Custom VS Grocery Cakes: What's The Difference?
Grocery stores have upped their game since I was a child. Today, you can get some special grocery cakes for a steep discount. With more bakeries and home bakers popping up over America, why should you consider skipping Walmart this year and buying a custom cake?
This may not come as a surprise to you, but grocery cakes are mass produced and flash frozen months before you place your order. While a quality cake business will be able to make a relatively short list of ingredients included in their cake, grocery store cakes are known to be filled with additives and preservatives. One of these common additives is propylene glycol, a petroleum-based food additive that can shockingly be found in brake fluid, primer, anti-freeze, and tire sealant, to name a few (foodfacts.org). Their "buttercreme" frostings typically don't contain butter either, as it's not very shelf-stable and won't last as long. A typical replacement is a crisco style shortening that can last much longer in the display rack.
2. Attention to Detail
While some grocery stores do have experienced cake decorators on board, most employees are not dedicated to the craft (for a good laugh, check this page out #cakefails). With a specialized cake decorator, you pay to have their full attention while they specially make your cake. You're able to get a two tier cake, if you want it, complete with stripes, cake lace, a beautiful drip, and more if it's what you desire. The sky is (virtually) the limit, and the cakes will work with you to create the cake of your dreams to awe your guests in every way.
Now, this is one area that grocery stores will always have us home bakers beat. We simply can't compete with their man power, ingredient costs, and machinery. And frankly, I wouldn't want to - have you ever tasted my Swiss merengue buttercream?! Yum! Nothing like the store-bought stuff. But I digress; in reality, there is typically one person running to the store for ingredients, mixing and baking, and spending hours on decoration. Then, my friends, there is the unseen process that goes into each cake - cost of electricity to run the oven and mixer, cost of supplies, experience and classes taken to improve skill, and more. Let me emphasize that I am in no way complaining, I seriously love what I do. It's only to clarify that our prices are what they are so we can keep providing cakes to our community! Some cakes' ingredients cost $13 alone, if we were to price at $20 like the grocery store, there would be no way to keep going, let alone any profit - and this is a business, after all. A fellow cakes at Cake Boss summed it up well:
"Never, ever compare your prices to Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, Costco, or a grocery store. People can’t get the same cake at Wal-Mart that they get from you. That cake at Wal-Mart was made months ago, flash-frozen, and shipped to the store, where an employee working as quickly as he/she could frosted it with icing from a bucket, and maybe added some airbrushing or buttercream roses. That employee probably had 50 other cakes to complete in the same shift. The difference between your cake and Wal-Mart’s cake can be likened to the difference between custom garments and off-the-rack clothes. Say you went to a seamstress, consulted with her about the perfect fabric and cut for your body type, discussed your coloring, took measurements, went back for several fittings, and in the end had an exquisite dress, hand-made with excruciating attention to detail, perfect for your body and your coloring. When the seamstress required payment, you would not tell her that a Wal-Mart dress costs $14.99, so that’s all you should pay. The two products are not comparable."
I hope that you found this post informative, and perhaps have even decided to support a local baker! Truly, I'm not upset if you don't buy from me, there are many bakers in the community that could also use your support. But if you'd like to start working on a cake together, click here and mention that you read this blog post to receive 10% off your first order!