Cake Decorating Community - Cakes We Bake

Can you please tell me what states / counties you live in and the limitations you have on your home decorating?


I am taking up the fight in Wisconsin to try and implement a level of licensing called "Professional Home Baker".  Rather than starting from scratch, I'd like to review other states' / counties' laws.


I read all the discussions about the member who got called by the Health Department (uh, yep, that was me).  I understand that it is for the safety of the general public that Health Department's inspect commercial kitchens.  When I go into a restaurant that deals in massive amounts of different kinds of foods, I like knowing someone has their eye on them.  That they aren't storing raw meat over their tossed salad.  I get it.


Here's my problem.  Did you know that in Wisconsin, you can provide daycare for up to 3 children without being licensed by the state? You can advertise in the newspaper and everything.  Nobody checks up on you.  The people who drop off their kids make the educated decision to pick you to watch their children.  These same people, however, cannot make the educated decision to choose me to make cupcakes for their kids' birthday party because nobody has come in and wiped a white glove over my counters.  That seems a little off-kilter to me.  The general well-being of children in a daycare situation is not as important as a batch of cupcakes.  Hmmmmmmmm.


That said, if it's a matter of paying my taxes and licensing fees - sign me up!  I'll pay them!  I have no problem with letting Uncle Sam have a portion of my very eager earnings.


I've taken the ServSafe Food Manager's class and passed the test with flying colors.  I even got my Food Manager's license.  I work alone.  I work in a clean kitchen in a smoke-free home.  My friends and family who order cakes from me know they are going to get a safe product (it's kind of a running joke among my friends that I'm so anal about throwing things out the day they expire) that tastes good.


I can't afford to go commercial.  I can't even afford to lease space from an existing kitchen because I live in a town where I if I charge too much for cakes I won't have any customers.  I do it because I love it.  My friends come to me because they trust me. 


O.K. - I'm done with my rant.  I'm still looking for the information I asked for in the first sentence. LOL. :)



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Maybe getting around some of this is to ask for only a donation? You could let them know how much the donation is. Then your not SELLING it:)

Hi Selena,

I just now saw your letter.

You need to start with the city. Some cities in Illinois will not allow any thing like this. Just as important is the county. I am pretty sure that cook county will not allow a licensed home kitchen of any kind. I live in Kane co.

and the health dept.

Keep in mind that there are some counties that have very relaxed rules and not much is required.

For me I had to follow many rules.

We built 2 different kitchens but they were in the same county.

Aurora was very difficult to deal with

I live in Batavia and the city was much easier.

You have to pull permits and have a master plan etc... and have inspections on the work

I had to have a seperate room from the rest of the house with it's own entrance

I am not sure how much detail you want for this.

We had to have a commercial fridge

3 compartment sink with a drying rack

commercial freezer

An oven that was commercial for the health department but not too commercial for the city. I have a Deluxe made in Fl. They usually sell them at the convention ICES

A seperate sink the wash your hands with towel dispenser

An area for a clean up sink

I remember the lighting had to be a certain strength

Worse of all we had to get a grease trap! It is in the basement and is terrible to clean out and lots of $$$$

I have to have a food handlers license and insurance

This is just the basics. The food handlers class and the health dept. will fill you in on the other details.

E-mail me at and we can get in touch. I am winding down and interested in selling a lot

of things, but not the big stuff.



Selena F said:

Alice you may be the angel Ive been searching for.  I live in illinois as well and cant seem to figure out where to get answers. I just want to open already!! I want  a licensed bakery attached to my home and I just dont know who to call or where to go you are the first person in 3 years that Ive found in IL!! If there is any information you can share with me on getting my dream up and going I will be eternally grateful! 

Alice Call said:
Hi ,
I live in Illinois and have a licensed bakery attached to my home. I have had this for 15 years. There were a lot of hoops to jump through and a fine line to balance between commercial enough for the health department and less commercial for the city. To make a long story short the fee for the health dept. has doubled this year! And for this they visit one time a year for about 5 minutes. This is $600:00 for 5 minutes and a piece of paper. Then there is the food handlers license I must have and then insurance. Everything this year will come to around $1000.00 just to keep my bakery up.That doesn't include heating water etc... Then there are the income taxes. I am not sure why I am saying all this I guess I feel for your rant and felt like ranting too.

Are you saying that in Wisc. one cannot start a home bakery? Are you using your own kitchen or a seperate one? I am just asking not judging in any way.
I have delivered wedding cakes through the kitchen of seemingly clean resturants Some were really bad and one even had a tray of food ready to serve, setting on the garbage can!. So the health department system is really messed up. They need to leave the little person alone. I think a lot of laws are by county not just state. I know several persons in another part of Illinois that have home based bakeries that are licensed and not with a seperate kitchen.
Well, good luck with your quest. I am at the other end of things. I am looking to down size and this will probably be my last year. I hope thing work out.

Selling food out of your home legally is nearly impossible where I live.  I am going to rent a kitchen if I start my own business.  In the meantime I'm teaching. 


Here the health department requires you to have at least 2 full kitchens in your home to sell any food made there.  They dont say it perse but the rule is you cannot use your personal use kitchen for professional.  The professional kitchen must meet all requirement any restaurant would have to have which means a floor drain, pot sink etc.  Kinda makes mom and pops a thing of the past.  :( 


Sorry Connie,

Unfortunately most who want to make cakes do not realize what you have to go through. Both of my kitchens were as up to code as a regular commercial kitchen with regular inspections. The only real difference is they were both attached to my home in a neighborhood. This required me to not have any store front or commercial deliveries. I had to go an pick up supplies I needed.

There are exceptions, even in Illinois. a friend in a small town, has a "licensed" kitchen but it is attached to her normal kitchen without any seperation other than a half wall. More and more the town government is leaning towards the bakery kitchen being separate from the house and having it's own entrance and being completely up to code. The only exception I have is my freezer is not commercial. It is 'grandfathered in" as of now and if I rebuilt or moved I would need a commercial one. Grandfathered in  means I had it in the lisenced kitchen before the rules changed.

FYI With the first bakery kitchen we built it took me a years of 3 weddings a week-end to pay off the building loan.



TConnie Walker said:

After talking to the heath dept. here in montana I know some rules are different for saturday markets? You might want to look in to that . Some people bake at home and can sale at the Sat. market

I have a restaurant in Montana and I know people baking Pie's and selling them at the market 

There is a cottage food bill currently being reviewed for IL. It's been on the docket for about 6 months, and it's limited on what you can do, but it's a start. Google IL cottage law and you'll get the details.

Keegan Luvs Cake said:
In Illinois it varies apparently. I was under the impression you have to have a separate kitchen and entrance. My friend who lives in another county only has to have a commercial sink? As broke as IL is I think they would welcome the extra revenue. I'm all for passing a cottage law in IL too.

Has any progress been made with the Cottage Food Law in WI?  Is there anything I can do to help?  I started making cupcakes for my family and have been receiving numerous requests from friends for parties and events.  I would love to make some extra money doing what I love, but am not ready to invest in a second kitchen!

I spoke with Dept. of Ag today and found out a representative is already looking into a Cottage Food Law, he called it the cookie law :) After talking with several people it is not a published bill it's only in the beginning stages. I have left a voice message with this representative. This is great news as this has started the ball rolling into amending the statue so that anyone can have a home baking business in Wisconsin quicker than if I had started it. If you haven't done so already and live in WI please sign the petition below. I don't know if the plans would be to get it into this session or not. It would be great if it was!! Let's get the word out there...

Here, in Charleston SC, there is no such thing.  You must have a completely separate kitchen.  It's ridiculous!  However, they do offer "on site catering" licenses. 

Here in Indiana-the entire state-has what we call a Home Based Vender law recently enacted. This is majorily for farmer's market people, but I found the loophole that allows me to be a home based cake decorater under this title as well. search this HBV or Home Based Vender on our govt site to find out specifics which you could then send to your local state officials to get the same thing if you dont already have this-which you may. Basically, we, under this title, are allowed to make most foods, including all cake items, in our kithcen for sale without being licensed or visits from the Health Dept at all. With that said, we can take orders, and make cakes to orders, but legally I cannot deliver cakes(which I can drop off as just a friend helping a firend and just not charge) and the client must purchase the cake from me at a designated farmers market area, or along any public street with owner's permision. my way around this-which i cleared through our state health officals-is to exchange money outside of my house, say in my front yard, then we walk in the house to grab the cake which officials say this is fine since cakes cannot sit outside like other vender foods. i also have to give a piece of paper with each cake stating all ingredients, weight, date made, as well as a disclaimer stating it was not made in a kitchen licensed by the health dept.

so basically, as a Home Based Vender, i can take cake orders, make custom cakes in my unlicensed kitchen, person picks up their cake(which is much nicer than delivering and people never have a problem with that since they are used to picking up from other bakeries and grocers anyways), i meet them outside by their car, i get the money, we walk in and i give him/her the cake along with that legal paper(and business card of course :) and help him/her out to the car.All done legally and without any fees or health officials snooping around my house.

and like i said, you may already have this up there where you live so check out your states govt website pr call your state health department and simply ask if you do and if not what needs to be done to try and get this kind of law pushed through.

good luck!

Just found this:

Wisconsin has a Cottage Law which allows its citizens to operate a home based bakery or food processing business. For details about small/home food processing contact your local health departments or Department of Agriculture.

of course, from what i gatehred this is more jellies and jams and not you may not be able to be a home baker under this law. call this number and ask about home based vender laws:

Central Administrative Office

2811 Agriculture Drive, 3

3rd Floor

P.O. Box 8911

Madison, WI 53708-8911

Phone: (608) 224-4700

In Milwaukee area, call: (920) 849-7733

Unfortunately is wrong. I was really confused when I started researching this, but I have spoken with the Dept Of Ag and their website even confirms "You can not operate a food business out of your home." The only exception currently is the Pickled Bill which allows canning up to $5000. But hopefully not for long. In the next couple weeks a new bill will be amending our statue to allow non-hazardous baked goods to be made out of a home kitchen. Our labeling will be similar to many CFL but we will have to wait to see what's in the bill.

i posted that site because people were talking about the cottage law but it says that only jellies, jams, canning etc is allowed through it.which is why i posted it so people there wont get their hopes up for a law that doesn't pertain to them.

here is a link to our state's law on home based vendors which is how i legally sell cakes out of my unlicensed kitchen in indiana. this is what you should present to your legislators:


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