Actually, if you're looking for the answer to "Why are birthday cakes expensive?", you're asking the wrong question. Because birthday cakes don't have to be expensive.
Recently, I passed my driving test (whoop!) and as a treat to myself, instead of getting a membership to Soho House, I got myself a membership to another exclusive members club...Costco.
If you are unfamiliar with Costco, you're missing out. It is a mecca for wholesale goods, fresh produce, homewares, electronics and everything else you never thought you ever needed.
I got the membership for the business. Recently, we've struggled getting certain ingredients from our suppliers due to sudden shortages, like my beloved Pistachio creme that we use in our pistachio truffle cakes, but really, I just needed any excuse to get the Costco membership. I was desperate to go check it out. More desperate than I have ever been to check out Soho Farmhouse.
My first day in Costco...I spent 3 whole hours. I arrived on the dot at opening time, and left just after lunchtime. It was WILD. The sheer volume of things and the variety...and EVERYTHING IN BULK! I'm never going to have to worry about running out of Maltesers, biscoff, bueno or pistachio creme again (yup, it's happened before).
But Costco also does cakes. Large round layer cakes, and sheet cakes. And let me tell you something you might find surprising coming from me, a professional chef- they are good.
The first Costco sheet cake I had was at a kid's birthday party. It was chocolate with a chocolate filling and buttercream. It was decorated like a football pitch and personalised with the birthday boy's name. And it was delicious. I've been to countless kids' birthday parties now, and I feel like I can say with adequate authority that the best birthday cakes are either home-made (even better when made using our Hero Sponge Recipes), Anges de Sucre birthday cakes, or Costco cakes. I detest fondant-covered monstrosities and style-over-substance. So to come back to this blog post's question - no, birthday cakes do not have to be expensive.
The round Costco cakes are 8" in size, have a decent depth, come in four flavours (chocolate fudge, red velvet, Victoria sponge and carrot) and cost around £11.45. The large sheet cakes are around £16. I watched them decorate the cakes in-store and was so impressed I shared my approval on Instagram.
What I was not expecting was this obtuse response in DMs.
I'm not really sure why this person felt compelled to write in her disapproval of me sharing my Costco finds. Yes, Costco cakes are cheap, but they cater for a large percentage of the population who a) could not afford a more expensive cake, and b) LIKE Costco cakes. It almost feels like they're not only shaming customers for not having the budget, but also for having questionable taste for "plastic cakes".
A Costco red velvet cake is £11.45. An Anges de Sucre red velvet cake is £85. Our cake is far more expensive than Costco's because:
1) Our cakes are baked fresh to order using traceable ingredients without any preservatives.
2) Our prices include free delivery to London, Surrey and Berkshire. You do not need to pay for a membership or drive to collect your cake.
3) It includes a free personalised chocolate message.
4) We offer a highly skilled product, including fondant sculptures and cakescapes, with as little as 2 days notice, and a range of more than 150 cake designs.
But not everyone can afford a high-end bakery cake and we know this. Increasingly, people are having to make spending adjustments due to the rising costs of living. I am not going to berate customers for choosing cheaper alternatives, because it's likely that it's those very same customers who are now purchasing our Hero Sponge recipes. Neither am I going to begrudge them for not buying their children's cakes from us because they are probably buying our StoryBake books for their kids (here's a sneak peek of our next release...I can barely contain my excitement!).
If you're having to explain to customers why your cakes cost more, say because of using "eggs butter from England", then your cakes aren't doing the talking. And on that note, I was very curious about what foreign chickens looked like. They look pretty stylish.
In a nutshell: While some may associate birthday cakes with high costs, budget-friendly alternatives are widely available in various flavours and sizes debunk the notion that a delicious celebration requires a hefty price tag.
Lots of love,