I live in Germany and do not have a registered business as yet. However I am allowed to bake and sell at Markets, etc. I have signed up for my very first market in November and will be (hopefully) selling my home made Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing. I don't think I will make much of a profit, because 1. the actual market is pretty new and mostly catered toward the expat community and 2. (should any locals come visit the market) past experience has proven that Germans are a bit hesitant to eat 'colorful' creations.
My question is though, how to calculate my 'time' (to work out how much to sell each cookie for) because a batch of cookies takes about 20 minutes to prepare, then there is fridge time, then cutting time, baking time, cooling time. Then the actual decorating can take up to 3 (approx.) hours per batch, 8-12 hours setting time and then another 3 (approx.) hours for finishing off (if using several different colors, etc), then another 8 hours of setting. Then there's the time is takes to 'gently' package each cookie.
Anyone here have any advice for me?
Well, I don't think you should count the time cookies are in the fridge, time they're in the oven baking, or time they are setting/drying.
I would probably go like this:
Prepare/mix cookies = 20 min.
Time to prepare dough for fridge time = 15 min.
Time cookies are in the fridge = 0 min.
Cutting time and putting them in the oven and taking them out = 1 hour
Baking time (time cookies are in the oven) = 0 min.
Cooling time = 0 min.
Time to prepare royal icing/color, etc. = 1 hr.
Decorating time = 3 hours
Finishing off time = 1 hour
Setting time = 0 min.
Packaging time = 1 hour
When I bake cookies, (1) I weigh ingredients and prepare the dough. Then I put dough in the fridge. (2) come back and roll the dough and cut them. (3) put cut cookies in the fridge for 15 min. While those are in the fridge, I'm cutting more cookies that I put in the fridge for 15 min. So the time they're in the fridge I'm either using on more cookies, or I'm doing something else. When they're decorated, I leave them drying overnight and go to sleep; I'm not watching them constantly, so that time shouldn't be counted.
And from reading these posts, I see that most "real" business bakers (people who work for profit versus those who work for fun) charge about $1USD per inch of cookie. So a 4 inch cookie (10 cm) would be priced at $4 USD (3.50 Euros). There is so much work involved that many customers don't appreciate the work and high cost.
You might want to read this article, even though it is from 2012. The kind of decorating: simple, detailed or elaborate, also matter.
Calculating for your time is hard, but you don't count time drying, or being in the fridge because you aren't actively working on them. I charge $1.00 per inch. Some decorators charge by the inch, some charge by the amount of detail and the number of colors used. The article that is linked by Sugarbelle is a good starting point.
Thanks so much everyone!
I personally wouldn't calculate by the inch, I would calculate by time. You may have a HUGE heart cookie but with nothing on it versus a little baby cookie with lots and lots of detail.
I agree that your biggest challenge will be selling the product to the German consumer. I am actually munching my way through a (delicious!) Lebkuchen biscuit as I write (picked up on my trip a few weeks ago!) but there is definitely a difference in opinion towards baked goods. Maybe you could do iced biscuits but keep the colours muted to start with so that there is not the impression of a lot of artificial colourings? Or make the biscuit decoration so that it is detailed but a large part of the base cookie is still visible? I'm sure that over time, people will start to spread the word about them.
I have spent a large amount of my time in Germany and Austria especially and it is very noticeable how there are different preferences towards cakes and cookies. I saw my first fondant-covered cake in a bakery window a few weeks ago when I was there and was really surprised. The problem is that German and Austrian cakes are sooooo damn good (both in looks and taste!) that they don't need to cover them with sugar and decorations to make them appealing!!!