2017 © “Cakes by Vivienne”

“Cakes by Vivienne”

         Tips, Techniques and Tutorials for the Beginner Cake Decorator



Sometimes it's really hard to explain why a custom cake is as expensive as it is. Each customer who orders a cake for a birthday, anniversary, special occasion etc. has a vision of how they want their cake to look. Each and every cake is an individual edible piece of art.

So, what makes a custom cake cost so much? You are actually paying for not only the cake itself but time and labour - you are paying for the cake ingredients and the decorations as well. The price will ultimately depend on the size and how elaborate the decorations are.

Custom cakes can sometimes take days to decorate and yes, sometimes they can take only a few hours.  Decorating a cake is a time consuming task, and as my hobby I love it – but if it was my full time job I

would not even make minimum wage for the hours of work that can go into a custom cake.  So why so I do it?… the simple answer is I love being creative and I enjoy watching people’s eyes light up over something that I created for them – it makes it all worthwhile.

There is a lot more to a custom cake than the ingredients that go into the cake itself. Even if you do not take into account the cost of the tools, pans, and equipment needed for a particular cake (mixers, tools, piping bags, icing tips, fondant tools), a cake that is more than one level requires a system to support the weight of the cake - boards, bases, dowels etc. The bigger the cake the more support it requires.

Tiers of cake do not simply sit on top of one another as heavy tiers sink into the tiers below. Sculpted cakes must be cut, shaped, and constructed to look like an actual shape or item.

I take the time to understand the design and specifics that will make YOUR cake special. Then I design, bake and shop for the individual items needed for creating YOUR cake. You are paying for baking, decorating, artistry of the design and decorations that go onto your cake, and the skills needed to hand-create flowers and figures.

I don’t want to sound negative, I really enjoy being creative, however it is very disheartening when potential clients do not understand the work and love put into a custom cake and expect something for nothing!

“Remember the cake is the centrepiece of the party”

So let’s look at a couple of examples to give you an idea of why a custom designed, handmade cake costs so much more than a mass produced option that you can pick up from the local supermarket or cake franchise.

I have based my calculations on the minimum award rate for 2015 in Australia of $20.87 per hour. Remember that some decorators may be faster or slower and ultimately in the end, it all depends upon the quality and how elaborate the decorations are as to what your cake may cost you.





“Good cake isn’t cheap, cheap cake isn’t good”





Ingredients for a 25.40cm (10 inch) white chocolate mudcake – 7cm high.

(9 eggs, flour, white chocolate, oil, sugar, vanilla etc)

Buttercream icing (approximately 150 g)

Premium brand fondant  (approximately 1.3 kg) -includes fondant for decorations


Large 36 cm (14 inch) cake board

1 small cardboard boards to hold cakes ( 10 inch)


$  2.30


$ 9.99

$ 1.10

AUD $65.35


Handmade Decorations:

Fondant name and number – 30 minutes

Fondant cakeboard – 30 minutes

Make Cake and Bake

Preparation time – 30 minutes

Baking time – 2.50 hours (not included in overall decoration hours)

Cover Cakes and Decorate

Level cake, cover in buttercream and fondant – 1.00 hour

Chevron pattern – 1.15 hours

Total 3.45 hours

AUD $72.00

You should expect to pay around

AUD $137.35



Ingredients for a 22.86cm (9 inch) and 15.24cm (6 inch) chocolate cake – both 7cm high.  (Eggs, flour, chocolate, oil, sugar etc)

Buttercream icing (approximately 250 g)

Premium brand fondant  (approximately 2 kg) -includes fondant for all decorations


Large 36 cm (14 inch) cake board

2 small cardboard boards to hold cakes ( 8 and 5 inch)

Internal cake supports


$ 3.50


$ 9.99

$ 2.40

$ 2.90

AUD $83.80


Handmade Decorations:

Fondant Thomas – 1.50 hours

Fondant clouds, number 3, balloons, train tracks – 2.00 hours

Fondant cake board – 30 minutes

Make Cakes and Bake

Preparation time – 45 minutes

Baking time – 3.00 hours (not included in overall decoration hours)

Cover Cakes and Decorate

Level cakes, cover in buttercream – 1.00 hours

Cover cakes in fondant, stack cakes – 1.00 hours

Decorate cake  - 2.50 hours

Total 9.25 hours

AUD $193.00

You should expect to pay around

AUD $273.80

Thomas The Tank Birthday Cake