The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Pricing Bundt Cakes, Cake by the Slice, Brownies and Barsm & Cookies for Farmers Markets

sshipper's picture

Pricing Bundt Cakes, Cake by the Slice, Brownies and Barsm & Cookies for Farmers Markets

Hi Friends,

I have recently had a thorough cost analysis of my recipes as a Home based Baker done for Farmer's Market and am amazed at what I will need to charge to make anything...(around $20 an hour.) I am buying most of my bulk products wholesale at Costco

At doubling the cost of the recipe I will only replace the ingredients.  At triple the cost I begin to make something.  I am sure many of you know about this.

I am in the  Raleigh/Durham area and I am asking for honest feedback from home-based bakers what I can charge for large brownies.  My costs say $5.00.

A piece of Bundt cake (8 large pieces to a cake,) would also be $5.  My cookies would need to be about $2.00. 

I see people at Farmers Markets with nice operations charging about $1.50 a cookie and $4.00 for a large bar cookie.  How are these people making anything?

Your thoughts and honest feedback are appreciated.  I have read the good books on starting a home-based baking business and have done everything suggested to make this a success.




grind's picture

I won't make a product unless I can multiply by five and sell it for that price.  This might sound greedy, but at the end of the year, it's not nearly greedy enough.  The new customer(s) does not mind paying a little more for a better product that is hand made by the person selling it to her.


I see people at Farmers Markets with nice operations charging about $1.50 a cookie and $4.00 for a large bar cookie.  How are these people making anything?

Could be different this year at the farmers' markets.  Everything has gone up in cost.  Should be an interesting summer.

Another thing, I try to come up with products that are less expensive to make than how they look.

Also, playing around with portions helps a little.  If you can squeeze out an extra cookie of two from a batch without any noticeable difference, then the overall food cost for each cookie drops, and all of a sudden, you're making some money.

One thing that iritates me about baking is that we make our money in pennies saved, not dollars earned.

All the best to you this summer.

One more thing, the thing with costing is that you can expect to make more than you should on some items and less than you should on items.  I make some plain focaccia that fetches me $4/.  It's mostly profit.  Other stuff, less profit.  You get the idea.  That's the balance.



melinda-dawn's picture

I am also currious about this. I've done the calculations and could make and sell bagels for a good price. But I'm also curious about the ethics/eticit of using a recipe you learn from a book/web or some other source as the base for a product to be sold.

I've had people offer to buy my bagels, breads, and cakes but I hold back because, I'm just not sure if it's right to sell something made from a recipe I learned out of a cookbook or off the web.


So what say all the well seasoned folks out there, what is the eticit/ethics of recipes and selling baked goods.

mimifix's picture

You may use any recipe to produce and sell a product. There are no restrictions. To repeat, you may bake and sell any recipe regardless of the source. Many businesses, for example, use the original Toll House cookie recipe and each business has differing product results. Your unique baking ability is what differentiates your product from another business' product.

You might be confusing recipe use with copyright issues. However, copyright only pertains to the written directions in a recipe. (An ingredient list itself cannot be coyrighted.)

I've been in the food industry more than thirty years, starting from my licensed home kitchen. I later owned a bakery and cafe for many years and then worked R&D in different corporate kitchens. I have a masters in Food Studies, wrote two business baking books, and teach in my regional community colleges. Please trust that I am a relaible source for the answer to your question.

Best, Mimi

BakerBen's picture


Not to be negative but you don't don't see a lot of rich bakers - especially small volume ones.  I am also interested in a baking business.  I thought wholesaling might be away not to have the expense of a brick-and-motar place, but you run into the merchant you sell to wants to make 100% problem (e.g. you sell your brownie to the merchant for $2.50 and the merchant sells it for $5.00).  At the volume I was willing, or able, to produce this just did not make sense - no money for me.

The advice that was given about having a good product mix from a profit margin perspective is very good advice.  It is the sell from each item that results in your final income and ultimately your profit. I would also try to really focus on "differiation" - that is, don't just offer "another" brownie unless you really feel there is something worthwhile about your recipe.

I am interested in the statement you made that "I am purchasing wholesale from Costco" - what does that mean?  Are you buying through there online outlet where you need a tax-id?  Or, are you buying through the local stores?  If it is the later, then possiblly you can reduce your cost if you really can buy wholesale.

You also need to count the time and gas you spend at the farmer's market as part ov your cost of production.  If you can figure out how to make $20/hour I would like to get your secret - I know people can make a living but it is hard.  Please don't take my comments/questions negatively - I am right there with you trying to figure out how to do this thing I love and make some money at it too.

Good luck,


P.s I am also in the RTP area - Raleigh

grind's picture

So what say all the well seasoned folks out there, what is the eticit/ethics of recipes and selling baked goods.


I think if it's out there, everything is permitted.

Yumarama's picture

You've got the OK to use it. I've never seen or heard of a recipe that limits the number of times or servings you're allowed to make from it. So if you make one serving or 500, the recipe is still the recipe, it's had nothing diminished from it. I can't see how it could be an issue.

And besides, chances are pretty darn good that if you're making a home recipe into a larger, bulk sized one, you will no longer be following the recipe to the letter anyway so it's now your own adaptation. Like changing the quantities (a lot) or how you handle a 10 kilo of dough vs the 2lb in the original... You're no longer doing the "original" anyway.

They're telling people to please, go ahead and make this recipe; I can't see any ethical issue here.

Still unsure? Then attribute the original author on the label, which you're definitely allowed to do:

Stephanies' Most Awesome
Whole Wheat Baguette

(inspired by a Jim Smith recipe)

Now the original author gets a little credit, you can bake with a clear conscience and people get a very tasty loaf of bread. It's win-win-win.


EDIT: Actually, maybe not. If Jim Smith's publishers find out you're using his name on your bread, they may get ticked you're using his brand name to advertise your own bread and demand a big cut of your sales. 

Just make the bread, it's your own, adapted recipe anyway.

mimifix's picture

Hi Stephanie,

There are two things missing from this conversation about making money in this kind of a business. First, is the issue of volume. For example, it rarely pays to make one cake. But double or triple your volume, which only adds a short amount of production time, means you can sell three products instead of just one. So you havet tripled your earning power. Or if you make one bundt cake at a time you'll be wasting energy by repeating the steps when you can be producing three or four bundts at once.

Second, you are very new to this business and you need to give yourself time to learn how it all works. Right now you are driving yourself crazy! Really, you'll find cheaper sources for some ingredients, learn shortcuts for producing some of your products, learn which products sell better, and which venues or outlets are the most lucrative.

Some people get into this business with little preparation and run into serious problems. You're clearly not like that, so good for you. You do your research and you're a fast learner. Now you need to relax a little about the next few steps.(We're a lot alike!) Eventually you will earn money.

I hope all is well...Mimi


mimifix's picture

Marslizard has some excellent business tips. It's definitely important to fill your oven to capacity with each bake. And customers will buy smaller products much faster than large ones. (Post a sign that larger items can be ordered in advance.)

The current trend for farmers markets' is growing. Several years ago these markets were mostly in the summer but now many are opening indoors, year round. That means many more sales opportunities.