Big Box Bakery Cake vs. Custom Cake aka "The Thrilla in Vanilla"

If you are not a boxing enthusiast or old enough to understand the significance of my title, LET ME GOOGLE THAT FOR YOU

It's near impossible to compare a big box retail bakery or grocery chain bakery cake with a custom cake from a small bake shop or home baker.  Just like the saying goes, "it's like comparing apples to oranges".

The *mart* type bakeries are better at providing a basic sheet cake for a large number of people for very little money.  Fact is - a grocery store or big box bakery cake is going to be cheaper than one from a custom baker.  That being said, most custom cake makers will try and work with you to find a way to accommodate your budget and still provide a fantastic, fresh cake for your event.

Personally, I can't even purchase the base ingredients I use to make my cakes and icings as cheap as some of the finished cakes I see at these stores.  Mass retailers purchase cheap ingredients in bulk and rely on volume to generate revenue.  There is absolutely no way I can compete with the *marts* on pricing.

So, how can the big box bakeries price their products so cheaply?  In addition to buying cheap ingredients in bulk, they also save money by trucking in pre-baked cakes that were mass produced from a central manufacturing bakery.  That is why you are usually limited in both flavors and sizes when you order from a *mart* bakery.

In most cases, a custom cake maker will not have large quantities of pre-made cakes laying around.  Your cake will be made fresh especially for your event.  I can't speak for other bakers, but my cakes and frostings are made from fresh eggs, butter, and other real ingredients.

custom cake
With a custom cake baker, you are primarily paying for the time and skill of the cake maker rather than the individual ingredients necessary to bake the cake. The design of your cake is limited only by your imagination, the skill level of the cake maker, and well...your budget.  Some of the cakes shown on TV shows like Food Network's Cake Challenge or Ace of Cakes are thousands (yes, that is over $1,000) dollars.

As mentioned above, the big box bakeries rely on volume to generate revenue.  That is why their cake decorators are required to ice and decorate 'x' number of cakes per hour.  Heck - it takes me several hours just to decorate one cake.

So, there is a place for each - both the mass market bakery and the custom baker.

My husband's workplace needed a large cake on short notice, so they ordered one from a *mart* bakery.  Normally, there are talented decorators at these bakery centers; however, I am guessing the decorator wasn't available to do this cake and someone else had to sub (or I hope that's what it was).


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