Floored At The Cost Of My Cakes!

Decorating By tsal Updated 6 Feb 2015 , 2:43am by costumeczar

tsal Posted 18 Jan 2015 , 5:00pm
post #1 of 52

Hi,

 

I am a hobby baker and have made LOTS of cakes (by my standards anyway) over the past few years. 

 

Anyway, I have never really priced out how much my cakes cost to make since they are always gifts, however, I feel that it is getting expensive to gift cakes constantly so I want to start charging for materials.  I was just approached to make a two-tiered cake for $100, and I declined (as I always do), but I was really curious as to how much it would cost me to make it.

 

I made a spreadsheet last night detailing costs for 9" and 6" (2-tier) round fondant cake and my cost is $90!  My most expensive items are my Satin Ice fondant and my vanilla bean paste.  I'm sure I could find cheaper vanilla bean paste (there must be cheaper out there - I pay $13 for a smallish bottle), but I am stuck with the fondant.  I live in Canada and the shipping costs are atrocious for other types of fondant.  I am not interested in making my own fondant since cakes take me FOREVER as it is and I don't need another mess to clean up.

 

I gave up on the idea of starting a cake business after my market research suggested that people want to pay between $50-$100 for a birthday cake and I sensed that my cost and time would make it totally not worth it.   I laugh when people look at my cakes and say things like 'Wow, I would even pay $75 for that cake!" like they are paying me a huge compliment. 

 

I encourage hobby bakers to take the time to price out your costs.  I was floored by how much they cost! 

51 replies
costumeczar Posted 18 Jan 2015 , 5:34pm
post #2 of 52

Yes, it's quite horrifying when you start adding everything up. And when you add in the cost of advertising, utilities, gas and car maintenance for delivery vehicles and that kind of thing the cost would go up even more.

tsal Posted 18 Jan 2015 , 5:55pm
post #3 of 52

AYes - paper towelling, electricity, gas for delivery - crazy expensive!!

Krypto Posted 18 Jan 2015 , 6:05pm
post #4 of 52

AI also LOVE vanilla bean paste...I am on my fourth giant bottle. This is cheaper than ordering the small jars.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0000W0GQQ/?tag=cakecentral-20+massey+vanilla+32+oz

tsal Posted 18 Jan 2015 , 6:20pm
post #5 of 52

AThanks, Krypto! I will order a large bottle!

canacake Posted 18 Jan 2015 , 6:39pm
post #6 of 52

AI am also in Canada, and yes we do tend to be limited for brands of fondant and where we can buy them. Not sure where you live but I think Goldas kitchen in Toronto has satin ice, not sure if that is in driving distance for you. I tend to make my own mmf because I cannot justify a trip to Mississauga for fondant, and I live in Guelph, so all I can find here is Wilton or the stuff at bulk barn. It only takes me about 15 minutes to make a batch, and I do that a week in advance of the cake, so when it comes time to bake and decorate I am all set. I also have a vacuum sealer and I am considering making a bunch and packaging it up for myself to use whenever I need.

I am a hobby baker and I find that when I charge for ingredients for gifts I am only charging for the pricey stuff like making the fondant, butter, chocolate, cream, eggs etc. I usually do not factor in the flour, baking powder and other things I always have on hand and I also find that it is quite expensive. I have a lot of people who tell me to go int business, but I also don't feel that most want to pay what I would have to charge.

johnson6ofus Posted 18 Jan 2015 , 9:27pm
post #7 of 52

Quote:

Originally Posted by canacake 

I am a hobby baker and I find that when I charge for ingredients for gifts I am only charging for the pricey stuff like making the fondant, butter, chocolate, cream, eggs etc. I usually do not factor in the flour, baking powder and other things I always have on hand and I also find that it is quite expensive. 

The problem I have with that is the receiver of the gift understanding what a great gift it is, even if they "chipped in" for materials. So if I paid $90 (true all included costs), they paid $75 (for the "major" stuff), I may have paid $15 PLUS 25 "man hours" to produce what would be a $300-$400 cake. Am I treated like I gave a $300 gift? Nope. Because I CHARGED them. Sometimes it's just better to buy the $50 gift and forget the cake. 

 

Cake Muggles. <sigh>

canacake Posted 18 Jan 2015 , 9:58pm
post #8 of 52

AI hear you Johnson. I did a friends wedding the little cake for cutting is my pic actually, and I did 150 cupcakes. In their card I let them know that the cost of the ingredients and my time was my gift to them. That wedding easily cost me more than I typically spend on a gift, but I recognized that my gift saved them a substantial sum of money which helped them move out of a house with a mouldy basement. Thankfully my friend is a huge penny pincher and he was over the moon about the savings lol. But I have certainly had to remind people that my gift was my time, and that with a full time job 15-20 hours of my week cake making is a very generous gift. If they don't get that, they are on the no cake for you list.

costumeczar Posted 18 Jan 2015 , 9:58pm
post #9 of 52

Quote:

Originally Posted by johnson6ofus 
 

 Sometimes it's just better to buy the $50 gift and forget the cake. 

 

 

When my kids were little their schools always tried to get me to do cakes for the teachers and every event they could. they'd sell them at bake sales etc for a third of what it cost me to make them, so I finally started buying stuff like everyone else did. When the kids changed schools for middle school I told them not to tell anyone I do cakes, so they knew not to tell anyone who would hit me up for a donation!

johnson6ofus Posted 18 Jan 2015 , 10:12pm
post #10 of 52

Quote:

Originally Posted by costumeczar 
 

When my kids were little their schools always tried to get me to do cakes for the teachers and every event they could. they'd sell them at bake sales etc for a third of what it cost me to make them, so I finally started buying stuff like everyone else did. When the kids changed schools for middle school I told them not to tell anyone I do cakes, so they knew not to tell anyone who would hit me up for a donation!

YUP! Other Mom's package of $3 Oreos (double stuff!) (lol) versus handmade ones that are worth $3-$5 EACH. 

 

Every one wants YOUR awesome custom cake but don't value it more than WalMarts. 

johnson6ofus Posted 18 Jan 2015 , 10:13pm
post #11 of 52

Quote:

Originally Posted by canacake 
Thankfully my friend is a huge penny pincher and he was over the moon about the savings

A herein lies the key. If he "knew" what it cost and "knew" what he would have to pay to get it from someones else, win-win!

MBalaska Posted 18 Jan 2015 , 10:19pm
post #12 of 52

Quote:

Originally Posted by johnson6ofus 
 

YUP! Other Mom's package of $3 Oreos (double stuff!) (lol) versus handmade ones that are worth $3-$5 EACH. 

 

Every one wants YOUR awesome custom cake but don't value it more than WalMarts. 

Perfectly said in one little sentence @johnson6ofus

Folks are getting gifts from some of us that take 3 days and $100 dollars and they treat it as if they only got a box of sugar-bombs from the big-box store at a discount price.:ouch:

johnson6ofus Posted 18 Jan 2015 , 10:26pm
post #13 of 52

I just wish it wasn't so MBalaska.

canacake Posted 18 Jan 2015 , 10:41pm
post #14 of 52

AI did a few fundraisers for work where I donated my time and the materials for cupcakes, they sold them for $2 a piece. Not what I would have charged, but what can I say when i donate something? Just think I will pass in the future or donate what is worth 2$ and use straight up cake mix and no real decorations.

MBalaska Posted 18 Jan 2015 , 11:00pm
post #15 of 52

You guys will get a laugh at this ending: as in, what goes around comes around.  The person who gave me that petty $20 dollar bill for the cake, was extremely upset at getting "Ripped Off" at the event. Someone else liked my 'three days worth of labor and $100 worth of cost" cake.  So they boxed it up and took it home for their own family.  So the cheapie that paid me, got ripped of by some greedy mooching cow who didn't pay a single penny the for cake.  A perfect ending.

canacake Posted 18 Jan 2015 , 11:32pm
post #16 of 52

AI believe that they got their just des(s)erts hahaha.

costumeczar Posted 19 Jan 2015 , 12:35am
post #17 of 52

This is the second thread online I've read today that mentioned oreos...Now I REALLY want oreos.

Apti Posted 19 Jan 2015 , 6:00am
post #18 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by johnson6ofus 
 

Sometimes it's just better to buy the $50 gift and forget the cake. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by costumeczar 
 

When my kids were little their schools always tried to get me to do cakes for the teachers and every event they could. they'd sell them at bake sales etc for a third of what it cost me to make them, so I finally started buying stuff like everyone else did. When the kids changed schools for middle school I told them not to tell anyone I do cakes, so they knew not to tell anyone who would hit me up for a donation!

Funny.....!                                                                                                                   O R E O S
 

 

Somewhere on CC is an old thread about a person who started bringing store-bought cookies or sodas or potato salad or  O R E O S to family and friend gatherings.  It was a crack-up!  She said everyone started thinking she would "automatically"  bring the cake to the potlucks.  She also said she was spending $50 + time and finally figured out she was getting royally screwed because everyone else was contributing food items worth $3-$15 and she was spending a LOT more.   O R E O S

 

When the subject of a gathering was brought up, she'd immediately volunteer to bring the Cheetos/Pepsi/paper plates and then sit back and smile.

 

                                                            O R E O S
 

winniemog Posted 19 Jan 2015 , 6:17am
post #19 of 52

AYou crack me up Ap-OREOS-ti!

And I don't even like Oreos....but my girls' very expensive private school has just ordered two big cakes and cupcakes and fancy cookies....and they've even offered to reimburse me for ingredients! I think I'm meant to be grateful!

Right now I'm drawing up a quote for the true cost - yes, I'll offer them a little discount, maybe in line with the 5% fee reduction we get for the second child at the school - appropriate do you think fellow cakers?

Apti Posted 19 Jan 2015 , 8:50am
post #20 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by winniemog 

You crack me up Ap-OREOS-ti!

Happy to be of service.

I'll offer them a little discount, maybe in line with the 5% fee reduction we get for the second child at the school - appropriate do you think fellow cakers?   Love it!    5% it is!
Magic Mouthfuls Posted 19 Jan 2015 , 9:28am
post #21 of 52

Quote:

Originally Posted by winniemog 

Right now I'm drawing up a quote for the true cost - yes, I'll offer them a little discount, maybe in line with the 5% fee reduction we get for the second child at the school - appropriate do you think fellow cakers?

Priceless!  You go winniemog.

MBalaska Posted 19 Jan 2015 , 9:49am
post #22 of 52

Well done @winniemog.  Very thoughtful.

Magic Mouthfuls Posted 19 Jan 2015 , 9:50am
post #23 of 52

Words of Wisdom from you all.  The cost of cake ingredients & non edible infrastructure is expensive in Australia too that most people just dont get it.  

 

'Friends' get offended that you ask for some contribution towards the massive gift they have requested.  Imagine if I said to them, its my birthday and I would like you to get me a gift that costs you 20 hours of your wages next week. 

 

I stopped donating baked goodies to the school fundraisers two years ago when I watched my son ask to buy (unbeknowns to him) one of my creations that cost me $2 ingredients EACH to make (+ 3 hours time) - he was offered two for 50c.  The P+F president asked me just before Christmas if I would make some cakes for the Christmas stall - I politely said no.  I said I would rather just hand over money than donate both time & ingredients that get sold for less than a quarter of my ingredient donation.

 

I have lost count of the time I've donated either baked treats or my labour and got left off the list of official 'thankyous'.  Sometimes you like to give anonomously, sometimes you just want to be appreciated.

costumeczar Posted 19 Jan 2015 , 12:34pm
post #24 of 52

This is hte second thread online I've read today that mentioned oreos...Now I REALLY want oreos.

Quote:

Originally Posted by winniemog 

You crack me up Ap-OREOS-ti!

And I don't even like Oreos....but my girls' very expensive private school has just ordered two big cakes and cupcakes and fancy cookies....and they've even offered to reimburse me for ingredients! I think I'm meant to be grateful!

Right now I'm drawing up a quote for the true cost - yes, I'll offer them a little discount, maybe in line with the 5% fee reduction we get for the second child at the school - appropriate do you think fellow cakers?


I'd say that if you pay to send them there they get no discount!

melmar02 Posted 19 Jan 2015 , 2:30pm
post #25 of 52

Quote:

Originally Posted by winniemog 

You crack me up Ap-OREOS-ti!

And I don't even like Oreos....but my girls' very expensive private school has just ordered two big cakes and cupcakes and fancy cookies....and they've even offered to reimburse me for ingredients! I think I'm meant to be grateful!

Right now I'm drawing up a quote for the true cost - yes, I'll offer them a little discount, maybe in line with the 5% fee reduction we get for the second child at the school - appropriate do you think fellow cakers?


 We just had a school meeting Saturday, and our tuition is going up 30%... no discount for my school or we can't afford to send my kids there! I'll book a wedding or birthday for someone who will pay full price, thank you very much!

johnson6ofus Posted 19 Jan 2015 , 2:57pm
post #26 of 52

It is interesting who expects a "free upgrade". When getting a "donation" or a "gift"--- you get what you get including cake wrecks and box sheet cakes with a can of frosting on top (maybe with funfetti sprinkles!).

 

If they want to grand custom cake, cookies, cuppies, whatever--- hand them a bill!

Chloezee Posted 4 Feb 2015 , 2:13pm
post #27 of 52

a prophet is never known among its own. Twice I've had businesses where family and friends needed my skills and I could never charge them because they found the prices outrageous when in fact, an association of the one business (I was the family breadwinner with that business) phoned me to tell me I should up my prices because I am cut-throating the few other translators. THUS I had to do it for free - still they never thanked or appreciated it. And yet I was in great demand in industry. Now with CAKE, I'm in huge trouble with family and friends. If I charge what they think is reasonable they will order too many and I'm doing it as a hobby thing. So it's, yip, free again, for them and yet strangers are happy to pay the price. Ain't this a strange world.

I would NEVER do that to people. NEVER.

remnant3333 Posted 4 Feb 2015 , 3:27pm
post #28 of 52

tsal, I agree with you. The prices for everything has gotten very expensive. Time you add up everything from ingredients, time, electricity cake boxes and then making your own icing, decorating and cake cardboard plates not to mention the mess you have to clean up. It is overwhelming at the costs and time involved. I do not use fondant like some of you do and have seen everything rising in costs. Thank God I only do as a hobby. Many people that I know are always wanting Tres Leche cakes which is really costly due to the fresh fruit  and whip cream and the three milks that you pour over cake to soak it in. I only wanted to make kids cakes then the kids would try to get me to make cakes for their parents. I do not charge and only do as a hobby. 

 

I had to cut out doing cakes for most of the parents because when word gets around then everybody and their grandma wants them. I tell most people now that I had to quit and I only do them for my closest neighbors because it got to be too much for me to handle not the mention too expensive.

 

 

Canacake, I can't imagine doing cupcakes for a school and the school selling them for 2 for one dollar!! I don't think people have any idea that don't do cakes about the costs involved!! Most probably judge it by thinking when they buy a cake box and canned icing which is not the case for cakes made from scratch. Sometimes you just have to learn to say no to people or not let them know at school that you make cakes. 

ellavanilla Posted 4 Feb 2015 , 6:29pm
post #29 of 52

A

Original message sent by winniemog

You crack me up Ap-OREOS-ti!

And I don't even like Oreos....but my girls' very expensive private school has just ordered two big cakes and cupcakes and fancy cookies....and they've even offered to reimburse me for ingredients! I think I'm meant to be grateful!

Right now I'm drawing up a quote for the true cost - yes, I'll offer them a little discount, maybe in line with the 5% fee reduction we get for the second child at the school - appropriate do you think fellow cakers?

When I have been asked to work on a project for the school, I always give a rate because my son receives financial aid, but when I provide the invoice I am sure to show the amount I'm donating in cost and if it's cupcakes I always use Sprinkles price per cup because that's what they would buy if they didn't get them from me! Mine are better so...

Luckily they don't have bake sales at the school!

buttercreamwizard Posted 5 Feb 2015 , 2:32am
post #30 of 52

Are you sure that you are costing out your materials correctly? If you buy a 5 lb bucket of fondant for $18 and you only use 2 lbs of fondant for the cake, your cost of fondant is $7.20. If you buy a 5 lb bag of flour and you only use 4 cups of flour... You get the idea. $90 in ingredients seems high that is why I ask. 

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