How Do You Price Highly Customized Cakes (3D)?

Decorating By Bskinne Updated 24 Jan 2011 , 4:04pm by ConfectionsCC

Bskinne Posted 23 Jan 2011 , 2:05pm
post #1 of 22

I recently did the giraffe cake ( http://cakecentral.com//gallery/1916473 ) in my gallery as a favor to a friend for ingredient cost (which was a deal, considering things like utilities, paper towels, soap, etc. were not included). The cake itself is the blocks, and the giraffe body, the rest is RKT. In my area, basic fondant cakes start at $4/serving. My ingredient cost was $160, and after the fact, I guesstimated work hours, at a meager $10/hr, would have put this cake somewhere around $400...first off, for those in similar markets, does that price sound right? And, how would I estimate those work hours when quoting a price? I started with an 8" square and a ball pan, but didn't use all of the 8"...but those pans give you, let's say, 52 servings, including the piece I didn't use. (32 + 20 (unsure about ball pan)). So obviously it's not a $4/serving cake, it's more like $8 a serving), but how would I have known that? Also, the cake flavors are premium: one is a nutella cake with nutella filling and fresh roared hazelnuts, the other is a white chocolate (organic, btw) cake with cheesecake filling and mixed berry (organic) chambord filling.
On a side note, this cake is a great example for another post, called "why you don't make cakes for friends," as a week later, she still hasn't covered the ingredients. I'm ready to tell her what a $&!?$(@$& good deal she got....

21 replies
Kiddiekakes Posted 23 Jan 2011 , 3:08pm
post #2 of 22

I would say...never...never do cakes for free to friends or anyone else for that matter...Since it is a 3D Cake..I charge $5.00 per serving but other high end places charge way up to $12.00 a serving.You have to take in account the other non cake items like RKT treats ,hardware to make stand...electricity,water etc..so I don't think that cake would not be too far off of $400.00.Probably a bit higher.

ConfectionsCC Posted 23 Jan 2011 , 3:20pm
post #3 of 22

I have the same problem with pricing the specialty carved cakes! Esp since I am just starting out, I am not able to anticipate how long a certain design will take me, or how much ingredients it will take (like the RKT), SO pricing by how much I want to make by the hour? Without knowing how many hours it will take before hand? How do you do that when giving a price quote!?!? I charge $75 for my "Tangled" cake (in my gallery) and DH thinks I WAY way undercharged because of the cost of the support and other materials involved....hmm I can't wait to see what others say!

ddaigle Posted 23 Jan 2011 , 3:33pm
post #4 of 22

I hate pricing 3d cakes and I suck at it too. I try look at the detail, time and "wow" factor. For fondant, I charge $4.00 and above per serving. For example, I am doing a simple 3 layer 6" cake that I am very slightly carving to look like a coffee mug. For that, I will charge $4/serving. Now my Lamborgini...I (should've) charged $7.50 per serving. It also depends on your location. I emailed a very famous cake shop up north for a price of an 8" fondant covered cake I saw in their gallery....$300!! You may not get $7 a serving if you live in BFE. Gotta take a lot into consideration after you price out your expenses and time.

ptanyer Posted 23 Jan 2011 , 3:51pm
post #5 of 22

Your giraffe cake is adorable! Great job icon_biggrin.gif

Pricing complicated cakes is hard for me too. I did a "Tinkerbell" cake last February for my granddaughter's birthday and since it was a gift, didn't keep track of everything. Yesterday I got a request for a quote on it and I'm sure I underquoted at $325.00. Based on the Wilton party serving chart it would have served around 80 people and I charge $6 per serving for fondant and $5 per serving for buttercream I should have quoted $400 to $480. Hate pricing icon_rolleyes.gif Sometimes the actual costs of the cake is more on the detail work rather than the costs of the ingredients. Just my opinion icon_smile.gif

pattycakesnj Posted 23 Jan 2011 , 3:57pm
post #6 of 22

cofectionscc, I just love, love, love your tangled cake, mind if I borrow the design? (How ever I won't be charging $75 for it, more like $350)

pattycakesnj Posted 23 Jan 2011 , 4:00pm
post #7 of 22

Oh and I start at $6 a serving for carved and 3d cakes and go up from there. It all depends on the design and how much work it entails. (of course many times I have underestimated but I learn from my mistakes)

Bskinne Posted 23 Jan 2011 , 6:49pm
post #8 of 22

Thanks for all the input! I think, after this experience, I can safely say that the shaped cakes should start at about $7-8/serving, but I guess it will just take trial and error. Maybe i should consider having a standard minimum hour work for shaped cakes like this one? Like say a shaped cake will incur 10 hours of work?

ddaigle Posted 23 Jan 2011 , 7:21pm
post #9 of 22

I know someone who charges $50/hour. She does not disclose this number but it is how she comes up with her prices. The $50/hour is for her time, expenses, ingredients,---everything.

Bskinne Posted 23 Jan 2011 , 7:34pm
post #10 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by ddaigle

I know someone who charges $50/hour. She does not disclose this number but it is how she comes up with her prices. The $50/hour is for her time, expenses, ingredients,---everything.



Wow, nice....does she have a minimum time requirement?

Kitagrl Posted 23 Jan 2011 , 7:51pm
post #11 of 22

$160 seems high for out of pocket cost...hm....unless that cake is huge, I'm not sure how you spent all that to make the cake?

Anyway I price pretty high per serving and have a $200 minimum order (which won't get you a very big cake, and often fully sculpted cakes I'll just price $300 on up). I loosely think about $8 serving as a minimum and then add up the servings, check out the work, and think about how much I want for the project. Harder projects I price up higher...its all subjective. I try to be fair still, so sometimes I still don't get nearly the profit on a sculpted cake as I would for a regular tiered cake because the tiered cake has so many more servings that can add profit.

Bskinne Posted 23 Jan 2011 , 9:19pm
post #12 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kitagrl

$160 seems high for out of pocket cost...hm....unless that cake is huge, I'm not sure how you spent all that to make the cake?

Anyway I price pretty high per serving and have a $200 minimum order (which won't get you a very big cake, and often fully sculpted cakes I'll just price $300 on up). I loosely think about $8 serving as a minimum and then add up the servings, check out the work, and think about how much I want for the project. Harder projects I price up higher...its all subjective. I try to be fair still, so sometimes I still don't get nearly the profit on a sculpted cake as I would for a regular tiered cake because the tiered cake has so many more servings that can add profit.



That $160 included the cost of plywood and structural materials, gumpaste, royal icing, fondant, etc. The silver highlighter itself was $6, just the 8 oz. of organic white chocolate was $12. Jar of nutella, $6, small bottle of chambord, $12 (didn't use the whole thing, but I'm preggers and not going to drink it, so they are going to pay for it), fresh, organic fruit (strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries), $10, hazelnuts, $5, etc. I'm a scratch baker, and I use organic - eggs, cake flour, butter, milk, etc. so my cakes aren't cheap. Also, I have had to take a break from making cakes on a regular basis, due to horrible, all day morning sickness, so I am not buying in bulk at this point. It would have been cheaper if I was going to Sam's or ordering through the shared kitchen, but I was not, and if my ingredients cost more, oh, well, my friend needs to cover it. I had saved every receipt, so she couldn't come back and tell me there was no way I spent so much. Even so, that is not a $160 cake , so she got a good deal...if she'd freaking reimburse me.... icon_sad.gif

QTCakes1 Posted 23 Jan 2011 , 9:36pm
post #13 of 22

That cake is really cute and if you go all organic, I can see the cost being high. I can spend as much $45 alone on just butter for one cake and it's not even organic butter. Scratch baking cost. I can only imagine how much scratch baking cost with organic ingredients. And just a suggestions, if you do, do another cake for cost of ingredients, have them buy them. I just did one for a friend of mine and she had to get everything and bring it to me. She gave me a $100 to order all the things I would need to support and decorate the cake way before the cake was needed. This gives friends in an entire new persepective for what cakes cost. Her cake retail would have been about $450, so after her expenses, she knows she got a great deal! icon_smile.gif

QTCakes1 Posted 23 Jan 2011 , 9:40pm
post #14 of 22

I'm sorry. And to answer your question, I don't price them by servings cause in the carving your going to lose cake and it's kind of hard to figure out how many servings a giraffe or car may have, but you do know if you'll have enough cake. I charge by how long it looks like it'll take me. Also with flat rates, you don't risk losing any money with the servings way. For example, if someone asks for a cake shaped like a car for 25, you know that will be a small cake and hard to make, which may require you to make a bigger cake and then lose out on the servings. HTH.

Kitagrl Posted 23 Jan 2011 , 9:41pm
post #15 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by QTCakes1

That cake is really cute and if you go all organic, I can see the cost being high. I can spend as much $45 alone on just butter for one cake and it's not even organic butter. Scratch baking cost. I can only imagine how much scratch baking cost with organic ingredients. And just a suggestions, if you do, do another cake for cost of ingredients, have them buy them. I just did one for a friend of mine and she had to get everything and bring it to me. She gave me a $100 to order all the things I would need to support and decorate the cake way before the cake was needed. This gives friends in an entire new persepective for what cakes cost. Her cake retail would have been about $450, so after her expenses, she knows she got a great deal! icon_smile.gif




That's a good idea...and honestly, if I were doing a freebie, I would tend to use more things I already had on hand instead of buying all sorts of fresh berries and other fancy ingredients. Unless she actually said she wanted to pay you for all the fancy ingredients, I wouldn't have gone all out like that for a freebie...

Sounds yummy tho!

Bskinne Posted 23 Jan 2011 , 9:47pm
post #16 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by QTCakes1

That cake is really cute and if you go all organic, I can see the cost being high. I can spend as much $45 alone on just butter for one cake and it's not even organic butter. Scratch baking cost. I can only imagine how much scratch baking cost with organic ingredients. And just a suggestions, if you do, do another cake for cost of ingredients, have them buy them. I just did one for a friend of mine and she had to get everything and bring it to me. She gave me a $100 to order all the things I would need to support and decorate the cake way before the cake was needed. This gives friends in an entire new persepective for what cakes cost. Her cake retail would have been about $450, so after her expenses, she knows she got a great deal! icon_smile.gif



That's a great idea. I do cakes for cost for a specific group of friends, and they always have been great about covering ingredients, and usually force extra money on me, but this time it's blown up in my face. Not being able to do this on a professional level right now, we are relying on DH's income, so it's a lot of money (bill money) that I can't afford to spend. I don't want to be rude, so I think that asking my friends to buy the ingredients will be a nice PC way to handle it. Sorry that this turned into a little bit of a rant for me, but I know all my fellow cakers will understand. icon_wink.gif

Bskinne Posted 23 Jan 2011 , 9:53pm
post #17 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kitagrl

That's a good idea...and honestly, if I were doing a freebie, I would tend to use more things I already had on hand instead of buying all sorts of fresh berries and other fancy ingredients. Unless she actually said she wanted to pay you for all the fancy ingredients, I wouldn't have gone all out like that for a freebie...

Sounds yummy tho!



Lol, it's the only way I know how to bake, but the next freebie may be boxed cake and canned frosting!! icon_wink.gif
I have a rep for making really tasty cakes, so I just hate to let people down. I'm a little bit of a perfectionist. icon_razz.gif

ConfectionsCC Posted 24 Jan 2011 , 3:37pm
post #18 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by pattycakesnj

cofectionscc, I just love, love, love your tangled cake, mind if I borrow the design? (How ever I won't be charging $75 for it, more like $350)



Why yes! Of course you can borrow the design, thats why I posted icon_razz.gif lol! but really, WOW $350!?!?!?! I was thinking, maybe next time I should charge like $140...my husband and his friend both said, before I even decorated it, just when I was building it, the min price for that should be $225....Man, maybe I can make some money in this business if I can learn to price right!

Bskinne Posted 24 Jan 2011 , 3:47pm
post #19 of 22

I'm thinking anything that defies gravity should automatically have at least an extra $100 or so added to it just for that...lol. icon_smile.gif

ConfectionsCC Posted 24 Jan 2011 , 3:56pm
post #20 of 22

Oh and btw, I am SO PROUD of how STABLE I made that tangled cake!!!!! I am so taking pictures to share next time! That thing could have been flipped upside down and would not have moved!

Bskinne Posted 24 Jan 2011 , 4:00pm
post #21 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by ConfectionsCC

Oh and btw, I am SO PROUD of how STABLE I made that tangled cake!!!!! I am so taking pictures to share next time! That thing could have been flipped upside down and would not have moved!



I TOTALLY know how you feel! I'm sending you high fives!!!
The giraffe was the first time I used plywood with a screwed in dowel, and he wasn't going anywhere. I've had a TT disaster, and after this cake, I feel 100% confident that I could do it now. Don't you love when they go smoothly? No kitchen meltdowns, lol!

ConfectionsCC Posted 24 Jan 2011 , 4:04pm
post #22 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bskinne

Quote:
Originally Posted by ConfectionsCC

Oh and btw, I am SO PROUD of how STABLE I made that tangled cake!!!!! I am so taking pictures to share next time! That thing could have been flipped upside down and would not have moved!


I TOTALLY know how you feel! I'm sending you high fives!!!
The giraffe was the first time I used plywood with a screwed in dowel, and he wasn't going anywhere. I've had a TT disaster, and after this cake, I feel 100% confident that I could do it now. Don't you love when they go smoothly? No kitchen meltdowns, lol!




Haha yes I do love it! Oh, this weekend was my daughters 3rd birthday, I almost RUINED her cake, I had the top tier sitting on just a single cake board (larger that the tier to make it easy to move around before stacking) anyways, after smoothing with my viva towel, I went to put it back in the fridge, and that board broke in half! The cake toppled over, but the self and my hand caught it!! WHOO disaster avoided, only a small gash in the icing on top where it hit the shelf...TALK ABOUT A HEART ATTACK OVER YOUR OWN CHILD'S CAKE!!!

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