A behind the scenes look at what’s involved…
Have you ever wondered what is involved in running a home bakery? I did too before I started. I thought I would share with you my personal insights and behind the scenes in my home kitchen.
Recipe Testing and development
Not all my recipes are ones I have invented, but some are my own. Other’s are recipes I have tweaked and changed with substitutions, amounts and ingredients. Either way, whether it is my own recipe or somebody else’s recipe, the recipe needs to be tested and tried first before it goes onto my menu. Recipe testing can be fun but it can also be costly, especially if the recipe does not work and it means it ends up in the bin! Recipe testing also requires taste testing not only by me but family and maybe some friends. This is an important process of this stage. Once it gets the thumbs up, the next stage comes…
Every ingredient of the recipe is entered into my excel program as well as the individual prices of the ingredients and then the cost of each ingredient is calculated down to the last gram. Once I have my cost price in place, from there I can calculate selling price. This is often a very time consuming part of my business.
I am definitely a computer Nerd. I have been a digital designer for well over 14 years and have some knowledge of HTML code and web design (all self taught) and so I set up this website entirely by myself. Maintaining a website is a time consuming process as It must constantly be updated.
Unlike a real bakery or coffee shop where people see you everyday, a home bakery is different because you only have an online presence. This means the saying “out of sight, out of mind” is unfortunately true unless one is prepared to put in the time on a daily basis to establish and maintain a strong online presence. With this in mind, I focus on posting to Instagram and Facebook every week day and at least once a day. This includes my story. So in order to do that, I have to keep coming up with new content, which means a continuous cycle of recipe testing, photography, updating the website and informing you all of what is new by means of blog posts, a newsletter, and social media content. I also cycle through photo’s to use on my social media platforms, making sure my feed looks inviting and isn’t stagnant or monotonous.
I love photography and have been very into it as a hobby for over 20 years. I have taken photographs for weddings, for branding products, couple shoots but landscape and nature photography is my preferred passion. I also run a stationary business of my own in which I make my own stationary and hand bound journals which I sell on Etsy. I have another Instagram account for this business and so I do a lot of flat lay photography and product photography. Taking my own photograph’s of my cooking and baking just seemed to follow. Saying that, there is a lot of work that goes into photography. Some of these photographs on this post were taken by me using a tripod and a timer! And some were taken by a professional photographer who happens to be a very good friend of mine.
Monday’s I remain closed so that I can clean my home and do all the tasks that come with that. I also this time to do computer admin/pricing/recipes/ and invoicing (although invoicing is ongoing as I get orders throughout the week). Apart from my two passions of baking and journal making, I have a routine of exercise. I also do all my shopping and food prep for the week on the weekend and plan and take photographs of any meals for my business that I will be offering. I also set aside time for my other business, making things to sell, pricing, listings and regular visits to the post office to post my Journals internationally.
Other things that include pricing, sourcing items, shopping and picking up online orders. Answering email’s, making sure I reply to every single comment and direct message on social media platforms. I am also a brand ambassador for de Villiers chocolate and a stockist, so I have to make sure I keep up with all of that too. Then there is stock inventory of all my packing : boxes of all shapes and sizes, containers, cake boards, ingredients. I keep my all my baking ingredients in a separate pantry and everything is airtight plastic containers or glass Jars. Once a week I sort through it all, clean my shelves and take inventory of stock to make sure I always have what I need on hand.
I love my kitchen. My husband has made my kitchen for me. It is still a work in progress. The cupboards I painted myself, a beautiful turquoise color. This is my coffee and tea nook above and it’s filled with plants and cups and beverages. He made the kitchen island just the way I needed it to be. The island has no storage other than a hollow space for the baking trolley he made for me which is on wheels and slides under the counter. The island houses my stove top and oven and on the side is shelves for my recipe books, and bake ware. It also has a spice rack.
My baking trolley houses my stand mixer, food processor, piping equipment, mixing bowls, hand mixer and other things like my apron, oven mitts and cloths. On the opposite counter is my big butlers sink and various drawers as well as my family pantry. My gluten free pantry is separate to my family pantry. I keep some of my gluten free flours on the shelf in my kitchen for easy access.
Running a home bakery…
- I had to get an acceptability certificate and license from the department of health in order to sell from home. They came and did an inspection of my kitchen and then I waited for approval. Once I was passed, I received my license and certificate.
- I Have a separate pantry for my baking supplies and my normal home pantry. I’m very strict with this, not only because of cross contamination, but also for inventory and pricing, I know what I can use for baking and my family knows it is out of bounds!
- Working from home is convenient but not everyone respects your boundaries. I respect my family and myself and have learned in life that if you don’t set boundaries, people will walk all over you. So Mondays are my only day off apart from doing meal deliveries in the late afternoon. Weekends are always very busy with family time, shopping, food preparation for the week (I make all my meals for the week ahead of time) and I also do cooking for gluten free ready made meals for a Monday on a Sunday. Monday is my big cleaning day and I love to face the week with a clean home and a well stocked fridge for the week! It makes for a great mindset!
- I also decided not to share my cell phone number on my pages. When I bake or cook, I cannot answer the phone. So even if people could contact me, it would just have to ring and go to voice mail. Therefore I decided to avoid unnecessary stress and communicate via email. Having a phone also means people feel free to contact you at any time of the day via chat programs and I find this to be invasive especially when getting a message at 11 at night! There are a few exceptions, like when I have a regular customer or when I need to communicate with customers about an order or delivery. When you run your own business, you set your own rules and boundaries and regardless of whether people like that or not, it is your prerogative.
I hope you enjoyed this post and it also gives an idea of the work involved. It is a full time job and just like any job, it has it’s challenges and down sides but it is something I love doing and really enjoy it! Some days I am worked off my feet, getting up at 6am and finishing at 6pm. Other days are quieter with only computer work or maybe recipe testing. It is all part of it.