When starting a baking & sweets business, some of the hardest decisions you'll end up making will be connected to your menu. From your pricing to which sweets to serve, you will soon find yourself up to your elbows in important menu decisions. Cupcakes, cake pops, cannolis, red velvet, German chocolate...so MANY decisions!

Let's face it...forming a menu for your business is just as important as every other aspect involved in ensuring that you are running a successful and profitable sweets business. If you're looking for help nailing down the menu for your baking business, you've landed in the perfect place. In this article, we've pulled together 7 tips to help you finalize the menu offerings in your baking and sweets business.

Article Overview:

7 Tips for Creating a Complete Bakery & Sweets Business Menu

  1. The Basics
  2. Consider Your Region
  3. Seasonal Items
  4. Cultural & Personal Influences
  5. Premium Products
  6. Think About the Amount of Labor
  7. Do what you LOVE!

1. The Basics

In today’s market, there are so many flavor profiles you can choose from to develop your recipes. With popular commodities such as emulsions and oils, there is no limit to what custom flavors you can share with your clients. However, a lot of clients are still very much into the classics.

As you develop your flavors for cupcakes, carved cakes or even lollipops, remember that every menu should include some of the more standard items as well, such as chocolate and vanilla. Not only are these flavors good building blocks, but they can also be safe choices when it comes to picky eaters, kids and sometimes older clientele.

2. Consider Your Region

Tip #2 is to examine your region and see how you can incorporate those lovable items into your menu options.

If you think about it, most regions have a flavor or speciality for which they are known. That being said...depending upon where you live, certain flavors may be more popular in certain regions than they are in others.

Live in Connecticut? Did you know that your state's cookie is actually the snickerdoodle? From the south? If so chances are you're aware that cakes like red velvet and nut selections like pecans are found in abundance!

3. Seasonal Selections

No menu should ever stay the same throughout the entire year!! Although you will want to keep your best sellers and crowd favorites, switching up your menu selection keeps your customers excited and wanting more!

Have you noticed that larger restaurant chains add new flavors and holiday favorites during the year? Well, we can all take a page from their marketing books. Around winter time, you can bank on flavors such as peppermint, mocha and pumpkin choices being offered. As baking and sweets business owners, we should be doing the same thing!

Look to include those seasonal flavors into your current menu items. For example, you can add a mint filling to your chocolate macarons or a touch of pumpkin spice into your buttercream. Umm...yes please!

4. Draw on your cultural background or life events

Do you have fond memories of being in the kitchen making pies with grandma? Did you grow up in another country and become familiar with that area's pastries?

Look to build up on those experiences and think about how you can incorporate these specialty items into your menu. There are sure to be clients who can identify with your personal experiences and possibly make a connection with you because of your shared backgrounds.

5. Premium Products

Not every menu has to be the same across the board. Keep in mind that you can have multiple menus that you offer to different clients. Looking to market to a higher end crowd? Think about adding more premium products to your menu selections such as gourmet truffle platters or drip cakes.

In the sweets industry, most mainstream bakers create a menu using the popular box mix flavors. Yes, the secret is out! Box mixes have been used for some time and by some of the most popular and successful bakers and cakers in the industry. The benefits of a box mix or “doctored” (as it is mainly referenced) is that sweet makers can achieve a more consistent product and typically at a lower cost. Store Front bakery owners have also noted that due to the simplicity that comes with using a box mix training new employees can be a lot less difficult.

That being said, not all sweet peeps are comfortable with going the full box route. If you find that you enjoy your scratch recipes but that they are a little more labor intensive, consider adding them to a premium line on your menu to ensure that you are making the profit you deserve.

6. Think About the Amount of Labor

There are some baked goods that are truly a labor of love. Since we must make sure we are being fairly compensated, TIME is a huge factor when producing custom products such as cakes and treats.

As you select items to offer on your menu, be sure that you are mindful of the amount of labor that goes into each selection. More labor intensive items can take up a significant part of your schedule which is really important for those of use who are solo-preneurs and operate our businesses alone. If you decided to include labor intensive products, make sure that you are pricing appropriately. In other words, if you are required to spend a ton of time on the product, it needs to be worth it financially!

7. Do What You LOVE, and LOVE What You Do!!!

It may seem like an easy choice to just do all the things that we see others do, but that may not be the best option for you. Trends come and go in this industry all of the time. Ultimately, you want to make sure that you actually enjoy making and producing the products that make you happy.

When you are not happy with the things that you do in your baking & sweets business, you will probably hit the sweet maker burnout phase. Remember you are unique, and the most important ingredient in your business is you!

Be sure you are doing the things that make you enjoy operating your sweet business. In turn, that joy will be given to your clients through the menu offerings that you decide to share with them.