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Sobeys $54.99 frozen cake: Shop owner behind niche treat explains why it is so pricy

The lemon cakes are handmade with specialty ingredients and serve 15 people

The man behind a frozen speciality cake that raised eyebrows on social media for its price tag is breaking down the cost of the niche treat.

Earlier this week, a grocery shopper in Thornhill, Ont., tweeted a photo of a frozen lemon cake that was being sold at Sobeys, with the price tag of $54.99. The "Tammy's Homemade Treats Frozen Lemon Cake'' was found as part of a Kosher for Passover display section.

Jimmy Kadoch is the owner of Kosher City Plus, a store that specializes in kosher products that supplied the cake to Sobeys. He reached out to Yahoo News Canada, hoping to tell the story of the cake and break down the labour costs and ingredients that go into making this particular treat.

He says in 1989, a man who owned a catering company came into his store before Passover to buy all his available mandelbrot, a dairy-free cookie. The man said he intended to use it as the base for a frozen lemon cake, which at the time he was selling for $40.

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Kadoch was curious about the cake, bought one and was impressed with the taste. Years later, the pastry chef for his company’s bakery division said she also had a recipe for the cake, so Kadoch encouraged her to make it. The results impressed him again.

“This cake cannot be compared to a $5.99 cake that’s commercially machine-made,” Kadoch tells Yahoo News Canada.

The frozen lemon cake, which other local catering companies produce, is in high demand during the Passover season, but only in Toronto.

That’s the price of cakes, that’s the reality.

Kadoch says he sells it to Sobeys for $45 per cake, which they mark up between 20% to 25%. It is made with lemon curd, whipped cream, and a gluten-free potato starch base, ingredients that Kadoch says are all extremely expensive currently as a result of inflation, along with the packages they’re put in to ship.

The cakes are handmade, with Kadoch describing it as as a labour-intensive process. It is 7 inches in diameter and is meant to serve 15 people.

“If you go to any fine pastry shop anywhere, a 7 inch cake is going to be sold for around $40 or $45 dollars,” he says. “That’s the price of cakes, that’s the reality.”

Since the cake is certified kosher, Kadosh says a lot of cleaning and work is put into making sure the area where it’s made meet the specific standards for the “mashgiach,” the supervisor that oversees the process to ensure that it’s kosher.

The bakery makes close to 600 frozen lemon cakes during the Passover season. Kadosh says they will be sold out by the end of the week, because the cake has become a tradition for many households in Toronto’s Jewish community. He insists he’s doing everything he can to keep the prices down, but that the cake can be found at other retailers for up to $70.

Still, he says it's well worth the price.

“It’s a Torontonian cake,” he says. “After a heavy meal on Passover, it’s a refreshing cake.”