Whether you’re running a cake business or decorating for the pure joy of it, the fact of the matter is.. cake decorating can be a pretty pricey sport. The tools, machinery, ingredients, software, fees & utilities; these all have a cheeky, sneaky way of compounding over time and nibbling at the corners of our precious bank balances. But there are ways around it, and it’s amazing what a pinch of frugality and smarts can do to keep those dollars from seeping outta your back pocket. So whether you’re a cake business owner or simply an avid baker, here are some neat tricks to be penny & pound wise in cake decorating.
Do your homework, source the best wholesale deals
Flour, sugar… we need kilos & kilos of the stuff to keep the cakes rolling out of the oven. So work out what ingredients you’re going to power through on a constant basis, these are ingredients that you want to purchase in bulk from wholesale suppliers. A majority of these wholesale suppliers require you to be registered with your government agencies as a business (in many countries, it’s as simple as applying for an ABN online). You’ll be amazed at the savings as opposed to purchasing ingredients from your local supermarket. Another tip is to shop around, do your research. Hunt out as many wholesale ingredients & cake suppliers as you can and work out which ones are a sweeter deal for your bottom line. Remember, the ONLY wholesale place you know of might not be the BEST one around. So ask other locally based cakers, do a Google search, look into directories and spend the time finding the best wholesale supplier you can.
There a life hacks, office hacks, Ikea hacks and most certainly.. cake hacks. Nifty ways to make do with what you have readily available and doubling them up as cake tools & equipment. So no, you don’t have to purchase that shiny new flower former. Just head to your local fruit & veg shop for an apple tray. And those specialty cake scrapers? Hold your horses and head on over to any established hardware store and browse the paint scraper section for a wide array of smoothers & scrapers. Cookie cutters can be used for multiple shape options, Ikea lazy susans can be utilised as sturdy turntables whilst plastic folders can be cut up for the best flexi smoothers… the list goes on & on & on… It’s basically about outsmarting the most “obvious” solution and coming up with a better one yourself!
Buy second hand tools & equipment
One man’s trash is certainly another man’s treasure. If you know where to look, there are a ton of cake decorating tools & equipment being sold second hand for a fraction of the original price. Some places to nosy around are ‘Buy Swap Sell’ groups on Facebook, local second-hand websites (think Craigslist, Gumtree or similar), Ebay and the like. If you’re looking to upgrade to some heavy duty equipment, try keeping an eye out for local auctions which take place whenever a business closes up. Online cake communities are also good places to get in touch with cakers looking to shed some of their ever-increasing inventory of cake toys.
Supplement live classes with more Online classes
Nothing can take the place of a quality, thorough, info-packed hands-on cake class. But let’s be honest, cake decorating classes are a significant investment. So whilst I thoroughly endorse the benefits & important of live cake classes, for a majority of cakers, it just isn’t realistic to hit up every live class that rolls into town. My personal tactic in navigating my cake education has been to budget for and enrol in a select number of hands-on classes per year (particularly classes that fill a massive gap in my cake knowledge). With this, I supplement my cake education with a TONNE of online classes. Why you might ask? Online classes (by notable & credible educators….cough cough* like moi) are INCREDIBLE value. The fact that they are made for the masses usually means that you get all of the information & techniques that you normally would in a live, hands on class, but for a fraction of the cost. In fact, you’d often be able to learn over 10-20 different projects from start to finish and this would not even begin to chip at the price tag of a live decorating class. Don’t ya just love the internet?
Visit Cake Decorating/ Baking stores when on Holidays
This is something I ALWAYS do (apart from lounging on the beach & binging on local fare which admittedly is about 99.9% of the time). Specifically when I travel to countries like Malaysia, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Bangkok … etc (just to name a few). There stores are filled to the brim with ah-mazing cake tools & supplies for a fraction of the cost. And if the exchange rate is in your favour, then friend, you’re gonna wanna up that baggage allowance.! I’ve gotten quality rolling pins for a dollar a pop, hundreds of cupcake patti pans for the price of a 50 pack from my local store & solid cake boards for 10 cents … It’s SUPER. And just HOW might one find these local stores when on holidays, you might ask? My suggestion would be to jump onto an online cake community (might I suggest the Sugar Sugar Cakes Society Facebook group?) and ask around for recommendations before you even think of jumping on the plane. Do exercise a decent amount of self-disclipline though, and only buy what you really NEED and not every crazy contraption that tickles your fancy. I mean, do you REALLY need that exotic flower plunger or that super cute but totally un-versatile ladybird mould?
Reuse & recycle
Give your cakie goods a second lease on life! That’s right. Your cake “trash” ain’t always ready for the big tip just yet. Dummy foam cakes can be cleaned up, icing removed, and reused for another cake project; or alternatively, used as a base for sugar flowers or toppers. Cake scraps can be turned into cake jars, cake pops, truffle pops, dehydrated in the oven to make cookie crumbs or simply wolfed down with a big tub of vanilla ice cream (bliss….). Baking paper can be reused for multiple bakes, large cake boxes (if clean) can be repurposed and cake boards cleaned off and refoiled. The list is endless! It’s all about being resourceful & mindful. That said, always ensure to make sure that you ain’t breaking the health & food safety code in the process. Removing sugar flowers off an old dummy cake and putting it on a new client cake? Big no no… Know where to draw the line.
Pay annual rather than ongoing
If you can afford it, annual memberships, insurance, registration always provide better savings than ongoing, monthly payment plans. All up per year, the savings could be rather significant. If you find paying annual fees a bit too “ouchy” on your wallet, then my lil’ tip will be to try and stagger the start date of those annual payments and have them sprinkled at various times throughout the year. This will ease the “cha-ching” outflow and give you time & space to recuperate.
So my friends,. What other cash-saving tips do you have for fellow cake lovers & those in the baking game? Do tell.. I’d love to hear them!