I own an in home liscensed bakery in Wisconsin that is my little version of Cookies by Design. I have been open 8 months and have almost more work that I can handle, just with cookies.
But.....I have so many people asking for cakes that it has gotten me thinking. In my town there are a few wedding cake bakeries, small like me, and then the grocery stores.
Is it possible to add only a few cakes to my offerings? I wouldn't do anything intricate or with multiple tiers, what I was thinking is to offer one size, probably 8 inches, circle or square. I would like to offer different flavors and fillings, kind of interesting ones, and it would only be decorated with buttercream frosting and small embelishments, honestly, whatever I learned at my Michael's cake decorating classes.
What makes me want to offer this is that my customers are very high end and don't mind paying $4 for one cookie. They are great people and I would say more than half are repeat customers so I have to be doing something right.
So what I'm wondering, are what are your 4-5 most popular flavors for cakes and fillings? Do you think it would be something that is possible to add to an already existing bakery that is currently only known for cookies?
Any thoughts would be appreciated, thank you!
Oh, and I forgot to add that this is something that I would have to practice on for a LOOOOONG long time before I would consider selling them. It's just a little seed in my head at this point.
I think it is a sound idea. Start out by offering one or two cakes per day and your "regulars" will probably start dropping by to pick up a "dessert" on the way to meetings or maybe "birthday" day at work. If they come by and all the cakes are gone, you can encourage them to call and order a few days before or even place a standing order for their scheduled events.
* Start with the standards...chocolate with fudgy icing, yellow with chocolate icing (big favorite), coconut, vanilla with vanilla buttercream, maybe an Italian Cream Cake.
ARGH! My long post just vanished, hate it when that happens.
Thanks for replying! Those flavors sound great, I was thinking that my customers would be more interested in the different flavors, like the last one you mentioned, although I think I should definetly start with the standard chocolate, vanilla etc...
Also, I don't have a stovetop in the bakery, just an oven. Do a lot of the fillings need to be cooked? I was thinking of like a lemon curd or something like that.
Finally, I don't have a lot of walk in traffic so the cakes would all have to be preordered which I think is kind of the norm now, is that right?
i think it's a great idea! why not do cakes if they look and taste good...and your customers are willing to pay you the right price?! i would do the standards and then one specialty flavor (for cake and for filling).
i don't cook any of my fillings (my lemon flavored option is a lemon buttercream...made just like my reg. BC, but instead of adding milk, i add lemon juice!) my strawberry filling is strawberry fluff (you can find the recipe on this website). my point is to find fillings that don't have to be cooked and stick with those
and yes, since i'm a legal, home-based bakery as well, i don't have drop in customers, it's all pre-orders!
It is obvious, but remember, more cakes = less cookies. Unless you take on staff, which has it's own many issues. I'd you are happy with that, fine, but there's a reason you choose a cookie business originally.
If you are doing cakes, it is more grocery style or truly custom? The custom route means u can charge more, but you can be custom and only offer 8 inches. And by not stacking, u limit your clients options. Sounds like u do the top cookies, so I don't see basic cakes working for ur current clients.
There have been lots of posts on popular flavours, the answer is ALWAYS chocolate or vanilla. Then ones like carrot, toffee, coffee. More original flavours tend not to be as common.
As for pre order or walk in, it's your business, so which way do you want to go? Grocery style or desert cakes would suit walk in, custom means pre ordering - in my head, targeting walk ins is a bigger shift in how u operate just now.
As for fillings that's up to you - most flavours can be done in buttercream.
Start ur research and business plan and see what comes out of it, which direction to go, it it's worth it, if it's what u really want to b doing. I think it totally makes sense, but I think the trick would be in keeping cake balanced with the cookies.
Thank you for such good responses! I really appreciate it.
As for the cake I would offer, it would be a small circle or square, but I wanted to have 3-4 different layers with fillings in between each layer. I'm sure there's names for it, but again, I haven't done much research yet, that'll come next. So the cake would be small in size but high, if that makes sense. Like the fancy ones at the grocery store, not the sheet cakes.
As for doing only cookies now, that's my favorite and I'm so happy to be doing it and actually have a lot of business, but there's always things in the back of my mind like "could I do this or that," "what's the next step for the bakery" etc....
Honestly, I made a boxed cake for my sons birthday and it truely belonged in the cake disasters forum. It cracked in three different places, the frosting ran off of the sides, I used strawberry jam for the filling and it was super chunky. It was a MESS. So I kind of want to challenge myself, step out of what is comfortable, if that makes any sense.
Thanks again for all of your wonderful answers!
I forgot to add too that we are an in home bakery, but we got rezoned so that I can have walk-in traffic. I have a bakers rack from Sams's Club that I decorate for whatever holiday/season it is and I have prepackaged cookies for sale that people can buy. There's never a huge selection but it has been working for me.
When I first opened I wanted 95% of my business to be preorder so that week to week I would know what is due and what is coming up. I think that with cakes I can achieve this, but it would also be opening a whole 'nother can of worms, lol.
I think you are saying you want to take 2 layers and tort them. You end up with 4 thin layers of cake, 3 filling and then your crumb coat and icing. There are lots of threads and tutorials on how to bake, construct and keep cakes fresh, as well as some really pretty and easy decorating tutorials. Start studying them and practice for your family. Don't forget, you said you wanted to start slow. Try not to get carried away as cake can get very complicated and time consuming and what fun is it if you end up all burned out?
Ooooh... are you thinking about cakes decorated with cookies? Now that would make a lot of sense as a "branch-out" for a cookie shop. (Like when Baskin Robbins branched out to offer ice cream cakes.)
You could insert cookie pops into the cake or apply the cookies directly to the cake... or even do some of those 3-D cookies as cake toppers. That could be really cool!
I have done some cakes in the past (not many in my photos, and the ones that are there are pretty rough skills-wise, as it was in my "early days") where I spelled out the birthday child's name with cookie letters. I even did a hexagon cake once and did large cookies on all sides. That one is not in my photos, but I'll try to dig out a picture and post it here.
Good luck with your cake idea!
I totally forgot about the idea of having cookies on the cakes. There is a website that someone in the cookie forum posted a while ago that had amazing cakes w/ cookies on them. I'll have to research that next.
As for the torting, that's exactly what I would like to do, glad I have a name for it now. I love the cakes that are really high and have all sorts of thin layers with lots of filling.
So for what kind of cakes I would like to do, what would be the best size pans to use? Would a circle and square be good to offer? What other kinds of tools would I need? I look in the decorating isle at Michaels and I want to buy everything but I know I would only need like three things to start out with.
Thanks again! Heidi.
Ohhhhh...maybe have a speciality flavor of the week or month. Tell your customers when they pick up their orders that you will be featuring a certain flavor for the next week ( or whatever time you choose) and see if that will get them interested.
Adding cakes is a good idea. I find round easier to ice, so stick with what you dod best, at least at first.
I like a flavor of the month idea. If you don't have a stove, you can purchasd sleeve fillings like raspberry and lemon, which taste really good.
Wilton pans are ok, but they have sloping sides, so they are kind of uneven when stacked. I love my magic line pans, it's amazing how much easier it is to ice cakes baked in them.
If you are planning on doing a lot of torting, get an agbay! It's a cake leveler that lets you make really thin layers very evenly.
One of my favorite cakes I've done has cookies attached to it. It's in my photos, I think it's green. Great tie in for your business![/b]
Your business plan etc, as that will help u decide what to budget for, what you need vs what you want. (I know how boring that is when you are enjoying the what if... dream!)
You will, eventually, need to buy round and square in every size, more than likely, *if* you want to be truly custom. If you want to be more grocery, u can get away with saying you only offer 8 inch rounds. Personally, I think basic cakes will clash too much with high end cookies. Unless u stick to cakes decorated with cookies, which could be a winner!
Again, the kind of tools you need depends on the kinds of cakes you make. Bc only means you need the right tools for smoothing, flowers and figures means you need sculpting tools and boards, fondant means you need smoothers.... So a lot of investment, which you need to research first.
And of course, get practicing - if u don't enjoy it as much as you think, u might scrap it all!
Sorry to go off topic, but where did you find the chocolate mold for that tractor cake? My son would LOVE it!!!
I love the idea of a cake with cookies on it, but for flavors I was thinking like banana split, German chocolate, Key Lime, just anything out of the ordinary (those are the only examples I can think of right now although I'm sure there are a bunch more.)
I have never used fondant, nor do I want to, so I think in sticking with BC, I can still customize with colors and flavors and small embellishments (sp??) like names or dots/flowers/patterns etc....do you think that would be possible?
I saw that Wilton has a cake pattern scraper thing, I think only for BC but I'm not sure, it makes designs on the frosting in like 12 different patterns, have you seen/used that? I thought that was interesting and would give more character to a "plain on the outside but fantastic on the inside" cake, as I imagine mine to be.
You guys have the best advice and ideas, thanks so much for answering my question and letting me bounce ideas off of you.
Gabbenmom, just google "Pantastic tractor".
Heidi, I think the simple designs you are describing sound very elegant! If you have unusual flavors, that could add to your "gourmet" panache, but be sure to have little samples so that people don't feel like it is too big a risk to order an unusual flavor.
Thank you so much! I love your cookies on your cakes! I used cookies once to decorate a cake. It works great!
I have a triangle cake comb from wilton that I really like. Your idea is to have fancy custom flavors, not necessarily a fancy decorated cake. I think there's definitely a market for it.
I bought that set of cake combs and HATE it! I bought the simple triangle one and it is SO much easier to use!
One more IMHO and I'll leave you alone. Start off with the basics and then when you start seeing interest in the new product, take a poll for the more exotic flavors. I see a lot of your cakes being picked up on the customer's way home from work for that nite's dessert. Not many kids are adventurous enough to try Tahitian cake with mango filling and coconut papaya BC, lolol!
As far as flavors and fillings: lemon cake with raspberry filling is my number one selling combo. Lemon cake is my number one selling cake (second is almond) and raspberry is my number one selling filling (second is cream cheese). If a customer doesn't order the lemon/rasp. combo, their order will consist of one of those options.
I think doing a few cakes a week could be great for you. If people start asking for custom cakes (as I'm sure they will) then you can make those too if you are willing. There's a lot of money in caking as well.