Can I Get Your Advices Please?

Business By arodbabe20 Updated 4 Apr 2012 , 2:12pm by sweetideas

arodbabe20 Posted 30 Mar 2012 , 7:38pm
post #1 of 17

Hi friends! I've been looking around and basically I have a couple of questions. Since I live in FL and we are under the Cottage Food Law,I've been trying to get started on selling cakes from home. I have finally got my KItchenaid!! Wow,it's awesome! Anyway, my questions are basically the following. I have been trying to do cakes from scratch since I think might be better if I will be making special ordered cakes but I can't seem to find good recipes OR I'm not doing them as I should. They come out either dry or nasty,just never as good as the people say. How did you guys get your recipes to work for you? Do you all work from scratch or are box mixes ok to tweak around too? Also, how many of you have taken the Wilton classes vs how many have just learned off of tutorials and hands on?? I'm considering the Wilton classes but Idk,I see youtube has many MANY tutorials and there are so many here too that I'm not sure. Also,the classes say $22 plus supplies. Would that be EACH class that you have to pay $22?

Please ANY answer would be great.
Thanks in advance


16 replies
ChristineCMC Posted 30 Mar 2012 , 7:58pm
post #2 of 17

Before you start selling, I would suggest to get your recipes in order. There are some great recipes on here. I would also suggest Michele Foster's book The Sugar Fix. It is fantastic!!! The recipes are easy and delicious too. She also gives suggestions on what frosting to use with the cakes. Her book has not just cakes, but frosting and fondant too! It really has become my go to for yummy cakes.

Just practice, practice, practice.

Ginnycakes Posted 30 Mar 2012 , 8:09pm
post #3 of 17

Wilton classes: a set of four classes is $22.50 in Iowa. Then there are four sets of four classes each, starting from the beginning and going through flower-making, gumpaste and fondant. The classes are entirely worthwhile!

arodbabe20 Posted 30 Mar 2012 , 8:10pm
post #4 of 17

Thanks Christine!! I'm going to look for that book asap. I could really use some good recipes and meanwhile I guess I'll just practice piping and decorating. icon_smile.gif

arodbabe20 Posted 30 Mar 2012 , 8:13pm
post #5 of 17

Thanks Ginny, I'll have to call Michael's which is my closest craft store and see if it's the same here. That way, I could just take each course at my own pace..

vgcea Posted 30 Mar 2012 , 9:34pm
post #6 of 17

I highly recommend the Wilton courses. They're affordable, and introduce you to the different aspects of cake decorating with the added advantage of having a teacher to guide you. I find that online tutorials make more sense and I am able to grasp the info better after having the basics covered in class. You can still do great without the Wilton courses but it cuts back on the learning curve.

As far as scratch baking or mixes, the choices run the gamut from exclusively scratch bakers to those who use both to exclusively mix (mostly doctored). You have to decide what will work for you.

I never really started off wanting to bake exclusively from scratch, I tended to use both scratch and box. One evening (while preparing for a Wilton class icon_biggrin.gif ) I baked a box mix cake and was so annoyed at the way the cake turned out. That same night I made a scratch carrot cake, and the difference was so clear I vowed never to use a box again. Coincidentally, that choice coincided (hehehe!) with when I decided to transition from hobbyist to business woman.

Has it been easy going cold turkey from box to scratch? NO! It started off pretty frustrating with cake after cake failing-- too dry, too flat, too dense. Baking for personal use, and for customers is different. I can afford to have my cake turn out different each time if I'm going to be the one eating it, but for a business, I need consistent results. Some recipes would turn out great one time and flop the next (hint: Sylvia Weinstock's yellow cake). One day I just sat on the floor and cried LOLOLOL!!!!! I got tips from wonderful members here on CC, and baked A LOT. I have trashed enough cake to feed a small nation. There are days I tried 5 recipes and everything went into the trash after tasting and noting what needed to be improved (I don't like to keep too much cake around, my waistline pays for it). It has gotten to a point that I eat cake to analyze not to enjoy icon_lol.gif

Tips that helped me:
1. Asking questions

2. Read bakery books (not just recipes but textbooks that explain the WHY).

3. Analyze and try out recipes but don't just try a bunch of recipes for trying sake, think through WHY this recipe works or fails. Why am I using baking soda in this recipe?

4. Understand baker's percentages if you can. The final version of my white and yellow cakes (after $$$, and months of trying popular recipes) involved me getting down to the basics. What percentage of butter relative to the total amount of flour in a recipe will give me x result? I did that for the major ingredients, and was able to come up with something that works for me. The 500,000 cakes I trashed also helped to give me an idea of what could work.

5. Most importantly, don't give up. If you believe in a higher power trust that He has great plans for you and will prosper the works of your hands. He holds all wisdom in His hands and is able to give you the guidance you will need to make this work.

I still have a long way to go but I'm getting closer everyday!

Wow, this is officially the longest post I've even written on CC.

arodbabe20 Posted 30 Mar 2012 , 10:43pm
post #7 of 17

Wow vg,thanks. I guess Wilton classes it is then.. And the baker's percentage,I am not quite sure I can learn since I'm not the greatest at math but I'll try! I should go get started on finding a good recipe to see what happens now,lol...

costumeczar Posted 31 Mar 2012 , 1:54am
post #8 of 17

Get a copy of The Cake Bible, which has good sections about ingredients and why the recipes work the way they do. If you understand that you can adjust recipes to correct the recipes if you need to.

arodbabe20 Posted 31 Mar 2012 , 2:36am
post #9 of 17

Thanks costumeczar. I'm going to look for it on amazon or maybe a downloadable ebook? I've heard of it before but didn't know it would help me in this situation. Thanks again! icon_biggrin.gif

costumeczar Posted 31 Mar 2012 , 3:57am
post #10 of 17
Originally Posted by arodbabe20

Thanks costumeczar. I'm going to look for it on amazon or maybe a downloadable ebook? I've heard of it before but didn't know it would help me in this situation. Thanks again! icon_biggrin.gif

You can get a used copy cheap on Amazon, I'm sure. You can also go to the author's website to ask scratch baking questions.

Blueridgebuttercream Posted 31 Mar 2012 , 9:53pm
post #11 of 17


I second the recommendation of The Cake Bible. I would also recommend a decently accurate food scale to go with it. (I have an OXO that is fairly inexpensive ($30ish). Having the ability to accurately measure the ingredients by weight will not only make your recipes turn out better and more consistently, but it is so much easier, faster, and leaves fewer dishes to clean up. Using a food scale with reverse-creaming recipes has been a revelation to me.

(Reverse creaming means you add the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl first, then add the butter and a little liquid, instead of creaming the butter and sugar together first, which is the standard creaming method.) Having the scale will also make the baker's percentages much easier to figure out.

fabray13 Posted 31 Mar 2012 , 10:43pm
post #12 of 17

I tend to disagree with the wilton courses. Yes I took them but did not learn from them nor do I use any of the skills taught. I would recommend watching videos on youtube. As far as recipes, i started with doctored mixes, most i found on here. But now ive slowly transitioned to scartch. I have tons of cookbooks and have experimented. Its just takes time!

scp1127 Posted 1 Apr 2012 , 5:32am
post #13 of 17

I'm an exclusive scratch baker and love every minute of it. That's the first requirement because you will fail before you succeed. It's like tennis or painting, a skill or craft will only get to the higher levels with practice.

I think one of the worst things that has happened to the baking business is internet recipes. People post everything and more are bad than good.

So some shortcut suggestions: Watch the threads on CC where we discuss scratch recipes. Some topics have been Red Velvet, Yellow, White, Mud, and Chocolate. You can search CC by going to Google and searching "cake central whie cake", for example. Speaking of wite cake, an accomplished baker, FromScratch has shared her recipe in her blog with a tutorial. I think the full name is From Scratch SF. It will come up.

Another cake discussed in great detail are the Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Cake. All of the hints are given in pages of information.

Look up "Scratch Offs" on CC (through google) for testings and comparisons of scratch recipes.

Getting back to the scratch threads, when you see one, try out the recipe and ask questions as you go.

A few other science books I like along with The Cake Bible are Bakewise, and I'm Just Here For More Food (the one that got me hooked on the science of baking).

If you have a specific flavor you would like to work on, pm me and I'll share mine.

Good luck and I hope you decide that scratch baking is for you. It isn't enough to just bake from scratch as you have experienced, it must taste great. But once you get a great recipe, you have it for life.

arodbabe20 Posted 4 Apr 2012 , 2:34am
post #14 of 17

Thanks guys. I'm going to look into getting a scale. Where did you get yours if you don't mind me asking BlueRidge? Also,you mean that by weighing the ingredients rather than using measuring cups and spoons will make the end result a lot better?
Fabray,did you take all the Wilton courses? Now I'm not sure whether I should take them or not icon_confused.gif
Scp1127,thanks so much for offering some of your recipes. I'll definitely be PMing you soon,since I'm really interested in a few specific flavors.
Thanks guys..and yeah ,I really hope scratch is for me. It great !

Blueridgebuttercream Posted 4 Apr 2012 , 4:05am
post #15 of 17

No, of course I don't mind. There's not much available in the stores around here, so I just got mine on, 'cause they had free shipping (and because I'm too lazy to research a ton of sites and shop around!)

The idea with weighing the ingredients is that way the actual amount you are getting is always the same, so the results are the same every time. When measuring things like flour or powdered sugar by volume, it's very easy to get different amounts because one time you didn't fluff it up as much, the other time you knocked the cup against the counter and stuff settled so more packed in. Plus, some recipes are written expecting you to "dip and sweep" the flour, others expect you to "spoon in and level." If you don't know which the recipe writer meant, it can really throw your recipe off, because the ratios of water to flour will be wrong. Oh, and measuring by weight also does an end run around the whole question of are your measuring cups even close to accurate! The cups themselves can be significantly different in size between different brands.

Of course, the end result will only be better if you have a good recipe in the first place, but when you know you are accurately measuring, if it still isn't coming out right, you can know it either isn't a good recipe or your technique is off.

I didn't mention the Wilton courses because others had already chimed in, but here's my two cents: I've taken two of them, the Decorating Basics (Class 1) and Fondant and Gumpaste (Class 3). For me, they were a disappointment, but I'm still glad that I took them. The woman who taught mine just was not a very good teacher. She basically just repeated the words out of the books and couldn't give any real feedback about my work. At one of the classes she spent the whole time working on a cake that she admitted was an imitation of my cake from the previous class and she told me mine looked much more "professional" than hers! (I mean, seriously, as the teacher, don't admit that, even if it's true.)

However, I was still glad that I took them (well, at least the Fondant and Gumpaste) because they forced me to get a babysitter and actually sit down and do the stuff. I could theoretically have taught myself from online tutorials or books what I got from the class, but would I have had the motivation to make myself do it? Or the two hours without a kid clutching me? Probably not. So it really depends on what your situation is and on what kind of a learner you are.

I would say, unless you know almost nothing, the decorating basics class isn't going to teach you much. If you take one of the other classes and find that the teacher is someone who really knows her stuff, it might be useful, but otherwise, if you already know how to ice a cake, do basic piping, know about icing consistency, don't bother. On the other hand, if you don't know how to do any of those things, go ahead and take the basics class; it'll be a good starting place.

fabray13 Posted 4 Apr 2012 , 12:37pm
post #16 of 17

No I didnt take all of them. I took the first 2 courses. It just wasnt worth my time or money to take the rest of the course when I wasnt learning anything. I have taught myself flowers and everything else. It just takes time and patience!

sweetideas Posted 4 Apr 2012 , 2:12pm
post #17 of 17

May I suggest if you are already above what the Wilton classes teach, that you look into if there is a local chapter of ICES in your area? I believe there is a Days of Sharing coming up with cake classes from professionals where you might perfect more techniques and learn so much? You do learn a lot more from these classes and sometimes you don't have to bring anything. the cost of the class covers supplies. To me, it is well worth it. Just and idea. Good luck!

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