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As this page says, a ‘fine piece’ helps the world go around. It’s just a fact.

Anyone acquainted with the North East of Scotland will know very well that a ‘fine piece’ is a treat, a little of what you fancy, naughty but nice, something a wee bit sweet, a wee bit tasty and a wee bit thrilling. In other words, a cake.
We all know that such delights should be approached in moderation, if not rationed. But in certain settings, preferably social ones, the opportunity to indulge in a ‘fine piece’ can produce more than mere pleasure and satisfaction.

So what exactly goes into making a novelty cake then?

A novelty cake from A Fine Piece is never just a cake. It’s a tailor-made commissioned piece of art for your loved one. A personalised gift to light up their face and make their day, and hopefully remember for some time afterwards. A Fine Piece cake will take centre-stage on the table at any celebration.

Good cake-makers can make detailed novelty cakes look effortless, and unless you are making novelty cakes yourself, it can be easy to dramatically underestimate how long a cake may have taken, and what went into it. I still at times find myself burning the midnight oil as I have underestimated how long a cake will take to complete.

Novelty cake-making is a skill that takes a lot of practice to develop. It requires a good artistic ablilty, an eye for detail, a steady hand, and an awful lot of patience.

Below I have detailed what is involved in making an average £55 (large sculpted) novelty cake.

1) Research time : often at least 30 mins for a tailor-made cake – to design the cake you require and work out the size, ingredients and items needed.

2) Shopping time: each cake requires specific items that have to be sourced individually, including specific size and shape of board. As standard, I use quality 12” square thick cake board/drums which cost £1.50. Larger or irregular shaped boards can cost up to £5.60. Similar sized cake boxes cost anywhere between £1.50 to £3.95. Other items include ribbons, custom decorations, edible paints, specific colours of icing, and in some cases new tools.

3) Preparation of sponge mixture and baking time: Around 2 to 3 hours in total.

Each cake is baked to order so that the cake is as fresh as possible and will keep in good condition for at least 2 weeks. Every cake is made using free range eggs and top quality flavours to give that “Fine Piece” taste.

4) Decorating time: Anywhere between 3.5 and 8 hours for a large novelty cake. This includes carving and sculpting the shape of the cake, butter-creaming between layers and around the cake, colouring and kneading the fondant icing and then decorating the cake ensuring it is smooth and bubble free. The next step is to bring the cake to life with all the details – placing textures, colouring and moulding of the different fondant parts and attachments, making the models, painting etc.

Ingredients used for a standard cake: –

  • 1 lb quality butter
  • 0.75 lbs flour
  • 0.75 lbs castor sugar
  • 8 free range eggs
  • 2 – 2.5 lbs icing sugar
  • 4oz shortening
  • milk
  • flavouring and seedless jam
  • plain fondant icing, pre-coloured fondant packs

Other items your cake will/might need: –

  • edible paints
  • edible glitter
  • sprays
  • confectioners glaze
  • edible glue
  • tylo powder (thickening agent for fondant)
  • thick foiled cake board
  • ribbon for the cake board
  • cake box
  • tools for shaping and cutting (not charged)

It is not unusual for the cost of these extras to add up to more than the cost of the main cake itself.

Ingredients and extra items normally add up to £17-£23 for an average £55 novelty cake. That leaves around £32 to £38 for my work and time spent on the cake.

Factors which can add to the price of a cake includes figurines & models. Animal figures require specialist modelling paste and take between 30 and 90 minutes to model. A dressed human figurine with facial expressions takes between 1.5 – 6 hours to make, depending of dress detail e.g printing tartan and pleating material.

Also bear in mind that even small models and figures will still add to the price of a cake – the intricacy of the items and number of them is proportional to the cost.

Cakes that require a technical representation, such as a car cake, need critical attention to proportions and measurements for a respectable likeness. This takes time and must be factored into the overall cost. Finally the large novelty cakes will feed on average between 30 and 40 people. If your cake is to cater for more people than this, then the cake will cost more.

Tadah!!! That was the background to A Fine Piece, only you can decide if it is worth it.