To panic about my Christmas cake commitments?

(59 Posts)
Stravy Fri 13-Sep-13 17:48:00

I'm supposed to be making Christmas cakes as a charity fundraiser and it's just occurred to me that, as I have to make them well in advance, if I don't sell any as many as I would like then I'm going to have spent a fortune on ingredients/boards/boxes and have nothing to show for it. The ingredients are really expensive, and I'm not sure if the mark up will be that great. (my estimates as to what people will pay vary wildly)

Will someone tell me that it will all be alright and people will pay a kings ransom for a fruit cake.

FlapJackFlossie Fri 13-Sep-13 17:50:21

Nope, I wouldn't pay for a christmas cake. Sorry. Anyway, my head is still in September. Maybe ask me........say.......December 24th grin

sparkle12mar08 Fri 13-Sep-13 17:51:06

I don't think they will in this climate, sorry! And christmas cakes isn't always that popular. What exactly is the fundraising? Is it a cake stall somewhere, or are you taking pre orders etc?

spindlyspindler Fri 13-Sep-13 17:58:49

There will always be people who'll pay for a home-made cake if they don't want to make one. I would, whenever I've not got round to making my own I'm always horribly disappointed by shop ones. I would do some comparison shopping and buy the ingredients in bulk from somewhere like Lidl or similar, then do some maths and make sure I priced the cakes appropriately. (Also, I would unashamedly use the cheapest brandy I could get my scroogy mits on.)

SugarHut Fri 13-Sep-13 18:00:36

Christmas cake costs a bloody fortune. With ingredients, then various coloured icing, Drambuie, decorations, ribbon, cakeboard, mine makes me want to cry at nearly £50 each year. But when I've finished the painstaking decorating, it looks amazing, and I'm so glad I bothered...the "olds" all take the leftover as their mid walk treat for their weekly walks in the forest for a month or so. That's worth it.

On the other hand, yours will be lovely, but let's be honest, not to the effort you would go to when you are making your own "centre piece" cake. You can get (although nowhere near as nice tasting) nice Christmas cakes from the supermarket for a tenner. You'll never make, ice and present yours for less than that. I don't mean to go all bah humbug on you, but I can't see how you're going to do it without doing it at a loss sad sorry x x

flowery Fri 13-Sep-13 18:03:39

Does it have to be Christmas cakes?

spindlyspindler Fri 13-Sep-13 18:03:54

I don't ice - I'm all about the glace fruit topping. (I tried icing once, but I didn't dry out the marzipan first and it looked as though I'd spilt oil over the top of it.)

Stravy Fri 13-Sep-13 18:04:08

grin feel much better now.

Asda have an offer on baking ingredients atm and I can get stuff from the cash and carry

I've a few people who've committed to buy them (literally a few). It's the inability to bake to order that worries me. I suppose I will have to suffer and have cake for every meal until August 2020

I'll be taking pre-orders and attempting to sell through my business (I'm a chef, not a pastry chef unfortunately)

misskatamari Fri 13-Sep-13 18:05:45

I wouldn't buy a Christmas cake but probably would a different cake. Can you not make something else that is less effort and less expensive? I know a lot of people, myself included, aren't really keen on Christmas cake.

spindlyspindler Fri 13-Sep-13 18:12:56

Also, if you're making on spec, make some without peel. There are those amongst us who fear peel.

I've reduced my spending on Christmas cake massively, I think. I used to use Cointreau but then I realised that as long as it's good and boozy no one cares. Ditto whole peel/chopped peel - chopping up whole peel is a pain in the bum, the whole peel is stupidly expensive and it makes no discernible difference to the taste in my opinion.

ALSO. Don't bother with cake boards, get some flat-pack cardboard cake boxes. And if you're going the iced route, invest in some silver balls - I love the way they look and it doesn't take long to make something pretty.

(I know that my repeated posts on this are marking me out as a Christmas cake obsessive but I do not care and it is quite possible that I will come back and witter some more)

CoffeeTea103 Fri 13-Sep-13 18:14:13

Can you not make a variety of cakes, or at least an alternate option such as a popular cake in case the fruit one doesn't sell. Not many people might Favor a fruit cake. Also those that have committed, in case they change their mind? There are so many places to get cakes around Christmas time as well

CaptainSweatPants Fri 13-Sep-13 18:15:38

I wouldn't buy a Xmas cake - I'd buy pretty fairy cakes decorated christmasey though for the kids

Stravy Fri 13-Sep-13 18:16:46

Cost for 8 inch round cake = £6.70

+extra alcohol


The price of marzipan is shock Thank goodness for asda

I'm semi committed to Christmas cakes on account of a) telling various people I'm doing it and b) having a bucket of dried fruit soaking in my kitchen. I thought it was a good idea at the time on account of being able to get the bulk of the work done before Christmas is at our throats. I can pad it out with gingerbread bollocks and stuff, do less cakes possibly.

You can always freeze some for next year!

Stravy Fri 13-Sep-13 18:22:33


Are you serious? If you are I love you!!!

I'm not wild about doing non fruit cakes for Christmas because it's my busiest time at work and I haven't got a lot of time for baking (actual time and oven time) but I could do other cakes generally, throughout the year, I think I might do that.

SugarHut Fri 13-Sep-13 18:22:36

Oooooooooh, you know what you could do? Make those little gay cake pop things. Same ingredients I presume, and you could make the pops look like little mini Christmas puds.

Whaddya think.....

A couple of suggestions. I'm quite partial to a slice or two, but DH doesn't so we don't get (or make) a huge 8" cake. Like many people, we no longer plough through a giant fruit cake till the middle of January. How about making some small, individual size ones for couples/smaller households? I'd snap these up if I saw them at a charity fair or Christmas event.

The other option is - how about stollen? Has now become very popular - I think tastes have moved away somewhat from heavy fruit cakes - you see this at weddings now too - a lot more sponges or chocolate cakes.

Final suggestion if you already have the dried fruit - how about making some really nice mincemeat? If you put this into pretty jars as well, it will fly out - it's a versatile ingredient and can also be purchased to give as a gift.

Stravy Fri 13-Sep-13 18:26:42

I've never made a cake pop. Not sure how it would go with fruit cake in terms of drying out. I do have some of those wee cardboard loaf tins, which only use about 60p worth of ingredients. I'm hoping people will buy those as an impulse purchase.

SugarHut Fri 13-Sep-13 18:27:14

Scuttlebutter great suggestion with mincemeat, that will 100% sell out, especially in pretty jars.

Stravy Fri 13-Sep-13 18:32:58

Never made stollen or mincemeat (I am a chef, honest grin )

Stollen is expensive because of the vast amount of marzipan, I think the mark up might be lower than Christmas cake

I was planning to make the wee loaves (65p) 8 inch (£6,70), 6 inch (£4ish) and 4 inch (£2ish)

Costs are approximate for nudey boardless/boxless cakes

I shall look into mincemeat

Stravy Fri 13-Sep-13 18:35:57

I'm popping out. Thankyou for replies.

Taffeta Fri 13-Sep-13 18:40:26

Maybe make a few without marzipan? Plenty of people don't like it, it's hard to get shop bought without, and will save you big costs.

You can use mini baked bean tins for small cakes or other similar size tins. 65p is far too cheap - I'd cheerfully pay a £ or more for a good quality, well decorated small home made cake, especially if it was going for charity.

Think your 4 inch is too cheap as well.

Trust me on mincemeat - it will sell!

Taffeta Fri 13-Sep-13 18:41:51

Oh and as a seasoned cake pop maker I say....

Walk away from the cake pops. They are a massive faff and a total nightmare to transport.

forcookssake Fri 13-Sep-13 18:52:48

I agree with Scuttle, I'd charge £1 for the tiny tasters, then £3, £5 and £7 at least for the round cakes. You have made something delicious by hand FGS! You will be offering a wide selection of options, with a superior taste and it's for charity - don't undersell your produce and volunteer-time smile

LeonieDeSainteVire Fri 13-Sep-13 18:53:56

Just a suggestion but why not make some nut free? No marzipan or nuts in the mix. My DD is nut allergic and Christmas can be very nut heavy. I make my own mincemeat (I use Delia's and leave out the almonds, so easy) and Christmas cakes but the cakes are a faff and I would love to buy them but they always have marzipan at the least. I use fondant rather than royal icing as I'm not sure if the royal would work without marzipan.

Also, to cut costs, when making small ones, just ice the tops and put a ribbon around the sides. It's better anyway as otherwise the cake to icing ratio is too high.

Choos123 Fri 13-Sep-13 18:54:13

I really love Christmas cake but im too lazy to make it, and i would happily eat it all year round smile Can you get a teenager to pit you up a quick website or advertise on boards? Make the cakes, then start your marketing, I would pay more for a charity homemade one than one from m and s.

marzipanned Fri 13-Sep-13 18:57:09

I think your prices are really low, charge at least £1 for your mini ones! I'd snap up a few as I LOVE Christmas cake and would happily eat it all year round if I could be bothered to make it. Luckily for the past few years I've made fruit cake wedding cakes for people and have got my fix smile

Mincemeat is very easy to make and is a fab suggestion.

Rowlers Fri 13-Sep-13 19:08:41

I think mini chritmas cake bars would be good. Don't M+S do a teeny one in a box? Always seems too small to me. I make my own big cake but would be happy to pay a couple of quid for small one person taster cake.

mrspremise Fri 13-Sep-13 19:16:03

sugarhut HOW do you spend £50 on a fruit cake you make yourself?! shock

Almostfifty Fri 13-Sep-13 19:16:43

At our PTA Christmas Fair, a few of us make Christmas Cakes for the cake stall. We make different size ones, put white icing on, then one lady pretties them up for sale.

They always sell out. Make sure they're priced well and you'll have an empty table.

Stravy Fri 13-Sep-13 19:20:22

Thats the costs, not the prices. I don't know what the prices are yet! Some of the online prices are crazy (£60 for 7 inch shock )so it's hard to get a good idea of what a normal person would pay until they are in the supermarkets etc. I've never bought a cake before blush I would pay a bit more for a cake made by a person that one from a supermarket but other people won't. Of course, they don't have to if I can find enough people to pay a little over grin

I've got loads of tins already at work, some had a previous life, some are very posh. I've got one of those ones that make really mini sandwich cakes, about an inch diameter but it's a pita and throws up packaging dilemmas.

I've never bought or eaten mincemeat, it's totally off my radar.

I'm suspecting that the mark up on tiny ones will be higher so maybe I should concentrate on that

I love mumsnet

Bingdweller Fri 13-Sep-13 19:20:31

Cake bars with holly icing decoration would look great. I can recommend the Lidl cherry brandy for alcohol - saves making a stock syrup and it tastes lovely!

Stravy Fri 13-Sep-13 19:21:32

I think I might do a totally baldy one, marketed to marzipan haters and anyone who wants to decorate themselves.

whattodoo Fri 13-Sep-13 19:21:57

A friend buys a square Christmas cake from the supermarket, cuts it in 4 the puts it on some plain white card with cellophane and ribbon. People queue to buy them for a fiver.

Stravy Fri 13-Sep-13 19:22:34

Cherry brandy sounds good. I like ameretto but was going to use brandy as 'traditional'

Costco do a lovely cake decorated with glazed nuts and cherries, DH and I always get one of those at the start of December, another in the middle and then one for Christmas

They make a wonderful centre for our Christmas table and always go down well with friends when we have drinks at Christmas.

marzipanned Fri 13-Sep-13 19:39:56

Oh, sorry!! I should've read your post more carefully. I think you're right that you can mark up the smaller ones more. I'd happily pay at least (given it's for charity)

Wee loaves - £2
8" - £10
6" - £8
4" - £5

mrspremise I easily spend that much each year, the answer is Pedro Ximenez sherry! That would be for two cakes though.

mrspaddy Fri 13-Sep-13 19:42:05

What about boiled fruit cake op

greenfolder Fri 13-Sep-13 19:48:21

Gingerbread bollocks-great idea-people would buy them for secret santa x

Stravy Fri 13-Sep-13 19:51:57

mrspaddy Like Nigellas? Or is it something different

magicstar1 Fri 13-Sep-13 20:47:04

I s

magicstar1 Fri 13-Sep-13 20:48:54

I sold cakes last Christmas and you won't believe what sold best....chocolate biscuit cakes! I made them in a bowl, and poured white chocolate over the top with a bit of holly, so they looked like Christmas puddings. Great seller!

I hate marzipan so I make my version of stollen without it. It's fabulous (if I do say so myself) but it shows that it can stand up on its own without the marzipan.

Hope that helps.

PurplePidjin Fri 13-Sep-13 20:59:58

Make Christmas Cupcakes - fruit cake in the base, then cut out circles of marzipan and fondant icing with a cookie cutter. Sell for £1-2 each, bet you get 12 from the equivalent of an 8" cake plus far less expensive marzipan.

Stravy Fri 13-Sep-13 21:37:48

[[ I can make tiny ones in this but I don't know how to package nicely and cheaply

Stravy Fri 13-Sep-13 21:38:08


Stravy Fri 13-Sep-13 21:38:28
Stravy Fri 13-Sep-13 21:43:59

I need lovely little boxes like the ones on here with 6 little cakes in. They look very considered.

Stravy Fri 13-Sep-13 21:45:43

They charge £42 for an undecorated 8 inch round cake...

Yeah, freezing them (undecorated) will be fine. My mum usually makes two at once and freezes one for next year, and you can never tell. Think she leaves out the alcohol though, and then defrosts it a month or so before Christmas and drowns it in sherry to revive it.

marzipanned Fri 13-Sep-13 22:14:01

Oh my, no way would I pay that much! Well, the estimated prices I gave you before were apparently way too low.

Good cheap idea for packing is to use clear plastic and a nice ribbon. Not sure what the technical name of the clear plastic I mean is, but hopefully you do know what I'm talking about...

Stravy Fri 13-Sep-13 22:28:31

Yes, I don't know what its called either. I think florists use it.

Taffeta Fri 13-Sep-13 22:54:11

Food grade cellophane

4forkssake Fri 13-Sep-13 23:32:10

What about something like this to make small cakes. They're from Lakeland (linking cos I've seen them in there) but you might find them cheaper elsewhere.

Stravy Fri 13-Sep-13 23:46:04

I have those! Got them cheap on ebay

raisah Sat 14-Sep-13 04:01:46

I don't like fruit cake but would buy another type of cake. My friend bakes cakes & she did an amazing chocolate Grufallo one which was a hit. You could do a selection of cakes, traditional & none traditional Christmas cakes. Also, if you have 1 or 2 birthday cakes then people are more likely to buy those now than Xmas cake which is too far ahead iyswim.o

Have a small selection that people can buy from you on the day to see your range, take atleast a 10-20% deposit for the pre-orders. Also have a small catalogue of photos of your previous cakes & a pricelist with contact details that people can take away with them on the day.

aintnothinbutagstring Sat 14-Sep-13 04:13:48

I like Dundee style Xmas cakes, with the glazed nuts and sometimes glaced cherries/fruit on top, not too heavy and very pretty and festive to look at especially with a nice big tartan ribbon round. Quicker and easier than icing too. Can lace with a bit of Scottish whiskey.

LeonieDeSainteVire Sat 14-Sep-13 09:48:48

Lakeland sell christmas themed cellophane bags which are just the right size for one small round Christmas cake (make in a small sized baked bean tin or similar, much cheaper than buying the specific tins). Tie with pretty ribbon and add a tag.

A good idea is to print a label with full list of ingredients and stick it to the bottom then people know what they're buying.

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