I get a lot of requests from people who want to buy custom-designed cakes and most of them don’t understand the time and costs involved, so I’m setting up this page as a basic starting point for information on what to expect when ordering a cake from me.
First of all, I am currently in the process of setting up a business, insurance, and food safety accreditation. None of those are currently in place so orders are limited to personal friends only until those are in place.
Secondly, making cakes for sale is not my primary task. I am primarily an experimental cake artist and competitor. This means cake shows take precedence over orders. It also means my prices are very high.
Understand this: if you order a cake from me, it will be expensive. You can absolutely find much, much better prices elsewhere. I am not a baker. I am an internationally known, multiple-award-winning sugar artist. Do not think of buying a cake from me as ordering from a bakery; think of it as ordering customized art that happens to be edible.
- Flavours and Ingredients
- Time Slots
Most bakers talk about cake in terms of “servings” and then spend hours on message boards debating what a “serving” is. Then customers are always angry because they think a “serving” is much bigger. So I don’t calculate in servings. I calculate in cakes.
One cake to me is a two-layer, 8″/20cm round cake with frosting between the layers and around the outside. If you’ve ever made yourself a box mix or baked a regular cake recipe that gets cooked in two 8″/20cm round pans or one 9×13″/23x13cm pan, that’s one cake. So consider the number of guests and if you whipped up a box mix, would that be enough? Or would you bake a second box? That’s how to calculate cake when ordering from me.
Also note that these are baseline prices only.
A single cake (ie a two-layer 8″/20cm round, or a single-layer 9×13″/23x13cm, or equivalent) with ganache or buttercream plus a basic fondant covering and very simple designs (ie cutter shapes, simple flowers, simple base border) is £75.
This is the minimum charge.
If the extra tiers are the same simple design as a Basic Cake and just adding a stacked tier, they start at £40 which includes disposable internal structure (ie dowels). If you want larger tiers the price will vary by size, but if you are ordering more than two tiers expect to pay over £200 as a base price not including other decorations.
For tiers that require more significant internal structure, a deposit on a returnable stand will be required.
A basic fondant/gumpaste figure that includes inedible internal supports (ie toothpicks/cocktail sticks), seated, without too many details is £20. Figures that are standing, require wire armatures, are very large, have tons of tiny detail, or other requirements will have added fees.
I can do figures with spaghetti as internal structure if full edibility is required, but these take more planning and time. I can also do small figures with no internal structure but they require a lot of time and are more limited in poses.
Price will depend on the size and complexity of the cake. A carved shape that is laying down and doesn’t require internal support starts at £100 (ie a number cake). A carved shape that requires internal support starts at £200 plus deposit on returnable internal structure. If I have to construct a custom internal stand, prices start at £500 plus deposit on returnable internal structure.
I can make a cake that bleeds chocolate-flavoured, disturbingly realistic blood when you cut it. It can be in an obvious place to cut (ie the head off of a carved cake), a place I tell you to cut, or all around the cake. This feature starts at £50 depending on the placement and volume of blood.
These are the cakes you’ve seen on TV, in magazines, or going around social media, the ones that make your jaw drop. They tend to have many elaborate tiers or be massive sculpted pieces.
You’re probably looking at £800 or more, plus deposits on returnable internal structure, and you’ll need to supply your own transportation that can handle very large objects with care.
Flavours and Ingredients
I make a really, really good dark chocolate cake that pairs beautifully with a dark chocolate ganache. If you’ve had one of my cakes at an event, it’s probably that one. I sometimes do buttercream instead if I need the icing to be a particular colour.
I can also do a basic pound/sponge cake with various flavourings in it (including vanilla) with a white chocolate ganache or buttercream.
I can do other cakes as requested but depending on your requirements, I may have to pre-test recipes to ensure they work well for the design you request, and not all cake types/flavours work for all designs. Light/fluffy cakes are not up to carving or supporting shapes. Gluten-free cakes can also be very limited in terms of what structures you can make with them.
I do not cook with alcohol. I use alcohol-free vanilla so my cakes are entirely alcohol-free. My kitchen is not nut-free and cannot be made celiac-level gluten-free.
I require a minimum of three months advance notice for all cakes, no exceptions. I often have bookings or commitments as far as six months to a year out. If you want a cake from me, you need to book it early, and that means a firm booking where we’ve talked about specific designs and costs.
People routinely tell me casually in conversation that they might order a cake from me and then I never hear from them about it again, so I don’t consider a casual conversation a booking.
The following weeks are always unavailable:
- The entire month of February and the first half of March. I teach, volunteer, and compete at the Austin cake show at the end of February. I have to prepare class items, my competition piece, and fly out there. I am absolutely not available for any cake orders for February at all ever, and I return exhausted so really the first half of March isn’t going to happen either.
- The second half of May. I’m doing Robin’s birthday cake.
- The last week of September and first week of October. I’m doing Peo’s birthday cake.
- Most of the rest of October and the first week of November. I’m making my Cake International Birmingham NEC entry. If you want a Halloween thing I may be able to accommodate you, but I’ll only take one booking in this slot and it needs to be fully designed and confirmed before July 1.
Further, I book up for the Christmas season very early.
If you’re a friend in the Cambridge area and I’ve been to your house before, I’ll probably be willing to bring you the cake at a specified delivery time at no charge.
For all other cakes, customer pickup will likely be required or a charge will apply. I won’t drive more than an hour out of Cambridge. I do not ship cakes.
Wow, your cakes are super expensive and you have a lot of restrictions. Don’t you want my business?
Like I said, selling cakes isn’t my thing. So you have to pique my interest and put £ signs in my eyes to make me get over the fact that I’d really rather do an experiment instead.
What if I want an experimental cake and I’m willing to be super-flexible on the results?
I’ve been to several other cake decorators with an idea I want on a cake and they all said it’s impossible. I’m willing to pay to get this dream cake. Will you help me?
There’s no such thing as an impossible cake, only cakes nobody is willing to pay for. If you are truly willing to make it lucrative for me to push a boundary, I’m definitely willing to talk. This is likely to incur extra charges and require extra time to experiment with supplies that aren’t used on your final cake. But here’s a poorly-kept secret: the best way to get me to try a thing is to tell me it’s not possible.
I need a cake for one of your Unavailable Dates and I’m willing to pay tons of cash.
Sorry, it’s still no.
Can I pay you just to make a cake topper that I put on an otherwise cheaper cake I buy elsewhere? Or can I pay you to make the topper in advance of one of your unavailable dates and then I buy a separate cake and stick it on top?
Do you do gay weddings?
With pride, yes.
I want a wedding cake with cascading bouquets of realistic flowers like I’ve seen all over bridal magazines. Will you make me one?
Wired, realistic flowers are not my thing. I can make cute little rosettes and cutter-daisies and things like that, but I don’t do big floral wedding displays. There are hundreds of British cake decorators who will happily do those for you. If you want plants from horror movies, though, let’s talk. That sounds cool.
I represent a registered charity and heard you donate cakes to charitable events. How do I get in on that sweet deal?
If the charity is one I support (I’m an intersectional feminist, atheist, and environmentalist), you come to me very far in advance, and you’ll let me have free reign to make you a cool design, then let’s talk.
Note that I no longer bake high-level decorated cookies for school/community fairs. They don’t raise enough money relative to my time’s value.
I’m your friend and I’ve seen you bring tons of cakes to events for free. Can’t I get a special friend rate or just pay for ingredients only?
The cakes I bring to friend-based events are often cakes I’m doing for my own self-teaching purposes, when I have time, in a low-stress way because I’m playing around so it if all goes horribly awry then I can still eat the evidence with my friends.
When a cake is ordered by a client, I really put myself out there in a major way to make sure they’re getting what they’ve paid for (and, to be honest, more). I stress over every detail. I take over the family kitchen and severely restrict what other cooking can be done during that time. If things go badly, I do them over again until they’re right.
It is already very personally difficult for me to bring up money issues with friends. Please do not make me feel bad that I’m not willing to do cake orders for free or deeply discounted for friends. Please appreciate the times I do choose to bring a cake free to an event we share and when you want a custom order for yourself, respect me as an artist and pay accordingly. I would do the same for you.
Okay okay I get it, but I just can’t afford this. Will you teach me to make my own instead?
This blog is full of free tutorials and a few inexpensive ebooks (see the sidebar). I also occasionally teach classes or demonstrations in Austin and around the UK. I am working on setting up a business to teach beginner-friendly classes in the Cambridge area.
And if you’re a friend and you need advice on how to do a cake, just ask. But be sure to ask in advance, before it’s an emergency situation…I can’t always be available for instant advice. If you’re a close friend and want me to come over to your house when you’re making your kid’s birthday cake and help, I’m absolutely willing to come do that if I’m available.