Selling Cupcakes and Cakes



In addition to cakes, many small businesses also offer cupcakes and cake pops. While this might seem an obvious choice, there are some additional considerations you’ll want to address when deciding what options to include in your bakery menu. There are some very good reasons to consider cupcakes in your business plan: Continue reading Selling Cupcakes and Cakes

Using Fresh Flowers on a Wedding Cake

Using Fresh Flowers on a Wedding Cake

Fresh flowers can be a beautiful addition to any cake however, there are also safety concerns to take into account when using fresh flowers with food.   As an alternative, you may wish to decorate your cake table with fresh flowers, and use sugar flowers on the cake itself to avoid any problems or concerns.

Below you will find general information on using fresh flowers, as well as a few questions you might ask your florist. Never hesitate to follow up with your florist if you have any concerns.

 

Fresh Flowers:

  • Fresh flowers should always be arranged in containers or taped into corsages to avoid contamination.  For food safety purposes, flower stems should NEVER be directly inserted into the cake.
  • If you as the cake decorator arrange fresh flowers for a cake be sure to add this as an additional charge. Include the cost of the flowers plus a $10 – 30 arranging fee (depending on estimated time required.)
  • Most cake decorators prefer to place the flowers on the cake for liability as well as food safety issues

 

Questions to ask a florist before using flowers on a cake:

 

·       Are the flowers toxic? Unfortunately, many popular wedding flowers are toxic. Be sure to double check.

·       Are the flowers organically grown? These are truly the only way to go as you do not want toxic pesticides near your cake.

 

·       Does the florist prepare the flowers in some type of container or pick? One simple way to avoid most contamination is to arrange the cake flowers in a container that can be sat on top of the cake, or taping them into a corsage type arrangement which will allow the stems to be placed into a special food safe plastic pick to be inserted into the cake, rather than inserting the flower stems directly into the cake.

Continue reading Using Fresh Flowers on a Wedding Cake

Start a Cake Business in Georgia

Georgia’s new cottage food regulations were recently put into effect by the Georgia Department of Agriculture. These new regulations allow home bakers and food artisans creating non potentially hazardous foods to sell the foods directly from their home kitchens for sale to the end consumer. These new regulations are VERY different from what was in place before, so please read through to find out about the changes.

These foods include:

  • Loaf Breads, Rolls, and Biscuits;
  • Cakes;
  • Pastries and Cookies;
  • Candies and Confections;
  • Fruit Pies;
  • Jams, Jellies, and Preserves;
  • Dried Fruits;
  • Dry Herbs, Seasonings and Mixtures;
  • Cereals, Trail Mixes, and Granola;
  • Coated or Uncoated Nuts;
  • Vinegar and Flavored Vinegars; and
  • Popcorn, Popcorn Balls, and Cotton Candy.

Please see the Cottage Food Regulations for licensing, facility, and labeling requirements.

The Cottage Foods Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document will also provide you with guidance on the types of foods that can be produced, examples of potentially hazardous foods that cannot be sold with a Cottage Food License, and additional information concerning cottage food operations.

Start a Cake Business in Arizona

The Arizona Cottage Food Law went into effect in July  2011. Under this law you can prepare non-hazardous foods in a private home for sale to the public if you meet all the necessary conditions.

  1. You are required to obtain a food handler card before baking and decorating cakes.
  2. You must follow all production guidelines for preparing your home baked goods. Production Guidelines
  3. No hazardous foods such as cheesecakes, meringues, or cream-filled cakes or cupcakes. Hazardous Foods
  4. You must properly label your baked goods  Labeling Requirements
  5. You must be authorized to prepare food for commercial use. Program Registration

Need more information about the Home Baked and Confectionery Goods program? Contact the Arizona Office of Environmental Health

Each county has a different procedure and test. If your county does not require a food handler card, you are strongly encouraged to review the links at the bottom of the page to become familiar with safe food handling practices.

County Permits, Certifications, and Trainings

Food Safety Resources

If your county does not offer a food handler course, you can learn about food safety from the following websites:

Start a cake business in Texas

Congratulations to the home bakers in Texas who, starting Sept 1, 2011 will be able to legally sell cakes from home. The 2011 Texas legislative session passed SB 81 — known as the Texas Baker’s Bill or Cottage Foods Bill. SB 81 allows Texans to make and sell low risk foods. This includes cakes and cupcakes. (It also includes jams, jellies, breads and pastries) directly from home. Here are the highlights:

  • gross annual sales must be below $50,000 (this means sales before any deductions, expenses)
  • No internet sales: You can (and should) have a website. you can not take payments online via a shopping cart, paypal etc.
  • No farmer’s market sales
  • You must label your product and include a statement that the food was made in a home kitchen that has not been inspected by a health department. (it doesn’t have to be attached to the cake)
  • Food handler’s training is not required, but it is encouraged.
  • No license is required.
  • No health inspection is required.
  • Pets are permitted in the home
  • Liability insurance is not required, but it is encouraged especially if you want to do wedding cakes. (many reception facilities require it)

The piece that seems most confusing to me is the transaction rules that I’ve seen circulating on the internet. Some say that the actual payment transaction must take place in the home. I am not seeing this in the law, though I’m not a lawyer.  It is only explicitly stated that no internet sales are permitted. If for example, you deliver a cake to a wedding reception, could you accept payment at the delivery location? Given that the letter of the law is: sells the foods produced under Paragraph (A) only directly to consumers, you are still selling directly to the consumer and not through the internet. Keep in mind no matter where the transaction takes place, you should still offer consumers the means to pay with a credit card. One inexpensive option is the new service from square. This service  requires you to have an iphone, ipad or Android phone.  Once I have more information about the selling rules, I will post an update. Keep in mind the spirit of the law is that you are interacting face to face with your customers — that’s the best way to do business anyway! Post any questions here and I will do my best to answer them. I will also be seeking an opinion from an attorney so check back soon.

Learn Cake Decorating Online

Cakes from Martha's Country Bakery
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:

Culinary School:
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.

On-the-job-training:
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.

Self-study:
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.

http://cakesandcupcakes.com/buttercream-instruction.html

Flawless Fondant DVD
A complete A-Z education on how to prepare and cover your cakes properly with rolled fondant.
http://cakesandcupcakes.com/flawless-fondant.html

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
http://cakesandcupcakes.com/successful-stacking.html

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)
Yummyarts.com

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.”
universalclass.com

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!
http://www.kingarthurflour.com

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.
http://www.ciachef.edu

 

Liability Insurance

liability_cakeA while back a colleague told me about a cake decorator in a precarious position in which any cake decorator could find herself — what to do if there was a foreign object lost in your cake.

The specifics of the situation were that with only a few days to go before a multi-tiered, expensive cake was to be delivered, the home-based decorator found a shard of plastic inside one of the tiers. To make matters worse, there were a few additional pieces of plastic from a piece of her equipment, missing. While the likelihood of the missing plastic shards being inside the cake was small, the risk was still significant.

Continue reading Liability Insurance

Cake Pops

cakepops

Cake Pops, you probably know, are a confectionery phenomenon that has grown to international heights of success since Angie Dudley (aka Bakerella) introduced them on her blog in January of 2008. Well, she’s just published a book, and I wanted to share my thoughts with you. This is a great niche business opportunity or nice addition to your cake or cupcake business. I’ve seen cake pops increasingly “popping up” at weddings and parties for months.

While cake balls (sometimes referred to as “cake truffles” or “cake bon-bons”) have been around for a long time, cake pops are one of those trends that has caught the imagination of bakers, crafters, caterers, brides and more. Accordingly, there are many entrepreneurs taking advantage of this trend by offering cake pops and cake balls for parties, wedding receptions, gifts — any occasion where a unique tasty treat is enjoyed. It seems that the fondness for cake pops is similar to cupcakes in that they are so adorable and delicious. For the person making the confection, they are surprisingly simple and offer so much potential for experimentation and customization.

If you haven’t had an opportunity to read Bakerella’s book on cake pops, I urge you to check it out. I bought mine for the Kindle ($9.99), but the hardback edition is lovely and only a couple dollars more. It is priced at over 40% off retail on Amazon.
Link: Cake Pops on Amazon.com

If you have a cake or cupcake business or just love to try new projects, Angie’s book makes it easy recreate more than 40 cake pops designs with clear step-by-step instructions and photos. She also includes tips for presentation, decorating, dipping, coloring and melting chocolate, and much more.

Do you already make cake pops and/or offer them for sale? Email us and tell us how it’s going! If you’ve already bought Angie’s book, write and tell us what you think.

Disclosure: My Amazon affiliate link is included above, so if you do buy the book from Amazon, I do receive a small commission. I think it’s a great book and potential business opportunity so whether you buy it from Amazon or in your local bookstore, I recommend it either way!

Making Money in the Cake Business

wedding-cake-cutting

Why do cake decorators get paid upfront before the event — party, wedding, bridal shower, etc?

For weddings, it is important that a deposit of 30 – 50% be provided to hold the date. Moreover, because of the stress of the day, you don’t want to attempt to collect on the wedding day itself. The balance should be paid at least 7 days before the event. In all my years, I can recall only a few protests for this arrangement and even then we worked it out, with the final third of the balance paid on delivery.
Continue reading Making Money in the Cake Business