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How to achieve a designer cake on a budget with no time to bake

Let's talk designer cakes on a budget and how you can achieve the same thing for far less, with half the work. In this blog post we will break down some stigma, stereotypes, and show you the math, and then give you the know how.

But first, let me tell you about one of the many examples of cake mistakes I see on a regular basis. In fact, this very example comes from my godmother.

Last year I attended my Godmothers 50th birthday celebration in Brisbane, Australia. Unlike many of the birthday parties I have attended or worked for, my godmother had a very decent budget of $10 000. Yep - $10k! She never celebrates her birthdays so thought for her 50th, it was time to go all out!

$700 of her budget was spent on 2 simple and elegant designer cakes; nothing very fancy, and sadly not very memorable for the right reasons. She ordered a rich chocolate gnash slab cake for the evening's event and a colourful 3 tier drip cake for the after party at her house the following day. The chocolate gnash cake was simply decorated, super rich but very dry. It cost $450. The drip cake was beautifully decorated, but flavorless and equally as dry. It cost $250. After the event, she kind of felt it was not worth the money, as most of both cakes went to waste. Might I just add here, these cakes both came from one of Brisbane's most prestigious award winning bakeries.

Custom designer cakes can be a very expensive addition to any celebration. They average at about $4.50 per portion. If you do the math, this can add up very, very quickly. But cakes are something that "everyone" knows how to bake, thanks to their parents and home-economics classes in high school, as well as television shows, you tube and the internet.

So, why are people flocking to buy a 'designer' cake that they could make themselves, and pleading the broke snowflake card when hiring other services?

Bakery Prices for Designer Cakes

This exact cake is advertised as: Pretty in Pink – An elegant drip cake topped with fresh flowers. Base cake prices before any extras are added: SMALL : Single Layer 6 inch (Feeds 6-8 people) = $35 MEDIUM: Double Layer 6 inch (Feeds 16-20 people) = $80 LARGE: Double Layer 8 inch (Feeds 24-30 people) = $120. This does not include any extras, such as flowers, chocolates, lollipops, etc

An example of a bakery pricing for a "basic" birthday cake is below. This pricing might we add, does not include decorations such as flowers, macarons, chocolates or lollipops. This particular bakery advertises extras such as flowers: $20 each, Macarons: $3 each, Chocolate:or Lollipops: $5 each. We will also add right here that this information came directly from their website.

Pricing for the cake pictured above:

Pretty in Pink – An elegant drip cake topped with fresh flowers.

Base cake prices before any extras are added:

*SMALL : Single Layer 6 inch (Feeds 6-8 people) = $35

(6 people = $5.833 per serve or 8 people = $4.375 per serve).

*MEDIUM: Double Layer 6 inch (Feeds 16-20 people) = $80

(16 people = $5 per serve or 20 people = $4 per serve).

*LARGE: Double Layer 8 inch (Feeds 24-30 people) = $120

(24 people = $5 per serve or 30 people = $4 per serve).

And remember... this is just the cake.. no decorations yet. The cake in the image above is priced at $154.

These prices for a small cake average at $5.10 per serve and for a medium or large cake average at $4.50. Also, if you will remember my godmothers cakes from Brisbane, Australia: Chocolate gnash cake for 100 people averaged at $4.50 per serve, while the Drip Cake for 50 people averaged at $5 per serve.

How to achieve a designer cake on a budget with no time to bake

Before getting into the nitty gritty of how, you first need to have an idea of what you would like to create, who this cake is for, when you need this cake ready by, where the cake is going, how many people you are feeding with this cake and what you intend on spending budget wise.

In our example here we are creating a caramel and white chocolate drip cake on a budget of $50, that is designed to feed 20 people. Also, our budget here is based on the idea that you would need to buy absolutely every item from the supermarket - priced based off Coles website on 30/07/2019). Find out what this designer cake costs per serve below.

To recreate this cake you will require approx 30 minutes and a little fridge time. There is no baking required at all. Fake it, don't make it! This cake is foolproof.

You will need:

A plate for serving

A butterknife of flat knife


Mixer and Bowl

Measuring Cups

From the Supermarket:


3 x 600g Coles Chocolate Mud Cakes ($4.80 each x $14.40)


500g softened unsalted butter ($5.60 for 500g = $5.60)

6 cups (960g) icing sugar mixture ($2.70 for 1kg = $2.70)

1/4 cup (60ml) milk ($1 for 1L. 60ml used =$0.06 cents)

Topping / Decorations:

Fresh Roses ($10 per bunch of 10. 4 roses used =$4)

Macarons ($8 for 10pack = 0.80 each. 5 used =$4)

Salted Caramel Fudge Topping ($3.50 for 250ml)

How to make the icing:

1. Use an electric mixer to beat 500g softened butter in a bowl until very pale.

2. Gradually beat in 6 cups (960g) icing sugar mixture.

3. Beat in 1⁄4 cup (60ml) milk.

To assemble:

1. Use a large serrated knife to carefully trim the icing from the tops of 3 x 600g Chocolate Mud Cakes.

2. Layer the cakes on a serving plate, covering the top and side of each with one-third of the icing.

3. Carefully scrape the side with a palette knife for a “naked” effect. Refrigerate for 15 minutes so the naked crumbed layer sets hard.


Top with butter icing icing and decorate with toppings.Run a bottle of Coles Chocolate Fudge Topping under hot water for 30 secs and drizzle over the cake for the perfect finish.

Cost of purchasing every item to make cake pictured above: $45.20

Cost minus the left overs = ($45.20 - $8.94) = $34.26

Coles cakes are designed to serve between 6-8 people per cake. We have 3 cakes.


This cake is designed to feed 18-24 people based on either 6 or 8 slices per layer.

That works out to be $1.90 per serve for 18 people or $1.42 per serve for 24 people.

The cost of our cake is not only half the cost of a bakery cake, but our designer cake on a budget also comes with added extras that can be utilized to further enhance the cake, or as a decoration for elsewhere in the party or at home. Plus, the 940ml of milk left over is quite a few cups of tea to go with your designer cake.

As an added bonus, I have attached some more pictures of cakes all made with Coles or Woolworths Supermarket brought cakes.

Hope you enjoyed this blog post, and that it helped you save time in the kitchen, and left money in your pocket. With all that left over time and money, you can afford that face painter, or those balloons, or that photographer or that DJ or that magician or that new party dress or that item your child has been longing for.

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