Cupcake Business

Baking By rere0726 Updated 13 Jan 2011 , 5:13am by cheatize

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rere0726 Posted 11 Jan 2011 , 5:03am
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I am tring to start my own cupcake business, would it be wrong for me to use box cake mix instead of a scratch cake mix. I just can't seem to get the right taste that I am searching for. I am a little depressed about the situation. Please help. Thanks icon_redface.gif

14 replies
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VickeyC Posted 11 Jan 2011 , 5:19am
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Don't let it get you down. icon_wink.gif There are many cakers that have been doing this for years and have owned shops for years that still only use mixes. There are no laws that say that you have to bake from scratch. icon_biggrin.gif Keep your chin up and Happy caking! icon_biggrin.gif

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scp1127 Posted 11 Jan 2011 , 5:54am
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The cupcake businesses I have seen are pretty much gourmet or very unique. I am not sure how you will get someone to pay a high price for box mix cupcakes. I do sell cupcakes and to make the price work, with the profit I want, I have to offer something that the average person cannot make themselves. In a jam, most moms can make box mix cupcakes and swirl on some store bought icing. Look at a school bake sale. My bakery is a separate fully licensed commercial kitchen on my property. I have no overhead and I still would not base a business plan on something that is so easily accessable at next to no cost by the average person.

The exceptions to successful box mix use are those very talented cake artists who sell their art and use a box mix as their "canvas", and a brick and mortar bakery that offers many items. A baker doesn't start a bakery unless there is a specialty in something, it just may not be cupcakes.

I personally like the taste of box mixes and scratch. I just don't think you can transfer the success of cake artists using box mixes to a cupcake business and have it profitable. Successful cupcake companies must be unique and "outside of the box" in both presentation and marketing. Maybe I am wrong, but I have done a tremendous amount of research and not one cupcake business is just average. Google cupcake businesses all over the country and decide for yourself.

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cake_architect Posted 11 Jan 2011 , 6:46am
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i def think you can use box mix. so many bakeries/cakeries all over the world use them, you committing yourself to doom by doing so as well! try various doctored mixes to change up the palate so its not a "bake sale" cupcake. There's plenty of threads on here that back up the idea that most people now-a-days don't like the taste of scratch recipes, me included.

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indydebi Posted 11 Jan 2011 , 7:07am
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A person needs to choose how they want to run their business and what kind of products they want to sell. I just hate to see people fall into the trap of thinking if they are going to sell it, then it HAS to be made from scratch. There is a significant talent to make a good scratch cake and I recognize that. But there are also a lot of wholesale food distributors who are selling tons of 50-lb bags of "just add water" cake mixes and they are not selling them to bake sale moms.

Heck, my daughter and I went to lunch at a cafe the other day and as part of their decor, they stack 50-lb bags of cake mix right out in the store, using it to create the aisle for people to walk down to place their order. Now if THAT isn't being honest and up front about how they make their cakes, I dont' know what is! And this place isn't cheap, either! I spent $18 just on me for a sandwich, an iced tea and a couple of cookies for dessert.

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scp1127 Posted 11 Jan 2011 , 8:38am
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I agree that you can bake from a mix for profit... but the difference here is a business based solely on cupcakes. These cupcakeries are built on gimmicks such as fabulous storefronts, eye-catching mobile trucks, and/or unique recipes and flavors. The storefronts and trucks are spending upwards of $100,000 to $350,000 to start these businesses and with their marketing plan, they don't have to offer unique flavor to succeed, even though most do. The ones out of rented kitchens and home bakeries are all centered on flavor and looks and being the best. Go to Cupcakes Take The Cake and get on their daily email list. They feature small cupcake businesses daily and those bakers are on the cutting edge. Look at the skill of the small time bakers on Cupcake Wars. That is the skill level of the businesses based solely on cupcakes. I would not have said what I said if I had not researched this for the past 1 1/2 years. Again, take a look around the web and see for yourself.

The new craze is french macarons. If you are going to base a business solely around one cookie, you better know how to make them better than your competition. If you are just going to have them as one of your offerings in a lunch cafe, bakery, or custom cake business, they can be ok and not hurt your business.

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lauriekailee Posted 11 Jan 2011 , 9:06am
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Originally Posted by rere0726

I am tring to start my own cupcake business, would it be wrong for me to use box cake mix instead of a scratch cake mix. I just can't seem to get the right taste that I am searching for. I am a little depressed about the situation. Please help. Thanks icon_redface.gif

Have you tried doctoring a mix? This way you can have some of the flavour of the mix, but still make it your own mix? Might be a way to get the best of both worlds!

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cheatize Posted 11 Jan 2011 , 4:44pm
post #8 of 15

We visited a cupcakery while on vacation in Virginia Beach last summer. They were box mix and commercial fondant all the way. The fondant even tasted blech. By early afternoon, they were almost sold out and they charged $3 per cupcake.

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Neelas_wife Posted 11 Jan 2011 , 5:13pm
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If you want to go the cake mix way - I would highly recommend cake mix + a few ingredients to make it unique. Think of WASC for example - it is one of the best flavors around and it is doctoredicon_smile.gif Good Luck!

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adamsmom Posted 11 Jan 2011 , 5:48pm
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rere0726- I have to agree with indydebi on this matter. Do what you prefer to do and do it really well. I myself had this same decision to make last year at this time and after all of the input I received from all the wonderful cakers here on CC, in the end I had to make the decision of what would be best for me. In the end I use mixes and doctor them up to make them my own. I had one lady at the Farmer's market last spring ask me if I used a mix. I told her that I did, however, that I added to them to make them my own. She decided to buy a few cupcakes and the very next weekend I saw her. Want to know what she had to say? She first apologized that she gave me such a hard time and said that my cupcakes were fabulous! She was a repeat customer all summer long and even put in a special order for a shower once. All I have to say is no matter which way you go, BE HONEST! For the most part people don't care if it's made from scratch or a mix as long as it's good. Best wishes! icon_biggrin.gif

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sugarspice Posted 11 Jan 2011 , 5:49pm
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Check out the book
The Cake Mix Doctor...a whole book on how to doctor mixes for cakes, cupcakes, coffee cakes, etc

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scp1127 Posted 12 Jan 2011 , 9:57am
post #12 of 15

I just watched Cupcake Wars tonight. The competitors talked about how competitive and \\"brutal\\" the cupcake business can be. I hope you all are giving her the right information. Again, a $300,000 retail operation in a resort town is a different situation. If you go into any business and don\\'t know how to do it better than most, your new competitor can put you out of business overnight. And yes, you will get competitors. If you just want to sell a few cupcakes at a farmer\\'s market, you don\\'t have anything to lose, it\\'s not much volume.

But she said CUPCAKE BUSINESS. Again, beware of investing money and depending on an income from any business in which you are not an expert.

I have made my own doctored mixes I created (after learning about them here on CC), and they are good. But we all practiced, adjusted, and modified until we were satisfied that they could not get better before they were sold. There are no short cuts and straight Duncan Hines is a business risk. I don\\'t sell doctored mixes because I advertise as scratch, and you can\\'t be everything to everyone. But I sure wish I could do a few because they are great. And I agree that you must be honest about your recipes.

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Chiara Posted 12 Jan 2011 , 11:40am
post #13 of 15

What you propose at the moment is risky. The economy is not quite back up to speed.
If you are in an area where you will be a niche market then you might do well.
I think all these tv shows are not practical. They show people what is going on but in such a condensed form that the talent that does shine is even better when not put under unreasonable challenges. The cup cake shows are not all great. I know I shake my head sometimes when I see one show and how they operate. I am sure they make more money on the show itself because I would not pay what they are charging for a cup cake when it does not seem like there is anything special in it.
As for box versus scratch. Some like the convenience of the box but then anyone can duplicate that flavour unless you doctor it. For those who think scratch is a lessor tasting cake then they have not run across a good set of recipes. I can tell you that my scratch cakes far exceed box cakes. Now having said that, I will use a box red velvet only because of the amount of food colouring added to it. I do make it my own by adding things to it.
Good luck you are taking a huge step. Have fun with it because if you don\\'t you will not be happy working on them either.

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scp1127 Posted 12 Jan 2011 , 12:41pm
post #14 of 15

My reference to the cupcake show was for two reasons. First, they tell you what the competition is like. Second, they are all scratch bakers who have the ability to manipulate surprise ingredients and make it bake (even though it may not taste good).

Chiara, I agree that they are making more money on the show. They talk alot about how tough the business is. If you watch closely, many are renting commercial kitchens and the others have small storefronts. And I agree with you about the scratch cakes. My scratch cakes are nothing like a box cake and no one has ever asked me if they are box. I just had a scratch carrot cake this weekend and it was the worst cake I have ever had. I would have much rather had a box cake and I paid for this cake. But I was in a hospital cafeteria, so again, the hospital won\\\\\\'t suffer over a bad cake. And I agree, in this market, any business venture is risky without expertise and a foolproof marketing plan.

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cheatize Posted 13 Jan 2011 , 5:13am
post #15 of 15

My apologies, I was not clear. We purchased the cupcakes half an hour away from the beach. They were not purchased on the strip but elsewhere.

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