How do most of you without storefronts do tastings? I don't charge for tastings but I end up baking a fresh batch times 4 different flavors plus one fresh batch of IMBC every single time I have a tasting. That gets very costly. Would it be possible to make your batter ahead and freeze it in small portions so you could bake a couple fresh cupcakes of each flavor at a time??? Do you think that would work?? And maybe the same for IMBC......make a batch of each flavor and freeze it and then just re whip when I need a small amount?
I think it would be better to freeze the cupcakes once baked. With defrosting batter, I'd think you have to worry about increased moisture and the leavening losing potency. If I think I might use them for a tasting, I'll wrap them individually in saran wrap then put them in a freezer bag with the air sucked out (for normal occasions I'll just put them straight into the bag sans saran wrap). The last tasting I did, my clients kept commenting on how fresh the cupcakes tasted compared to the brick and mortar bakeries they'd tried. Also, are you making four full batches or smaller batches or one batch that's flavored separately?
I make 4 separate full batches. They are each very different so they can't just be flavored separately unfortunately.
Gotcha, that's what I thought. Maybe you could make 1/2 or 1/3 batches depending on how easily divisible the ingredients are. That's what I usually do and end up with 4-6 good samples of each flavor. One thing to note about freezing, I usually only do it with pretty strong flavors and sturdy cakes (e.g. chocolate, spice cake). A more delicate cake might pick up flavors, but I can't say definitively since I've never tried freezing a white cake base cupcake.
That's very costly and time consuming especially for free tastings. I would divide the recipes like annagon said and bake the cakes in small loaves, fill and frost, wrap them like crazy and freeze, cut the loaves frozen as you need. There have been a number of threads about tastings and most agree making customers pay for tastings is a better business practice and weeds out the "I just want free cake" moochers. You could schedule tastings for the price of 4 cupcakes and to further entice them to book, let them know the price of the tasting will be subtracted from the final order if they book with you.
Also, there's a long thread on here about freezing batter. As long as its a baking powder batter, then there is just NO PROBLEM AT ALL with freezing batter.
Also, from a long time wedding cake designer, with 1,000 cakes in her background, let me encourage you to discover the world of Hero Compounds, emulsions, flavorings, and icing fruits. Each can be used to flavor a vanilla cake batter.
I offered 32 different flavors at one time, and frankly I only needed to make two batters: vanilla and chocolate. Everything else was created with the things listed above.
Wow Leah!!! Right now I make everything from scratch.....all different recipes. My strawberry IMBC I cook down bags of frozen strawberries and add it to the IMBC. Raspberry.....cook down frozen n add to IMBC. Lemon cake I make my own lemon curd from scratch and add it to the scratch lemon cake. Then I add lemon curd to IMBC. So.....that's my world. haha Do you think it's more profitable (I'm sure it's faster) to discover this world of emulsions, etc??? And I don't have a great vanilla cake batter. I use WASC and I'm not crazy about it. Thanks to all of you for your ideas!
I'm also a scratch baker. I usually make a 1/4 recipe for tastings. Get 6 cupcakes per 1/4 batch. Do this for 4 batters or maybe just 3 as i may make two kinds from a vanilla cupcake. Same with frosting. Start with 1 batch of vanilla. Divide into 4 bowls. Add cocoa to one, add almond to one, add lemon zest and juice to one, etc. I use 4 pack cupcake containers. I charge $20 for a tasting. They get 4 different flavors of cupcakes, baker's choice. I give them 2 of the packs for $20.00. If they book, I subtract the tasting fee from their balance. If I have orders that week I just make a couple of cupcakes from the batters I'm already baking and those flavors will go in my baker's choice. I make up additional 4 packs with any leftover cupcakes and wrap well and freeze. If I dont use within a few weeks we eat or i give away as a gift!
My vanilla and chocolate cakes are scratch. There are Hero compounds ($$) in a variety of flavors and icing fruits ($) also in nearly a dozen flavors. Extracts are fine, but emulsions hold their flavor under heat better. For lemon cake, I start with the vanilla cake, add lemon extract, lemon emulsion, and possibly lemon zest. Even for carrot cake, I start with vanilla batter, add shredded carrots and tons of spices. You gotta work smart, have a great tasting product, of course, but position yourself to make money.
I don't do SMBC or IMBC because I've never liked the taste. I do an AMBC though. Generally don't flavor icing because it usually needed to be white for wedding cakes.
I started charging for tastings and all of the looky-lou time-wasters went away immediately. My no-show rate dropped to zero, too. And I don't even credit the fee to the price of the cake, but that's an option if a lot of people in your area don't charge. I also do all of my tastings on one day so that I can bake once and not worry about freezing things. If I only have two people I make tiny cakes to cut up for the samples. If I have ten I plan for that, But since a payment is required to confirm the appointment there's no guesswork about how much to make.
A good rule of thumb for tastings is making sure you get money for people that dont book a cake through you. So I would tell people a tasting is $25, if you book during the tasting the fee is waived. Book after and the $25 is taken off the price of the cake. And if they never book then at least you have the money for your time and supplies. I also only did tastings for weddings or large specialty cakes that would fall into the $100s. Its not worth the time and money to do tastings for every cake that comes through the door. I worked at a family run bakery so we had a stocked case of cupcakes every day. I would tell people inquiring that they could buy some cupcakes if they wanted to sample the product.
For cake tastings, I freeze extra
batter and filling from cakes I have made. When I get a cake tasting I
pull out the batter in labeled ziplock bags, bake and fill a 4 inch cake.
They get to choice 3 flavors and fillings and get 3 - 4 inch cakes. I
charge $20 which is credited toward their cake order if they book. If
they don't I get paid for the cost of ingredients. Everything freezes
well and turns out great every time. This also helps if I get a mixed
order of cupcakes, I can mix up the flavors without making new batches all the
Read more at http://www.cakecentral.com/forum/t/827057/tastings#77UL0CjFJ5ft7wZq.99
I offer baker's choice tastings and custom tastings. Custom tasting cost $$ per flavor (up to 4 flavors) and baker's choice is free. For BC I make small 3 layer 6" rounds with filling and then they can pair icings. I just cut small samples from that and wrap really well and freeze. Seems to work great. I choose from the same 4-5 flavors each week and they get what they get.
I am like Leahs though, I use different types of fruits and flavorings to mix into my vanilla and chocolate batter so I can just mix and match easily for custom tastings and there is much less waste. I also do not allow that custom tasting charge to go towards their order. Why should I when I offer a free option and they chose one that costs money and takes time?