The Truth About Supermarket Cakes

Britain loves cake. Last year alone we consumed over 1.7 million cakes, with many of these bought from supermarkets. Indeed, the likes of Tesco and Asda have seen massive growth in demand for celebration cakes on their shelves over the past few years. 

The supermarket aisle dedicated to celebration cakes is a sight to make any child’s eyes light up. And given their generally cheap price tag, it’s a sight for many parents eyes too. 

But are these cheap cakes flooding the market as tasty and wholesome as they appear? We’ve decided to put the spotlight on the supermarket cake. 

Like parents across on the land, we’ve gone down to our local Sainsbury’s and bought a birthday cake to try. The subject for this test is the humble Madeira Party Cake. 

We're going to look at 3 separate areas to discover the truth about supermarket cakes; ingredients, presentation, and finally taste!



At the best of times ingredients labels are a little overwhelming to look at. For Sainsbury's cakes, this is especially so. Just take a look at the list we found on the back of the package. 

It's pretty daunting to decipher! And when you look at the detail, it's not very pretty. This cake is packed full of scary chemicals.

Even if we ignore the additives and stabilisers (which we NEVER use), basic ingredients like milk are cast aside for cheap powders. And I don't know about you, but I like my cakes without beeswax too...

The sad truth is that supermarkets only care about bundling together the cheapest ingredients at the biggest margin. If that means additives or e-numbers, so be it.   



This is an area that needs a little work. 

Despite how much (or little) you pay for a supermarket birthday cake, you'll find it comes on a flimsy uncovered cake board. This makes the cake feel cheap, and looks unprofessional and unfinished. 

On this cake, the frosting (I note frosting is stated on the packaging rather than buttercream, as no butter is used) doesn't even extend to the sides. I'm all for naked cakes, but this is a little too naked..

There's sadly no personalisation and no character to this cake.



Some people are happy with any old ingredients and a slightly bare design if it tastes good. Well, this doesn't. 

To be fair, the texture is moderately light in places. That'll be the doing of the Humecant cited in the ingredients list. 

It might even stay moderately light for a few months; the Independent newspaper did an alarming investigation into supermarket cakes that don't decay... Food for thought!

Some parts of the cake were quite dry though, dry enough to need a drink. The crusts were particularly bad. 

As for the flavour, there wasn't really one. It was very sweet, but no actual flavour.

Even the minute amount of frosting and jam in the middle didn't help - just nothing.  



The Sainsbury's cake doesn't quite live up to our lofty cake expectations. Yes it is cheap, but I think it's an example that in life, you get what you pay for. 

The Alternative

You don't have to celebrate a birthday with dry, tasteless cake packed full of questionable additives. Bespoke cake makers like us are committed to ensuring there's another way!

Our cakes are made with the finest ingredients. Our flour is sourced from our local Windmill, our eggs are free-range and we use Swiss Massa Ticino Tropic sugar paste – considered to be the best in the business. Our buttercream is made with real, good quality, butter. Where we use ganache, we use the finest Belgian chocolate.

Take a look at our previous designs, and get in contact with us today!