Tuesday, February 19, 2013


After 13 years of baking for family and friends I decided it was time to take my goods on the road.
Last year I spoke to an inspector in my area who gave me all of the info on the Home Processor Exemption ( known in other states as Cottage Food Law ).
We went over what I could and could not market under the exemption and how it to be done.
Custom cakes were OK according to him but I could not retail them. A farm market would have to be the point of sale.
I wasn't sure I wanted to do that.
We laughed about a client trying to transport a 5 tier wedding cake themselves and what Elmo would look like after an hour car ride in someones trunk in July.
Fortunately we have a wonderful market here in Syracuse, and according to the rules , I would be able to sell my baked goods there should I choose to.

At this time, last year,  I wasn't sure if I could handle the volume of cakes that I could potentially have on order so I inquired about selling just fondant decorating kits and cupcake toppers for people to use to decorate their own cakes.
I was informed that was fine because I was using commercially prepared fondant and gum paste.
Seeing as it was not prepared in my home and not considered "hazardous", I would not be required to have the exemption to produce and sell figurines and cupcake toppers.
I just had to confirm my packaging met the FDA's requirements.
I decided to pursue that avenue as I knew I would not be able to meet the demands of custom cakes and I was NOT comfortable with customers transporting their own cakes.
I needed time to come up with a plan...

Flash forward to last week.

I did some brainstorming and decided I would offer cupcakes, pre packaged holiday cakes and pre packaged ,pre-decorated mini cakes.
Similar to this by The Curly Baker, only with floral and also funky designs.

Once approved,  I would make a few dozen cupcakes and about 4-6 mini cakes, haul them to the market on Saturday mornings and see how they go over with the public.

I called the Department of Agriculture to have them send the inspector out again as I am finally ready to move forward.
I was informed the inspector no longer inspects home kitchens, that all of this is done via email now. ( disturbing to me that  home kitchens are no longer inspected )
I followed the instructions and mailed off my application.
Next stop was my insurance agent, I purchased a liability policy and added the market as an insured as I was instructed.

I consider the mini cakes to be custom cakes, as I plan on decorating them a bit more than just a piped buttercream border and a rose on top.
Reading over the Home Processor info page I see they do not allow the sale of " custom made to order" cakes.  ( mind you I was told last year by an inspector that they ARE permitted but only through the market~ confused yet? yeah, me too :)
I called the office this morning to explain my terminology and spoke to a very helpful woman that understood exactly what I was going to produce and that they would be ok.
My mini cakes would not be made to order, and cupcakes are my primary focus so  I was within the limitations of the Home Processor Exemption.

I was excited to branch out beyond friends and family and possibly to finally make a few dollars for  all of my effort.

...and I was DENIED!

For anyone planning on applying for a NYS Home Processor Exemption I believe it's a great opportunity for home bakers to make some money, just difficult to navigate.

I spoke with 2 people locally, and 2 people in Albany and received 4 different answers on what is allowed and not allowed.
I was informed this morning that I was denied because it is assumed that I am retailing custom cakes.
They supposedly learned this from my blog.

This is my hobby, my time sapping, money sucking hobby that I wish my tax guy could write off for me :) If ever there was a legal eagle, it's me.
Funny thing is some of the cakes that I was accused of selling, are in fact styrofoam dummies that I used to make the tutorials :/
I am assumed to be a cake criminal :

For donating cakes to fundraisers and charitable causes.
For making employees birthdays fun at the office.
For giving cakes as gifts to help cut down wedding costs for friends and family.
For all the creative treats I bring in to the guys at the office.
For donating a cake to a funeral...yup...I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried :)

The system is flawed and I don't feel there is much that can be done to fix it.
I'm going to keep on caking ...

I wonder how much money they assume I have made? Hopefully it's enough to pay for all the cake tools I can't seem to stop ordering.

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