As a business consultant most of the questions that come to me are business-related and I can feel good about pointing someone in the right direction about getting their cake or cupcake business on the right track. Occasionally however, I am asked cake decorating questions and recommendations for the best way to learn cake decorating.
My books are written for the hands-on entrepreneur – someone with a dream and the desire to work in the day-to-day operation of a cake or cupcake business. In any food-service business two of the most important aspects of the operation are product creation and the management of the business. Most people who start bakeries from the ground up aren’t business people; they’re what The E-Myth author Michael E. Gerber calls “technicians” (i.e. people with a skill). For example, someone who loves to make pies and wants to reap the profits of their skill. If your bakery is to survive, you need both technical skills and business skills.
I cover the business skills in Start a Cake Business Today because most people have the technical know-how, but not the business experience. If however you don’t have the cake decorating skills but dream of running a bakery or cake shop, I’ve compiled a few education options for you:
Are you passionate about the fine details of the science, culture and history of baked goods? A formal education may be right for you. Learning the baking techniques in an academic situation gives you the credibility to approach a bakery for the type of job you want or eventually own a boutique cake business.
You can learn the best practices (both culinary and business) while applying that knowledge in a situation without real world repercussions. Since a cake bakery is your ultimate goal, your curriculum should include not only bread and pastry, but also nutrition, management, marketing and more.
The biggest drawback to pursuing a Culinary School Education is the cost. As an entrepreneur, you will need resources to start your bakery and school can be very expensive.
Working in a cake shop will teach you the day-to-day tasks, the stress of customer and financial demands, the interaction with customers, the business processes and the lifestyle that you only gain on the job. There is much to be learned in a working bakery. However, without some previous kitchen experience, you will most likely find yourself starting in a role that has little to do with your ultimate objective, such as janitorial work.
A third option is to educate yourself by practicing every skill you want to master; reading books, networking with other bakers and pastry chefs and getting experience anywhere you can. This might include volunteering, working in a school kitchen, job shadowing and working for family and friends. There are countless stories of food entrepre-neurs who started by sharing their product with those around them, and then growing into full-fledged businesses. Your personal path has everything to do with your current experience and level of passion for filling in the gaps of your knowledge.
Cake Education Resources
Sharon Zambito DVDs
Perfecting the Art of Buttercream DVD
A step- by- step process for icing a cake with a crusting buttercream.
Flawless Fondant DVD
A complete A-Z education on how to prepare and cover your cakes properly with rolled fondant.
Successful Stacking DVD
The complete process of stacking a multi-tiered cake, using a method which minimizes the amount of damage that occurs to the icing during the process
Online Training (paid)
Yummy Arts: As a member, you’ll get access to all the instructional materials as well as a photo gallery for members to share their creations, email support for questions or video requests, and a forum for sharing ideas and questions with other members and on-staff professional cake decorators. (Membership required)
Universal Class: Cake Decorating 101
A self-paced course for learning cake decorating. “Whether you’re looking to start a cake decorating business or just make cakes for family and friends, Cake Decorating 101 will teach you all you need to know to turn out professionally decorated cakes.”
FREE Online Training
King Arthur Flower
These step-by-step illustrated instructions turn you into the cake designer/pastry chef you always dreamed of being!
The Culinary Institute of America: On Location with Duff Goldman
This 20-minute podcast features 1998 graduate Duff Goldman, owner of Charm City Cakes and star of the television series ‘Ace of Cakes’. Topics discussed include creativity, objectivity and the art of cake decorating.