Sad! Cake Life Questions (Long, Sorry!)

Decorating By Butterpatty Updated 12 Jan 2009 , 5:26pm by quilting2011

Butterpatty Posted 10 Jan 2009 , 10:50pm
post #1 of 15

First of all, let me say thank you to each of the ladies here for all the great ideas and all the questions I have had answered by reading the forums here! I love, love, love this site.

I am a good baker and a "casual" decorator. I have always made cakes for my family and then friends begged for me to make cakes for them also. I was able to do it because they paid for the supplies (no other charge to them). Now, by reading here, I have found out that even this is not legal and I am glad to have found out before a problem occurred. I cannot afford to do them for friends out of my own pocket and they are still begging despite my telling them why I can't legally. I will persevere in telling them, though.

I am feeling very sad today because a dear friend begged and begged for a cake that is a new technique for me and I had to say no over and over because I cannot afford the fondant and such it would take to do it. I cried as I looked through cake photos here today and now I have a lot of questions to ask myself and you.

(#1) If I only make 2-3 cakes a month, is it worth pursuing the cost/aggravation to get licensed and get insurance? I have another job and quite honestly I cannot see me ever doing wedding cakes or doing more than 6-8 orders/month (birthdays, occcasion cakes, etc).

(#2) Any ideas on how to get more low-cost practice?? Here is what I am already doing- using 40-50% off coupons to buy stuff at HL, ACM, Michaels, Joanns; have some practice-use only icing that I practice piping with on a baking sheet and then scrape the icing up for re-use; using Play Doh to practice even rolling and figure/animal modelling. I am already making plans to take all the Wilton courses I can around here (they are freq offered 1/2 price) and hopefully this fall the local adult ed 6 week class. Money IS a definite issue so I welcome any economical suggestions you have!!!

(#3) If I never get licensed, is it worth the money being spent in #2 to get better for my "family efforts" only and to satisfy the craving to decorate? OR am I better of just trying to push the decorating urges away and just quit it all together? This would be extremely hard for me, but I have to be honest financially with myself. If unlicensed is the way, how far would YOU go to satisfy the incredible deco urges??

(#4) A bakery job is not an option for me, but are there other outlets for me besides the classes I mentioned above? I do not know any licensed decorators around here to learn from or assist. What else to do?

Thanks so much for ploughing thru this long post and for your help.

14 replies
kakeladi Posted 10 Jan 2009 , 11:35pm
post #2 of 15

Unless it is a moral issue with you I don't see any reason to stop what you are doing.
Very few places will 'go after' a home decorator unless someone directly complains to the health dept about how dirty/bad etc your place is.
If you keep a very clean home w/no pets inside etc you should not have a problem. Many, many people have done it for yr & yrs.

cdavis Posted 10 Jan 2009 , 11:43pm
post #3 of 15

I agree. If you are happy doing it and they are happy doing it, I don't see any problem with them buying the ingredients for you to "practice" with.

cheesecakes-galore Posted 10 Jan 2009 , 11:53pm
post #4 of 15

You could also have them sign a waiver for your protection, which states that you are not licensed and that they understand that there can be some risks involved, to which you will not be held responsible, especially once the items leave your possession. However, if they are all your friends, they should never even think about coming after you if something were to happen. But I do agree with the above mentioned posts. When I first was looking to get licensed in my state, I was told that if I just make items for friends and family it was not necessary. Although, I have branched out since I first started and am now required to have one. Of course all state laws are different.

kelleym Posted 11 Jan 2009 , 12:14am
post #5 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by cheesecakes galore

You could also have them sign a waiver for your protection, which states that you are not licensed and that they understand that there can be some risks involved, to which you will not be held responsible, especially once the items leave your possession.




No. You can't sign a waiver to engage in an illegal act. Kind of like how there's no contracts with drugs stating that you're aware the drugs may be harmful to you.

However, to the OP - don't despair so much. I live in Texas, a no-no state for baking from home, and even my county's Health Dept. rep told me I could sell cakes to my friends and family. So my advice to you would be - call the local health department. Ask if selling to friends and family is ok, if that will set your mind at ease.

Your friends and family aren't going to "turn you in". Let them buy your cakes. icon_smile.gif Just don't do cakes for strangers, and don't advertise.

If you decide you don't even want to sell cakes on that limited basis and keep cakes as a hobby, well, remember that hobbies are expensive (if you think cakes are bad, check out ballroom dancing icon_lol.gif). You can use your coupons and decorate styrafoam dummies to save money.

cheesecakes-galore Posted 11 Jan 2009 , 4:03am
post #6 of 15

OOPS! Sorry! I guess that is why I shouldn't be so quick to give advise. Thanks for the correction.

Mike1394 Posted 11 Jan 2009 , 9:58am
post #7 of 15

What I would do. I would call your HD, and ask them. Give them the details, tell them what you have read, let them give you the answers. they are the ONLY people that know the answer for your situation.

Mike

CakesByJen2 Posted 11 Jan 2009 , 3:34pm
post #8 of 15

I really can't imagine anyone has ever/would ever get in trouble for being reimbursed for ingredients or even being paid in full when baking ONLY for family and close friends. That's more of a self-supporting hobby than a business. I wouldn't have any qualms about continuing with that at all, but you have to decide where you're going to draw the line and be prepared to politely but firmly decline other inquires, which you are bound to get. THe problem is that line can get a little blurry sometimes and it's tempting to want to take orders from other people because (1) you are excited about making cakes (2) you want to develop your skills, (3) it's very flattering when people are begging you to do their cake, and (4) who couldn't use the extra money? You have got to be prepared to draw that line and just say "No" or your self-supporting hobby can snowball.


I started out as a hobby, but did gradually end up operating an unlicensed business for about 4 years (I did pay taxes, but did not have a health permit) because we were desperate for the money at the time, and things were different back then (about 10 years ago). There were no licensed cake shops anywhere around at the time, everyone got their wedding cakes from home bakers, and nobody cared. Now things are different, you are much more likely to get turned in these day, or have a venue ask for credentials, and it's not worth the risk. Plus there is the risk of not having insurance if you get sued if people got sick. That is what untimately convinced me to quit. I do occasionally do a cake for family and friends (and they pay me), but that is it.

kakeladi Posted 11 Jan 2009 , 3:54pm
post #9 of 15

I said:........Very few places will 'go after' a home decorator unless someone directly complains to the health dept...........

This I know from experience. I lived in a very small community near Yosemite Nat'l park, CA. I put an ad in a "Penny Saver" magazine (one of those throw away mags that advertises usually cheap deals or people's individual things they want to get rid of). Early one morning I got a call from a man who identified himself as the county health dept. He was friendly/nice. In my words he basically told me: you can do all you want out of your home as long as you don't advertise and we won't bother you. Now this was over 25 yrs ago and things have changed but that is why I said to her 'dont worry about it'.
Also when I opened my shop in IN I had to go to food handling class and the HD guy/instructor basically told us they are *way to busy* checking on any store, gas station, dairy, bakeries, supermarket, restaurants etc to take time to seek out home bakers. They do check bridal fairs, etc and venues do require you show your license but other than that 'a little home baker to family & close friends' shouldn't have a problem.

ranbel Posted 11 Jan 2009 , 3:56pm
post #10 of 15

The state I live, you can not bake from your home for resale. I do cakes for family and friends also and love it. It is also a hobby for me and I can't afford to start a business either, so I just bake out of my home.
The one thing you can do for your family and friends are: give them a list of ingredients you need and let them pay for them up front or go get them for you. Trust me, they don't mind and do understand.
I wish you luck and don't give up on your desire to bake and decorate.

Kitagrl Posted 11 Jan 2009 , 4:14pm
post #11 of 15

I think it depends on how strict the state is. I just got licensed a year ago, but sold from home before that. However, in PA, its legal, and we only answer to the Dept of Ag...not the Dept of Health (for baking). The Dept of Ag was such a nice older guy, and he basically told me they are so overworked checking all the bigger places that they barely care about us home bakers.

So...just see how strict your state is...and then judge how much you want to do from that.

I do want to add that my word of mouth has spread SLOWLY. Been doing it in this state for six years....licensed only for one of them... but before I was licensed, I wasn't even really making enough profit to count. I didn't get a license until I started pulling in a profit that needed to be reported, and I started actually looking like a "business".

I'm still struggling with getting as many orders as I want, but its going...every year improves upon the last. I want to jump in there and compete with the wedding cakers, but I'm finding it a tough market...but now I'm rambling. haha.

Good luck! I say decorate!

cakesdivine Posted 11 Jan 2009 , 6:42pm
post #12 of 15

You can have them purchase the ingredients themselves (you can go with to make sure they get all that is needed) then you make the cake...no money has changed hands and it is no different if you bought the stuff and gave it to them as a gift.

As long as you aren't advertising yourself as a biz, and you aren't servicing the general public you should be fine. Only Friends and Family...no friends of a friend or aquaintences, that puts you into providing a service to a person you don't really know well, and therefore they are a client/customer and then you are in that "no" zone.

So next time a good friend or family member asks you to do a cake, tell them they have to buy the ingredients and you will make it for them.

FromScratch Posted 11 Jan 2009 , 7:01pm
post #13 of 15

Technically even if they give you the ingredients and you bake the cake it's still a transaction. Gotta love it right? BUT.. if you keep it to just your family and close personal friends.. you will be okay. I'd call the state and ask, but so long as you aren't baking for the general public I am willing to bet that they aren't going to care.

Call and check and see what they say..

quilting2011 Posted 12 Jan 2009 , 5:24pm
post #14 of 15

I would list the ingredients to any person you sell to friends or family. One of my friends was a home baker never advertise. She baked a cake for best friends daughter. Daughter had a reaction-allergic to peanuts. She was sent to the hospital. Well it opened up a pandora's box. My friend had to sell her home to pay for legal costs and her daughter's medical bills.

Make your if you are a home baker be licensed. I live in NY and decided to work for a cake decorator. I would not want to bake or caker without a license. so many legal and health issues if just one person gets sick or dies! Check your local agency.

quilting2011 Posted 12 Jan 2009 , 5:26pm
post #15 of 15

I would list the ingredients to any person you sell to friends or family. One of my friends was a home baker never advertise. She baked a cake for neighbor's 2 year old daughter. Daughter had a reaction-allergic to peanuts. She was sent to the hospital. Well it opened up a pandora's box. My neighbor had to sell her home to pay for legal costs and her daughter's medical bills.
I
F you are a home baker be licensed. I live in NY and decided to work for a cake decorator. I would not want to bake or caker without a license. so many legal and health issues if just one person gets sick or dies! Check your local agency.

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