Baking Business Start Up – Insider Tips From Baker
Before mixing better, preheat the oven, prepare cake pans, and move oven rack to center position.
Try Crisco No-Stick Spray and follow with a light dusting of flour for greasing cake pans.
If using glass-baking pans instead of metal ones, reduce the oven temperature by 250F.
Place cake pans at least 1 inch apart from each other and from the oven walls. This allows air to circulate.
To seal in crumbs, spread a thin layer of frosting on the cake, and then refrigerate it. When the base coat of frosting is hard, spread on a final, heavier layer.
For a smooth-frosted surface, use a straight-edged metal spatula to spread icing.
Many excellent books are full of beautiful color photographs of intricately decorated cakes-many with complete decorating instructions.
Inevitably you will enjoy filling your shelves with cake design books and magazines particularly those that include step-by-step instructions.
They will serve as inspiration and as tutorials. (And they’re tax deductible!)
YOUR CAKE DECORATING PORTFOLIO
This is one of the most important things that you can create, a decorating portfolio.
This portfolio will be used to promote your business in many ways, as the photographs represent your style, your skill and your abilities.
Here is what your portfolio should include:
Photos of Cakes (of course)
Why do we need pictures?
Pictures of your cakes are worth more than a thousand words. You should take a picture of all cakes that you are proud to have done. (Once in a while we do a cake that we hope no one knows we did) Your future customers may not know what you can do, how creative you can be and what your skill level is. When you have an album of pictures of actual cakes that you have done they have a realistic knowledge of your capabilities.
When creating cakes for weddings be sure to ask for a photo from the bride as it’s an opportunity to get a copy of your cake design taking by a professional photographer. Be sure however to also take your own photos!
Be sure to use a digital camera (as I mentioned in a previous chapter).
It will cost you less in developing and since it’s film-free, you can instantly transfer the photos to your computer. Better yet, using a digital camera enables you to view the photos as you take them, ensuring that you get a good shot.
Taking A Great Photo Of Your Cake
Lighting is one of the most important items when taking cake pictures.
Where you photograph your cakes is VERY important. If you have the room in your work area to set up a photographing space with controlled lighting that is the absolute best way to control your picture result.
When the cake cannot be assembled until it is delivered or it requires fresh flowers then it must be photographed wherever you are delivering the cake.
For photographing birthday cakes you may need to stand on a stool or chair and get above the cake.
Another way to get good perspective is to tilt the cake up by placing something like a wax paper box under one side of your cake. Of course you must have your cake glued (with icing) down to your board before tilting it.
If you take your picture standing in front of the cake without tilting it your detail will be distorted.
For the most pleasing picture watch for the following items:
- Cake is framed, centered, etc. in the picture.
- Move in close but not too close. Watch the backgrounds and try to keep them simple.
* Take note from what angle the picture was taken
- Reflection from glass. Put an angle between the camera and glass so the reflecting light does not come straight back at the camera. Try using existing light.
- Bracket pictures to ensure good exposure for the cake
* Try using the flash with it off the camera
- Props can help a picture
A website showcases your talent and gives your client designs from which to choose in the comfort of their own home any time of day or night.
If you don’t have the expertise to set up a website, consider hiring a small local hosting company to set one up for you. Explain your business and tell them you want to set up a “gallery” of your cake photographs.
This does not need to be a fully functional e-commerce site, where you would interact with the client, or process orders. (At least not in the beginning!) Your site should be an electronic version of your portfolio.
Feedback & Testimonials
If people have complimented you on the work you have done for them, ask them if they would be willing to submit a testimonial via email. That way you can collect this feedback and include it on your website.
PRICING YOUR CAKES
Appropriate and fair Pricing charts are the most sought after information for new cake decorators. Unfortunately, there is no easy answer and it is probably the most common area for mistakes, especially for home-based cake decorators who are new to the market.
The number one reason why most cake decorators price their cakes too low is because of lack of confidence in their abilities.
My advice to you?
Do not EVER undercut the local bakeries!
Remember the reason why customers are coming to you rather than the local bakery is because they simply want a product that is better tasting, or perhaps they like your style or you will create something that the local bakery won’t.
Whatever the reasons, they came to you, you need to set your prices so that they aren’t only fair to your customers, and they are fair to you.
Be generous with your servings. Give your customers the very best tasting cake you can offer.
Always do your best on every project or cake you take on. Even if you realize you under priced a cake – still give your best and adjust that price the next time you are asked to do that same design.
So how do you determine a fair price range?
Call local bakeries and get their pricing list. Ask for prices on a variety of items, such as: A birthday cake, and whatever you are quoted, be sure to get the exact size of the cake in inches as well as to how many layers are included.
Take notes, especially since you should be asking for many different prices from everything including wedding cakes with white icing roses and swags, or basketweave or perhaps whether they do rolled fondant icing.
The more you can find out about your competition the better prepared you will be to set fair pricing on your own products.
Then when you have all of the information from various bakeries set your prices to be competitive but SIMILAR.
Remember to take into account the ingredients used for each particular type of cake, the time it takes you to prepare and decorate, the cost of cardboard rounds, glue, ribbon, etc.
Note: I suggest calling multiple bakers to collectively obtain the information you need instead of calling one and asking them a multitude of questions.
A general rule of thumb used by many cake decorators and caterers is to figure all costs of ingredients and supplies, then multiply by three to determine a minimum cost.