Cake Tasting For Small Business

Business By kcampeau Updated 24 Feb 2016 , 1:21am by karmen.wong

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kcampeau Posted 13 Feb 2016 , 2:19pm
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I know this has been asked and I have read the threads but I none of the answers quite fit my situation.

I have a start up small baking business I do a few orders per week as I am mostly a mom and as he grows I hope my business will grow and I will take on more.

I am getting more inquiries and getting some people with more expensive occasion cakes wanting a taste of my product as they have never had anything from me. I also have some brides maybe 1 out of 5 wanting a tasting as well. They are willing to pay but my issue is I am small and only do a few cakes or cupcakes per week. I do not have a variety of flavors each week and do not like my product to freeze more than a week at a time. 

I also do not have so many inquiries for it to make 1 day a month to dedicate to tastings where I have all of them on 1 day and bake fresh.

So does anyone have any ideas on how to bake 1 cupcake at a time or something in order to satisfy these requests for tastings.

Thank you in advance!

6 replies
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caking.baking Posted 13 Feb 2016 , 5:16pm
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johnson6ofus Posted 13 Feb 2016 , 6:34pm
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I don't understand that you only freeze for a week. Have you tried a taste test on your recipe? Make a small batch, wrap and seal tightly (like, freeze on a tray for an hour, wrapped each in plastic wrap and foil and then in a ziplock bag). Defrost one cupcake every 3 days and taste. When does it no longer taste like "your cake"?

Freezing is your friend!

Remember, it is the freeze. thaw cycle of "frost free" freezers that cause the damage. An old, manual defrost freezer is best. 

Even if your normal baking process is to "not freeze more than a week", the idea of a tasting is to provide a representative example of your work. 

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tokazodo Posted 16 Feb 2016 , 11:21am
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I work and bake and lately baking has turned this into two full time jobs. I do the tastings but I do it as my schedule permits and I have certain guidelines. 

I do it only for wedding cakes that will feed between 80 and 100 people. ( I do dozens of wedding cakes a year for less then 30 servings and it's just not a good idea economically to provide tastings for those cakes) 

I do not schedule tastings during my busy wedding months of May, June, September and October. (That is when I am at my busiest)

I charge $25.00 per tasting/consult and that price goes towards the overall cost of the order. (Deposit is separate) 

I choose the flavors of cake and I've done it in 2 different manners. 

1. I mix up a batch of Yellow and chocolate cake batter and pour the 1/2 of the yellow cake batter into 1/2 of a tilted 9 X 13 greased pan. I keep the pan tilted and then pour the chocolate batter into the other half slowly lowering the pan until the 2 batters meet in the middle. Take a bamboo skewer, tooth pick, drinking straw, anything and drag it back and forth through the central 2 inches between the vanilla cake batter and the chocolate cake batter creating a 3rd flavor, marbled cake. After baking as usual, wrap tightly and freeze. Because you mixed 2 cake batters you will have enough for 4 tastings. I wouldn't freeze it any longer the 4-5 weeks. I cut the sheet cake down the middle lengthwise and cut into 1/2 inch- 1" squares. I add just a small dollop of icing to the top of each. Each 1/4 sheet pan allows for 2 tastings. Using 1 batch of vanilla batter and 1 batch of chocolate provide up to 4 tastings this way. (Please see below as to how I ice the cake, I do the same for the mini cupcakes)

2. The second way I prepare for a tasting is to make a little bit of extra batter (google cake extender recipes or just double the batter) and I make lined, mini cupcakes. (My clients love these!) I make up mini cupcakes in at least Vanilla, Chocolate and Marbled cake and if I have  any other flavors I'm baking, I steel some batter to make them. I wrap them tightly and freeze. They are ready whenever I need them. 

I set up 4 vanilla, 4 chocolate 4 marbled mini cupcakes and Ice with Vanilla Buttercream. 

I do the same again and ice with Chocolate Buttercream or Fudge Icing. 

I do the same again and Ice with Raspberry Buttercream. 

This allows for 12 different kinds of cupcakes and icings. 

If I have any other cake flavors: Red Velvet, Key Lime, Lemon, I try to add just a few more. 

What ever the couple doesn't eat at the tasting, I box up and they take them with them. That way they can share them with whom ever they like. 

I have also prepared a "Tasting To Go" which is basically, 18 mini cupcakes iced and ready to go. I do this when I am really busy and I usually don't charge for this because I haven't been able to give them my time for a consult. 

The upside of tastings: 99% of the time you book the order. 

I hope that helps! Good Luck! 

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Snowflakebunny23 Posted 16 Feb 2016 , 12:11pm
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I am similar - I don't have many orders but I do tasting weekends/days every few months subject to my scheduling.  If someone was ordering a large celebration cake then I would offer it but otherwise, it's wedding cakes only.  A couple can come in for a consultation at any time and then we pick a design.  I quote them for the design and a mid-range combination of flavours which the 50% deposit is based on.  At some point between then and the wedding, they come in for a tasting session and finalise the flavours.  Any increase/decrease in cost is then taken from the final balance due a month before the wedding.  I guess it may seem a bit complicated to some but no one has complained.  I explain the benefits - they get to taste ALL my flavours this way rather than just one or two and almost without exception, they will end up adding something they hadn't thought about.  Wedding cakes are usually booked between 6 and 18 months before the event so the odds, I will have at least one or 2 sessions they can make.  If they can't for some reason, I will usually whip up a couple of flavours just for them but that's not happened yet.  They seem to all get really excited about it as well :-)  It's probably not for everyone but it has worked for me.  If it's a quiet period, I just have a bit of leftover biggie! xxx

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costumeczar Posted 16 Feb 2016 , 12:31pm
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I tried to do the group tastings and people here were thoroughly confused by the process and didn't like it. They all expect a one-on-one appointment. I wrote a guide to tasting appts for home-based bakers and it's something like 40 pages long, so there are many, many ways to do it. I never freeze anything but I group all of my appointments together on one day so that I only have to prep things once. You can do them at home if the health dept lets you do that, use an outside office, meet in a Starbucks or somewhere like that, ti's up to you and what you're comfortable with.

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karmen.wong Posted 24 Feb 2016 , 1:21am
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I also own a small business, but i have a store. I only bake to order. When I have a consolation I charge $15 for a tasting. My recipes are quite similar so that I can produce different flavours with the one batch. The 15$ gets credited towards a cake if they order. This at least covers some of the cost for tuning on my oven and ingredients. Hope that helps. 

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