Writing on Cake Without Free-Handing

Writing on Cake Without Free-Handing

Writing on Cake Without Free-Handing

Writing on Cake without Free-handing is possible and really quite easy 🙂

I simply HAD to figure this out because no matter how much I practiced, I've always SUCKED at free hand piping! As I’ve said before, artisan home baking is my thing, cake decorating is NOT my passion.

My MAIN focus is to make my bakes DELICIOUS, not pretty.

That being said, the motivation behind learning how to write on cakes is actually not to make them “pretty” per se, but rather that it makes a cake more personal. Home Bakeries are founded on being personal!

For some people the whole “neat handwriting and accurate spacing” thing comes naturally. Unfortunately the last time I had a neat handwriting I was 9.

When I tried to write something free hand on a cake I ALWAYS ended up running out of space and needing to squash in those last 3 letters. And on a good day I would win at the spacing, but still have UGLY writing.

 

To me, artisan home baking is the ULTIMATE approach to baking, but here’s the sad news…

 

Even if you bake cakes that make people pass out from YUM-overload, you will need to write special and personal messages on cakes at some point. It is absolutely inevitable.

And unfortunately, ugly writing on a cake CAN put a damper on a client’s whole experience of your cake.

 

So if your handwriting is ATROCIOUS (like mine) and if you SUCK at free handing (like me) – what do you do??

 

Fret not my friend, there is a solution for writing on cake without free-handing! It’s relatively simple and after trying it a few times, you will rock it. And most importantly your writing will look SUPER professional 😀

This process might take 3 or so attempts before you are comfortable with it (especially with working through my lengthy instructions), but then it’s so quick and easy!

I thought it best to rather explain as thoroughly as possible so that you have a great chance at success from the very first attempt!

I know you can do it – you’ve got this!!

writing on cake without free-handing step by step tutorial

 

Chocolate is the Answer

Since my Ultimate Vanilla Frosting and Ultimate Chocolate Frosting BOTH have quite a high water content, using something like Royal Icing to write on my cakes was not an option. The royal icing (and all other high sugar decorations) melt into the frosting within a few minutes.

I was not about to switch to overly sweet buttercream or flavourless fondant – EVER! So I had to find another ingredient to use.

Chocolate ended up being the perfect “ink” to work with for several reasons:

  • It has a higher fat content which prevents the sugar from melting into my frosting.
  • Chocolate is obviously way more delicious than royal icing!
  • Top Quality Chocolate sets hard (technically it crystallizes), so this enables you to write neatly on a printed template and transfer the words onto the cake.
  • Chocolate comes in a variety of shades! I use white or dark chocolate, depending on the shade of frosting or ganache coating the cake. Using a contrasting colour of chocolate really makes the writing “pop”.

But using chocolate means that there will be tempering involved. BUT, before you panic, just consider that I have a SUPER EASY chocolate tempering method to share with you today!

 

Why Does the Chocolate Need to Be Tempered?

  • Un-tempered chocolate melts VERY quickly! If the chocolate starts to melt while you are trying to transfer the words onto the cake it is one huge and panicked MESS.
  • Un-tempered chocolate tends to bloom when it sets. Blooming refers to those weird light spots or streaks you see on chocolate. It looks a bit like mould I guess. Although blooming doesn’t make the chocolate taste bad, it really just looks severely unappetizing. These light spots & streaks are cocoa butter that has separated out of the chocolate.
  • Tempered chocolate sets (technically it crystallizes) nice and hard, making it a breeze to transfer without it ever beginning to melt and stick to the palette knife!
  • Tempered chocolate has a lovely sheen to it which makes it a very beautiful centerpiece for your cake 🙂

 

How to Temper Chocolate – EASILY

Tempering chocolate was this ridiculously intimidating thing I could never master.

I even went for a short chocolate course and did the whole marble slab thing. Even though I did it more or less correctly in the class, I totally sucked at it back home and I just could not get it to work!

 

When it comes to tempering chocolate, REMEMBER THIS ONE THING:

DO NOT OVERHEAT THE CHOCOLATE.

That is it.

 

Writing on cake without free-handing - step by step tutorial

 

When you overheat chocolate, you break the structure of its crystallization – specifically the structure of the cocoa butter. Successfully tempered chocolate has optimal cocoa butter structure. When you overheat chocolate it basically means it won’t be stable – it will melt easily. It also won’t be shiny, but it will be dull or have blooming. And it won’t have a nice snap.

Click here if you want to read more on the polymorphic structure of chocolate.

The classic tempering with a marble slab allows you to overheat the chocolate and then bring it back to the right temperature on the marble slab with correct technique and experience. But it is difficult to master and super sensitive.

So don’t even go there! Why make life so difficult when it’s not necessary?

It’s far easier to just not overheat the chocolate in the first place and rather maintain the crystal structure it already has. Prevention is better than cure.

 

The best way to prevent chocolate from overheating comes down to three things:

  1. The container you melt your chocolate in. ALWAYS melt your chocolate in a PLASTIC BOWL. Ceramic, glass or aluminium bowls conduct heat FAR too easily and quickly. They also remain hot for a very long time. This will force up the temperature of your chocolate within 20 seconds – seriously.

    .
    PLASTIC BOWLS are poor heat conductors, so they do not become hot easily and they lose their heat very fast. The plastic bowl basically becomes “invisible” in the chocolate melting process, allowing the chocolate to melt at its own pace.

  2. The type of heat you apply. Although the bain-marie thing (bowl of chocolate over barely simmering water) is quite a standard way to melt chocolate – it’s not ideal. Sorry if I’m being controversial here, but it really isn’t ideal because it overheats the chocolate.

    .
    Firstly because you can’t place a plastic bowl over a bain-marie. It could melt the bowl and as we have established – plastic doesn’t conduct heat very well.

    Even if the water is barely steaming, it will still be enough to overheat your chocolate.

    Chocolate melts with VERY LITTLE heat. It melts at 30°C/86°F! So the heat you use needs to be super subtle and above all – controllable!

    For this reason I like to use my microwave. I can control exactly how hot things get and stop it abruptly at any point I wish.
    .

  3. How long you apply the heat for. If you apply any source of heat for too long, your chocolate is going to overheat. For this reason it’s best to melt the chocolate with 30 second bursts in the microwave.

    Dark chocolate can take a bit longer to melt, but BE PATIENT! Stick to 30 second bursts!

    Take it out of the microwave after EVERY 30 second burst, squash and stir it a bit (even when it’s not melting yet) and then return to the micro for the next 30 second burst. I know it’s tempting to put it in there for longer, but don’t do it!

Now that you understand the science and super important basics, let’s move on to the FULL method: Writing on Cake without free-handing, from start to finish.

 

Writing on Cake Without Free Handing – Step by Step

IF you happened to skip to this part, go back up and read the full post. All the info above was shared with great reason. If you do not understand this whole process, the chances of you failing at this really increase drastically.

 

Create and Print Your Desired Template

  1. Measure the space you want to fill on top of your cake.
  2. On your computer, in Photoshop or Canva (free program), create a block a bit smaller than the measured size. A little bit smaller is always a good idea here.
  3. Choose a good font. Cursive is better here because the letters are all connected into one item. This means that “Birthday” becomes one item to transfer instead of 8 separate letters to transfer. My favourite font to use is “Dragon is Coming”! I downloaded it for free on dafont.com – click here.
  4. Type your desired message and print it on ordinary paper.
  5. Cut around your message to make the size of the paper smaller. Stick it onto the bottom of a cake tin base plate with some sticky tape. If the tin’s base has a lip, make sure it faces the bottom so that your top surface is completely smooth and level.
  6. Cut a square of NON-STICK, opaque baking paper/parchment (not wax paper) big enough to cover the writing. You should be able to see the writing through the baking paper. Make sure there are no bumps or kinks in the paper and that it is absolutely clean. Place it over the writing template and secure it in position with a few pieces of sticky tape.

writing on cake without free-handing step by step tutorial

 

Temper the Chocolate

  1. Chop 50 g of your desired chocolate. There should be no pieces larger than 1 cm x 1 cm. SUPER IMPORTANT: Use TOP quality chocolate!! Commercial chocolate bars like Nestlé and Cadbury contain too much sugar and not enough cocoa butter, so they are always too soft and unstable. Lindt is always a safe bet.
  2. Place the chopped chocolate into a small PLASTIC bowl.
  3. Microwave in 30 second bursts. Dark chocolate can take a bit longer to melt, but BE PATIENT! Stick to one 30 second session at a time! Take it out of the microwave after EVERY 30 seconds, squash and stir it a bit (even when it’s not melting yet) and then return to the micro for the next 30 second burst. I know it’s tempting to put it in there for longer, but don’t do it!
  4. While you wait you can prepare your “piping bag”. Even though I have many piping bags, I prefer using a small, plastic sandwich bag for this (not Ziploc though. It gets in the way). Open it up and place it with one point facing down into a glass or cup. Fold the edges of the plastic bag over the side of the glass.
  5. When the chocolate BEGINS to melt reduce your next microwave session to 20 seconds. And now the next bit is crucial.
  6. THE TRICK TO GOOD TEMPERING IS TO MELT MOST, BUT NOT ALL OF THE CHOCOLATE IN THE MICROWAVE. The bits of melted chocolate may be enough to melt the rest of the chocolate pieces in the bowl, so stir and squash it thoroughly to see if the rest will melt. And keep tabs on the temperature of the chocolate by testing a bit of it on your lip. If it’s the same temperature or cooler you are on the right track. (If the temperature is warmer you have overheated it. Rather start again with new chocolate.)
  7. If the heat of the melted chocolate is not enough to melt the remaining solid pieces, return it to the microwave for 10 seconds at a time. Stir super thoroughly after each 10 seconds to see if the rest of the chocolate melts completely. YOU WANT THE LAST FEW PIECES TO MELT OUTSIDE THE MICROWAVE.
  8. Once everything is melted and smooth, stir the chocolate thoroughly another few times. Test the temperature again – it should be roughly the same temperature (or a little bit cooler) as your lip.
  9. Immediately scrape the melted chocolate into the prepared plastic baggie. Tempered chocolate does set quite quickly so you want to get it in the bag and close to your hand as soon as possible. The warmth from your hand will keep the chocolate melted.

Piping the Chocolate Lettering

  1. Twist the end of the baggie thoroughly (but not all the way up against the chocolate. You don’t want the melted chocolate to be under pressure and burst out when you snip off the end) and secure with a paper clip, clothes pin or anything you want. I mostly just keep the twisted end closed by pinching it in the space between my thumb and index finger while I’m piping (see image below).
  2. Snip off a tiny bit at the end. You can always snip off more. You can test to see how thick your line will be. The ideal line thickness is about 2 mm, but it’s totally up to you.
  3. Whenever you want to stop the flow of chocolate, just lift the tip of the baggie vertically upwards.
  4. Pipe the lettering with the melted chocolate while constantly keeping the side of your hand on the surface for some stability. Slide your hand on the surface as you move along. Do not let your hand hover in the air. I’m left handed, so I need to write the words backwards, starting from the right. If you’re right handed you can start from the left.

writing on cake without free-handing step by step tutorial

 

Transferring the Chocolate Lettering

  1. The chocolate will have begun to set once you are done piping the words, but allow the chocolate to set fully in the fridge for 5 minutes.
  2. Depending on how well you tempered the chocolate, this next bit could be super easy or a bit more difficult.
  3. The first thing you need to do now is loosen the lettering from the baking paper/parchment. Remove the sticky tape keeping the non-stick baking paper/parchment in place. Slide the parchment with the lettering on it to the edge of your work surface. Starting from the one side, grab the paper firmly on either side with your hands.


    Carefully slide the parchment over the edge, pulling the parchment down with your one hand
    . Go about 1 – 2 inches in. You obviously don’t want to crack the lettering or have it fall on the floor! Rotate the paper 90 degrees and repeat the process. Repeat for remaining two sides as well. Test with your clean and dry palette knife if the lettering is nice and loose on the paper.

  4. In my experience it it’s better to transfer the MIDDLE word first. Guessing the exact middle of your cake is much easier than guessing the top third. The middle is a great reference point.
  5. Carefully slide your clean and dry palette knife under a bit more than the top half of the word, keeping the bottom half unattached (see image below). Carry it over to your cake.
  6. Let the unattached bottom half make contact with the surface of the cake where you desire to place it. Allow it to ease off into position as you gently lift away the palette knife.
  7. Repeat with remaining lettering and then you’re done!!

writing on cake without free-handing step by step tutorial

 

This process might take around 3 attempts of practice before you are comfortable with it (especially with working through all my instructions), but then it’s so quick and easy!

I thought it best to rather explain as thoroughly as possible so that you have a great chance at success from the very first attempt! I know you can do it – you’ve got this!!

 

If you use my method for writing on cake without free-handing, please let me know by tagging me @philosophyofyum because I would love to give you a virtual high ten 😀

Chat soon

Aurelia

Hi! I'm Aurelia 🙂

I'm a Self Taught Artisan
Home Baker empowering
HOME BAKERS to
unlock their FULL potential
& MAKE A LIVING from
Home Baking
!




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Lemon Poppy Seed Blondies

Lemon Poppy Seed Blondies

Lemon Poppy Seed Blondies

Lemon Poppy Seed Blondies is a recipe that just worked out brilliantly… It’s moments like these when life just feels AWESOME and it’s wonder & beauty just hits you afresh.

So I’m BEYOND excited to share this recipe with you today!

Now you’ve heard it said that “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade!But we bakers can go a bit beyond producing a drink, can’t we? 😉

I got a bag of about 50 huge lemons from my friend Lorraine’s farm the other day! They were bright, super juicy, sweet, tart and perfect! After giving lemons away to most of my friends, I was still left with around 35 of them.

Making Lemonade or lemon bars was the obvious choice, but for some reason I just didn’t get excited about either of those ideas.

 

These Lemon Poppy Seed Blondies are fresh, chewy, zesty, zingy, buttery, juicy, hearty and creamy all in one bite – SUPER yum and satisfying! And of course, no fake lemon flavourings in sight.

A flavour combo that came to mind was lemon & poppy seed. Then my mind jumped to these super delicious cupcakes I bake in my home bakery – Poppy Seed & White Chocolate Cupcakes.

I got the recipe for these cupcakes from a friend who has sworn me to secrecy, so I cannot share it with you. BUT the secret ingredient that makes those cupcakes SO GOOD is coconut 😀

Poppy Seed and coconut pairs brilliantly together and if you add something tart on top of that… the YUM factor is just UNREAL…

So my friend, when life hands you lemons, bake Lemon Poppy Seed Blondies!

 

Recipe Introduction

I’ve posted a recipe for Blondies once before on my blog, but those were Salted Caramel Apple Blondies. The apples in the recipe provide enough moisture to keep the blondie’s texture fudgy. Lemon Poppy Seed Blondies are a bit different though.

We don’t really want these guys to be cakey, so adding enough fat and moisture is essential for achieving the ideal blondie texture.

For this reason I add a lot of butter, white chocolate and also cream to the batter 🙂

I was also completely set on NOT USING ANY LEMON ESSENCE/EXTRACT in this recipe, but only FRESH lemons.

Adding fresh lemon juice as is to the batter would result in a very runny batter and I just couldn’t see that scenario playing out well… So I decided to reduce my freshly squeezed lemon juice! The only other thing left to do was to add a small mountain of finely chopped fresh lemon zest.

The kick of bright, zingy lemon comes through BEAUTIFULLY in these lemon poppy seed blondies!

With blondies there is always the concern that they will be too sweet. Brownies & blondies are basically cake with DOUBLE the FAT, double the SUGAR and no raising agents.

The bitterness of dark chocolate and cocoa powder masks the amount of sugar used in brownies, so what is there to absorb the sweetness in blondies?

The lemon zest provides some bitterness and the sharpness of the lemon cuts through a lot of the sweetness. BUT my recipe also uses a bit less sugar than blondies usually do. I’ve replaced some of the sugar with white chocolate and cream – which is not exactly second best, right?

As you know I’m all about FLAVOUR & QUALITY – not just a colossal mountain of sugar, because that’s how it’s “usually done”.

These Lemon Poppy Seed Blondies are fresh, chewy, zesty, zingy, buttery, juicy, hearty and creamy all in one bite – SUPER yum and satisfying! And of course, no fake lemon flavourings in sight.

These Lemon Poppy Seed Blondies are fresh, chewy, zesty, zingy, buttery, juicy, hearty and creamy all in one bite – SUPER yum and satisfying! And of course, no fake lemon flavourings in sight.

Lemon Poppy Seed Blondies
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 100 g Unsalted Butter
  • 100 g Baking Margarine
  • 50 g Cream (about 33% fat)
  • 70 g White Chocolate, super finely chopped
  • 130 g White Sugar
  • 100 g Demerara Sugar/Soft brown sugar
  • 135 g Egg (2 x-large eggs + 1 yolk)
  • ½ Tbsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Tbsp Lemon Zest, finely chopped and packed tightly into the spoon
  • 60 ml Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 40 g Poppy Seeds
  • 45 g Desiccated Coconut
  • 200 g All Purpose Flour
  • 5 g Salt
Instructions
  1. Reduce the fresh lemon juice by two thirds on a low simmer. You should end up with 20 ml of reduced lemon juice.
  2. Sift flour and salt in a large bowl, set aside.
  3. Preheat your oven to 180°C/356°F.
  4. Melt butter, margarine and cream in a stand mixer mixing bowl in the microwave for 3 mins. It must boil before you continue.
  5. Stir in sugars and 50 g of the white chocolate. Microwave again for 30 seconds. Stir thoroughly and microwave once more for 30 seconds.
  6. Mix on medium speed with paddle attachment for about 30 seconds. The Sugars should stick to the paddle when you lift it up.
  7. Add eggs, lemon zest, reduced lemon juice, poppy seeds, coconut and vanilla. Stir until roughly combined.
  8. Add dry ingredients. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds. Stop mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Beat batter on medium speed for 2 minutes.
  9. Scrape batter into a greased and lined 27 cm x 16 cm (or 8 x 8 inch) pan. Spread mix evenly into all the corners.
  10. Melt the reserved 20 g of finely chopped white chocolate in 30 seconds bursts in the microwave. Pour all over on the surface of the batter. Smear the top of the batter so that the melted chocolate is mixed thoroughly into the top surface of the batter leaving no streaks of chocolate behind – this forms the crust on top.
  11. Bake on top shelf at 180ᵒC for 20 - 25 mins, turning after 13 mins. They are done baking when a toothpick still has a few moist crumbs sticking to it. Do not over-bake these guys!
  12. Leave to cool in the tin, then remove and slice as desired.
  13. Enjoy!

 

 

I hope you’ll give these Lemon Poppy Seed Blondies a go! I AM IN LOOOOVE with them!! Which is something I don’t say very often.

Chat soon!

Aurelia

Hi! I'm Aurelia 🙂

I'm a Self Taught Artisan
Home Baker empowering
HOME BAKERS to
unlock their FULL potential
& MAKE A LIVING from
Home Baking
!




POPULAR RECIPES

Top secret recipe for CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES! Super moist, creamy, soft and chocolaty! Absolutely divine...
Yummiest Frosting on the planet! It is so flipping DELICIOUS!!! So delicious in fact that it makes you giggle, squirm and dance from the deliciousness.
chocolate swirl cheesecake | chocolate cheesecake recipe | baked cheesecake recipe
Do You Have What it Takes to Open a Retail Bakery?

Do You Have What it Takes to Open a Retail Bakery?

Do You Have What it Takes to Open a Retail Bakery?


**Guest content further down by Tina McJunkin from The Cautiously Optimistic Kitchen**

Welcome back to PART 2 of my Retail Bakery Series! If you missed my last post, I strongly encourage you to read it. I had the privilege of chatting with Tina McJunkin from the cautiously optimistic kitchen about the REALITY of Owning Your Own Retail Bakery.

She shared her TRUE story of what it was like to run her own Retail Bakery for 2 years. Her story is absolutely incredible! It has really brought a HEAP of perspective and truth about the realities of owning your own bakery.

If you’ve read last week’s post and you STILL feel that opening your own Retail Bakery is a dream you want to pursue, today’s post is for you!

Tina has put together some questions for you to figure out if you have what it takes to open your own Retail Bakery.

 

Please note that Tina & I are NOT doing this Retail Bakery series to trample on your dreams, but rather because we want you to make INFORMED decisions and be successful!

Over to Tina 🙂

 

Dearest Home Baker,
I have been right where you are now.

 

Dreaming and obsessing over all the things I would do if I had my own cute little cake shop. How I would decorate the front of house and how I would charm every customer with a free sample as they strolled in the door. How people would FINALLY take me seriously as a baker!

Oh yes, I’ve been there.

I’ve also been on the other side of there.

I’ve actually owned and operated a real life Retail Bakery. And that, my friends, is why I’m here today. You really NEED to think about these things before you take the leap and dive in!

So… do you have what it takes to open a retail bakery? Let’s find out!

1. Do You Know WHY You Want a Retail Bakery?

I know you dream of doing this, but why are you REALLY doing this?

Do you want to make more money than you are now? Or maybe you want the fame of having a wildly successful bakery?

Is it because you want to be busier with more customers? Do you just want all that cake stuff out of your house and to stop taking over every spare inch you can find to shove more supplies?

Could it be because you want the opportunity to hire employees and delegate some of the work so that you have more time for your own family?

Do you have what it takes to open your own retail bakery? Here are 6 questions for you to answer so you can know for sure!

If you are only opening a bakery to satisfy your daydreams, you may need to think about the next few things first.


2. How Much Time are You Willing to Sacrifice?

Operating a retail bakery will take ALL of your time. I truly mean that.

As the owner, you will work 24/7/365.

Not. Even. Kidding.

If you have a storefront you will absolutely be busier than in your home bakery. Not only will you need to spend time on actually making cakes, you will spend time on so many more admin & logistical issues like:

The book work, paying bills, ordering supplies, taking inventory, hiring/firing/managing employees, handling advertising, answering calls/emails only you as the owner can respond to, creating recipes/menus, shopping, etc., etc.

It’s everything you are already doing in your home bakery, but 100 fold. So take the amount of time you spend working on your cakes now and multiply that by 100. Now you have how many hours you will work in a week.

You might think it’s impossible to work a 130 hour work week, but I’m telling you now that it’s very real and imminent when you own a Retail Bakery.


3. Do You Have a Plan?

I don’t just mean a plan of how things are going to look and how everyone is going to think your yummies are the best in town. I mean a real deal business plan.

If you are going to finance this venture, you will be required to have a plan anyway. But even if you aren’t financing you MUST have a plan!!

You Need a Plan for ALL the following things:

  • Know what your operating hours will be.
  • How many employees you will need and what schedule they will work.
  • If you will purchase ingredients locally or if you will use a food service.
  • Have your menu and recipes ready and flawless.
  • Have business cards and brochures printed before you ever open your doors.
  • Know exactly how much your items, supplies, packaging and ingredients cost per unit.
  • Know exactly how much your overhead will cost you.
  • How much will your workers comp insurance, unemployment insurance and liability insurance cost?
  • Will you pay sick days or maternity leave?
  • How much will you pay out in salaries, sales taxes, business licenses, and deposits?
  • Call the utility office and ask what an average bill costs for the unit you are going to operate in.
  • Is your building already set up for a food service business?
  • Will you need to get permits or build out your building?
  • What is the cost of your equipment?
  • How long will it take the Health Department to allow you to open once you’re ready?
  • Shop around for internet, phone, advertising, insurance, etc.
  • KNOW HOW MUCH THINGS ARE GOING TO COST.

There will be even more things added to this list as you get deeper into it and it is absolutely essential that you have a SOLID plan.

Do you have what it takes to open your own retail bakery? Here are 6 questions for you to answer so you can know for sure!


4. To Finance or Not to Finance?

How are you going to fund this venture?

If you are going to finance your bakery yourself you will need to have that business plan ready. There are different types of loans you can get, so be sure you research them all. You can find tons of free information on small business loans and other funding options on bank websites.

Decide if you need a down payment, collateral, or if you will be using credit cards. Also, be sure to think about how you will handle the financial situation if you are not able to make those payments.

 

How is that going to affect other aspects of your life? Are you using your home or vehicle as collateral and will you lose those items? Are you about to sink your entire life savings into this? Will you be maxing out those credit cards?

Once you decide on how you will finance your Retail Bakery’s start up don’t forget about those operating costs.

Be sure you have some kind of financial cushion for slow times!

Whether that is a personal stockpile of cash you have set aside, a line of credit, or one credit card you held back from maxing. Whatever it may be, just be sure you have it at the ready. You will need it – even if you’re 100% sure you won’t.

5. Are You Ready to Be a Boss?

Are you really prepared to be a boss?

Now look, I’m the first to admit I can be considered to be a bit bossy (Or so I’m told by my younger sisters, my kids, my husband) I’m the eldest child in my family, what can I say, I come by it honestly, right?

But here’s the kicker. I may be great at being bossy, but I’m a terrible boss!!!

There’s more to being a boss than bossing. You’ve got to be able to manage people. You need to be prepared to interview, hire, delegate, and even fire people.

 

Trust me it’s much harder than it sounds. You also need to be able to be respected (and be respectful). You need to be taken seriously, you need to be fair, and you need to be able to set standards that you expect to be met by all your employees.

Also remember that you are their employer, not their friend. You must keep those two relationships separate, even if you’re friendly with your employees (and you definitely should be!). If you don’t you separate the two you will never be able to manage employees to the best of your ability.

One other thing you will realize pretty fast is that YOU are the employee of the month – actually of the year!

You will need to know how to perform EVERY job and be willing and able to do them. If you have an employee call in sick, be prepared to jump into that position.

Be prepared to work every position at once because sometimes you just might have to!

Do you have what it takes to open your own retail bakery? Here are 6 questions for you to answer so you can know for sure!

There may be times when it’s slow enough that you need to decide if it’s worth it to pay another person to do a job you can actually do yourself.

Holidays and weekends are another time when you get to work but may decide to let your employees enjoy the time off. You will need to consider these things when you are deciding on how much time you’re willing to put in as well when you are creating your business plan costs.


6. Are You Ready to Develop a THICK Skin?

Once those doors open, you are now considered a professional. If you are still working on those decorating skills and you’ve only been doing this just a little while, no one will be considerate of that. As soon as you establish yourself in a brick and mortar store, the customers will expect you to be an absolute expert.

There won't be much room for error.

  • Everything you do will be under scrutiny.
  • Everything your employees say and do will be under scrutiny.
  • Anything and everything that goes out your door will be criticized and picked apart.

The fact is when you grow your audience you open yourself up to more opportunities to be placed under the microscope. Not everyone will like your work. Heck, not everyone likes your work now. But when you open a retail bakery, you lose that personal touch.

People aren’t afraid of hurting your feelings anymore if they aren’t completely pleased. Now they’re racing to social media to let the entire world know how awful you are, all without ever letting you know they were unhappy. It’s just reality.

The thing is that it will bother you. It will ruin your weekend when you get that first call complaining about your work.

The first time, the next time, and the last time will all hurt the same. Just be prepared and know that unfortunately not all people have the decency to treat others as they would like to be treated.

There are plenty of people who are ready to spew whatever junk comes to their minds. So you have to decide how you will handle the situation when it comes – because unfortunately, it WILL come.

Do you have what it takes to open a retail bakery? Here are 6 questions for you to answer so you can know for sure!

So there you have my six things you definitely need to think about before opening a retail bakery.

Now that you’ve thought about these 6 questions, have you considered baking from home may be just where you need to be?

Tina

 

Thank you so much for sharing these questions with us Tina! If you haven’t read Tina’s full story on the Reality of Owning a Retail Bakery, you can read it here.

I hope Tina’s questions have brought some clarity, perspective and shed a lot of light on your baking journey – as it has done for me!

If you have any questions, please comment below and either Tina or I will respond.

Chat soon

Aurelia 🙂

Hi! I'm Aurelia 🙂

I'm a Self Taught Artisan
Home Baker empowering
HOME BAKERS to
unlock their FULL potential
& MAKE A LIVING from
Home Baking
!

POPULAR POSTS

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The REALITY of Owning Your Own Retail Bakery

The REALITY of Owning Your Own Retail Bakery

The REALITY of Owning Your Own Retail Bakery

**Guest content further down by Tina McJunkin from Cautiously Optimistic Kitchen**

 

This 2 PART SERIES I'm starting today is probably the most important one I have shared with you to date. It's not a fun one, but it is ABSOLUTELY necessary.

The reason why it isn't going to be fun for you to read is because it will address a BIG and sacred dream you probably have. I know you have this dream because I had this dream too for 5 long years.

For 5 years I used to pin beautiful images to my Pinterest board I named “If I had my own little bakery“.

MANY (in fact MOST) of my Home Baked Confidence students have confirmed for me that this is a home baker's ultimate dream…

To own your very own retail bakery.

 

This dream in itself CAN BE a good dream to work towards, but honestly we all have unrealistic pictures and expectations in our minds about what this kind of life looks like on a day to day basis.

Over my years as a full time home baker, I've been through a lot and the ideal of my own retail bakery started to lose its glossy veneer. I can honestly say that I absolutely LOVE being a full time HOME BAKER.

It feels like having your own retail bakery is the ultimate GOAL in baking. A heap of my clients, friends and family still ask me: “WHEN are you going to open your own Retail Bakery??”

My immediate, content answer is “No, thanks” 🙂

Because I am truly happy where I am as a full time HOME Baker.

And a lot of this perspective came from reading a post by Tina McJunkin from The Cautiously Optimistic Kitchen.

SO I ASK OF YOU TODAY TO BE OPEN AND LISTEN TO TINA'S STORY BECAUSE SHE HAS BEEN THERE AND DONE THAT! 

Here's what Tina has to say about her baking journey. She was a Home Baker, just like you and me, but for the whole 2 years she baked from home, she always dreamed of owning her very own retail bakery.

 

Here is Tina’s TRUE Story

Most every home baker dreams of having their own retail bakery. It’s something you start thinking about the very moment someone loves a cake you baked for them!

On television and online you see the financial industry, business card, credit card, and website designer commercials showing all of the smiling business owners talking about how great it is to have their own store.

You see the Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube pages, videos and posts all touting how it’s the way to go and you won’t regret your decision if you go for it!

Want to have your own Retail Bakery? This is the side of the story that no one else is talking about. Most every home baker dreams of having their own retail bakery. Here is the TRUE story and the realities of owning your own retail bakery - because I want you to make INFORMED DECISIONS.

But is it really all it’s cracked up to be?

Well… that’s going to be for you to decide. But for me, the short answer was NO.

Today I’m going to share my experience with you. This is the side of the story that no one else is talking about.

 

I Decided I was Ready for My Own Retail Bakery.

After nearly two years of baking from home I was ready to open my very own retail bakery. I had built a pretty good clientele of loyal customers and felt my skill level was up to par (haha!).

All my days and nights I spent dreaming – obsessing about what I would name my shop, how I would decorate the front of house, what my logo would look like, and how customers would come strolling in one after the other from opening time until closing time.

Although, the biggest dreams I had were how much money I would make, how much room I would free up in my home, and all the extra time I would have to spend with my family! <sigh>

Boy was I wrong! About most of it anyway. There is so much more to having your own retail bakery than you realize.

 

**I want to say right now, this is the story of MY experience. So many others have opened their own retail bakery and loved it. In such cases it was the absolute right decision for them. My goal is NOT to bring you down and stomp on your dreams.**

I am only here to share the realities of owning your own retail bakery with you because I want you to make INFORMED DECISIONS.

It can be the greatest experience you've ever had, but it can also be heart-breaking. A Retail Bakery can be exhausting and it is absolutely challenging.

 

There are many people with a mind and spirit made for business. I unfortunately realized I was not cut out for this type of thing. I made a lot of mistakes and my biggest mistake was my IGNORANCE about HOW to actually operate a retail business.

So here’s my story. Please read it with an open mind.

I will share my story in light of 4 Misconceptions I had about owning my own retail Bakery.

 

1. I Believed a Retail Bakery Would Make More Money

The truth is I paid every penny out to others.

I did not profit a single cent even though we “made” six figures the first 9 months we were open. Yes, 6 figures. But NONE of it was in my pocket. It cost us several thousands to open the bakery plus the huge burden of overheard.

The electric bills alone were $500-800/month in the moderate size unit we were in. I also had to hire employees (please don’t think you can do this alone!). Paying sales taxes, unemployment taxes and insurance, and salaries (now the employment laws are getting even crazier), advertising, liability insurance, and credit card processing fees took huge chunks of money every month.

I needed to constantly add new items and run promotions to keep walk in business, as people are bored very easily, and it’s exhausting!  ALL food businesses do it so don’t expect to be the exception.

Even if you opened a CAKE shop like I did, people will expect you to be a full service bakery.

Want to have your own Retail Bakery? This is the side of the story that no one else is talking about. Most every home baker dreams of having their own retail bakery. Here is the TRUE story and the realities of owning your own retail bakery - because I want you to make INFORMED DECISIONS.

With all the new orders I had to buy more ingredients/packaging to keep up which was more money out the door. You will probably need to add something to bring customers in if you aren’t a full service bakery, like an ice cream parlour, lunches, or even sell merchandise in your store.

 

There are busy seasons and slow seasons in the cake world.

I didn’t take into account that the summer and winter would be so slow!

I never had any issues before booking up in my home bakery during these times of year. But I also only needed a fraction of the business to operate.

When you have employees and overheard you need steady orders and walk in traffic ALL year long! Take advantage of busy times (Valentine’s Day, Graduation and Wedding seasons) and promote lots of specials.

It is an absolute MUST that you raise your prices drastically from what you are charging at home. Don’t be surprised when your loyal customers aren’t happy about that.

Not everyone realizes how much money it takes just to keep the lights on and they will not understand why you raised your “great” prices from back when you were the “cheap” cake lady!

 

2. I Thought Customers Would Be Kind

I have to be completely honest with you.

I didn’t want to deal with people EVER again after I closed my shop.

Even though there were many, many, many more satisfied customers I dealt with than unhappy customers, those very few unhappy ones made a huge impact on my view of the world. People change as soon as you have a store front.

People expect WAY more from you and are not afraid to tell all of social media about when they are not happy about anything.

Want to have your own Retail Bakery? This is the side of the story that no one else is talking about. Most every home baker dreams of having their own retail bakery. Here is the TRUE story and the realities of owning your own retail bakery - because I want you to make INFORMED DECISIONS.

They will even expect refunds for their own mistakes that they made while ordering. They become much pickier.

They become hateful and quick to judge without giving any thought to the fact that this is how you feed your family. It is just fact that not every single customer will be happy and love your work. I completely understand that. I am a consumer too!

But so many people forget that you are just a woman chasing her dreams and rather than speaking with you about any issues they will just run your name through the mud instead. That’s the reality of this digital world we live in today.

When I did have a customer approach me with an issue it was ALWAYS dealt with. You cannot ignore unsatisfied customers. You MUST take every measure you possibly can to turn the situation around. People remember the single negative review and will scroll right past the 1000 positive reviews you may have.

I was sure to be quick with a sincere apology (even if it wasn’t our fault) and I offered a refund as well as a replacement for the product. When customers came to me unhappy I can gladly say they left with a changed attitude and I nearly always saw them back in my shop as a repeat customer!

I unfortunately wasn’t always given the opportunity to make things right and that really got to me. It really hurt when people chose to be negative and stir up conflict without ever addressing the issue with me.

Not only was this difficult to deal with, but I lost the personal encounters with my customers.

They just became an order form that my employee filled out. And I had to hope they got all the info and wrote everything down correctly. I also had customers that refused to deal with any of my employees and only speak with me because they were long time clients.

The thing is, I didn’t have time to deal with customers personally because I was busy running the business end of things.

 

3. I Thought I Would Have Much More Free Time!

Except in my own retail bakery, I was now the boss. I was not only responsible for my own quality of work but I was also responsible for my employees quality of work and customer service.

Finding good, reliable employees can be extremely challenging! No one cares about your business like you do.

 

Even when you have a good staff you will still work

EVERY.

SINGLE.

DAY.

I worked 80+ hours a week and had no time for my children.

Want to have your own Retail Bakery? This is the side of the story that no one else is talking about. Most every home baker dreams of having their own retail bakery. Here is the TRUE story and the realities of owning your own retail bakery - because I want you to make INFORMED DECISIONS.

I kid you not, I missed an entire year of my children’s lives. I cleaned out some boxes awhile after we closed our shop and found so many school papers and order forms for school pictures I had never seen before!

I wasn’t able to take time off or go on vacation. I had to worry about bad weather and not being able to be open during winter. Winter and Summer are extremely slow times of the year for bakeries.

You also can’t just not take orders or not go to work because you are tired or don’t feel up to making cake that day – which is something you can always do in a home bakery setup!

 

4. I Thought I Had the Right Mind & SPIRIT for Business

Owning a business is so, SUPER stressful – especially a busy and successful business.

  • I was stressed out when we were so busy that I didn’t go home on Friday nights because we had to get orders finished for Saturday morning.
  • I was stressed when we sold out of cupcakes in our case every day the first week we were open and had to disappoint customers.
  • I was stressed every time a customer picked up a cake because I was terrified their order may not be right or they may not like it. If they didn’t like it I was stressed that they would run straight to facebook and let the masses know without ever telling me.
  • I was stressed when summer began and walk in traffic died down significantly.
  • I was stressed when my other decorator needed to take off work frequently.
  • I was stressed when I couldn’t take even a Sunday off because I had to buy supplies for the following week from a local store.

I WAS STRESSED.

ALWAYS.

The bucket loads of STRESS eventually took a toll on not only my relationships but also my health.

Thank the great Lord above for giving me a truly amazing husband. Most relationships probably wouldn’t have made it through the effects of the stress we endured, but my husband not only hung in there, he carried me through. He is my rock and I learned to love him in a completely new and deeper way.

 

It took another year and a half after we closed up shop for my mind to begin to heal. My body on the other hand decided to blow its adrenals and damage not only my thyroid but it’s entire endocrine system. That is a battle I’m still fighting.

I clung to God like I had never done before.

My spirit was broken and I prayed NON STOP.

That’s not an exaggeration. If I was awake I was talking to Him. He pulled me out of the lowest place I had ever been and He brought me back to life. I got to know Him like I had never dreamed possible. I promise you, He is there for you. Don’t blame Him when you are in a bad place, turn and RUN to Him!

Realizing my mind, body and spirit couldn’t handle the stress any longer (I was truly on the verge of a nervous breakdown) and after operating a storefront for nearly 2 years, we closed up shop.

I wasn’t sure when we closed our doors if I ever wanted to bake another cake. The plan was for me to completely quit and I was going to return to the work force.

I was actually called and offered a job I hadn’t even known existed. After much prayer and lots of discussion we decided that I would decline the position and stay home. But that meant continuing my cake business. I realized in that moment I wasn’t finished.

With God’s help, I knew my mind would heal and I would be able to love my work again.

And I do.

 

There Was a Silver Lining Though

I can’t say that it was all bad.

I learned how to bake/ice/decorate a cake in less than a few hours as opposed to an entire day! I tweaked my recipes until they were just right. I learned how to bake a dozen cakes and only dirty a few dishes in my kitchen instead of messing my entire house!

Want to have your own Retail Bakery? This is the side of the story that no one else is talking about. Most every home baker dreams of having their own retail bakery. Here is the TRUE story and the realities of owning your own retail bakery - because I want you to make INFORMED DECISIONS.

I did gain new loyal customers.

Most importantly I learned that I would much rather work from home and pick and choose my customers.

I would much rather be home working all night instead of across town until 3:00am to only be back at 7:00am.

I learned that sometimes you already have all you need right where you’re at doing exactly what you’re doing.

So that was my experience.

 

Here’s My Advice

Do what God is leading you to do.

I know that it was the right thing for me to open my own retail bakery because I was obsessed with the thoughtOBSESSED I tell you. I couldn’t think of anything else. And the Lord knew that if I didn’t see all of these things on my own I would never stop thinking about it. That I would never learn the valuable lessons I learned and I’d always wonder if I could have or should have done it.

So He let me do what I thought I wanted and find out that I already had what I wanted. Let’s say, I had to learn things the hard way…

I hope that my story has helped you take a closer look at what it means to have your own retail bakery.

Tina

 

Thank you so much Tina for sharing your priceless story on Philosophy of Yum!

DO YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO OPEN YOUR OWN RETAIL BAKERY?? In my next post I will be sharing some tough questions for you to answer 😉

I hope Tina’s story has brought some clarity, perspective and shed a lot of light on your baking journey – as it has done for me!

If you have any questions, please comment below and either Tina or I will respond.

Chat soon

Aurelia 🙂

Hi! I'm Aurelia 🙂

I'm a Self Taught Artisan
Home Baker empowering
HOME BAKERS to
unlock their FULL potential
& MAKE A LIVING from
Home Baking
!




POPULAR BAKING TIPS

Grainy Ganache | Broken Ganache | Split Ganache
shiny brownies | brownies shiny | brownies shiny crust
cupcakes troubleshooting | perfect cupcakes | cupcakes tips | cupcakes baking tips | pointy cupcakes | cupcakes sink | cupcakes with flat tops | cupcakes overflow




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Top secret recipe for CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES! Super moist, creamy, soft and chocolaty! Absolutely divine...
Yummiest Frosting on the planet! It is so flipping DELICIOUS!!! So delicious in fact that it makes you giggle, squirm and dance from the deliciousness.
chocolate swirl cheesecake | chocolate cheesecake recipe | baked cheesecake recipe

POPULAR POSTS

home bakery | home bakery business | home baking business
food market | food market stall | baking business tips | baking business from home
Pear Cupcakes with Caramel & Hazelnuts

Pear Cupcakes with Caramel & Hazelnuts

Pear Cupcakes with Caramel & Hazelnuts

Pear Cupcakes with Caramel & Hazelnuts came into being thanks to one of my favourite clients here in Cape Town – Saa-rah Adams 😀

She is so cool! She and her family have ordered pretty much everything on my home bakery menu, TWICE! And sometimes when they order they’ll say the best line a baker wants to hear: “Surprize us!”

I actually baked Pear, Caramel & Hazelnut Cupcakes as a large cake for her, but today I would like to share the cupcake version. I love the cupcake version so much because there is more caramelization during baking which just makes the flavour SENSATIONAL!

Recipe Introduction

My Pear Cupcakes recipe is quite similar to German Apple Cake, in the sense that there’s no additional liquid added to the batter like milk, buttermilk, etc. All the liquid comes from the natural juices inside the fresh fruit.

For this reason the batter is really stiff when you mix it. It is more like something in between a batter and dough. DO NOT ADD ANY EXTRA LIQUID!

I know it is quite difficult to mix, but just take your time and “massage” the fresh pear into the batter with the back of a sturdy metal spoon. I once used a standard stainless steel dessert spoon to mix the pear into the batter and the thing bent over onto itself completely!

Another super important note is to have your cupcake pans ready and lined with cupcake cases BEFORE you mix the pear into the batter. I have a post on making your own cupcake cases as well.

The reason behind this is that the sugar inside the batter starts to draw out the pear’s natural juices very quickly. If these juices are stirred about into the batter, the caramelization of the cupcakes seriously decreases! By about as much as 30% I’d say.

The texture of the crumb is also then just all wrong and the pear pieces inside the batter are less pronounced. Bottom line, DO NOT LET THIS BATTER STAND, but scoop it into the cupcake cases immediately.

Since the batter is stiff, it is a bit more difficult to spoon into cases. Press the pear cupcakes batter in firmly and fill the cases right to the very top! The filled cases should be more or less level with the rims of the cupcake pan.

A Note on Pears

I like to use Bosc Pears. I have used different varieties of pear for this recipe as well with great success. Bosc Pears are just bigger, so there’s less peeling to do! Lol!

Whichever pears you use, just make sure they are NOT SOFT! In other words, they should be slightly under ripe.

Super ripe pears will just disintegrate entirely in this recipe, and you don’t want that. The pear flavour is more pronounced in the pear cupcakes when you bite into plenty little jewels of pear in every bite.

The pear pieces will spend 40 minutes in the oven, so they will end up being soft in the final taste experience.

These Pear Cupcakes are SO SCRUMMY! In one bite you get: crispy, chewy, fresh, smooth, depth and crunch. These Pear Cupcakes are just the quintessence of autumn to me and I absolutely adore them! Topped with Cream Cheese Frosting, salted caramel & hazelnuts - YUM!

What Makes These Pear Cupcakes so Good?

They are SO SCRUMMY! They have a deep and even slightly crispy caramelization on top and a super moist, crazy flavourful interior. Paired with Philosophy of Yum Whipped Cream Cream-Cheese Frosting, salted caramel & Toasted Hazelnuts the YUM factor is taken even further.

In one bite you get: crispy, chewy, fresh, smooth, depth and crunch. These Pear Cupcakes are just the quintessence of autumn to me and I absolutely adore them! And you know I don’t say anything like this very often!

Pear Cupcakes with Caramel & Hazelnuts
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 14
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C.
  2. Line 14 cupcake tin holes with cupcake liners/cases.
  3. In a mixing bowl; beat oil and eggs with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Add the sugar and vanilla and stir well.
  4. Sift the flour, salt, bicarbonate of soda and ground cinnamon together in a bowl.
  5. Stir the dry ingredients into the egg mixture with a sturdy metal spoon until well combined. The batter will be very thick.
  6. Add chopped pears to the batter. Press and fold the pears into the batter. The batter will be super thick, BUT DO NOT ADD ANY EXTRA LIQUID!
  7. DO NOT LET THIS BATTER STAND, but scoop it into the cupcake cases immediately. Since the batter is stiff, it is a bit more difficult to spoon into cases. Press the batter in firmly and fill the cases right to the very top! The filled cases should be almost level with the rims of the cupcake pan.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) for 35 - 45 minutes or until they have a uniform dark golden colour. I really prefer to leave them in longer so that they caramelize a bit more. The flavour is just sensational! There’s heaps of fresh pear inside the cupcakes, so there’s no danger of them drying out.
  9. Leave cupcakes to cool in the tin.
  10. Once the cupcakes are cool, frost them with Philosophy of Yum Vanilla Frosting, drizzle with Salted Caramel and finish with a generous sprinkle the toasted chopped hazelnuts.
  11. Enjoy! Yummm!

 

If you give this recipe a go, tag me on facebook, twitter or instagram #philosophyofyum because I would LOVE to see!

Chat soon

Aurelia 🙂

Hi! I'm Aurelia 🙂

I'm a Self Taught Artisan
Home Baker empowering
HOME BAKERS to
unlock their FULL potential
& MAKE A LIVING from
Home Baking
!




POPULAR RECIPES

Top secret recipe for CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES! Super moist, creamy, soft and chocolaty! Absolutely divine...
Yummiest Frosting on the planet! It is so flipping DELICIOUS!!! So delicious in fact that it makes you giggle, squirm and dance from the deliciousness.
chocolate swirl cheesecake | chocolate cheesecake recipe | baked cheesecake recipe

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