How To Get Into Cake With Limitations

Business By TBallad Updated 8 Dec 2010 , 2:49pm by hsmomma

TBallad Posted 6 Dec 2010 , 3:22pm
post #1 of 19

I'm hoping this community can help me think outside the box. I have been baking cakes for nearly a decade for friends and family, and have had a few requests for my cakes and desserts. Unfortunately I live in a state (IL) that does not allow home kitchens. I also have four young children, two of whom have special needs, that I homeschool.

Professionally, I am a writer. I write mostly online articles but have also published three books. My most active client is starting to wane, and I'm really hoping that I can bring my baking talents more to the forefront of my work and life than just making birthday cakes for my kids, etc.

Does anyone have any suggestions? I've considered starting a website with cake tutorials, recipes, etc. but I'm not sure how that would really add much to the wealth of information that's already out there. What would you love to see in a site that you can't find elsewhere?

I've also been investigating the idea of baking cakes for other decorators -- I'm a decent decorator, but I'm an amazing baker! -- and shipping nationwide, but with what I would have to charge just to break even on kitchen rental, plus overnight shipping, I don't think it would be cost effective for decorators to purchase my cakes, no matter how good they are. I'm looking at between $60-$75 per cake, which is more than some decorators charge for a completed cake. Maybe I'm wrong. I could possibly do cookies or cupcakes too. I'm also wondering if selling undecorated cakes to decorators would be a way for others in my situation -- living in a state that does not allow home kitchens -- to get into the cake business without offending the health department. Anyone have thoughts on that?

Thank you -- I'm hoping that the collective wisdom and experience here can help me think out of the box and realize this dream of mine, without putting it on the shelf for the next 15-20 years.

Tricia

18 replies
-K8memphis Posted 6 Dec 2010 , 3:45pm
post #2 of 19

I have beaten myself to pieces about not getting my way and can't be legal here where I live the way I wanna do it from home where I can wax eloquent with my creations and limit the work load and not have to worry about overhead.

I am bruised and bloody and probably damaged somewhat. I have brand new and used commercial equipment that I've never hooked up due to this constant back and forth.

My best advice is save yourself from yourself.

Enjoy your hobby.

Stop the insanity before it goes too far. Or move.

Or just get a bat and beat yourself about the head & shoulders daily


You obviously have your hands full already. Find something to do to earn money--keep doing cakes for yourself. Find fund raisers and charities to bake for--orphans who need a birthday cake. Just separate the making of money from an enjyable enriching hobby. You can do both but you cannot combine them unless you move. Honestly.

cakes4ck Posted 6 Dec 2010 , 4:01pm
post #3 of 19

I also live in IL and have been trying to find out information on laws and regulations on bakeries, but haven't had much luck.
Your ideas of baking for decorators sounds interesting. Have you checked with any decorators in your area that might want to do this? It would save a lot of time for them. I know it takes a lot of time just to bake and make icing. Maybe you could do some of these things out of your house in cooperation with someone else in your area. Not sure it would make you a ton of $ though.

-K8memphis Posted 6 Dec 2010 , 4:23pm
post #4 of 19

If you can't bake for a client legally you can't bake for a client. Shipping cake or being a wholesaler is tougher regulations than baking for a bride.

TBallad Posted 6 Dec 2010 , 4:52pm
post #5 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by -K8memphis

If you can't bake for a client legally you can't bake for a client.




I'm not even considering trying to bake "under the table" so to speak. I know some people do it, but I have enough stress and headaches without worrying about being investigated by the health department.

CWR41 Posted 6 Dec 2010 , 5:14pm
post #6 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by TBallad

I'm also wondering if selling undecorated cakes to decorators would be a way for others in my situation -- living in a state that does not allow home kitchens -- to get into the cake business without offending the health department. Anyone have thoughts on that?




It wouldn't help others in your same situation... they'd still need to rent a commercial kitchen in order to complete their food product items. It's not just the baking part that isn't allowed in a home kitchen, it's also the decorating and selling of the items.

indydebi Posted 6 Dec 2010 , 5:34pm
post #7 of 19

You can have a legal kitchen in Illinois, but I think it differs from county to county. I know CC'er Lenette has a legal kitchen in her home. You might PM her to get some info on that.

jason_kraft Posted 6 Dec 2010 , 5:35pm
post #8 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by -K8memphis

My best advice is save yourself from yourself.

Enjoy your hobby.



Agreed...you will need either a lot of time or a lot of money to get a legal baking business of the ground. Stick with making cakes as a hobby, homeschooling and taking care of special needs kids is pretty much a full-time job right there.

TBallad Posted 6 Dec 2010 , 5:55pm
post #9 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

You can have a legal kitchen in Illinois, but I think it differs from county to county. I know CC'er Lenette has a legal kitchen in her home. You might PM her to get some info on that.




From what I've been able to find out, at least where I live you can have a home kitchen as long as it's completely separate from your family kitchen.

I wish!!

indydebi Posted 6 Dec 2010 , 6:02pm
post #10 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by TBallad

Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

You can have a legal kitchen in Illinois, but I think it differs from county to county. I know CC'er Lenette has a legal kitchen in her home. You might PM her to get some info on that.



From what I've been able to find out, at least where I live you can have a home kitchen as long as it's completely separate from your family kitchen.

I wish!!


can you convert your garage or do you have basement space that might be used?

TBallad Posted 6 Dec 2010 , 6:30pm
post #11 of 19

unfortunately not - we use the basement as our classroom and don't have a garage.

Looks like I'm going to have to find a way to write about cakes, at least for the time being.

imagenthatnj Posted 6 Dec 2010 , 6:57pm
post #12 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by TBallad



Does anyone have any suggestions? I've considered starting a website with cake tutorials, recipes, etc. but I'm not sure how that would really add much to the wealth of information that's already out there. What would you love to see in a site that you can't find elsewhere?




It doesn't matter that there's a wealth of information out there. There's always a way to start a blog and write good, entertaining articles, even if the information is repeated somewhere else. People have done it, and you're a writer by profession. Did you ever hear of Deb at Smitten Kitchen? Part-time writer, part-time photographer, full-time blogger now. Very successful. She does it all in a very tiny kitchen in NYC. I love reading her entries, and so do a lot of other people.

http://smittenkitchen.com/about/

If you set your mind to it, you can do anything.

UpAt2am Posted 6 Dec 2010 , 7:03pm
post #13 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by TBallad

unfortunately not - we use the basement as our classroom and don't have a garage.

Looks like I'm going to have to find a way to write about cakes, at least for the time being.




bless your heart tballad! i can tell how badly you want to do this and your state's laws are preventing you from it. but can i just say how refreshing it is to see someone on this site who actually has learned the laws and is following them!!! so many others come on here and talk about how they just "have to make money in this economy," and "who is really looking at home bakeries anyways," and "who are we to judge what someone else does?" i mean, i REALLY REALLY REALLY want a nice SUV to transport cakes in, but it doesn't mean i get to steal one off the lot b/c "it's a tough economy and i can't afford to buy one." well, there are laws in place for a reason and it's really nice to see you trying to find a way to do things the right way. i know that this doesn't help you at all, but i just wanted to say "bravo" and "good luck." you seem like a good person, and a fabulous mommy icon_smile.gif

UpAt2am Posted 6 Dec 2010 , 7:06pm
post #14 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by imagenthatnj

Quote:
Originally Posted by TBallad



Does anyone have any suggestions? I've considered starting a website with cake tutorials, recipes, etc. but I'm not sure how that would really add much to the wealth of information that's already out there. What would you love to see in a site that you can't find elsewhere?




It doesn't matter that there's a wealth of information out there. There's always a way to start a blog and write good, entertaining articles, even if the information is repeated somewhere else. People have done it, and you're a writer by profession. Did you ever hear of Deb at Smitten Kitchen? Part-time writer, part-time photographer, full-time blogger now. Very successful. She does it all in a very tiny kitchen in NYC. I love reading her entries, and so do a lot of other people.

http://smittenkitchen.com/about/

If you set your mind to it, you can do anything.




and i concur! there are tons of blogs out there, but if you have a little something different to offer, or if you write in a way that is funny or sarcastic, i'm in!!!

K1976 Posted 6 Dec 2010 , 7:27pm
post #15 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

You can have a legal kitchen in Illinois, but I think it differs from county to county. I know CC'er Lenette has a legal kitchen in her home. You might PM her to get some info on that.




Absolutely, get the info. straight from the person qualified to answer, straight from the horse's mouth. That's what I did and was pleasantly surprised.

letsgetcaking Posted 6 Dec 2010 , 7:38pm
post #16 of 19

I like the blog idea. I LOVE reading blogs about cakes and decorating. I think if you have a distinct and entertaining voice (not to mention good content), you'll have no problem getting readers - and then sponsors - for the blog.

On the shipping side of things, could you possibly make and sell fondant figures/toppers? I don't know if those fall under the health department umbrella.

Good luck with whatever you choose to do!

cakesbycathy Posted 6 Dec 2010 , 8:00pm
post #17 of 19

What about trying to get interviews with some well-known bakers?

Can you contact your local newspaper and see if they are looking for free-lance writers?

AmysCakesNCandies Posted 6 Dec 2010 , 8:41pm
post #18 of 19

Before I moved to NC, I used the be in the Chicagoland area and couldn't legally bake out of my home. What I did was essentially run my "bussiness" from my home- quotes, consults etc but I rented space by the hour from a meal prep/ cooking school company in the off hours to do my cakes. They had a section in thier cooler & storage area set asside for me. It was a pain working off hours (early morning, overnights etc but it worked out and allowed me to grow bussiness until I was ready to open my own retail space. Maybe you could find a similar situation? good luck

hsmomma Posted 8 Dec 2010 , 2:49pm
post #19 of 19

Just wanted to offer my support. I'm a homeschool mommy of 6 (though 2 are not yet schooled). Two of our children have hearing impairments and need extra guidance. I know how hard that is...and wanted to just give you a pat on the back. Keep up the writing and keep up the baking for the little ones.

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