Cake Testing...what Is The Best Way To Do One?

Business By Tinabarena Updated 21 Oct 2010 , 7:44pm by jenmat

Tinabarena Posted 17 Oct 2010 , 3:11pm
post #1 of 9

I am not sure if I am posting this in the right area or not, but it seemed the best place to do it. I have a small business doing cakes, which has mainly consisted of doing simple birthday cakes (flat and tiered), sheet cakes and cupcakes. No store front or anything, just from my house (which I can now do in Michigan icon_lol.gif ) Anyway, I have been doing vendor events lately which has drummed up a lot of business, which is just great, but also putting me into unchartered waters...

A couple people have asked to set up a 'taste testing'. I understand what this is - but I have no idea on how to go about doing one. Do you ask them what cake flavors they are looking for? How many samples do you make? Do you then make those flavors into cupcakes or something! I typically use doctored cake mixes, but I have no problem doing from-scratch recipes. I suppose you would use the extra mix to make other items or cake balls?

I would be very appreciative of any help/suggestions on how to do this! I'm excited about going in this direction, but I also don't want to get in over my head!

TIA

8 replies
Cakechick123 Posted 17 Oct 2010 , 3:38pm
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I dont offer tastings for birthday cakes, only wedding cakes over 100 servings. If you offer it to any cake you will spend your time baking samples for 20 or 30 servings, and that will just eat up the profits.

I do a tasting day every two monts or so. I email an invite to everyone that enquired during that time.
I pick 4 of my flavours and bake square cakes, fill them and then cut them into 1" portions. Each guest get 4 1" portions to taste. I make 45min appointments for the whole day. This means I dont have to have a tasting every now and then. As most brides books at least 6 month in advance, there are always at least one tasting day that they can attend.
HTH

careylynn Posted 17 Oct 2010 , 3:41pm
post #3 of 9

I recently had to decide how/what to do for a cake tasting. I too, have no store front and do business out of my home under the cottage food laws in Ohio. I saw an idea that I fell in love with when doing my research on the matter. Since I have two little girls running around here, I've opted not to do them out of my home. Between finding babysitters, cleaning the house up before a tasting, and most importantly, retaining privacy, I think this idea suits my needs. When the bride contacts me, I email them my "menu". They then pick 3 cake flavors, 2 fillings and 2 buttercreams. I charge them $25 up front but then deduct it from the final cost of the cake, that way my cost is covered, and I'm not making free cake for everyone in the world icon_smile.gif Then, I package each item separately (each gets it own container) and box it up nice and pretty and when we have our cake consultation (at a coffee shop mid-point between me and the bride), I give it to them to TAKE HOME and enjoy. That way they can share with whomever they want and their is no pressure of eating in front of me. Then, they get back to me the flavors they like together, and we go from there!! HTH!

Tinabarena Posted 17 Oct 2010 , 3:58pm
post #4 of 9

Careylynn, that is a fabulous idea! Same with my household - kids and cleaning would kill me icon_smile.gif ! I love that they can eat the samples by themselves - I would hate to have someone feel pressure! And I like the $25 up front, but off the actual cake order, good security as well!

Cakechick - I'm not keen on doing a 'sample' for just a birthday cake or something. It would definately have to be a wedding cake or a very large order. I like your scheduling idea. I will have to keep this in mind if/when I start getting a lot of requests (which, that would be nice, wouldn't it!!)

Thank you guys so much! I was starting to freak out a bit...

cai0311 Posted 18 Oct 2010 , 1:38pm
post #5 of 9

I have a home bakery in Ohio. I offer complimentary consultations to anyone ordering a cake (or cupcakes) over 70 servings. I do not allow the client to pick the flavors or fillings they will try because I offer so many options I would have to bake for each consultation. Whenever I have extra batter I bake a cake out of it, cut that cake into 1" x 1" pieces, freeze the pieces and use them for the consultations. I take the cake out of the freezer 30 minutes before the client arrives and that is plenty of time for the cake to thaw. Fillings are whatever I have in the house at the time. Because I use sleeve fillings (exept for ganache and cream cheese) I always have some in the fridge.

I usually offer 5 or 6 cake flavors and 6 fillings.

No one has ever known the samples were frozen, the fillings are what I have on hand or that is takes me about 25 minutes to set up for the consultation. No one has ever complained. I book around 95% of my consultations.

Annabakescakes Posted 21 Oct 2010 , 6:39am
post #6 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by careylynn

I recently had to decide how/what to do for a cake tasting. I too, have no store front and do business out of my home under the cottage food laws in Ohio. I saw an idea that I fell in love with when doing my research on the matter. Since I have two little girls running around here, I've opted not to do them out of my home. Between finding babysitters, cleaning the house up before a tasting, and most importantly, retaining privacy, I think this idea suits my needs. When the bride contacts me, I email them my "menu". They then pick 3 cake flavors, 2 fillings and 2 buttercreams. I charge them $25 up front but then deduct it from the final cost of the cake, that way my cost is covered, and I'm not making free cake for everyone in the world icon_smile.gif Then, I package each item separately (each gets it own container) and box it up nice and pretty and when we have our cake consultation (at a coffee shop mid-point between me and the bride), I give it to them to TAKE HOME and enjoy. That way they can share with whomever they want and their is no pressure of eating in front of me. Then, they get back to me the flavors they like together, and we go from there!! HTH!




I do this too! It is AWESOME! I still have to clean though, I would be mortified if the place was a wreck and someone came over and saw it for whatever reason! I always hated giving away free cake that I slaved over, sit there all awkward while they eat it, then not get a call back occasionally. Stinks and is stressful!

pattycakesnj Posted 21 Oct 2010 , 11:16am
post #7 of 9

I only do tastings for orders of 100 servings or more and charge $25, which gets applied toward their balance if they book with me. I have frozen cakes in freezer (from leftover batter) and let them taste 4 cakes (my choice of flavors) and frostings and fillings. (again whatever I have on hand).
The cakes are about 1 inch squares put on a large white platter with the flavor of cake written on a cheese marker and put into cake and the fillings and frostings in a matching white egg cup on the platter. (type of filling written on outside of egg cup). It makes a pretty presentation.

AmysCakesNCandies Posted 21 Oct 2010 , 12:00pm
post #8 of 9

I primarily do wedding cakes so I do tastings all the time. I too am a home based bussiness and require my clients to schedule a tasting with me. I let them choose if they prefer to meet at my home (I am up front with them that I am a licenced home baker), at thier home or at a coffee shop. Different clients are comfortable with different scenarios, so I give them the option and I have done consults all 3 ways. I do not charge for tastings, I consider it a cost of doing bussiness, but I do not do tastings for smaller cakes (anything under 50 guests) unless it is a complicated (Expensive) sculpted design. I allow them to select 2 cake/ filling/ icing combinations and I often throw in a third if I have a cake of a flavor on hand they haven't selected or if I think thier selecions are boring (i.e yellow cake with BC filling). I give then a cupcake portion of each flavor.

When baking for my cakes I frequently make a few cupcakes & freeze them to have on hand for tastings.

jenmat Posted 21 Oct 2010 , 7:44pm
post #9 of 9

I only offer tastings for weddings. Period.

My thought for you is to do your research- know your competition. Call around and ask about setting up a tasting. Do they charge? How much? How does the customer get to choose flavors? Find out what you are up against, and what the customers are going to expect.
In my area, the custom is a free tasting. I offer them in our home, (which is brand new), I offer 2 flavor/filling combos of their choice. My menu allows this type of thing because I basically have only a couple of recipes and then alter them to fit the needs of the customer. I have some cute little square plates with square tiny bowls that I got from crate and barrel. The cakes are 4", and mostly freshly baked, although there are times when I put some in the freezer for just in case. I have some funky crystal goblets and filtered water ready as well. The icings are piped into the bowls so they can mix and match.
Other things: How many people are allowed? Are you going to welcome children? Where do you prefer to meet? If you have children, where will they be? Will you have boxes ready for them to take home leftovers?
Lots of questions, but first step to answers is to do your research.
Good luck!

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