I'm new to this forum and I LOVE it - a big thanks to everyone who posts - I'm learning so much! I, like many of you are doing successfully, am trying to get a part-time cookie business off the ground. I'm testing the waters this weekend at a local farmer's market. My problem is that I've been baking like a mad woman and up until 1am and 2am decorating cookies... I'm thinking that I perhaps could be more efficient. I'd really appreciate helpful hints/tips from any of you on how you coordinate the decorating process (i.e., do you make lots of icing and then tint in batches and store, what kind of bags do you use to decorate? how many tips/couplings do you have?). Maybe I'm planning to offer too much of a variety, but I'm feeling overwhelmed - and - how do you store all those cookies until the event? In Rubbermaid containers? Freezer? How far ahead would you bake for a farmer's market type event? I know - so many questions..
I have this problem too. I find the cookie decorating to be very, very time consuming. I am not sure if it is worth it but I love it so I will continue. The best advice I can give you is to bake and freeze. I don't feel great about selling a cookie that has been frozen but my husband says there is no difference in taste. Otherwise I don't think I could handle making so many cookies with out someone to help me. So, I bake, decorate if I can then freeze. You can also freeze undecorated cookies so you can be a little bit ahead. I also make up a batch of royal and have it on hand. The problem with this can be that it will separate after a few days. You will have to mix well again if this happens. The whole cookie decorating thing is extremely labor intensive. I tend to be very detailed so it takes me forever. I can be locked in the house all day working on my cookies! Good luck. I too am interested in what everyone has for advice.
It is time consuming to decorate cookies, especially when you have to do a lot of them. I've had decorated cookies last for a little more than a week, which is great since I have limited freezer space. For larger orders, I make the dough and cut all the cookies one night, bake and cover them the next night, and finish the decorating the third night. That works particularly well for large numbers of cookies (like 100+). For smaller orders, I may cut, bake and cover on the first night, and finish decorating on the second night. I use the disposable decorating bags, and I make and color the icing when I'm going to cover the cookies, and just cover it tightly with plastic wrap until the next night when I finish decorating. I don't keep royal icing because it will separate, and then it's just a mess to deal with.
Undecorated cookies get stored in large plastic containers with a lid, separate by sheets of either waxed paper or parchment paper. They're good for at least a week like that, as long as the lid is pretty airtight.