AI tried to search for other posts about this topic on here, but none of the results I found really addressed my issue, so perhaps one of you out there can help me with my current dilemma. I am just a home hobby type baker. I generally only make cakes for family and really close friends and almost always for free. I have only really sold a very few cakes, and none were at a profit. I've never even broken even on materials. But I still end up doing a cake or two sometimes a couple of weekends a month. So now I'm approached with what would be my very first for potential profit cake job. A friend's step daughter's wedding cakes. And I feel confident I can pull off the job, even though it's a much larger scale than anything I have ever attempted before (170 people!). But...there's one area here I just have never figured out how to handle...cake tasting. How does the small time caker like me pull off a cake tasting economically? I asked the bride to be if she had any thoughts at all about flavors, and she doesn't. And then she said she was going to go to a local bakery for a cake tasting to get ideas. Well I've already lost a wedding cake to that type deal before. The couple went elsewhere for a tasting to get flavor ideas, and suddenly they were getting cake from that bakery, and I wasted a whole lot of time explaining options and am discussing plans, etc... I'm not a bakery. I don't have trays of cupcakes sitting around in 20 different flavors to sample. I can make almost any flavor she'd like, but if she doesn't have any idea of even where to start, what can I do? I can't economically make batches of every kind of cupcake I know how to make just to offer up tasting samples of everything... How have others like you all dealt with this problem?
AI have never done this myself and I am interested to know too what others have to say.
When you don't know where to start, you start anywhere. Maybe ask her (and him) what were the best birthday cakes they've ever had and start from that.
If I were you I would write down all the flavor combos I know and choose those that I am most confident in offering. Say out of 20 you can make, choose 4 or 5. You can always scale down the recipes and make a production of maybe 2 trays of cupcakes with different batters in the oven at the same time? - I'm not sure if this is at all possible. The frostings you can make ahead of time.
It could be time consuming because maybe you will have to cleanup in between batters, but I think it's the economical option.
AAssuming you're a registered and inspected home baker (if not you can sort this pretty quickly but it is a rqt before you sell) your best bet is to make 2-3 small cakes, go for peoples general favourites, and a few fillings based on the same initial batch; i.e. divide a large batch and add flavours; that way she can mix and match a number of variations without you having to assemble them all.
If she is definitely your customer you need to add the cost of the tasting, including your time, to the final cost of the cake, if you are still competing for her custom it is often better to charge her for the tasting but credit the charge to her final bill.