what exactly goes into making a novelty cake then?
The price of cakes - particularly
novelty cakes can sometimes be more than you might have had in mind initially.
"Oh my gosh!", you think. "Surely it can't be that much - it's just
a cake!". People often expect to pay a lot for a wedding cake, but are
surprised at the quote they have been given for a novelty cake. Yet novelty
cakes are often more difficult to make.
A novelty cake is never just a
cake. It's a tailor-made commissioned piece of art for your friend/ loved
one. A personalised gift to light up their face and make their day, and
hopefully remember for some time afterwards. Much much more than simply a
dessert at a party, or something to eat with their cup of tea; a novelty cake
takes centre-stage on the table at any celebration.
Good cake-makers can make detailed
novelty cakes look effortless, and unless you are making novelty cakes
yourself, it can be easy to dramatically underestimate how long a cake may have
taken, and what went into it.
Novelty cake-making is a skill that
takes a lot of practice to develop. It requires a good artistic ablilty, an eye
for detail, a steady hand, and an awful lot of patience. If you have never made
a novelty cake before and decide to give it a try, then you could be in for a
shock (and probably some disappointment)!
I have been making novelty cakes for a
few years now, and below I have detailed what is involved in making a £90
sponge novelty cake. Cakes that cost more than this are priced as such because
they take longer to make. It is not unusual for a more complex cake to take 20 hours + (such as a car).
what goes into an average £90 novelty sponge-cake
Research time (often around 30 mins for a tailor-made cake - to
design the cake and work out the size required and items needed)
Shopping time : Each cake requires specific items that have to
be sourced individually - including specific size and shape of board (boards
cost between £3 and £6.50 depending on the size and shape), box (can cost
between £2 and £5) , ribbons, decoration, edible paints, other decorations,
specific colours of icing, and in some cases new tools.
Preparation of sponge mixture and
baking time: Around 3.5 hours in total.
Each cake is baked fresh to order
within about 3 days of dispatch so that the cake is as fresh as possible and
will keep for at least 2 weeks. Every cake is made using free range eggs and
pure butter for a real home-made taste.
Decorating time: Around 6.5 hours for
a £90 novelty cake.
Carving and sculpting the shape of
Butter-creaming between layers and
around the cake
Colouring and kneading the fondant
icing and then decorating the cake - smoothing it so it looks neat and without
bumps and air-bubbles.
Bringing the cake to life with all
the details - using textures, colouring and molding of the different fondant
parts and attachments, making the models, painting etc.
1.75 - 2.5lbs of pure butter (for
cake and buttercream)
1.25 - 1.5lbs flour
1.25 - 1.5 lbs castor sugar
10 - 12 free range eggs.
1.5 - 2lbs icing sugar
Flavouring and jam
Plain fondant icing, pre-coloured
fondant packs, specialised Mexican modelling paste, or flower paste for details
Edible paints, glitters, sprays,
confectioners glaze, edible glue, CMC thickening agent for fondant, thick
foiled cake board, ribbon for the board, and box - not forgetting tools for
shaping and cutting. It is not unusual for the cost of these extras to add
up to more than the cost of the main cake itself.
Ingredients and extra items normally
add up to around £25-30 for an average £90 novelty cake. That leaves around £55-£65 for my work and time on the cake. In comparison this is a much lower hourly
rate than other skilled jobs would pay.
Delivery cost and time
I always deliver the cake free of
charge if within 5 miles from my house.
So - there you have it - the novelty cake experience behind the scenes.