbs_up.gif

tryingcake Posted 5 Jan 2011 , 3:59pm
post #13 of 24

I charge less for dummies because they cost less - in the long run. You can use a dummy over and over. You bake a cake once and never use it again. And, as I've said in another thread, you can use the same fondant covered dummy a couple of times if you are careful. One fondant covered dummy can go through about 3-4 weddings for me - and still looks clean and beautiful. That is a HUGE savings in cost and time to the me. I simply change the decorations. I pass that savings on to the bride. I charge to rent the dummy (25-30% less than the cost of a real cake). I charge an average $100 refundable deposit (varies). I've been using the same set of dummies for about 4 years now. Peeling off fondant and starting over every 3-4 weddings.

I love this option. I can decorate the cake weeks in advance (depending on the decoration), not rushing a day or two before the wedding. I bake the double stacked sheets, slap some icing on them, get it relatively smooth (I don't put a lot of effort into it) and mark the top for cutting. I'm done.

For the top tier I use a dummy with a section cut out for real cake. Then the entire thing gets covered in fondant.

So, yes, it is cheaper if you really do the dummy route in the manner that the bridal advisers intended. It's not cheaper if you decorate the dummy and then throw it away.

I started offering this about 4 years ago and have attracted many budget brides that thought they couldn't afford a pretty cake. I still have the brides that can afford and want real all the way. But, I gotta be honest, when those budget brides give me huge hugs because they got a great presentation cake and a great tasting cake to serve, it's worth it to me. My #1 goal is to provide a pretty wedding (I do catering also) to every bride within her budget and still make a profit. I am very proud to say that I can make this happen most of the time, one way or the other. That's what I market - "There a pretty wedding in every budget." And I honestly believe there is.

indydebi Posted 5 Jan 2011 , 4:13pm
post #14 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by tryingcake

I charge less for dummies because they cost less - in the long run. You can use a dummy over and over.


I've used dummy's in a tier or two and I've never asked for dummy cakes back. It's not worth the hassle or time to re-use a $20 dummy. Like leah says about the SPS system ... build it into the cost of the cake and move on. I treated any dummy tiers as a disposable item.

tryingcake Posted 5 Jan 2011 , 4:34pm
post #15 of 24

It's not a hassle at all. Just like a tuxedo, it's up to them to return them to me within 14 days in clean and good condition. If they don't, I have their deposit. It's actually very simple. And it takes just a minute or two to remove decorations. I've made money off the decorating, I've made money charging to rent it (much more than it costs) and I don't have the hassle of ordering more. I absolutely hate shopping - even online. The less I have to shop the better.

cheatize Posted 6 Jan 2011 , 1:24am
post #16 of 24

If there's a fake slice in it, don't you have to re-ice at least that tier? Otherwise, doesn't the fake slice show?
Obviously I have never done a fake slice. icon_smile.gif

saffronica Posted 6 Jan 2011 , 3:22am
post #17 of 24

I'm amazed at how many of you say that the dummies cost as much as the cake. Really? For me it is much, much cheaper. I recently got five square dummies (6", 7", 9", 10", 12"; all 4" tall) from Dallas Foam for $16.50, including shipping. There's no way I could bake that much cake for that price -- and that doesn't even count the labor. Plus, with dummies I don't have to spend money or time to make filling or frosting (which takes extra long since I use SMBC). One more perk: I can use yucky-but-easy-to-use Wilton fondant instead of making MFF!

I personally love decorating dummies, though I don't do it very often -- I mean, what's the point of a pretty cake if you can't eat it?!

tryingcake Posted 6 Jan 2011 , 4:03am
post #18 of 24

I still use MMF most of the time. Only because it's still much less expensive than Wilton. The left overs last much long also. I've used my left over MMF on a dummy a full two months after making it. Just as easy to use as when I made it. There's no way an open container of Wilton will last that long, even in an air tight container.

BTW, that's about what I pay for my dummy sets thru TAY LOR F O A M online... and the quality is great - and they come with the edges softened. MUCH cheaper than even a box mix!

Irish245 Posted 6 Jan 2011 , 4:33am
post #19 of 24

I don't care about the cost of actual cake versus styrofoam fake cake. Most of my cost is in the decoration and my talent in that decorating! I charge at least 80% what I would charge for a real cake....and then they pay for the sheet cake....which I make layered...like a wedding cake...because your guests DO NOTICE that a regular sheet cake IS NOT the same as a layered cake! So, no matter how you look at it, it's more expensive than just making a real wedding cake.

tryingcake Posted 6 Jan 2011 , 5:28am
post #20 of 24

We all charge for the decorating skill - or should be - but my way I am not covering a dummy every single time and that saves cash and time. I'm not waiting for cakes to settle - or bulge or whatever craziness they want to do before I can even think about starting to decorate. I just decorate. Wa-la!

And to do sheets for a wedding they should be double stacked to be 4" high.... just like the dummy. Are you charging the same per serving for an undecorated sheet as a fully decorated cake? I don't. If not, it should be saving the bride some money - even if it's just $50 it's saving money. I charge for everything down to every last toothpick and paper towel. Believe me, I'm not giving anything away. I recently saved a bride almost $300 and I still walked away with a very, very nice profit. In fact, I did the math - I walked away with the same profit (I think it was $5 less) as if I had made the whole thing real. I made sure of that.

This whole conversation is just futile. I make money - and I save the bride money - who can shout uglies about that?

dsilvest Posted 6 Jan 2011 , 6:09am
post #21 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by cheatize

If there's a fake slice in it, don't you have to re-ice at least that tier? Otherwise, doesn't the fake slice show?
Obviously I have never done a fake slice. icon_smile.gif




All I make are faux cakes. I don't use the small slice in the dummy method. Instead I make a 4" round or square cake to match the faux cake. For pictures the couple place the knife on the dummy then cut the real cake and serve each other. No one but the bride and groom knows what is really happening.
In this area most of the real cakes are not served as dessert. They are used for the midnight buffet. Most of the time the majority of the cake is left uneaten and is wasted. Faux cakes are great for this reason. Not as much cake or no sheet cakes are even needed. And there is no waste.
What does it cost to make a 6", 8", 10" real cake? The foam costs me less than $10. I don't think you could bake for that amount.

jemchina Posted 6 Jan 2011 , 6:56am
post #22 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by tryingcake

I charge less for dummies because they cost less - in the long run. You can use a dummy over and over. You bake a cake once and never use it again. And, as I've said in another thread, you can use the same fondant covered dummy a couple of times if you are careful. One fondant covered dummy can go through about 3-4 weddings for me - and still looks clean and beautiful.




Do you prepare them diffferently before adding the fondant. icon_confused.gif Seriously, I recently tried peeling the fondant from a dummy cake I did in a class a very long time ago...and it was extremely difficult to peel, so much so, that the styrofoam was coming off too. I had been instructed to paint piping gel, lighty on the dummy before applying the fondant for adhereance. It was like super glued on there.

cupadeecakes Posted 6 Jan 2011 , 6:20pm
post #23 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by tryingcake



This whole conversation is just futile. I make money - and I save the bride money - who can shout uglies about that?




You said upthread that the fake cake price was 25-30% cheaper than the real cake. But the bride still has to buy real cake, even if it is sheet cakes. I just don't see how the bride is saving money. I don't think anyone is trying to be obstinate or argumentative; the math just isn't working out, for me anyway.

tryingcake Posted 6 Jan 2011 , 9:26pm
post #24 of 24

jemchina: no. I use water (just a hint) to make it stick. If it doesn't stick I use sewing pins around the bottom to hold it until does stick. Then remove the pins. They are usually not noticeable. 99% of the time the fondant comes right off. I usually find some little area around the bottom edge that is ever so slightly lifted from the fondant and stick a butter knife under it and break the fondant. After that I just grab pieces and keep breaking it off. Sometime i have to pry the knife in a place or two. I mentioned before (I think another thread), once it was really really stuck on there. I literally soaked it in the bath tub for a bit before it started coming apart. It was a pain the neck. I ended up throwing away one of the tiers and replacing it. But most of the time slipping a butter knife under the edge gets it started just fine.

cupadeecakes: The math works at my end. I do save her 25-30% most of the time. All I know is I figure up how much to make the cake both ways. I have to make the profit from the original cake to even consider doing the order. I always make that with a couple of dollars.

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