Bargain Cakes – Yes please – err no thanks!

Rachel's offer

Recently a fellow baker signed up for a Groupon Deal to sell her bespoke Cupcakes at a discount price. The cupcakes normally costing £26.00 and made by Berkshire based ‘Need a Cake’ were offered to Groupon customers for £6.50. Rachel Brown the owner, soon found that her dream deal rapidly turned into a nightmare as Need a Cake received a staggering 8,500 requests as a result, substantially more than its usual production level of about 100 a month. Rachel was faced with meeting the overnight demands of that many customers wanting their cakes delivered.

Groupon offers discounts on things such as meals in restaurants and spa treatmentsGroupon staff in front of logo


Need a Cake, which employs eight people, had to bring in agency staff to try to meet the upsurge in demand. Ms. Brown estimates the extra costs of staff and distribution could be up to £12,500, wiping out profits for the year.

She said: “We had thousands of orders pouring in that really we hadn’t expected to have. A much larger company would have difficulty coping.” She even had to turn away other customer orders as the phonelines jammed, and at one point had twenty five people working in her bakery.

Thankfully the worst is behind her but it serves as a stark warning to other bakers. I’ve not participated in Groupon myself, but another deal recently and thankfully my orders were manageable. However the huge discounts offered by companies like Groupon sometimes mean that the bakers have to absorb the cost of posting the cupcakes which I can verify costs £9.95 with Royal Mail to dispatch PLUS the cost of packaging at £1.50 per box. So if Groupon are taking their 38-50% of the share of £6.50 you can see who comes off worst – the bakers!

Printed with kind permission of Rachel Brown, Owner of Need a Cake, Berkshire.




Cake Heaven at Cake International NEC, Birmingham 2011

Ok so this was my first time visiting Cake International and I was SO excited because I was looking forward to catching up with some twitter Cakey friends and seeing some of the action at the Cake show. If you eat, sleep and breathe cakes then this is the place to go! There’s no shortage of stalls to buy the latest equipment, latest gadget or icing or mould from and I saw a few poor husbands weighed down with armloads of cake boxes and looking utterly fed up as their other halves trawled the stand looking for bargains or the latest cutters etc. Others who were used to the amount of shopping at these exhibitions had those collapsable crates brimming with their purchases so it was easier for them to contain it all! Yes, there are hundreds of women who descend on the place and sometimes the popular stands are a few people deep with Cakesters wanting to watch a demo or see their favourite Cake Celebrity promoting their latest book.

As well as the usual buzz of demos and workshops the main excitement was the Cake Competitions organized by PME and the British Sugarcraft Guild where Judges in full kitchen whites scrutinize entries such as Tiered wedding cakes, Masks, Figurines, Novelty cakes etc. to award Gold, Silver and Bronze as well as Merit in each category.


I had some personal favourites and as I love Novelty cakes so much I was in awe of how much work went into some of them, with some entrants travelling over 6,000 miles to be here and enter the competitions with their incredible cakes.

                                                                          No doubt about it – cakes rock! There were several Alice in Wonderland Cakes and an abundance of dragons which amazed me. There is the usual nail biting of course where cake makers have entered the competitions and wait to see if they have won. Behind the scenes there are exhibits of students work in each of the various guilds and the ladies of the British Sugarcraft Guild (BSG) keep the art and craft of sugarcraft alive and kicking. So plenty of fun to be had, and yes I did spend too much money but am looking forward to putting some of my new products into practice and am definitely booking a return visit to the NEC next year.

Here’s a selection of my favourite cakes this year – most of them got Gold awards in their category.