Life is full of variety! When buying a cake you have to make choices, but what are the differences between Shop bought, Homebaked and Bespoke Cakes? Here’s my guide to why some cakes suit certain situations better.
Let’s start with shop bought. I can tell you all the evils about shop bought cakes – factory made, preservatives, blah blah bah. But let’s be honest, there is nothing wrong with a shop bought cake for the right occasion.
Not every occasion warrants a big, expensive, bespoke designed cake. For example, are you a parent going to the soft play area with what seems like a million other kids? Will they appreciate the taste of a homebaked, hand crafted, specially designed cake? Are they going to eat more than an inch square before they’re off again jumping into the ball pit? No, I doubt it.
Or, is it your birthday, and for some reason the workplace law states you must take cakes in for everyone at work? Do you like ALL your work colleagues enough to spend a fortune on a handcrafted, bespoke cake? No, thought not.
It’s these situations where a shop bought cake is more than suitable. They offers sweet cakey goodness, for a reasonable price. You fulfil your obligation of providing a cake and everyone is happy.
Shop Bought Wedding Cakes
Now I know you can buy wedding cakes, from shops, that look very respectable on their website. But I hear from many people how they’re not very tall, the flavours are a bit boring and you must build them yourself. So, on your behalf, I did a bit of research.
I went to one of the most well known shops that sell wedding cakes, M&S. I looked at their most expensive, ready designed cake, the 4 tier birdcage cake.
I agree about the flavours – Fruit, Sponge, Chocolate and Lemon. They’re all pretty standard flavours and there are no options, but if you like those flavours then that’s great. However, the fruit is the biggest cake, the 10” tier. Now, as a cake maker, with vast experience, I know that less than 10% of couples have a fruit cake, and those that do have a small top tier. So, my question is, will this large fruit cake be a waste.
Now onto ‘not very tall’. Well according to the website, each tier of the birdcage cake works out at around 4” tall. And to be honest that’s not too bad. Of course, I’m just going from the website, so if anyone has any actual experience I’d be interested to hear.
I think my biggest concern, looking at the cake sizes, is the portions quantities. The Birdcage cake is advertised for 150 portions. After looking at the sizes, if I made a cake the same size, I would recommend it feed about 100 portions. That’s either 50 people without cake, or everyone with much smaller slices.
Do you want to set-up your own wedding cake?
Lastly, you need to consider the ‘build your own’ nature of shop bought wedding cakes. And I think THIS is probably the MOST important factor. M&S wedding cakes, according to their website, have a 5 day shelf life. That means less than 5 days before your wedding, with EVERYTHING else that’s going on, you must go to the shop to collect your cake.
Then on the day, either you, or someone you assign to do it, has to set-up your wedding cake. Do you really need that hassle? Do you?
The birdcage cake comes ready stacked – have you ever driven with 4 tier stacked cake in the car? I have and wouldn’t recommend it!! I never drive with more than 2 tiers stacked. Many shop bought wedding cakes don’t come stacked, but come with dowels ready for you to stack it yourself, that’s just another stress.
Now I’m not totally knocking shop bought wedding cakes. I just want people to be aware of the difference. The birdcage cake pictured online is pretty and would fit nicely into many weddings. Some shop cakes are plain and always benefit from a spruce up with fresh flowers (be careful to attach them safely and to make sure they’re not toxic).
It’s very difficult to compare shop bought and bespoke made cakes, as you’re not really comparing like for like. However, if you are a bride, planning your wedding, please don’t expect a bespoke cake maker to match a shop bought cake price. Bespoke cakes cost more for a reason, and just 2 of those reasons are the variety they offer you and the stress it takes off you on your big day.
So, what if you’re a keen baker yourself and you have a birthday coming up, and you HAVE to take a cake to work? Well, go for it!! Baking is fun, relaxing and there is a satisfaction in people enjoying something you have taken the time to bake yourself. Again, in the right situation Homebaked cakes are great, and in my opinion better than shop bought for your self-esteem.
Many celebrations, such as birthdays and anniversaries benefit from a good home baked cake. Sometimes Granny’s lemon sponge is just irreplaceable, and maybe Mum’s 45th birthday is the best time for Granny to make it. The family love it, Granny wants to make it, everyone is happy!!
Making your own wedding cake, or getting Granny, Aunt Maud or Cousin Joan to make it
My advise – DON’T! Not unless you have a plan to destress the situation.
I have heard from many professional cake makers how they either regret making their own wedding cake or are pleased they got someone else to do it.
The main reason I hear is the stress. It’s your wedding….YOUR wedding. You are going to be busy. You are going to have family around that you want to see and socialise with. On the day you will be getting ready, will you have the time to set up a cake. And lastly, your cake will be judged, not just by your guests, but by your own critical eye.
Yes. There are ways around the situation, for example a display cake made weeks before with cutting cakes to eat. But unless you can fully plan, I recommend you carefully think before making your own wedding cake.
Sometimes a shop bought, and home baked just won’t be up to the job. For example, a significant birthday, or anniversary, or most importantly your wedding. These are the times, that if the budget allows, its perfect to splash out on a special cake. Let someone else take the strain and design the perfect cake for the occasion.
For more reasons to why a Bespoke Cake is sometimes best, please check out my other post: Why Buy a Bespoke Cake?
I hope I have shed some light on the difference on Shop Bought, Homebaked and Bespoke Cakes.
Shop bought, Homebaked and Bespoke all have their place in the world of cake.