A Lot Of Questions, Hoping For Some Answers. :)

Baking By Abrilita02 Updated 9 Aug 2010 , 6:25pm by bonniebakes

Abrilita02 Posted 7 Aug 2010 , 6:15pm
post #1 of 14

Hello all! I am brand new to this site/forum. I do have a couple of questions, and I would love to hear back from you guys.

I have recently decided to start getting more serious about selling my cookies, but the thing is my cookie artistry is horrible. The people that I have baked for love my cookies and are very willing to purchase them, but I feel that I need to work on the details/decorating aspect of the cookie before selling them. So now, my questions are...

Do I attend a Wilton Decorating Basics class to help me on my journey, or do I invest in a KopyKake 300? I am open to both; I just have this nagging feeling that I will only learn a small amount of techniques in the decorating class that would carry over to sugar cookie decorating. There is a small chance that I will make cakes for anyone, cookies of course are my focus.

Which tool is more effective in rolling out sugar cookies evenly?

Once I start to get the hang of decorating beautiful cookies, how much should I charge a customer? I already have a rough outline for my pricing guide, but I am indecisive with these prices. (1.25 for 1-24, 1.50 for 25-72, more than six dozen=2.00 per a cookies. Individual wrapping with ribbon is .25 extra per a cookie.)

Whats the difference between the Wilton brand and Americolor gels? Ive seen some bakers use Americolor but I never understood why they prefer this over Wilton.

Any help on these questions are much appreciated. Thanks for taking the time out to read this post!

13 replies
KJ62798 Posted 7 Aug 2010 , 6:40pm
post #2 of 14

1. Check into classes at a local bakery. Sometimes they have a specific class for cookie decorating--the bakery I take classes at does. Hunt through YouTube for videos. You might want to check out The University of Cookie site:
www. universityofcookie. com/
LOTS of tutorials.

2. Get cheap flexible cutting mat and use it to practice. You can pipe on it, scrape up the frosting and then start again

3. Not sure about pricing on cookies but check into what your area requires for legal selling. Not all states/counties allow for home bakery businesses.

4. I think for most people the diff between Wilton & Americolor is personal preference. I like the concentrated color from Americolor--a little goes a LONG way and the squeeze bottles are easier to deal w/than the little pots from Wilton.

Good Luck

lenagc Posted 7 Aug 2010 , 7:03pm
post #3 of 14

I suggest you read everything you can on decorating cookies, go to every site you can find on your computer, watch anything and everything having to do with decorating cookies. Thats how I started, I tried to learn everything I could for a year and a half before I even started making cakes. I am self taught.
Good Luck.

artscallion Posted 7 Aug 2010 , 7:34pm
post #4 of 14

Why are you thinking of charging progressively higher prices the more cookies they buy? I sell cakes, not cookies. But I think the generally accepted business practice is the opposite. The more you buy, the cheaper they get.

One reason behind this is that your labor costs can go down when you make more. Say it takes you 10 minutes to mix the dough for 24 cookies. If you double the recipe, it still only takes you that same 10 minutes to now make 48 cookies. So the per cookie labor cost goes down, the more you make.

Though I think that most folks keep their per cookie price the same and don't start volume discounting until the orders are way way larger than 72 cookies.

allaboutcakeuk Posted 7 Aug 2010 , 7:48pm
post #5 of 14

hi i only do cookies for wedding favours etc and I charge from £1.95 up to £2.50 per cookie depending on the design. e.g. the £2.50 would be for very intricate designs or if each cookie was being personalised for guests with a name as this would take more time. This includes the bag and ribbon on top. If I had a massive order to do i would probably offer a discount or if they ordered their cake through me I would give a discount on cookies. Rolling out I found the cookie forum and cookie ladies on here amazing with their tips. I use spacers to get my dough the same thickness for all as I do for my fondant.

tastyart Posted 7 Aug 2010 , 8:10pm
post #6 of 14

I usually eyeball the thickness on my cookies but you can buy some dowels that are the right thickness and use that as spacers when you roll them out. Just put one spacer on each side of the dough and roll out with a rolling pin. The spacers will stop the rolling pin at the right thickness. Hope that makes sense.

tracicakes Posted 7 Aug 2010 , 8:14pm
post #7 of 14

1. You can use perfection strips to roll out even dough.
2. Americolor is easier to use (squeeze bottle)and gives vibrant color. Wilton is a pain to use because you have to use a toothpick or other object to get it out of bottle, but works fine for pastels.
3. Practice!

I agree with artscallion about pricing.

Abrilita02 Posted 7 Aug 2010 , 8:38pm
post #8 of 14

Thank you all for the replies. I will reconsider the pricing for the cookies. I do realize it's a bit odd for me to charge a higher price for orders that are more than a certain number. I think it's mainly because I still have not learned how to cut my time in half when filling big orders. I still need to do some research and become knowledgeable in these areas. I have some cookie sites bookmarked, and cookie university is one of the sites that I just recently came across, so thank you for that suggestion. Thanks again!

Bakingangel Posted 7 Aug 2010 , 8:59pm
post #9 of 14

Welcome to CC! This is one of the best resources to learn how to decorate cookies, cakes or cupcakes.

Click on Forums and read, read, read! The people here are very helpful.

One good website for cookie decorating is KarensCookies.net and another one is Fancyflours.com. Google the internet there are lots more.

Check in your area for a cake decorating supply store. They often have classes on decorating cookies as well as cakes. The wilton classes are more geared towards cakes not cookies.

As far a tools of the trade. Go to KitchenKrafts.com. That's a good place to start.

Seriously, CC is the best place to learn. Don't hesitate to ask questions.

Have fun!

writersblock15 Posted 8 Aug 2010 , 12:25am
post #10 of 14

First, welcome to CC. It's a fun and addictive place to be.

If you aren't able to find a bakery offering classes, Wilton is a good alternative. Read, read, and read as much as you can and be willing to delve in and practice techniques. www.karenscookies.net has some video tutorials for beginners. The key to professional looking cookies is to practice and practice some more.

I prefer Americolor over Wilton because it's in a squeeze bottle which is quicker and less messy. Americolor is only available to me through mail order so I usually end up with Wilton when I'm in a pinch.

The price depends on several factors. What city/area you are in, how detailed your cookies are, the size, and the quality of the cookie. I live an hour away from NY. The same exact cookie sells for more in NY than in my area. The more detailed, unique, creative your cookie, the higher you can sell it for. Some of the cookies I bake are not rolled out cookies. My ultimate chocolate cookies are my biggest seller. When they are made with imported chocolate, I charge more than when I make them with Baker's or Ghirardelli's. Check to see what your competitor's charge and go from there.

DsLady614 Posted 8 Aug 2010 , 1:30pm
post #11 of 14

The absolute key to getting your skill level up to where you would be happy with selling is PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE! Read the postings in this forum, there is a LOT to learn about making cookies.

For rolling dough evenly, I agree with those who use dowels. There is a thing called a dobord that basically has an edge you roll your rolling pin on as well. I had my DH build me one that is bigger that I just love.

As for pricing, most of the people I see here who sell decorated cookies price them by size. I think the standard is $1 an inch. So if the cookie is 2 inches high its $2. I have a struggle with that myself, I'm afraid I wouldn't have the nerve to charge that much. But it's a starting point anyway. If you are going to charge more for wrapping, figure out how much the bags and ribbon cost for each cookie, because $.25 seems like a lot to me.

Americolor colors are WAY better than Wilton. Its not even really a matter of choice. Wilton works fine for pastels, but simply cannot accomplish dark colors without using a LOT of color. And the ease of use issue is big too. I swear by them.

Just my thoughts, hope that helps.

MariaK38 Posted 8 Aug 2010 , 2:21pm
post #12 of 14

hi! try visiting www.sweetopia.com. she has AMAZING cookie decorating tutorials, including one using her Kopykake projector.

I prefer Americolor as well because they're in the squeeze bottle and much easier to work with.

Good luck with your biz!

GeminiRJ Posted 8 Aug 2010 , 4:44pm
post #13 of 14

I am completely self-taught when it comes to cookie decorating. This site is where I've picked up the most useful hints and tips! Personally, I still think a class would be FUN to take, though I seriously doubt I would walk away with information that would change how I decorate (though I'd love to learn to work with fondant).

If you can afford it, buy the Kopykake! I use mine constantly. You will not regret it. For rolling out dough to an even thickness, the dowel method is the cheapest and easiest route to go. I bought a DoBoard a year or two ago, and LOVE it!

Pricing is a huge gray area, and very dependent on what part of the country you're from. The standard on CC is to charge a $1 per inch for a decorated cookie. No one I know would pay that (yet they'll plunk down $3 for a cupcake with a simple swirl of icing at a new shop in town. Go figure.) Try to determine how much time you invest in your cookies, and decide what you'd like to make "per hour". If you want to make $20 an hour, and it takes you 15 minutes per cookie, you're looking at needing to charge $5 a cookie.

Good luck!

bonniebakes Posted 9 Aug 2010 , 6:25pm
post #14 of 14

I've never taken a class either - I'm a completely "self-taught" cookier. But I have learned LOADS of tricks and tips here on CC. There is a wealth of wonderful information in the cookie section of CC and lots of great information and wonderful inspiration form helpful cookiers - you might want to read through some of the threads in there for tips. Here are a few really helpful links that will get you started.

Antonia74s article

Freddyfls how to

icing tips/info

outlining tricks & tips

The best advice I think I can give you is to practice, practice, practice! That, and finding recipes for icings and dough that you really love, are the key in my opinion! I don't have a kopykake projector, and I find that he more I practice, the better my cookies look!

As for the Wilton/Americolor/other brand coloring question - I find that typically it takes more coloring to make the desired color with the Wilton brand, which I prefer.

I use "perfection strips" for rolling my dough to an even thickness - they are like plastic dowels, but are about 1 inch wide.

I don't sell - I'm only a hobby baker/decorator, so can't give you any advice for charging. But I have thought a lot about it because in my dream world, someday I will be able to sell cookies! I like the $1/inch "rule of thumb" that others have mentioned, but I don't think I could get that much... but if I were to someday be able to sell legally, I would consider charging differently depending on the amount of detail involved, the number of colors needed, and if the design can be made form a cookie cutter I have, or if I would need to hand-cut them form a template I create.

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