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Thinking about starting my own part-time cake baking business, I have some beginner questions...

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

Hi all,

 

Thank you all for being so helpful here! I've learned a ton already just browsing the threads!

 

I've recently (last couple of months) started baking again, and finding that I absolutely love it! Besides the fact that it is very relaxing to watch cake decorating videos on yourtube, I also got inspired to try out some things for myself.

 

I am thinking of selling cakes part time as a hobby/business but I have some questions that I couldn't find a good answer to (maybe I just suck at looking, that is also possible..).

 

Some about the business side, some about baking itself. I hope it is ok to put them all in one thread?

 

1. I am thinking of starting with "selling" my cakes at cost price, where the customers clearly understand that I am just starting and that my cakes are not yet perfect. Good tasting (I am confident about that) but with maybe not as pretty decorations yet.

I think it is a way for me to get to practice without having too much costs, and without growing too fat from all the cakes I have to eat...

 

Legally, I'm in Mexico, I don't think that there is any issue with that, especially because I will only be selling to friends or friends of friends and won't have a website or even a facebook page yet.

 

What do you guys think of this idea? Is it morally and ethically ok? I will not except any orders for a wedding cake for example, or any other super important events.

 

2. I have a great recipe for a chocolate cake but it makes a SUPER large cake. Can I just divide all the ingredients by half to make a more decent size cake?

 

3. Speaking of sizes... how do you determine how many people your cake feeds? Is there an industry standard slice size? I'm told I always cut my cakes too big, so maybe my cake-for-8 actually feeds 16?

 

4. If you make cakes with a filling, what do you prefer? One higher cake and you cut it in half, or 2 smaller cakes and you stack one on top of the other? Why one or the other?

 

5. Any good recipes for diary-free and diary-substitute-free fillings? Most diary substitutes I cannot get here, and I cannot have any diary because of a cow protein allergy in my daughter (breastfeeding still) and I really would like to have some cake myself as well some day!

 

 

Thank you all so much for your patience! I hope I didn't break any rules by posting this, if so, please let me know and I will delete this thread right away!!

post #2 of 17

1. I would not start selling cakes at cost.  It will be super hard to changed your prices even if you tell everyone up front, on your page or whatever and you will become known as the cheap cake lady.  You will pretty much be starting from scratch once you raise your prices because your customer base will still want the old prices and you will have to find new customers.  So I would suggest you work on your decorating by doing dummy cakes or for friends special occasions or to just donate.  Once you are confident in your skills then come up with your pricing structure and sell properly.

2. Yes just divide the recipe in half. Do a test first because you may have to tweak it a bit because sometimes it may not taste the exact same and you may have to change a few ratios on ingredients.

3.  There are many charts for cakes sizes, wilton being the most used I believe.  Here is a website that calculates them for you that I use (I love it) http://shinymetalobjects.net/cake/calculator/cakula tor.cgi  I always go by wilton standard sizes and let my customers know this so that if they want bigger pieces they will have to order a bigger size.  I am from Texas, which everything has to be bigger, but I have to say I have never had a problem with my customers not having enough slices.

4. I always use a filling, either buttercream, mousse, fudge etc... The standard height of a cake is 4" so you need to bake 2 2" layers of each tier with the filling in between or torte each of those cakes and fill between each layer (so that you have 4 layers of cake and 3 layers of filling).

5.  Sorry I can't help you with dairy free, I've never done any dairy free but hopefully someone else will chime in on that one. 

 

HTH

post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thank you Regina!
 
1. I don't mind changing my entire customer base once I would start for real. Trust me, my cakes right now are NOT good enough to sell for a price I would ask for a well done cake...
 
I'll see if I can post a few pictures, and you'll see what I mean.
 
Just doing cakes for friends and family gets to be a bit expensive, since I use real chocolate. It is not much, my cost per cake for a chocolate cake is $100 mexican pesos, more or less, but it's still money...
I'll keep it in mind though. Because I do not want to be know as the cheap cake lady!!!
 
2. Thanks! I'll try it this weekend!!
 
3. OMG... Really??? People use that as a slice size? Wow... Good think I asked... I was thinking that my cake (about 9" diameter, 4" high) would feed about 8 people... (cut in 4, half those slices and you have 8 slices), but it says it is 21!!!!!
Oh wow... That helps a lot with asking for more money as well!!! hahaha
 
4. The reason I was asking this is because I have 3 9" pans which are not as deep (deep enough to make 2" high cakes though) and 1 pan which is about 12" I think. So I was wondering what the preferred method is here,. and if there is a reason behind it, besides just what type of pan you have.
 
(between cutting a cake in half horizontally or baking multiple cakes and stacking them)
 
5. Thanks anyway!!
post #4 of 17

Also, on pricing, undercutting other bakeries is not a good thing either.  It lowers the market for cakes and really hurts established bakeries, or ones trying to be established and really kind of ticks other bakeries off.  Even you are not trying to you will create a cheap customer base who will be looking for a new bakery once you raise your prices. Or the bakeries that you are taking customers from may have to lower their prices or do some kind of incentives just to compete with you. Using dummies is the cheapest way to go.  You can reuse the dummies over and over to work on your decorating skills and build your portfolio. 

post #5 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by reginaherrin View Post
 

Also, on pricing, undercutting other bakeries is not a good thing either.  It lowers the market for cakes and really hurts established bakeries, or ones trying to be established and really kind of ticks other bakeries off.  Even you are not trying to you will create a cheap customer base who will be looking for a new bakery once you raise your prices. Or the bakeries that you are taking customers from may have to lower their prices or do some kind of incentives just to compete with you. Using dummies is the cheapest way to go.  You can reuse the dummies over and over to work on your decorating skills and build your portfolio. 


Thanks, those are actually very good points.

 

I don't know of any small bakeries that sell specialty cakes, only online stores or large retail like bakeries... I don't mind undercutting the large retail like ones, but I'll have a look at their prices as well as those of online bakeries.

 

I've uploaded pictures of my cakes so you can see what I mean when I say that I'm nowhere near ready with selling for a decent price yet!

post #6 of 17

If you aren't ready to sell cakes at a professional standard then you shouldn't really be selling cakes.  I have read this advice from many other bakers on this site and it really is good advice.  Even if you think you won't mind starting over with new customers, I promise you it will be much more difficult then you think.  Plus you will still be getting your old customers calling trying to get you to lower your prices.  I have seen your cakes and you do have some work to do but I just wouldn't want to test my skills on paying customers.  There are so many new bakers out there that think the same way you do and are flooding the market with these cheap cakes which just makes it so much harder for professional cake decorators to get customers to understand why they charge so much more then these new at cost bakers.  When you say large retail bakeries do you mean like grocery stores or just a regular storefront bakery?  Grocery stores actually don't make any profit on cakes but even bigger storefront bakeries can be hurt by undercutting.  It is up to you to decide if you want to price your cakes at cost or not but I think you will regret it and may even burn yourself out making all these super cheap cakes for nothing before you even get started. 

post #7 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thanks. I do mean grocery store type of stores, not larger bakeries.

I'll definitely take your point into consideration, thank you for your honesty.
post #8 of 17
If you need to ask all these (very) basic questions you are so not ready to "go into business".

As for your plans to undercut other businesses - well, shame on you.

Get your ducks in a row, work on your skills and then when you finally open for business you can charge a good market price.
post #9 of 17
Lots of research about starting a business is absolutely necessary to starting a business. It's not all baking and decorating. There is paperwork - health department regulations, taxes, marketing, customer service, emails, phone calls...
Research your local laws, get legal to bake and sell, and please, for Pete's sake, don't intentionally undercut other legal businesses. It's unethical and unfair to the businesses who worked hard to get where they are. They may truly understand their costs, which is why they charge more. And undercutting a grocery store bakery is ridiculous since grocery store cakes are as cheap as it gets. Those customers are not your market.
post #10 of 17

Hi Ssandra001,

 

I have very recently started out my cake business (January this year). I had thought of starting out last year, but held off until I was confident in my cake decorating skills. My main issue was covering cakes in fondant- I was terrible at it. I practiced on dummy cakes and gave my friends' children birthday cakes as a present. I got better with each cake and more confident in my own skills. 

 

I would suggest you do the same- give cakes as presents and practice this way. Also practice on dummy cakes- buy several sizes so you can always choose to cover and decorate a smaller dummy cake so you don't spend a fortune on fondant. When you have the confidence and skills, then start your cake business. 

 

The first picture below is a cake I did for my daughter last year. You can tell the fondant covering isn't great and the top is not level. The fire engine is also too big for the cake and the fondant covering was pretty bad in places! The decorations on the side of the cake could be more polished too. Below that is my most recent cake requested by a customer. Huge difference in terms of quality! In case people think I'm showing off, I'm not. In fact I'm my own worst critic! 

 

The other reason I think its best to be a polished cake decorator when you start your business, even though you say you will sell to friends and family initially, is that if a friend of theirs sees the cake and it's not great, then you may be associated with that cake for the foreseeable future!

 

All the best :)

 

 

post #11 of 17

Here's my advice....DONT DO IT!!! 

 

haha, just kidding, kind of.  

 

 

I would agree with what most everyone has said above :smile:

Getting baked since 2009! ;)
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Getting baked since 2009! ;)
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post #12 of 17
Hello All,

I made a cake for my daughter's birthday and doing a cake next weekend for a friend of hers. I told my friend if she bought the supplies I'd bake it. I was thinking about possibly starting a special occasions cake/cupcake business. Nothing to big or crazy just as something to make some extra money for now. Maybe one day I can go bigger but for now just simple. I've read a few of the laws here in Texas and it looks like I need to get a food handlers license and after reading this thread I'm kind of seeing that I should keep practicing (like what I'm doing for my friend). And once I feel comfortable selling for real go from there and think seriously about selling? Any other advice or thoughts on this?

Below is the cake I made for my daughter.
post #13 of 17
The design is cute, but you have a long way to go before you should even consider selling products.
post #14 of 17
In Dallas, you have to be able to keep up with all of your competition, and there is A LOT. Because 1 of 2 things will happen: you'll charge what your skill level should allow for and you'll always be known as the dirt cheap baker or you'll charge what the professionals charge or slightly lower and you'll never have any business. You have to offer something that the others don't and in Dallas, that's going to be hard
Getting baked since 2009! ;)
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Getting baked since 2009! ;)
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post #15 of 17

DSCN0292.JPG

 

I agree with Reginaherrin.

      I have been in legal business for 4 years now. I bake cakes and just coat them with crumbs and sell them for resale at local store. That gave me money to spent on many baking supplies to bake and practice at home for my family.

 

    Aside from that I have been baking and decorating  (practice) cakes for my  friends and I still charge them money just as if they would pay to other bakeries.

 

    Now I have some people who tried my plain undecorated cakes from store and those people want the same cakes but decorated for special occasions. Now after practicing for 4 years I feel confident to bake and decorate for people that I don`t know.

 

I wouldn`t bake for cheap just because I don`t have enogh practice. Here is my first 3 wedding cakes:

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