We all have that friend. Every time there is a special event, she shows up with some incredibly delectable and fancy cake or cupcake tray that makes your hum drum out of the box birthday cake look like it was prepared by toddlers. To her, every single event or birthday is a competition worthy of an episode on Cake Boss and your baking talents seem to pale in comparison. So, you decide that you are going to take a cake baking class and read up on some baking tips to learn how to shape and mold fonduit into a race car for your child’s next birthday just so you (and your family) wont be embarrassed at the next birthday party. Or you scale the internet and try to find some cake baking shop in your vicinity that can prepare an incredible cake that you can claim as your own home baked birthday cake.
Baking versus buying a birthday cake is often felt to be one of those invisible things that measure the greatness of a mother. Most of today’s moms come from a generation where birthday cakes were loving made in the home while ready made, completely personalized icing laced grocery store cakes were just not available (Or unaffordable). So, there is some weird sense of pressure from our past to bake versus buy a birthday cake. Plus, baking a cake for your child is a rite of passage for a mother. Your child turns two and you host a birthday party hoping to duplicate a perfect reflection of how you feel about your child. The skies the limit and you spend hours trying to follow online directions to create your child’s dream birthday cake. And this is fine, if you have both the time and the talent to do so.
But if you are like most moms who are balancing work, raising a family, as well as other obligations the time (and inclination) to bake a birthday cake might not be there. Especially when you can bring a child into nearly any bakery at your nearest grocery store and elate them with the choices of ready made cakes that adorn their favorite characters. Does pleasing your child with a ready-made Elmo cake make you a bad mother? Hell no! Does your inability or lack of time for baking cakes mean your child won’t remember you as the best mom in the world? Absolutely not.
Truth is there is no right or wrong answer to whether you should buy or bake a birthday cake. You have to do what works for you. Chances are that in the first years you will at least attempt to bake the perfect cake. But unless your kitchen is fully equipped with everything you need to bake a cake, and cake baking is one of your favorite past times – chances are high you will be like the 70% of parents who admitted to Parent Magazine that they prefer purchasing cakes over baking cakes for their child’s birthday parties.
If you are on the fence, or are just trying to keep up with that friend of yours who makes the awesome cakes – consider the following pros versus cons list.
Pros and Cons to Baking a Cake
- If your child has allergies, you can bake a masterpiece using ingredients that are safe for your child. Most pre-bought cakes come with allergy warnings.
- You will feel extremely proud of yourself if it works out well.
- If you have all your baking supplies, it can be less expensive to bake.
- Can recreate favorite cakes and start or resume family traditions.
- On the flip side, baking takes up lots and lots of time.
- To bake a custom decorated cake you will likely have to purchase special baking supplies or kits from craft stores.
- If it doesn’t work out, you may have to purchase a cake at last minute.
Pros and Cons to Buying a Cake
- It’s quick, simple, and easy.
- You can choose from a variety of ready-made designs.
- You can typically purchase a cake for under $25 to feed around 24 people.
- You cannot control the ingredients used with the cake unless you use a bakery. If ordering from a grocery store ask whether you can exclude certain ingredients.
- You won’t impress ‘that friend’ who makes the awesome cakes!
When it comes down to it, buying, or baking a cake only makes a difference if it matters in your heart. Eventually, the birthday cake WILL BE eaten. And at the end of the birthday party, if things went well – the cake will be an unrecognizable mess of cake batter and icing that you can simply throw in the trashcan to make clean up a breeze. The success of a birthday party does not hinge on whether you bake or buy a cake. But if you really feel like you must provide a one of a kind baked piece of art, and aren’t much of a culinary genius, consider swallowing your pride and hiring ‘that friend’ of yours to create a birthday cake for you that will be the centerpiece of the party!