How Much To Charge For Tiered Cakes?

Decorating By thebittersweetbakehouse Updated 25 Feb 2015 , 5:26pm by Apti

thebittersweetbakehouse Posted 20 Jun 2012 , 2:17pm
post #1 of 38

I know it totally depends on the decorative elements required, but for a starting point, how much would all you lovely baking buddies out there charge as a base rate for two and three tiered cakes?

Im a home baker, relatively new to the business and learning everyday...but the prices for any cake seems to vary so much from home baker to shop and back again, i thought i would pick all your brains to see if there's a general consensus of agreement on here!

Thanks icon_rolleyes.gif

37 replies
kelleym Posted 20 Jun 2012 , 3:54pm
post #2 of 38

I charge $3.50 for buttercream and $4.50 for fondant for tiered cakes. This does not mean that's how much you should charge, though. Click the link in my signature for an article on this subject that a lot of people find helpful. thumbs_up.gif

thebittersweetbakehouse Posted 20 Jun 2012 , 4:25pm
post #3 of 38

thank youicon_smile.gif

From your reply i'm hazarding a guess you are based in the i right in thinking you work out many cake prices based on a $ per slice basis?

I'm based in the UK and have noticed it tends to be materials + labour costs, then i guess extra for intricacy of design, here. And nearly all my cakes are fondant.

Im definitely finding pricing the hardest part! Thankyou for your advice.

cai0311 Posted 20 Jun 2012 , 4:47pm
post #4 of 38

There are many, many, many posts about pricing. I suggest doing a quick search in the forums.

Basically, you must calculate what you have in the cake (and this is not just flour, sugar, is also electricity, water, paper towels, soap, insurance, licensing fee...) and your hourly rate x hours you worked on the cake.

For the sake of easy math I am using round numbers for a simple 8" round cake:
cost of cake including absolutely everything: $30
hourly rate: $15 hours invested in the cake: 4 total of $60 for labor

Total for cake: $90

According to wilton an 8" round will serve 24 people. $90/24 servings is $3.75/serving.

Now, you will plug your own numbers in to get the real total for the cake.

When people call you can either say the cake is $90 (or whatever you end up calculating) or $3.75/serving and the cake in the picture feeds 24. This will depend on the client calling you. I mostly get calls for weddings and people are use to small cake pieces at weddings. So when I say the smallest 3 tier cake I offer (10", 8" and 6" round) serves 75 they are fine with that. But when I get a call for a birthday cake and I tell them an 8" round serves 24 they think I am insane because a birthday cake is usually served by the mom or friend who has no idea a piece of cake is 1" x 2" x 4". Keep that in mind when talking with customers.

thebittersweetbakehouse Posted 20 Jun 2012 , 5:20pm
post #5 of 38

Its so hard to try and please everyone, and im finding im having to shift my advertising directories a little as im getting clients asking for really elaborate and detailed cakes, then saying their hoping to pay around £20!

Im still finding my way with the pricing, although after your example (great by the way icon_smile.gif) i feel i may have just under priced myself again

I have a christening cake due to go out next week, 8 inch, fondant with fondant teddy bear topper and lettering details...i've charged £65.

I added up as you recommended when i gave the price. although my trail of thinking is that i would charge a lesser hourly rate for the 1 st 6 months i am decorating as i figured i would be a little slower - then once i got my confidence, speed & skills up, then i would up the hourly rate included in the price.

Am i going about this the wrong way and selling myself short?

thebittersweetbakehouse Posted 20 Jun 2012 , 5:23pm
post #6 of 38

Sorry...ive just checked on the currency calculator and realise $90 is around £58 so perhaps not too far off the mark...

jason_kraft Posted 20 Jun 2012 , 6:44pm
post #7 of 38
Originally Posted by thebittersweetbakehouse

I added up as you recommended when i gave the price. although my trail of thinking is that i would charge a lesser hourly rate for the 1 st 6 months i am decorating as i figured i would be a little slower - then once i got my confidence, speed & skills up, then i would up the hourly rate included in the price.

Am i going about this the wrong way and selling myself short?

That's a good strategy, as long as you set a realistic hourly wage, both in terms of fair compensation for yourself and staying near market price.

Also don't forget to add a profit margin, depending on your market you should be charging 10-30% above your cost.

cai0311 Posted 20 Jun 2012 , 7:47pm
post #8 of 38

When I first calculated my prices I figured up all my expenses (thank you cake boss software!) for each recipe. Then I calculated all other expenses. I wanted to know the cost per serving for these expenses as well since I charge per serving.

Insurance is a yearly fee, so I divided it by 12 (12 months in a year). Paper towels I calculated how many rolls I went through in a month, same with bottles of soap...and other such items. I took the total calculated and divided that by the average number of servings I whip up for people each month. By adding the price per serving for the recipe and other expenses together I got the true cost of business. Now, I know that the number of servings produced will change some of the numbers. For example, insurance. If I have a month that I make 1000 servings the cost for insurance is $0.03/serving. If I make 1 serving that month the cost for insurance is $30/serving. This is why I did an average # of servings. Now when I have a slow month I know I have the money for the insurance in the account because I more than made up for it during a busy month.

I also checked the prices with local bakeries (both home bakeries and store bakeries). As long as I am producing the same quality as store bakeries I am not going to undercharge which hurts everyone.

Now, as for the per hour charge. I knew what I wanted to make per hour, I also knew that I was the slowest decorator ever. It wasn't fair to charge someone $20/hour for 10 hours when a few months later it was only taking me 6 hours to complete the same task. So I set my prices more on cost per servings for my cakes and what other bakeries in my area that offered the same thing I did charged. In the beginning I made less per hour because I was slow. Every couple months I would time myself doing specific things, like icing an 8" round tier or making a specific sugar flower or figurine to see if I was getting faster (which I was). This meant that I was also making more per hour because I was spending less hours on a cake.

I have raised my prices as ingredient cost has increased. I haven't raised my prices because of skill level because I didn't start selling cakes until I was comfortable with what I could do.

One last thing... For my business I decided to have 1 price per serving for buttercream cakes and 1 price per serving for fondant covered cakes. Doesn't matter the cake flavor or filling picked - same price. Now, sugar work or a very detailed designs will incur a design fee but that is because of the time involved.
Here's the thing, even though I have my per serving prices on my website I get people calling me all the time with "I read on your website you charge $3/serving, how much for a cake to feed 100 people?". So I figured asking people to know how to add one price for certain flavors and another for others to different prices for fillings was going to be a nightmere. Plus, there is less for me to keep up with and remember having 1 price for buttercream and 1 price for fondant. For some recipes I make less and others more but my price per serving covers my most expensive cake flavor paired with my most expensive filling - so I am okay with it.

It will be up to you to decide how you want to go about this.

cai0311 Posted 20 Jun 2012 , 8:31pm
post #9 of 38

Good point about the profit margin.

The profit from the cake is not your income. Here is an example (I am a number person so I like to see numbers when people explain something):

Expense for cost of cake for everything: $30
Hourly rate of $15 for 4 hours: $60
Total: $90
20% profit margin: $18
Total price paid by customer: $108

The profit margin is left in the business account so it continues to grow to handle growing expenses/replacement of items...

I am fortunate enough to not need the money I bring in doing cakes (it is a side business). So, the only money taken out of the business account is to cover than month's expenses. As a result, because I don't use the money for anything, I don't worry about a profit margin. Technically anything after expenses is a profit margin because I don't pull a salary from the account.

One last thought, don't forget about taxes. I don't know how taxes are handled in your area, but here we have to pay income taxes. At the end of the year it tends to be 1/3 taxes, 1/3 expenses and 1/3 profit. Out of the profit you would pay yourself your hourly or set salary amount.

thebittersweetbakehouse Posted 21 Jun 2012 , 2:47pm
post #10 of 38

Thanks for your replies!

So i think i may have been dodging the additional pricing for profit/extras etc.

Although i am in the same position where i do not rely upon the sole income from the cakes, though i hope to build up to that.

I think a problem with pricing is my advertising....where to start, how to advertise in the right place, and how to advertise to the correct audience so i don't get the awkward 'oh i was only hoping to pay £30'....but i don't want to start wheeling out lots for advertising as i feel word of mouth is best....and advertising could be a completely fruitless investment, hence a loss of £.

So any ideas on this front would be great? Perhaps once i gain my ideal target audience the pricing issues may hopefully fall into place.

cai0311 Posted 21 Jun 2012 , 3:18pm
post #11 of 38

Word of mouth is an excellent form of advertising - and it is free! Here in the states we have tons of websites directed towards parties, weddings and brides. Quite a few will allow a vendor to have a simple free listing. I suggest you sign up for every single one of these (if you have them). I personally pay for a listing on the website The Knot because brides in my area use it heavily. For my business this has been a sound investment. I don't have to sign a contract with them, I pay month to month, which is an I option I really like. That way if I am no longer getting brides from them I can quite whenever I want.

Buy business cards and pass them out all the time. When people find out I decorate cakes they always ask for a card and then a couple extra because a friend is getting married or their cousin is graduating or somthing.

I participate in a large bridal show in my area that brings in mostly quality brides (there will always be a few crazies no matter what). I have had really good success off that.

A website is a must. Now a days people look everything up online. If they can't find you, they can't order from you. Make sure your website looks professional and is kept up to date with pricing and pictures. I have my starting prices on my website. It has worked well for me. When I was planning my wedding I didn't consider any vendor that didn't have prices on their website. I didn't want to waste my time or their time if they weren't in my budget - no price meant no call from me. It will also help reduce the number of calls from people that can't afford you.

Do you have any venues close to you that you could meet with the event planner to discuss suppling the cakes for their events? Or maybe a party center? Near me is this place called Pump It Up. It has all these inflatable bounce houses, slides...for kids. It is open for private parties only. One of the options for parents is to buy a package that includes a cake. Simple design, quick to decorate, but exposure to parents several times a week.

thebittersweetbakehouse Posted 21 Jun 2012 , 3:36pm
post #12 of 38

Yes we have a few play centers near where i could advertise. And ill definitely look into the free web advertising.

I have business cards that arrived about a month ago i've been handing out. I also have a web page i designed although i think i need to some time upping the words for the google ratings. The price is also displayed on the web page, although im not overly happy with the appearance, as my only option with this web layout seems to be 'add to cart' (which is an option i have disabled) as i like to confer with the clients and make bespoke pieces, not just wham bam jobbies that turn up in the post 2 weeks later! This also cheapens my products i feel, so will look to move to another host and change designs.

Thank you for your suggestionsicon_smile.gif

myxstorie Posted 21 Jun 2012 , 4:02pm
post #13 of 38

I am having exactly the same problem as you! I'm based in the UK, and I do feel like people want something for nothing. I'm already charging dirt cheap prices (£30 for a 7" round, fondant-covered cake), but because I'm a home baker people think they can take me for a ride. A little while back I made this 3D cake for my boss, and only today I had someone asking if I could to a Tinkerbell one... for £20!

To work out my prices I took the recipe I use for a 7" round, then the weight of fondant I'd need to cover it, and the amount of buttercream to cover/fill, worked out the cost for the whole cake, then added on the cost of the oven, water, washing up liquid, etc (minimal costs, but costs all the same), to get a base price for a fondant-covered cake. Then you can divide that by the number of servings to work out the costs of a larger cake and just add the cost of the box/board etc to that for an overall cost. I don't take much for my labour at the moment because I'd rather build up the customer base/word of mouth and get the experience than make a hefty profit on every cake, but I do make it clear to every customer that they're getting a deal - a good way I've found of explaining it is comparing my service to them being a model for a hairdresser. Most of them are happy with that and understand that my prices will go up as I become more confident in my abilities.

Good luck! If you want, PM me or drop me an email (myxstorie at gmail dot com), it would be lovely to have a fellow UK baker to chat with from time to time icon_smile.gif

thebittersweetbakehouse Posted 22 Jun 2012 , 7:03am
post #14 of 38

just had a look at your link...looks ace!

yes i know what you mean, i feel my cakes are of a completely different design style to many i have seen in the area, so i get the feeling that if you like my style of work, you pay for it! I don't think these people even consider how much time and effort, let alone your own costs to actually make the cake in the first place, amount to! Ive seriously undercut myself (but just more than covered all materials etc) a few times and if i came to a few tricky parts on the cakes, or a skill i hadn't done before i cursed myself for not charging a 'proper' price! I've a Christening cake going out and i worked all materials extras and a realistic time scale and they accepted my price, even though this probably would have been double what i would have had the nerve to charge a few weeks back! icon_mad.gif

Up your prices! If they don't know your relatively new to cake decorated they would never know with your skills! Don't undersell yourself you have a natural talent and deserve to be compensated handsomely for it!

I'm doing the same sort of thing at the beginning where i sold them for just above cost price, or double the ingredients, ive just moved onto phase to of understanding my worth. But i know i'll be alot slower at this point so i've put my hourly rate at a lower cost (£icon_cool.gif then when my skills confidence and speed grows, so will my hourly rate (just as it would in any workplace).

I read on a thread Duff Goldman charges a minimum order fee of $1000!, yes please!

myxstorie Posted 22 Jun 2012 , 8:15am
post #15 of 38

$1000?! Wow. I suppose having SUCH a popular cake show he physically couldn't do every order that comes his way, so charging a minimum of $1000 weeds out the ones they WILL have the time to do.

Logically I KNOW my time is worth a hell of a lot more than I'm charging for it, but I'm quite happy to just make double by costs at the moment to be given the opportunity to make different kinds of cake and get people behind me. I have had a couple of people come to me with OFFERS of paying far more than I'd have charged to begin with, which is always lovely to see, but most of my advertising is done through Facebook at the moment - so, people who want something for nothing. There's also a lot of competition, with people charging the bare minimum - I refuse to do that, but I sell myself to them based on being completely legal and approved by the local health authority, and me being a bit of a perfectionist XD; Most people have been happy to pay a little more as soon as I mention being approved by the health inspector! I would like to be able to charge properly for my time in the future though.

Good luck! icon_biggrin.gif

thebittersweetbakehouse Posted 22 Jun 2012 , 9:00am
post #16 of 38

definitely do! Im registered with my local health authority too...i thought that was pretty standard although since joining here ive read a few posts about many people not bothering?

Ive advertised through facebook too, and joined the local groups, although unfortunately this is where i seem to be getting the 'i don't want to pay a fortune' clients! So ive minimalised that now and just post a picture of a cake with the web address, that has all my details and pricing on it so they can eliminate me for themselves if they think the price is too high...saves the awkwardness.... i hope!

what is your name on fb? ill add you. I wanted to create a separate FB page for my website (currently just an additional page off my personal FB) but i can't seem to figure it out...can you have separate business page FB?

myxstorie Posted 22 Jun 2012 , 9:08am
post #17 of 38

Here's my FB page, and my personal FB is linked in the page owners - I think you can disable this? And you don't have to link the page directly to your own Facebook page, so it's pretty much as separate as you can make it then. You can also choose to use Facebook as your business, and ask it to always post to your page timeline under the business name, so nobody has to know who owns the page if you don't want. It even has its own message inbox icon_smile.gif

omalg Posted 16 Mar 2013 , 6:57pm
post #18 of 38

AI would like to know if you would charge the same for your cakes if they were baked from scratch. I do not like to use cake mixes and I feel this may increase my cake charge. I am a beginner who does not have a store front to sell, so my cakes are freebies to my closest friends and family who let me practice on them. I hope to have a business soon but wasn't sure if I need to calculate my pricing any differently when I am ready to charge. Thank you

TatianaS Posted 12 Jan 2014 , 1:44pm
post #19 of 38

AI make cakes for friends and family for free. Someone saw one of my cakes and now I face a problem. I got an order and I am not sure if my cakes looks good enough to sell them. Just out of curiosity how much you would charge for this cake? It is chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream. 10", 8" 2 layers and 6" 3 layers. And gumpaste flowers.[ATTACHMENT=1447]image.jpg (999k. jpg file)[/ATTACHMENT]

-K8memphis Posted 12 Jan 2014 , 3:17pm
post #20 of 38

tatiana, that is a very pretty cake--it does have a 'loving hands at home' quality to it--so so long as your client is basing their order off this cake and you did this cake--then i think you should be fine to charge the starting price of fondant cakes in your area (often called base price) plus the flowers--


best to you--

DeliciousDesserts Posted 12 Jan 2014 , 4:19pm
post #21 of 38

AIt really is a nice cake.

First, please check the legal requirements to ensure you are following all local guidelines for selling baked goods. Thier are usually state and city requirements.

You didn't ask for constructive criticism but I'll offer some. The flowers are really well made. Adding some shading with petal dust will really bring them to life. I've found it's best to look at the real flower or a photo of one. Notice all the color variations.

There are 2 methods for getting cleaner pearl molded borders. Either scrape excess fondant from the mild before unmoldimg or trim once unmolded. I personally find it faster to pipe a border.

Pricing is difficult. I suggest you do some homework. First calculate all your true costs. Write down every single item you use while baking. This includes dish soap, paper towels, and increased utilities as well as license and insurance fees. Once you know your true cost, compare your skill level with others in town. You wouldn't expect the market to bare the same price for your skill as someone with more or less expierience.

Best of luck!

TatianaS Posted 2 Feb 2014 , 1:21pm
post #22 of 38

A[ATTACHMENT=1486][ATTACHMENT=1487]image.jpg (800k. jpg file)[/ATTACHMENT][/ATTACHMENT]With legal side is everything ok, I just need to be ready for such stuff and I don't feel like I am ready yet. A good scoop of honest professional criticism is just what I need. I had no idea how to make a border so I just piped RI and stick in candy pearls. Thanks to you now I know how to do that :-) . I got mold and it worked like a magic, no mess no fuss just enjoyment. I was kinda scared to use colors on my flowers but I tried and it worked. I gained more confidence in myself. Can't wait to get start my cake decorating classes, I am soooo exited. Thanks for your help DeliciousDesserts.

DeliciousDesserts Posted 2 Feb 2014 , 6:19pm
post #23 of 38

AThe flowers look great! Those leaves look much better.

Crystal72384 Posted 3 Feb 2014 , 3:10am
post #24 of 38

AHi everyone! I was wondering if you guys could help me out. I am a newbie at making cakes. They have always been for gifts. I just finished one for a friends 1 yr old daughter and was wondering what someone might charge for this kind of cake. It's a 10, 8 and 6". Chocolate fudge cake torted with toasted marshmallow cream and raspberry buttercream. (What the mommy requested) then covered in dark chocolate ganache. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!

[ATTACHMENT=1488]image.jpg (578k. jpg file)[/ATTACHMENT]

phattykakes28 Posted 16 Mar 2014 , 1:02am
post #25 of 38

A[IMG][/IMG] i made this for my neices 10th birthday it took 11 hrs to do now everyone wants a cake like this one an fondant isnt my thing i can make i just hate doing them because ppl wanna be cheap can someone help me with pricing for fondant cakes an toppers??

howsweet Posted 16 Mar 2014 , 4:56am
post #27 of 38
Originally Posted by Crystal72384 

Hi everyone! I was wondering if you guys could help me out. I am a newbie at making cakes. They have always been for gifts. I just finished one for a friends 1 yr old daughter and was wondering what someone might charge for this kind of cake. It's a 10, 8 and 6". Chocolate fudge cake torted with toasted marshmallow cream and raspberry buttercream. (What the mommy requested) then covered in dark chocolate ganache. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!


Price is based on the market price for similar work. That means you have to research bakeries in your area, throwing out comparisons with people who don't know what to charge.  Usually free standing bakeries are good comparisons because they have to charge enough to survive.  However, if they use icing from buckets and premade cake, then you'd be charging more. Some private bakers will charge a third of what they should be charging and that can ruin the cake market for your town.


 You must know your costs to determine if the market price for a cake is worth your while, but your costs plus a wage is NOT the way to price your cake.


I might charge about $435 for that cake.

morganchampagne Posted 16 Mar 2014 , 2:22pm
post #28 of 38

AI've seen you say that before howsweet, and I dont understand it. What does the prices of a bakery have to do with how much you? I was always taught (this is the basic version) you cover materials and labor, and then mark up for profit. What does the market price have to do with anything?

howsweet Posted 17 Mar 2014 , 5:14am
post #29 of 38


Originally Posted by morganchampagne 

I've seen you say that before howsweet, and I dont understand it. What does the prices of a bakery have to do with how much you? I was always taught (this is the basic version) you cover materials and labor, and then mark up for profit. What does the market price have to do with anything?

Because a reasonable person is going to charge as much as she/he can for a product. It is unreasonable behavior not to do so. If a person is selling cake for $50 when they could get $100, it's the same as throwing money away.  Cakes have a market value and you determine it by pricing your competitors  (that doesn't mean checking out a few home bakers who may not know how to price ;)).


Check any business website about pricing and this is what you'll find.  And that's how "real" businesses do it. McDonald's doesn't figure up the cost to make a burger with wages, overhead etc. and then decide what kind of profit might seem about right. They check out the competition and charge as much as they can. 




howsweet Posted 17 Mar 2014 , 5:16am
post #30 of 38

And it works conversely as well. If the market price for cakes in your area is very low and by checking the market you determine there would be no profit to go into the cake business, that's a lot better than using the other method and finding out in 12 months that you're wasting your time.

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