People Wanting Recipes To Cakes You Make For Your Business

Business By heartsnsync Updated 4 Aug 2011 , 12:50am by Jeannem

heartsnsync Posted 30 Jul 2011 , 9:56pm
post #1 of 41

I have had an issue lately that makes me squirm. My licensed, permitted, inspected and insured home bakery is up and running and I am starting to get a lot of calls. This is due in part because I have been marketing my products by taking sample cupcakes to differing locations and sometimes it is to functions hosted by friends. I keep getting people being clueless that this is my business and they are asking for my recipes. I don't want to seem rude because some of these people are my friends and others are friends of friends. But I can't say yes without risking my business profitability because if they can duplicate my cakes why buy them from me, right? So I have been saying "no" and I realize some of the people are miffed about it. You'd think they'd understand. How do you all handle this type of thing?

40 replies
kakeladi Posted 30 Jul 2011 , 10:04pm
post #2 of 41

There's a saying something like: haha, if i told you I'd have to kill you. Answer them w/humor. Let them know it's your business 'blood' and you can't bleed it to death.

VentureSister Posted 30 Jul 2011 , 10:13pm
post #3 of 41

While I am just a hobby baker right now, I am still perfecting my reccipes and stillhave people that ask for them sometimes. While I don't mind sharing most things, I am very selective who I share recipes with. (Had a bad experience with someone who after getting recipe started showing up to events with it when I would too. grrr)
If they are not in the family, I just tell them it is a secret family recipe and I can't share it. tapedshut.giftapedshut.giftapedshut.gif
If they are family, I just have started telling them no. Most of the family knows that the stuff I do is time consuming (I make sure that they know it will take hours) and that generally stops them in their tracks. They mostly only want quick and easy recipes. icon_twisted.gificon_twisted.gificon_twisted.gif
Try the line that they are secret family recipes that you are not at liberty to share.

carmijok Posted 30 Jul 2011 , 10:14pm
post #4 of 41

Even if you gave them the recipe, could they make a cake like yours? Probably not. But it's still not a good reason to give your recipes away. I don't mind doing it on here, because no one knows me and we're all here to learn.

That being said, someone that asked for your recipe you could be truthful and say 'flour, sugar, eggs, water, oil and flavoring'! ;D

tokazodo Posted 30 Jul 2011 , 10:17pm
post #5 of 41

Several years ago, I had a neighbor lady ask for my brownie recipe. I make a killer home made scratch brownie with ewy gooey chocolate fudge icing.
I only gave her the brownie recipe. (I wasn't in business them) but I kept the icing recipe to myself.
I later found out she was selling brownies (my recipe) on her husband charter boat for $1.50 each! (about 15 years ago) My stinking brownie recipe!
I'm glad I didn't give her the icing recipe too!

If someone asks you for your recipe, it means the liked what you have created and they would like to eat it again. Take it as a compliment.
That being said, you still don't have to share your recipe, especially now that it is going to be your livelihood.

I agree with the above poster, take it as a compliment and make light of it. Make a joke of it,
"I could tell you, but then I'd have to shoot you!" "I could tell you, but then I'd have to get my cousin Vinny to bust your knee caps".

Another thing you can do, is tell them the ingredients, but not the measurements. You can always hold out a special ingredient too.
Personally, I'd rather keep them guessing and make a joke out of it.

And don't give your recipe away and make the mistake I did!

Good Luck!

leah_s Posted 30 Jul 2011 , 10:30pm
post #6 of 41

give out my recipes? Oh hells to the no. Maybe you'd like the password to my bank account as well? My recipes ARE my livelihood.

neelycharmed Posted 30 Jul 2011 , 10:40pm
post #7 of 41

I personally, don't give out ANY of my recipes.. Another baker even asked me for a recipe and then told me "You don't have to worry, I won't sell them" then winked at me!!! icon_eek.gif
He said he would only make them at home (yeah, whatever!)
So, I told them that I can't because its a family recipe, and he was pretty annoyed with me, but I don't care- icon_biggrin.gif
Just say NO! icon_smile.gif

tokazodo Posted 30 Jul 2011 , 10:44pm
post #8 of 41
Originally Posted by leah_s

give out my recipes? Oh hells to the no. Maybe you'd like the password to my bank account as well? My recipes ARE my livelihood.

This made me laugh out loud! Loved it! icon_lol.gif

theonlynameleft Posted 30 Jul 2011 , 10:52pm
post #9 of 41

Another way you could say no is to say that is a family recipe thats been past down through x amount of generations and your mother (?) has sworn you to secrecy and you could never betray her confidence LOL!

johnson6ofus Posted 30 Jul 2011 , 11:31pm
post #10 of 41

"No, sorry. That's just not possible."

Who says you owe them an excuse or reason?

yummy_in_my_tummy Posted 30 Jul 2011 , 11:50pm
post #11 of 41

I always say "a magician never reveals her secrets!"

MimiFix Posted 31 Jul 2011 , 12:17am
post #12 of 41

Never give away your recipes. This is how you make a living!

When people ask for a recipe, I suggest a response such as, "Yes, of course, when I am no longer in business..."

madcobbler Posted 31 Jul 2011 , 12:29am
post #13 of 41

A good cook/baker never gives away their secrets.

costumeczar Posted 31 Jul 2011 , 12:36am
post #14 of 41

Just say that you don't give out your recipes. Then tell them that if they're looking for good recipes to try out they can go to and see some there that have been rated by people so that they know they've been tried and tested.

If they keep pestering you, say that you're saving them for the cookbook. Not that you ever have to write a cookbook.

It isn't only clueless non-cake people, though, I've had tons of people on here TELL me (not ask) to send me my recipe for this or that. No.

Crazboutcakes Posted 31 Jul 2011 , 12:45am
post #15 of 41

I say NO too, I have only had one lady (a friend) to ask for my Buttercream recipe that she wanted to use on a boxed cake (((UGGG))) but anyway I jokingly just said "nope can't do it sorry"... She than said what do ya think I'm gonna do with it... I said "doesn't matter cause ya can't have it" lol...she has never asked again but begs me to make cup cakes icon_smile.gif

solascakes Posted 31 Jul 2011 , 1:17am
post #16 of 41

I will always give out a recipe,why not,you people are sooo selfish icon_wink.gif . I'll just make sure the recipe is not mine,its something easily gotten from the internet.And if they try to pin me down with questions like what kind of butter do you use,I mention like 4 different ones and make sure mine is in the middle,so hopefully they remember the 1st and the last (ones I dont use of course). And tell them to mix very well,so that they over mix and end up with a stiff batter icon_twisted.gificon_twisted.gif . But if truly they just want something to eat at home,they wouldn't mind.
And they'll come back with,it not like yours but its manageable, plus they'll still love me. thumbs_up.gif

KakeMistress Posted 31 Jul 2011 , 1:21am
post #17 of 41

LOL that reminds me of a time that I asked a lady for her recipe for her AMAZING potatoes and in a snotty tone she replied I dont give out MY recipes... This was at a potluck of all things, no business or anything. A few months later we had another bbq and I brought 2 things, my pasta salad and a dessert that a very close woman made all the time before she passed away and taught me how to make it... The "potatoe" lady was there and she liked my pasta salad so much but she knew she had been a shit about her recipe so she said well I guess you wont give me your recipe huh. I just said NOPE.. then when it came time for dessert EVERYONE raved over it and she said OH I make something like that but its lemon her husband said Ya I dont like the lemon I like the chocolate... Shut her right up and she bit her self in the ass... Come to find out the recipe she was trying to protect with her life is on the cambells website... I just wanted to be vindictive and make the potatoes myself and then serve them to her. Unfortunitly havent had the chance yet. LOL

heartsnsync Posted 31 Jul 2011 , 5:09am
post #18 of 41

I have always shared my recipes for main courses and sides as I am an avid cook and take people asking for my recipes as compliment. So this holding out is new and alien for me. But, I guess I will just have to toughen up and "just say no!" with no guilt attached.

FromScratchSF Posted 31 Jul 2011 , 6:30am
post #19 of 41

I've shared 2 of my personal recipes, as the days go by I think I regret it. Not so much the sharing part, but I really can do without the [email protected] "your recipe sucks" people, especially the "I used milk instead of cream and regular flour instead of cake flour and I didn't have any butter so I used margarine but I followed it to a T and it sucks." Honestly though, I think I'd probably have a stroke if I ever walked into a bakery and they were selling one of my recipes because I was dumb enough to post them online. I really didn't think about that at the time and now it's too late.


JackieDryden Posted 31 Jul 2011 , 6:39am
post #20 of 41

I've had several people ask for recipes. And I have a few answers-first if it's something that I hope to sell when I can afford a business, I won't give it out. If it's not MY recipe and I randomly found it searching across the web or out of a book, I may give them the info on where to look, but if it's MY recipe (I usually don't write them down) I tell them I can't. If they ask again, I tll them it's a little this and that, I don't write stuff down. I had one gal practically beg me for a recipe for truffles I make. I let her have some (I was making 9 different favors for a fundraiser) and told her she could try one or two if she wanted. She kept eating ONE certain kind-like 4 or 5 in a row! Then a week later wanted the recipe so she could make them for her friends wedding. I said no. And she KEPT asking, bugging me-I finally said I don't give out my recipes since I'm the one who spent the time trial and error, spendng my money on ingredients to perfect it. If she wanted to make them-she can try just like I did and figure it out on her own.

Claire138 Posted 31 Jul 2011 , 7:10am
post #21 of 41

I used to give out recipes all the time but have now stopped. It's not worth the hassle bc I've realized (with age!) that people use different brands, all ovens are not the same etc. I only stopped when I heard back from someone that people were saying that I give out recipes but not the full one i.e. I leave out an important ingredient etc so that it never tastes like mine. Really, really ........ me off so now I don't give them out anymore. I just say no or that my mom (who is an amazing cook and baker) gave it to me and doesn't let me give them out.

shaekae81 Posted 31 Jul 2011 , 8:14am
post #22 of 41

I have given mine to CLOSE friends who are not local. The friends I probably would never make a profit on for cake anyway. Local friends can fa-get-about-it! lol

I love the "a magician never reveals her secerets" line....I think will use that one from now on. icon_smile.gif

Foxicakes Posted 31 Jul 2011 , 9:19am
post #23 of 41

Would Bill Gates share the written code for Windows? No.It is how he has made his money. Would Oreo give me their recipe for their famous cookies? No, they make people buy them. That's how they have become successful in the cookie business. What about Coke? Think you could get out of that building alive with that secret recipe for a soda??? I think not. Then, why is it that it is so hard for people to understand that your recipes are your "Coke" or "Windows" or "Oreo's" ?? And, if they still have a problem with it, just ask if THEIR family has any cherished recipes that they might be willing to share with you. Most families DO have at least one or two that whoever learns it is sworn to secrecy about it. So, hopefully that would help them understand if nothing else does...

jason_kraft Posted 31 Jul 2011 , 2:28pm
post #24 of 41
Originally Posted by solascakes

I will always give out a recipe,why not,you people are sooo selfish icon_wink.gif . I'll just make sure the recipe is not mine,its something easily gotten from the internet.

This is what I do too...our recipes are proprietary, so when people ask I give them a publicly available recipe as a starting point. Of course I make it clear that this is not our recipe (and we spent months perfecting it).

jason_kraft Posted 31 Jul 2011 , 2:31pm
post #25 of 41
Originally Posted by Foxicakes

Would Bill Gates share the written code for Windows?

Funny you mention that...many successful companies do in fact give away the code for their software, this is called "open source". Much like bakers make money by baking and decorating cakes for others using those recipes, these open source software companies make money by installing, configuring, and supporting the software for clients.

ycknits Posted 31 Jul 2011 , 2:48pm
post #26 of 41

When I don't want to casually give out my cake and icing recipes, I sometimes say that my recipes are optimized for large quantities and will not produce the same results if simply divided to make a smaller quantity. That usually ends the conversation.

machnumber Posted 31 Jul 2011 , 8:03pm
post #27 of 41

If those are your friends i don't think you are going to have any competition , you know how many time i ask for a recipe i make it one time and that's it. I don't think you have to worry about it. thumbs_up.gif

tiptop57 Posted 31 Jul 2011 , 8:28pm
post #28 of 41

I don't share any more as some people can not bake and I don't want their mistake floating around the world and them blaming it on my recipe. I shared one of my blue ribbon recipes on CC and unfortunately got slammed icon_sad.gif . I guess I got thin skin.

Since then I have learned "not to play well with others" and people will have to wait until I die to get any recipe that I have created.

Claire138 Posted 31 Jul 2011 , 8:48pm
post #29 of 41
Originally Posted by tiptop57

I don't share any more as some people can not bake and I don't want their mistake floating around the world and them blaming it on my recipe. I shared one of my blue ribbon recipes on CC and unfortunately got slammed icon_sad.gif . I guess I got thin skin.

Since then I have learned "not to play well with others" and people will have to wait until I die to get any recipe that I have created.


Sara_Bee Posted 31 Jul 2011 , 9:17pm
post #30 of 41

I don't have any tried and true cake recipes just yet (still working on those), but I do have a buttercream recipe I developed myself that I LOVE. And I've given it out to friends. I don't regret it in the slightest. In my opinion, people come to me because they want a cake that looks amazing--taste is important, but it always comes second to the design. While they can have the buttercream recipe I use, they CAN'T have the hands that piped it onto the cake. I'm rather fond of those hands. icon_smile.gif And my MMF recipe is the same--it's the one found here on Cake Central and I don't think there's much you can change with it, so I don't mind giving folks that recipe since it's all over the internet anyway. Again, they still don't have the hands that turned it into something pretty.
I don't know, maybe I'll change my tune once I have a real business, but for now I'm of the sharing sort. Guess the husband has rubbed off on me--he works in open source software. icon_smile.gif

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