I had briefly mentioned in my previous post, about the costs involved with Cake Artistry. The total amount of money required to bake, create and decorate just one cake will depend on the final design.
Being extra creative comes at a cost, but no fear, I have compiled a few of my best money saving tips for cake artistry, in this post, for you to include in your own.
Beef Fat or Tallow
I use tallow (100% organic beef fat) in addition to whole cream butter, in my butter icings. I got this idea, whilst watching YouTube one day, from a well-known cake artist, who lives in Canada, Krazy Kool Cakes (now, one of my favourite cake decorators). Her reasons for using this ingredient, instead of only butter, was because the majority of her cake orders were for the hot season.
Tallow (which, she bought from Walmart) mixed with butter held the buttercream shape longer in the heat. It was also much cheaper than using only butter. Check out her video, she is a Krazy Kool chick!
My Nana also used tallow, when she deep-fried her Tongan famous fried yeast cakes (keke). Unlike the ones people make today, using canola oil, Nana’s kekes always remained soft and kept their round forms without the oily residue.
I buy my tallow bulk (20kg box), online from an organic New Zealand farm, that produces clear white one hundred percent pure beef fat, which doesn’t affect the icing flavour. It cost me $60 but it has lasted me for a few months.
Half a box has provided me for more than forty cakes, and I also use it for our home cooked meals instead of some oils. I use a one part butter and two parts tallow in all my buttercream and cream cheese icings. I have never had any complaints from any of my customers.
Corn Flour, Corn Starch, Arrowroot Flour
Did you know that using half part corn flour (also known as corn starch) with half part icing sugar (also known as confectioner’s sugar) in icing recipes, can lessen the sweetness?
Well, I came upon this, by accident. I had a customer, who said that she preferred buttercream, but that it tasted too sweet. She asked if I could find a buttercream recipe that was suitably less sweet. This gave me new challenge.
After searching for a few days on the internet, I couldn’t find one recipe. So, I looked in my cupboard, and mentally created recipes with each ingredient. It was when, my eyes rested on the boxes of corn flour and arrow root flour, that it hit me!
Both corn and arrowroot flours have the same consistency and use as icing sugar, but were not sweet. I did some research to make sure that mixing the ingredients was not going to cause any health issues, and all the information I found only gave positive reviews.
Therefore, I made a few buttercream recipes using each of the flour ingredients (tested each on my family, as I do) and voilà!
They tasted incredible; were less sweet and much creamier. The buttercream consistency was much better overall, because, the corn/arrowroot flours bound the ingredients together to create more hold to the shape form, without too much crusting, (too much crusting can cause icing to crumble and break).
The new buttercream recipe’s debut was at my great aunt’s birthday, which was held on a very hot day. The icing held its shape, right to the end, even when it was accidentally bumped into. I got a rave review for the taste.
I also use corn flour when rolling fondant or royal icing – much less sticky when rolled. The best part about these new ideas were the fact, that I could save more money buying less icing sugar.
These are only two of my favourite alternative ingredients that I have used to save money, but I am sure to find more and will update this post when I do.
Opportunity Shops & Online Trade Markets
I prefer to purchase used goods, rather than new. My grandmother also, was a lover of used goods stores, she used to take me along when she visited them.
I buy a lot of my cooking/baking/cake art tools second hand (usually at less than $5 an item). I only buy new items for quality (online stores) or for things that I cannot find anywhere else.
Some of my most valuable and unique cake art tools were found at opportunity shops, items that are either no longer produced or limited editions from eons ago, that the new generation have no idea how to use.
A few of my favourites: egg yolk separators, hand held butter/dough slicers (dicing butter into the dough), and fondant flattening spoon for rose petals. Fortunately, I have seen my Nana using some of these to know what they are used for.
I am still old-fashioned in how I make my cakes – preferring to whisk/beat by hand rather than use machinery, not only to save the use of my power, but for the love of feeling with my hands to create.
I would rather create my floral arrangements or cake toppers, from scratch. Most of these old fashioned tools give me that opportunity, and not to mention the arm exercises are an added bonus.
If I ever choose to sell my cake artistry tools, they would have no monetary value, but their usefulness and effectiveness, are worth a thousand times more, than many of the costly new modern items being advertised today, that have no longevity.
They have saved me a lot of money.
Online trade markets are also just as useful for saving money. I found an old fridge, which was given to me free, on local online trade market via Facebook. It was old but still worked well. It was converted it into my cake chiller, and is stored in my garage. To save money on power usage, it is only turned on for cake art.
I have also, found unusual plant holders online too, that can be converted into ornamental cake stands, with a little TLC.
Recycle left overs
Do not throw away your left over cake art. Fondant or royal icing decorations hardened with tylose can last for years, because of its high sugar content. On saying that, the ‘foreverness’ of your creations, will depend on how, they will be stored.
They need to be kept away from moisture and pests, in dry cardboard boxes (not enclosed in plastic containers) covered with paper towels, to allow them to breathe.
I have many left over flowers and roses kept stored away, to be recycled in any future cake art requests.
Some topper decorations are more than six months old. I try to recycle them within a year, as I do not believe in keeping anything for longer than a year.
Buttercream icing can also be frozen for up to 3 months in an airtight container, or 3-4 days in a chiller/refrigerator. Royal icing using meringue powder, can be left out for up to 3 days, and royal icing made with actual eggs can be chilled for up to 3 days.
Fondant can be kept in enclosed containers away from sunlight, in a cool dark part of your pantry or food cupboard. I have fondant stored from the previous year, that I still use. Fondant hardens once it is exposed after its initial use, but can be made pliable with 30 seconds in the microwave and kneading for a few minutes.
Recycling cake topper art, can save you a lot of money and time in the long run.
When I have quite a few cake orders, I like to combine all the required ingredients and buy these in bulk ahead of time. This also saves me from doing several trips as well as save money. I am sometimes fortunate to do this when some large department stores have their monthly bargains.
If I do not use all the ingredients, it becomes part of our family cooking or donated at church.
Here are some products that can be bought in bulk:
- Flour – I buy two 5kg bags
- Sugar – I buy three 5kg bags
- Icing Sugar – I buy about 10 x 2kg bags, less than $3 each
- Corn Flour – I buy about 10 x 500 grams boxes, these cost less than $2 each
- Tallow/ Beef Shortening – I buy 1 x 20 kg box online
Creating My own
I am always on the search for home made recipes or things that will help me to save money. I have added two of my favourites, here as examples:
- Home made fondant
Fondant is so expensive yet, it is, the most used ingredient for my cake art. I use a simple recipe that uses marshmallows to make my own fondant – this saves me money, gives me better creativity with flavours and it is not as sweet as the store bought fondants.
- Home made silicon moulds
When I first started cake art, I tried to buy a topper for one of my cakes. The cake shop display price was $50 for a small figurine. I vowed that day, to make my own toppers and after much research, I found a basic food grade silicon mold recipe online.
I used this to create my own moulds for cake toppers and other creations. These moulds last forever, and can be squished again and re-used for other shapes. My homemade silicon mould dough has saved me so much money. However, for those who don’t want to go through all this trouble, you can just buy polymer clay.
- Home made cake dividers
I save large pieces of styrofoam that were used as part of packaging. I then cut these using box cutters and a lighter, into various shapes to use as cake dividers (as seen in the image above).
With a bit of imagination and a few ornaments or coverings, these foams develop into spectacular cake dividers, which can be used again or sold as part of the cake arrangement. This is such a money saver for me, because foam cake dummies are so expensive these days. A 10 inch round foam costs between $30-$40, but my home made foams allow me any size that I want for free.
- Home made cake stands
Sometimes, just using people as resources can save money too. I am blessed, to be married to a metal engineer/welder. I can design a metal cake stand and ask my husband to weld them together for me. These stands are used for household decor too, when not used for my cake art.
I use glue gun to stick clear plastic plates and bowls together, to create gorgeous crystal looking table cake display stands, which I decorate with glass looking craft beads for additional glam. I sell these stands as part of the display with the cakes.
There are so many more money saving tips for cake artistry, and I have added but a few of what I use. I have no doubt, that as I progress in my cake art, I will discover many more ideas on how to simplify my budget. I also know, that you too, may have some amazing tips to add, so please share them, I would love to read your comments.
Feel free to ask me anything, or add your thoughts below, I would love to know what your money saving tips for cake artistry are.
Until my next post,