Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Khaki Wedding Cake in Trenton

This past weekend I made this wedding cake for a sweet couple getting married in Trenton, GA.  This couple was a little older than my average wedding couple, but they were super nice and allowed me a little leeway with their cake for the big day!

Our color scheme for this wedding was khaki, white, and gold.  White is an easy color to bring to the party; here we used white in the borders, piping, and in the roses I got from wholesalesugarflowers.com.  A little gold goes a long way on a wedding cake and can be easily overdone.  I used a cosmetic sponge to lightly edge each of the roses with gold luster dust.

I had a rough time getting the right color combination to get that perfect khaki color.  Khaki is WAY different than ivory.  My final recipe included mixing in brown, green, and just a smidge of purple coloring into my white buttercream.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

This Ain't Your Mama's Wedding Show Booth

Chattanooga is not a very big "wedding market" according to The Knot and other big wedding sites.  We have to stuff ourselves into Knoxville, Nashville, or Atlanta and that just confuses our brides, especially when you consider each is over a 2-hour drive away!  Luckily, we have two big bridal shows in the spring and the 3rd annual "This Ain't Your Mama's Wedding Show."   We are trying to find some super awesome brides that want very cool cakes!  This is just what we needed!

Since we are looking outside the box, we wanted to try something different with our booth.  That darned Pinterest, it gets me in more trouble!  I found someone had made this type of ombre feather boa background and I had to make it!  I found a great website for cheap and great boas so give them a shot!  The boas already come with a loop on the end and we slid them over a thin clothesline type rope.  Then, I took a small piece of floral wire to bunch up a little of the boa to hide the loop that looked ugly.  We wanted to tie the backdrop to columns or something, but we were on a brick wall.  Even the biggest command adhesive hooks would not hold the weights of all the boas, so we had to buy a stand.  It came from Amazon.om and was only $65 and was called a Photography Backdrop Stand.   We used glitter scrapbook paper for the flags and black construction paper for the letters.  It was a lot easier to haul around than our big signs we normally used.  We really liked the "DIY" look and feel of it!

We also decided to add some rustic style flowers in mason jars and some offbeat flavors for sampling.  Our mango sample was SASSY with some cayenne and since it was St. Patrick's day we made Irish Car Bomb cake.  What is that you ask?  Guinness chocolate cakes, ganache with Jameson whiskey and icing made  with Bailey's Irish Cream.  YUM!

We are very proud to be a part of this show and to be a Chattanooga Wedding Cake vendor, small market or not!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

My Fourth Blogiversary!

Well, this week marks the fourth year my little old blog has been in existence.  In the beginning I didn't know if I would like writing it, or if anyone would even read it.  There's the occasion when I get really busy and it feels like work, but for the most part I really like sharing and communicating with other decorators from around the world.

Participating in the online caking community has been very rewarding.  I have made several very good friends, learned a lot about new cake techniques, and even had my cakes featured on several websites.  This last year alone I have had 2 cakes featured in digital cake publications.

So what does the next year hold?  Well I hope to do some more awesome cakes, learn a few new skills, and maybe even see some more of my cakes published.  And I would love to make some new friends... so more of the same!

And I really want to thank each of you for stopping by and reading my posts and flipping through my tutorials.  There will be more of those coming too!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Cottage Food Law in Georgia

Last week I got my bi-annual inspection from the Department of Agriculture.   She was about three months late and that has never happened, so I was curious as to why.  My inspector, Beth, said it was because Georgia has passed the cottage food law and they are very busy inspecting all the new businesses.  Since the "shop" is in people's home, they are required to have two inspectors go together.

Just for background of where I'm coming from, here is a little about my situation.  I started my baking career by working in a commercial kitchen that made beautiful goodies.   Long, days but I learned so very much that helps me to this day.  When we were ready to start our business we didn't do a business plan or apply for a business loan because the first thing banks want you to do is "gamble on yourself".  We took a leap and got a second mortgage, knowing that was now my company's overhead and responsibility (I haven't missed a payment yet....).  We took out $51,000 and used $12,000 on concreting the driveway and pathways.  $35,000 was paid to the contractor that built on our 440 sq kitchen addition.  It includes a bathroom with a "mop sink" (a shower with a very small lip), a pantry, a 50 gallon water heater, lots of extra plumbing and outlets and a huge 1,000 gallon grease trap with an extra 200 feet of field line(an extra $4,000).  I made the floor plan and sat down with the Health Department BEFORE we started.  We were going to be making cakes and doing catering, so we went with the stricter health department.  There are rules as to which you have to go with, but we'll save that for another day.  We had a "issue" with the zoning department, but once she got her head on straight, we were fine.   About three years ago, I stopped all catering and went to cakes only, then to only wedding cakes.  I also wanted two crystal chandeliers that the Health Department said "no" to, so I switched to Department of Agriculture.  They are not as strict, but butter is not as hazardous as raw chicken, so there you go!   I have a beautiful pink kitchen that I love very much and it's legal, inspected, and a great tax write off.  I also have my normal house kitchen for all the non fun stuff. 

The Georgia Cottage Food Law is for people that want to make certain types of non hazardous food in their home kitchen.  I'm no expert, but I'll give you the run down in simplified terms. 
  1. Make sure zoning will allow it.  In our area, if you live in the city, you won't get approved.   I'm in the "country".  According to zoning, even my kitchen is not allowed to have employees that do not live in the home. 
  2. You have to show that your water supply and sewage can handle the extra output.  If you have well water you have to do some testing and if you are on public utilities, you have to check with them.
  3. Food Safety training such as ServSafe.
  4. You then apply and have to pay an annual fee of $100 (I pay the same)
  5. Inspection.  You get a pre-operational inspection to ensure you can meet the requirements and regulations.  This is a big list, but it's food safety, labeling, proper washing, animals and kids aren't present when you are dealing with food.
***COTTAGE LAW OPERATIONS DO NOT GET ANY INSPECTIONS AFTER THE FIRST AND ONLY ONE.  If you get complaints or cause a food borne illness outbreak, you will get reinspected.

All items that are packaged must be labeled "MADE IN A COTTAGE FOOD OPERATION THAT IS NOT SUBJECT TO STATE FOOD SAFETY INSPECTIONS"  as well as the general stuff.   Many venues where we deliver wedding cakes require a "food license" and some require business insurance.  I don't know if they will accept a cake from a cottage food house.  If I owned a ballroom and there was a guest that got sick, it would be hard to say that the cake was legal but "not subject to inspections".  It leaves them open for a lawsuit to some degree.

Some of the "non hazardous" foods are breads, cakes, pastries, cookies, candies, jams (not fruit butters), dry herbs, cereals, nuts, vinegars, popcorn, and cotton candy. 

Here is just a little more... "Operators can sell their products at non-profit events, for-profit events, and may also conduct Internet sales.  The cottage food operator is not able to distribute or wholesale their product, nor can they ship across state lines."  Really, Internet sales, but only in-state?  That will be so easy to police -  NOT!  "Cannot be distributed to retail stores, restaurants or institutions".   That means no making cakes for a local restuarant for them to sell or selling wrapped brownies at your husband's workplace.

Well, that's what I know about all of that.  Beth asked if I was "mad" because now it's so much easier to make cakes legally and they don't have to spend $35,000 in construction.  I am not upset at all!  Mostly because I only make wedding cakes and I could NOT make them in my home kitchen.  If I had a cake in my home fridge right now, it would absorb odors and taste like the red onion that we cut yesterday.  I would worry about cat hairs that float around.  My customers wouldn't know how seriously I take this job and their cake.  I have separate insurance for my commercial kitchen.  I also have set up an "LLC" so that if I poison someone, I'm protected personally. 

I think the new Cottage food law is good for people that are doing food as a side business or as a start up.  Maybe it's a good idea while you are figuring out your recipes, costs, time and what your overhead will be.  Since you can't have employees, you will see all these things as well as how many hours of your week it's going to take to make a profit.  It's a good first step.  People jump into a retail space way too soon without working out all of the details or having enough capital. 

I can "write off" a lot of my kitchen because the space is totally dedicated to the business.  A cottage food kitchen would not qualify for the same exemptions.  Since my kitchen is 40% of my home, I get to write 40% off of a lot of things like home improvements and some utilities.  My commercial kitchen is good for me because I AM NOT going to grow my business.  I don't want a retail space with walk in business.  We are going to stay small and focus on making, and learning to make, the very best product in the area.  We aren't small, we are "exclusive"!


Related Posts with Thumbnails