The Real Deal


There is something about us who do cakes that seems to cause us to feel less than we are. Is it because of our creative temperament? I am not sure. Why don’t we all feel like real bakers?

In my last blog, I was trying to warn people who baked at home about liability issues they could face. I deliberately excluded those who bake under Cottage Food Laws from the point of that blog. Nonetheless, bakers began thinking that me (former shop owner) was calling them (baking in compliance with the cottage food laws) operators of an illegal bakery. I even had a few people who operate under their state’s Cottage Food Laws post to say that one day they want to go “legit”. A number said that one day they wanted to have a “real” bakery.

Just like in my blog to tell you you have every right to wear a chef coat, I am here in today’s blog to tell you that you are legit. You operate a real bakery.

If your state has a Cottage Food Law and you meet the requirements and follow those rules, you are not only real, but LEGAL in your state’s eyes. Do not think of yourself as less.

If you live in a place that allows you to have a licensed bakery in or attached to your home, and you follow your state’s rules for that, you are legal also. You have a real shop.

Sometimes I think that people believe the only real bakery is one with a storefront open to the public. It is funny, when I had my shop with over a dozen employees, I still thought of myself as running a small shop. We all seem to downgrade our operations.

If you sell cakes under any circumstances, you run a bakery. Just as there are many breeds of dogs, there are many breeds of bakeries. One isn’t better than the other. The only question is which one is right for YOU and your life right now.

Those of you in the states with Cottage Food Laws need to embrace this new, permissible form of operation. Consider your business real and legal because it is!! If you still dream of owning a storefront, that is fine. But a storefront is just a bigger form of the bakery, not the only legit form.

I also want to be clear that, as a shop owner, I did not and do not have a problem with home bakers. The majority of my friends (and a number of my former employees) bake from home – some legally, some not. There is simply no way one bakery can do all the cakes. I booked up so early that I was happy people had other choices.

By the same token, I am a bit of a mother hen and I worry about a lot of you young bakers who write me seeking information. I want to share any knowledge I have that could help. I know that back when I did orders at home for Aunt June’s friends, I had NO IDEA that the health department could have seized all my kitchen equipment or that I could have been sued if someone got sick. I was ignorant of the liability risks of my choice. I don’t want anyone to get into a pickle because no one would talk about home bakers.

A friend said I pointed at the elephant in the room with the last blog…the split between shop owners and bakers from home. That was not at all the point of the blog and I am afraid some people read my blog looking for a fight. My attempts to educate turned into a very different dialogue.

I want to be crystal clear. If you bake, you are a real bakery. If you operate under Cottage Food Laws, you are legal. If you operate a storefront or boutique bakery or bakery attached to your home that is licensed, you are legal. If you operate from home in a state that does not have Cottage Food Laws, and you do not have a license, then you are running an illegal bakery and might want to read my last blog to think about the risks associated with that choice. I am not telling you not to do it, just know what you are getting into!

The bakery business is tough enough. Let’s not fight amongst ourselves. Let’s work to share information and knowledge so that we all are more successful. Isn’t that the sweeter approach?

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12 thoughts on “The Real Deal

  1. Oh, Ruth. The bakers who responded negatively to your previous blog were doing exactly as you said in this one: they were looking for a fight. Your advice is superb and, not that you want a new career, you could have another as a professional writer! Take a deep breath. We all know you to be such a kind person and we appreciate what you say. It’s okay.

  2. seriously I think your bog was friendly, honest and informative, the only negative comments you will likely get are from illegal bakers who think they can buck the system by not following rules, I cant see a legit baker, cottage or otherwise finding the content of the blog offensive. Keep it up, I look forward to my Monday morning blogs!

  3. I guess it’s like any other career, job, business, hobby choice…people are people.
    I have met some of the kindest, funniest and friendliest folks in the world during my caking adventures…and some of the nastiest.

  4. It’s always the case, a few rotton apples will indeed spoil the barrel. Most of the people reading your blog, know your intent was to be helpful, not harmful. Please don’t let the few stop you from writing your thoughts and wisdom that you freely share with us. I personally look forward to your blog arriving in my inbox.

  5. I am new to your blog and have enjoyed each one that I have read. The are educational realistic approaches to our cake world. When I read your opening, I smiled and thought “Thank Goodness” that is exactly what I feel each and every time I finish a cake- I am never 100% satisfied with the final outcome. From my daughter came the words of wisdom “to be critical of your work is not a bad thing Mom, it keeps you learning and growing”. Yup- that is what I said to her as she struggled through some of her art classes in college……..
    So thank you for verbalizing my thoughts each and every time a cake is ready for delivery!

  6. You are sweet and kind to share your knowledge with us, don’t know why people misconstrue your last blog and want to pick a fight

  7. I just wanted to thank you for this article it cleared up questions and grey areas about running a legal business. For you to consider about all the negative people “You can lead a person to knowledge, but you can’t make them think it.” That was great information along with all the other articles that I’ve read from you so far, as a new member. You are making a difference in this community of cake decorators by sharing your honest experiences, please don’t stop doing what you’re doing, it’s great.

  8. hi ruth and friends
    i have heard so many good thing about you and have read some of your blogs and loved it i was wanting to see if i could possibly get some info on what to charge taxes on i do own a store front with overhead and sell cupcakes daily which are always packaged to go and cokes that i buy from sams i sell for $1 i am not tax exempt i pay taxes on everything that i buy and resale. i am 25 years old and was given a great opportunity from a family member to open this shop i have been making cakes for almost 5 years now but did not finish high school i have no business back ground and not a clue what i might be forgetting when i do file my taxes so i am possibly over or under paying not sure i do hope you could help me get a little info straight as i dont have the time to attend seminars hope to hear from you and thanks for any info you could send my way 🙂

    • Hi Heather! I wish I could help, but you have to talk to a tax professional in your area. I just can’t begin to give advise about something as critical as taxes! You want an expert on those.

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