Here's an interesting question and I need some advice
I know a woman who owned a high-end bakery and was known for her unbelievable scratch cakes. She ended up selling her bakery after years of 100 hour weeks and now works as a baker for a company I can't mention (less stress and more time with her family). I have tasted her cakes and I can honestly say that they are the best scratch cakes I have ever tasted...just incredible
The recipe she used for her cakes is something she does not share with anyone and I recently found out why. When she was in culinary school, she purchased this cake recipe from the Head Pastry Chef at her program and she literally built up her bakery business on this particular recipe. As she put it, you can take this recipe and go with just about any flavor cake you want.
Now, I've known this woman long enough and well enough to know that she wouldn't feed me a line about this recipe or how good it is. She is as honest as the day is long. I also know she put several children through college and paid off her entire business with the cakes she made with this recipe...it's that good.
She also knows how much work I have put into getting my own cake business started. In addition, she has fed me more tips and tricks and more advice about getting my business up and running than I could ever thank her for.
Here's the interesting part, she recently let me in on how much she paid for the rights to this cake recipe and I was shocked....lol But, after hearing about her amazing scratch cakes and then tasting them for myself, I can see that it was an awesome investment on her part. She knows that I have been trying to come up with a scratch recipe that I can base my business on and that I haven't had much luck. During one of our recent conversations, she made some remarks about possibly selling her recipe to me. Knowing what she paid for it, I'm not sure if I could even come close to what she paid but I think she realizes this too...
My question is....has anyone else ever heard of a situation like this? If you had a chance to purchase a cake recipe that was basically a no-fail guarantee, would you take the chance?
Thanks for any advice
Before you can make a decision you need to evaluate your own baking skills and in-depth knowledge to estimate how long it will take you to come up with a killer scratch recipe (starting from now, any time you've already spent on R&D is a sunk cost and should not factor into your decision, although you can use your previous experience to model how efficient continued R&D efforts would be).
Given the wealth of information online and the number of existing tried-and-true recipes available for free, I would bet that unless the price was relatively low (or you were in a hurry to start your business) you would come out ahead doing your own R&D. Unless you are targeting a very high-end market the difference between an A+ taste and an A+++ taste is not worth as much as you'd think to the palate of an average consumer, the wow factor is usually in the decoration.
I have an arsenal of no-fail recipes... mine. A cake recipe is only as good as the experience of the baker. I am very careful about sharing my scratch recipes because the results will not be the same for a less experienced baker. Equipment has a big part in the baking process. Convection ovens built especially for baking and high end pans play a big role. The types and brands of ingredients are also critical to a fine recipe.
I don't know how long ago this recipe was purchased. The internet, with its infinite information on baking science, puts no-fail recipes in the hand of anyone who wants to spend the time. You mentioned the baker was a culinary student. She understood baking. I don't think you can base a business on one recipe. I think that is oversimplification. This person obviously used her many culinary skills.