Start a Home-Baked Goods Business

One area that cottage food businesses can excel is with baked goods, like breads, muffins, cakes and cookies.

by John D. Ivanko
PHOTO: John D. Ivanko/

This is not only our final post related to starting a food business from your home kitchen—it’s also our final Farmstead Chef post. We’ve enjoyed taking you along on our culinary journeys across the country, meeting with amazing farmstead and farm-to-table chefs, and revealing new recipes prepared with ingredients found in our backyards, farm fields, or an ocean or lake.

While our blog has come to an end, we’d like invite you to visit our farm Inn Serendipity, as a bed-and-breakfast guest or for a summer open house. Better yet, come for our newly expanded and annual Soil Sisters event, a jam-packed weekend held July 31 to August 2, 2015. The itinerary includes a farm-to-table dinner held on our property; hands-on “green acres” workshops; a tour of farms, featuring chickens, cows, emus and goats; and a Taste of Place culinary event. More than 20 women-owned farms in Brodhead and Monroe, Wis., will be participating.

Over the years, we’ve increasingly focused on the role change plays in our life—from climate change to the rapid pace of technological innovations—and the need for farmers to build resilience by diversifying what they grow, building soil health, or by learning to cook using the fruits, vegetables and herbs grown themselves or by neighboring farmers. Thanks to the cottage food laws on the books in most states, cookies and other baked items are among the “non-hazardous” foods many states allow to make in home kitchens and sell to the public with little governmental regulation. This freedom to earn translates to more diverse, vibrant, local and sustainable economies.

Farmer Regina Dlugokencky, of Seedsower Farm in Centerport, N.Y., for example, has used baked goods to diversify her farming operation, boost her bottom line and provide a way to express a passion she’s always had for baking. (Check out her story in our new book Homemade for Sale. You can enter to win a free copy by visiting our Facebook page through the end of the month.) Dlugokencky sells both sourdough breads and collection of jams she makes from various fruits grown on her farm.

If you choose to start a cottage food business that includes baked goods, simple family recipes, like your grandma’s sourdough recipe or your famous banana nut muffins, are great to use. Many cottage food operators find success with sugar cookies, especially hand-decorated ones. Dig through your recipe box and search for that one recipe that sets you apart, and remember, it doesn’t have to be showy.

We discovered Erica Roth’s shortbread cookies at our holiday cookie swap. They were a huge hit at the swap and are the perfect example of baked good you can sell out of your own kitchen: The recipe is short and easy to make, but it makes a desirable end product.

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“The shortbread recipe is directly from the lips of the sweetest Scottish lady you’ll ever meet, Lily Graham,” Roth says. “She’s a friend of my Mom’s, and it is her family’s recipe that she brought with here when she came to the United States after World War II.”

We wanted to end our Farmstead Chef blog on a sweet note, and Roth’s shortbread seemed the perfect fit.

Recipe: Scottish Shortbread

By Lily Graham via Erica Roth

Yield: about 4 dozen cookies


  • 1½ pounds butter
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 5½ cups flour


Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

Mix butter until creamy. Gradually add sugar, then flour.

Spread mixture into a 12-by-17-inch jelly roll pan. To achieve traditional look, pierce repeatedly with fork tines.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until very lightly browned, which may take 45 minutes or more. Cut in diagonal strips (parallelograms), roughly 1½ inches wide and 2 inches long.


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