In a 3-tier cake which serves 120-150 people, there can be as
many as a dozen eggs, 5 pds. of pastry flour, 1/2 cup of real vanilla, several pds. of unsalted butter, several bars of premium chocolate, large quantities of fresh fruit or nuts and more! The filling and buttercream may contain 3-4 more pds. of unsalted butter, another dozen or more egg whites, several pounds of sugar, plus the chocolate or fruit to flavor it. If you have a fondant covering, add about 5-8 more pds. of sugar and butter.
While some of the basic equipment is in nearly every kitchen, not
many home bakers have a set of tiered cake pans in various sizes ranging from 6” to 18” (depending on your cake) and an oven that will fit the
larger pans, a heavy-duty stand mixer, professional grade food colors and dusts, piping bags with specialty tips, a rolling pin that can roll out a 2′
diameter circle of fondant, cutters, molds and more. Depending on the
design of your cake, there can be hundreds of dollars of specialized
tools and molds required. It’s not hard for any baker to spend many
thousands of dollars on tools and equipment. There are boards and
boxes to safely deliver your cake as well as a vehicle large enough to
securely transport your masterpiece.
In addition, there is the cake artist’s time to bake and create your
masterpiece, her (or his) experience, and potentially thousands of dolls
and countless hours in workshops, training courses, and conferences
spent honing her craft.
You are paying for her baking experience in using recipes that are tasty
but can stand up under the weight of being stacked and shaped,
structural engineering of the support systems (that need to be there
whether your cake is pillared or not), artistry in decorating, sculpting
skills in creating a topper or flowers (some flowers can take up to 4 hours each to create), expert delivery and repairs of any mishaps that may
happen along the way, and more.
A note about delivery: one of the most risky “cost-saving” ideas I’ve seen
is to decline to pay for your cake artist to deliver your cake. She knows
how to transport it safely and how to repair any minor damage that may occur. If your cake is pillared, or more than 3 tiers high, delivery is
essential, but even for smaller cakes, it can be critical.
Consider also that even the simplest cakes usually take 8-10 hours of time and that more elaborate or difficult designs can take 45+ hours, it’s a
wonder that a custom cake isn’t much more expensive. What if it were
marked-up in the same manner as a wedding gown, some of the other
services you purchase for your wedding/event, or a piece of art–which it
If you gathered 20-25 of your closest friends and family, took them all out
to a fancy, first-class restaurant for a special dinner ~ would you expect to pay any less than $3-$6 per serving for a special dessert?
Details from Cheri’s Cakes & Cruffles