Custom Made Cakes - What did you pay?
I'm wondering what is the average price for a custom made 3D birthday cake (feeds 15-20 people?) with simple flavours like chocolate/vanilla. I'm ordering it from a local baker, not a grocery store.
What have you paid in the past?
What do you mean by 3D? Are you asking for a particular depiction (i.e. a castle, puppy, etc.) or a cake with height? For the latter, I was quoted over $100 for a croquembouche for 20 people. I made it on my own for just around $20.
At least where we are on the East Coast, the cake business is relatively competitive so for, let's say, a cake made to look like a fire truck or a puppy without a whole lot of fancy work on it, one could expect to spend about $100-125 for a cake that'll feed 20. Now, one can spend five times that, easily, if retaining the services of the pastry chef of an upscale catering company.
After you get the price from the baker you intend to patronize, shop around if you can. If your baker's the only game in town, it's going to be more $$.
Oh, and if someone mentions to you "we make a lovely, whimsical cake out of cupcakes," run for the door.
If you want a sculpted cake it is probably better to pay a little more for someone who specializes in that kind of cake art than to simply find the lowest bid. I'm a restaurant pastry chef and will do cakes on occasion, but will also say no if the clients wants something really specific or a decorating technique I haven't practiced because I think they will be happier in the end going to someone who specializes in that kind of cake. With any cake, it is the level of decoration that takes the most labor, not so much the size or flavors.
I'd easily say starting at $200 (this coming from someone who is a hobby caker). For more information on why you're not going to be paying $100 or getting a cheap price, cakecentral.com is a great resource. In short, the amount of time that it takes to make a cake--someone who can do a good 3D figure isn't going to be giving their time away
I paid $35 for a half sheet cake. It was a vanilla pound cake, and they did a cute red hat design for the occasion. It was delicious, and about an inch or more taller than grocery store cake (maybe 4 inches tall, without the frosting?). We fed 16 with it, and had about 1/3 of the cake left. I had forgotten about them, thanks for reminding me!!