Simple Sometimes Isn't.

I have a lot of people tell me that they want something "simple." You know, only plain, smooth buttercream with some sugar flowers on top. When I tell them that won't decrease the price of their cake, they get all excited and say that they do want some added decorations, then.

Again, the wedding magazines have told brides to cut down on the piping and other ornamentation on a cake in order to cut costs. Their sage advice is that the more decoration on a cake, the more expensive it will be.

That isn't necessarily true, though. I've said it before, but it's the time that it takes to decorate a cake that creates most of the cost. Yes, it takes time to pipe a design on a cake, but it also takes time to get a perfectly smooth buttercream surface on a cake that has no decoration.

Here are two cakes to compare:
The one on the left has some fancy scrolling, which most people look at and say "that must be really hard to do." Not really, not if you've been decorating cakes for a long time. That's just simple piping. There are also some gumpaste daisies on that one.

The one on the right has fondant pearls and more gumpaste flowers than the first cake, so it takes slightly longer to prepare the decorations for that. No piping on the sides, though, so that should be cheaper because it takes less time, right? Again, not really. I've been doing this long enough that I can make roses really fast, relatively, and the same thing for the pearls. I don't feel the need to charge an extra fee per flower, since I consider that part of the cake design. I just base everything on time.

Of the two cakes, the one on the right would be about $20 more than the one on the left. And that's just because of the time it takes to make the flowers, it has nothing to do with the surface decoration.

When you decorate a cake that has piping on the sides, what can you do to hide any flaws in the icing? That's right, pipe right over it, making the problem area go away. When you have a perfectly smooth surface that doesn't have anything on it, you have to add time to the process to make sure that the icing is totally smooth.

That's why a lot of bakers that you see on tv use fondant. A sheet of fondant will hide a multitude of icing sins. A smooth fondant surface is a lot easier to do than a smooth buttercream surface if you know how to use fondant.

Some bakers do price everything "extra" unless you want a plain white cake. I don't, since I think that basic decorations should be included in the price of the cake. Make sure that you check with each baker you interview to see what the final price of the cake you want will be. Once everything is added in, that initially low price per serving can increase substantially. Even for a "simple" cake.

Popular Posts