How to Start a Home Bakery of Your Own

If you are a good baker and have the right kitchen setup, you might be able to start a home bakery.

| January/February 1976

Baked Goods

Do you have a prized family recipe that is absolutely mouth-watering? You may be able to make a few extra dollars off of that satisfying delicacy.


Fed up with time clocks, the rat race, and being a small cog in what increasingly seems to be an overwhelmingly large wheel? "Then," says Jack McQuarrie, "do what we did. Learn to live on less and to supply what money you still need with little home businesses of your own. We now pick up most of the manufactured items we want from the local dump, we've earned nearly $100 a month during the summer picking the berries that grow wild on vacant city lots, and we've started our own home bakery."

That recipe you've been hoarding. You know the old family favorite for — lo! — these many generations. It may be just the ticket you need to take you from the wage slavery you now hate to the economic independence you covet.

I know. Because that's exactly what my wife, Marie, and I have used to do the same thing for us. And now, based on our experience, I feel sure that with a little imagination and some ingenuity you too should be able to convert your grandmother's best-kept secret into a means of survival, on your own terms!

Start Wherever You Are

We founded our little home bakery right here where we were already living in Berkeley, California. On the one hand, we'll admit that this college town — with more than its fair share of coffee shops that cater to young people with time on their hands and slight pangs in their stomachs — was a better than average community in which to launch our enterprise. On the other hand, however, it's just as fair to point out that Berkeley is also a town with more than its fair share of students trying to pick up a few bucks by doing their "own thing".

If the opportunities are good here, then, the competition is also rather stiff. Whether or not that balances out in our favor, I can't really say. I can only attribute the success we've had to perseverance, a little luck, and our magic ingredient: a recipe held close to the family bosom for many years. Today our specialty, walnut pie, and its junior partner, banana nut bread, keep us happily busy supplying both products to coffee shop munchers.

How It All Began

The idea for our home-based bakery came to us one afternoon in 1972 while Marie and I sat morosely picking at pieces of leftover dessert (a derivative of an old Southern recipe for pecan pie that Marie, for economic reasons, had based on walnuts instead). Our last unemployment check lay on the table in front of us and we had yet to discover a way to keep any money coming in once that check was spent.

12/5/2015 8:16:19 AM

I love stories of people starting and having success with small businesses. There are so many talented people that never reach their potential because there are some obstacles in their way. I have a friend that started to share her talent for baking. It is not a big business yet, but it is growing all the time.

3/17/2015 9:12:34 AM

I hope this isnt inappropriate. Let me know if it is, but I thought people reading this might enjoy a highly-related emotional little movie we made this year. Hope you do.

3/2/2015 9:31:17 AM

I would recommend importing pie pans from China in bulk - seriously. This should lead to an eventual enormous cost saving.

10/2/2014 8:19:46 PM

I'm a Culinary student here in L.A. at LATTC.. I'm trying to start or work with home vegan bakers. Since I'm home a lot, when not in school a Breast Cancer survivor..need a good starting poing

8/21/2014 9:35:03 PM

This is my first time IM reading an article like this it has really help me a lot I make my own cupcakes at home I was planning on giving up but motivation has really gotten back to me with this... I really sit down think and wish I can one day have my own business and sometimes I just want to give up thankyou so much you guys really are the best ....godbless you and your home base business...

2/3/2014 5:17:54 AM

Thanks for this interesting news that now we can at our home. Really this will be so interesting and amazing.

12/14/2013 6:37:08 PM

Interesting article. Much has changed in the three-decades since it was written, though. What hasn't changed, however, is the need of knowing what your recipe will cost to make so you ca ensure all your ingredient costs are covered. Any easy way to accomplish this is by using a recipe-cost calculator. It handles the complex math needed to find out how much that teaspoon of vanilla really costs. An example of one such recipe-cost calculator can be found at pricingbakedgoods dot com:

missy davis
1/28/2013 3:16:23 PM

Just wondering if anyone has begun a home based business after reading this article and how it's going

jennifer whiting
12/9/2012 8:56:38 PM

This is a very educational article and I hope to start a home baking business in the future!

6/23/2012 12:58:51 AM

You have given me hopes and inspiration.God bless your family and your business.

eve natalie
6/6/2012 3:16:27 AM

Hello Jack and family. Thank you for this inspiring essay on your home-based bakery. I feel many people today want to go back to basics, earn a decent living and use their skills. This is what I, too, am setting out to do with my home-based bakery business. Thanks for the insight.

sangeeta sonane
5/27/2012 2:57:23 AM

Thankyou so much...all the way from India :-) I just had a baby and am quitting my high paying job with much worry about how I'll manage with just my husband's income. I've been looking for ideas and your article really helped. It touches all bases so I wont miss out on thinking about operational costs, pricing etc.

fadenia chaney
4/11/2012 8:20:19 PM

Thank you so much for the incouragement, it has left me with knowing that my dream can come true. I must say this story sounds so much like what my family are going thought right now and I am so desprate to do sominthing that will help us as a family, reading this brought me to tears. Now I don't mean to brag but i really have a receipe that will make your head blow off and I am a very good baker. So again thank you for your input and sharing this story. This wll forever be on my mind and heart as I map out my plans for a home base bakery.

margaret scott
3/4/2011 1:06:28 PM

Thank you for the uplift story. I'm trying to keep my dream alive becoming a home base business. I loved the story it give hope to small business. Margaret

5/4/2010 11:25:16 PM

An inspirational article

ameia schwagmeier
7/1/2009 8:32:32 PM

Amazing Article, Packed with lots of great information !!! Thanks So Much, Ameia Baking in Indiana

10/5/2008 8:02:37 PM

I am a homebased baker in Richmond, Virginia and I just learned about a class (just Googled) that shows you how to start a homebased bakery. I enrolled on October 13th and I will come back and tell everyone how it turns out (it's 10 weeks online). I am not really a business person and this course goes over the business end of home-based baking. I just love reading this article, I have read it a few times, it reminds me that I too can be a home baker. Nancy Richmond VA

fran _1
7/10/2008 6:52:48 PM

Thank you so much for this article! I really have a dream of starting a bakery business from my home but have always been intimidated by "legal" issues. Your story gives me hope! Thanks again for "fueling" my fire and keeping my dream alive!

1/2/2008 10:42:05 AM

Thank you so much. This article is very informative. I took plenty of notes and it helps focus my thoughts. Thanks for being so honest and sharing most don't. They keep this valuable information to themselves.

12/12/2007 9:13:27 PM

ohhhh....i just realized this is an archive from 1976. Times, they have a changed.

12/12/2007 9:11:00 PM

Boy oh boy - your personal account of this has really made my day. I've been scouring the internet to figure out which route I should take my baked goods and this just gave me hope. As a stay at home mom, I just might be able to pull this off. Thanks -

12/11/2007 12:26:30 PM

I have been through similar situation with the Dept. of Agriculture and so forth and kept stopping and stating when asked if I had a license or label to list ingredients. Have put chess pies in some (gas stations) and trying again thank you. I have a very good recipe/ product and it does sell it self. having a hard time pricing, thinking about shipping to Ga. in a couple of weeks, any advice thanks again

9/5/2007 5:39:52 AM

This article is encouraging and I only hope that using this method I can get my pies marketed. Thank you.

7/31/2007 4:47:36 PM

I really seriously found this article helpful. Thanks so much:) chantelle

mother earth news fair


Feb. 17-18, 2018
Belton, Texas

More than 150 workshops, great deals from more than 200 exhibitors, off-stage demos, hands-on workshops, and great food!