Home Baking In California

Business By EnglishCakeLady Updated 20 Jan 2012 , 6:22pm by jason_kraft

EnglishCakeLady Posted 1 Jun 2011 , 5:18pm
post #1 of 64

I've read that it's almost impossible to get licensed in California unless you have a completely separate kitchen in your yard, and then it's still really hard. Renting kitchen space is just not practical or economical for me.

Does anyone still operate out of their home kitchen and hope nobody notices? icon_smile.gif I'm newly arrived from the UK, so wondering how stringent all of this really is? I won't start baking until I know what's what, just thought I'd ask.

63 replies
deedee1120 Posted 1 Jun 2011 , 5:40pm
post #2 of 64

EnglishCakeLady, Sorry but I don't have a response for you. I just wanted to say hello to you since we are practically neighbors (I live in San Jose).

I hope you get the answers you are looking for!

yummy_in_my_tummy Posted 1 Jun 2011 , 5:46pm
post #3 of 64

I used to operate (on a very minimal basis) out of my home until I found it was illegal. I didn't want to get caught so I went thru the process and now I rent a kitchen. I just try to be smart when I schedule my time. I also freeze my cakes (I've found it helps keep the moist), so I'll bake everything a week before, while baking, make buttercream ganache, etc and freeze it all.

I've been told that it can be up to a $45,000 fine and you can lose the chance to get your HD license for like 3 year or something like that.

Allie06 Posted 1 Jun 2011 , 6:11pm
post #4 of 64

Welcome to the Sunshine State! I am in the south, and from what I understand La County is super STRICT. Kern County...not so much. That being said, I know of at least 5 cakers who blatantly advertise. FB, Cards, fliers...and at this point none of them have had an issue. Illegal, I know but these people have been in "business" for a few years now. I just mentally shake my finger at them.

jason_kraft Posted 1 Jun 2011 , 6:15pm
post #5 of 64

I'm also nearby (Milpitas) and I would definitely not advise baking commercially from home in Santa Clara County, the health dept here is not laissez-faire. It is also a pretty competitive environment so if you do advertise your home-based bakery and a competitor finds out you can expect a knock on the door before too long.

We rent a commercial kitchen in San Jose, there are several tenants there who are more casual bakers. PM me if you'd like contact information for the kitchen. Renting space can certainly be economical (just structure your prices to take the additional costs into account) -- it's a bit of a pain but it's what you have to do to be legal here.

deedee1120 Posted 1 Jun 2011 , 6:19pm
post #6 of 64

Jason...I am a hobby baker but would love to get more info on renting a space and other legalities that need to be in place before you can sell legally. Do you mind if I PM you as well?

jason_kraft Posted 1 Jun 2011 , 6:21pm
post #7 of 64
Originally Posted by deedee1120

Jason...I am a hobby baker but would love to get more info on renting a space and other legalities that need to be in place before you can sell legally. Do you mind if I PM you as well?

No problem...feel free to ask your questions in the public forum as well (others may benefit), the only reason I mentioned PMs was to send the contact information for the rental kitchen.

EnglishCakeLady Posted 2 Jun 2011 , 3:48pm
post #8 of 64

Well, this is all very despressing! icon_sad.gif

Thanks for your replies, everyone. Jason, would love that rental information from you. I'll drop you a line.

bnbmom Posted 4 Jun 2011 , 12:30am
post #9 of 64

So far I cannot find an actual bill number for the California cottage food law.

But I did find a link where you can sign the petition.

"California state legislators to enact a Cottage Foods bill
California bakers asked California state legislators to enact a Cottage Foods bill authorizing the Department of Health and Senior Services and/or the Department of Agriculture to issue customized "Home Bakery" licenses to residential kitchens for the purpose of selling non-potentially-hazardous bakery products, such as, but not necessarily limited to: breads, cakes, doughnuts, pastries, buns, rolls, cookies, biscuits, and pies (except meat or cream pies).
Visit: http://www.petitiononline.com/CAHBLP/petition.html to sign the petition. "

I signed it but it does not look like it's going into action anytime soon.
Because there is no actual bill number!!!

If there is a bill number please let me know.

jason_kraft Posted 4 Jun 2011 , 2:46am
post #10 of 64

There is no bill number, the petition is to get legislators to introduce the bill in the first place.

Frankly, an online petition is only marginally better than nothing. If you want reform to happen you need to meet with your legislators one on one and explain why the cottage food law will be beneficial to the state, and how it can be implemented without spending any money.

tryingcake Posted 4 Jun 2011 , 3:30am
post #11 of 64

I keep asking ( on this website) who is legislating, if anyone and if no one - who want to join me. i have yet to receive a single answer. I simply cannot do it by myself. I would love to be able to dump my rental space. Everything I do can realistically be done from my home kitchen.

EnglishCakeLady Posted 4 Jun 2011 , 3:35am
post #12 of 64

What do we need to do? I'm new to the US, and have no idea how this work.

cheriej Posted 4 Jun 2011 , 3:40am
post #13 of 64

I only donate cakes but I would not dare try to operate illegally in California. There is too much liability aside from the moral issues. Anyway, one of my friends is running for re election to the state assembly so I plan on asking her about this issue and will see what she says she can do. Although honestly I doubt much will happen in the state. The state does tend to operate on the more stringent side with respect to health care laws. Just my opinion.

jason_kraft Posted 4 Jun 2011 , 3:59am
post #14 of 64

You can find out who your state representatives are here:

From that page you can link to the home pages of your state senators and assembly members, which list their contact info. Emails would have the least impact, followed by a letter, then a phone call, and finally the most impact would be a one-on-one personal visit with the rep or their staff.

tryingcake Posted 4 Jun 2011 , 4:37am
post #15 of 64

I didn't ask who is our state representative. I ask who is legislating. Who, among us, is trying to accomplish this? From what I can tell no one. I am willing to do tons and tons of leg work. but I know I can't do it alone. Who, among us, can help? Letter writing is not enough. This will involved trips to Sacramento. Lobbying. Real involvement. Who, among us, is doing that?

jason_kraft Posted 4 Jun 2011 , 3:22pm
post #16 of 64
Originally Posted by tryingcake

I didn't ask who is our state representative. I ask who is legislating. Who, among us, is trying to accomplish this? From what I can tell no one.

You're right, there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of organization (beyond the online petition) to get a CFL going in CA. There is a facebook group but there doesn't seem to be a lot of activity:


tryingcake Posted 5 Jun 2011 , 2:05am
post #17 of 64

So does anyone want to? And I mean seriously want to. Don't say yes just to leave me carrying the whole she-bang. Cause, I'm honest. I know I need help. I will work as hard as my partners at moving and shaking Sacramento.

Gerle Posted 5 Jun 2011 , 2:19am
post #18 of 64

I'm interested, but I won't ever be approved for it because we have indoor pets which we aren't willing to sacrifice for a cake business. I wouldn't mind participating, however, in getting a cottage law passed in CA. If someone knows what needs to be done to get this rolling, count me in.

jason_kraft Posted 5 Jun 2011 , 2:55am
post #19 of 64

The cottage food law in some states does not prohibit pets in the home...for example, the Ohio CFL does not require inspection so you can do whatever you want as long as the products you make are not potentially hazardous and are labeled as "home produced". Ohio has a separate "home bakery" license which is not as restrictive in the type of foods you can make but does require an inspection, so no pets allowed for that license.


Gerle Posted 5 Jun 2011 , 2:15pm
post #20 of 64

Yeah, but we all know how CA is....they'll probably have the strictest cottage food laws of all, it's just the way our legislature is.

paulstonia Posted 5 Jun 2011 , 2:38pm
post #21 of 64

I am willing to help, just don't have any idea where we start. I am only an hour away for Sacramento so having to make a trip up there is not a problem.

EnglishCakeLady Posted 5 Jun 2011 , 3:35pm
post #22 of 64

I'm happy to help, but also have no idea where to start. I'm not even American! Not as close to Sacramento as others, perhaps, but I'll do what I can.

jason_kraft Posted 5 Jun 2011 , 4:10pm
post #23 of 64

Bob Wieckowski chairs the Environmental Safety committee in the CA Assembly, which is responsible for food safety, so contacting him in addition to the rep for your district would be a good start. I've contacted him before (he represents my district) and he is pretty good about following up within a week or two.

You can contact him by clicking Contact Bob in the below link, his phone numbers are also listed.

If enough people contact him about the CFL he will probably bring it up in his committee, and that's the first step to getting a bill drafted.

EnglishCakeLady Posted 5 Jun 2011 , 5:41pm
post #24 of 64

I'll definitely do that. Can anyone direct me to a good place online to do some research? I really do know nothing at all! I've been in the States just a short while and only decided to take up baking 'professionally' in the last month or so.

Gerle Posted 5 Jun 2011 , 9:24pm
post #25 of 64

I emailed Debi Robarts at the email address that was assocated with the facebook info on a cottage food law in CA. Am hoping to hear back from her to see what has or has not been done so far that she's aware of. I'll also contact my reps in this area this next week. Jason, thanks for providing Bob's name as well. Will also give him a call. I'd like to see this happen here. I'd like to look at one of the other state's law to use it as an example. Jason, how do I go about getting one to review? Are they on the internet for viewing? I've never really looked at one, but think it would be a good idea.

jason_kraft Posted 5 Jun 2011 , 9:32pm
post #26 of 64

You can find links to the CFLs for three states at the bottom of this link:

The CFL in OH can be found here:

Gerle Posted 5 Jun 2011 , 9:58pm
post #27 of 64

Thanks Jason. Got lots of reading to do now. Hope I hear back from Debi Robarts as I don't want to duplicate any actions that have already been taken.

FromScratchSF Posted 5 Jun 2011 , 10:42pm
post #28 of 64

Please keep this thread updated with any help you need, I can't be a Chief but I could be an Indian, if you know what I mean. thumbs_up.gif


Gerle Posted 5 Jun 2011 , 11:20pm
post #29 of 64

I know what you mean FromScratch. I can't be the chief in this either, especially this time of year as we aren't home a lot, but I'll help where and when I can. From one site I looked at, it looks like this Debi Robarts has done some, but I don't know how much. The site Jason provided about home based baking had a lot of good info, but again...I don't know how far it's been carried and I don't want to duplicate efforts if we don't have to. I've signed the online petition, but want to see what needs to be done to get this going. Wish we had a better idea of how many are actually interested. It would help alot.

Gerle Posted 5 Jun 2011 , 11:23pm
post #30 of 64

Jason, I forgot to mention...if you aren't in his district, you can't send him an email...it won't accept it. I tried, so my next try will be a letter addressed to him as the Chair of the committee and see how that goes.

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