With my baking OCD I could never used purchased baked goods, it might give me an anxiety attack J. And as I previously stated in another thread fresh baked goods is sort of my signature.
My favorite gig to get is coffee and pastry so I can do Danish, croissants, scones and cinnamon rolls. Most people have rarely had fresh breakfast pastry so the feedback is always a big ego boost as their eyes roll back into their heads and they make happy noises.
Overflowing baskets of a variety of dinner rolls always makes a good impression. I usually stick with just three kinds leaving it up to the client what three kinds to do.
I once had a rehearsal dinner where the client asked for five different kinds of bread. I made each one look less like a roll and more like miniature loaves of bread with slashes and braids. On that occasion I did brioche, semolina, honey whole wheat, rye and challah.
For clients that just want one kind of roll: usually it’s either some variation of milk rolls (parker house being the most popular choice) or a more eggy bread like brioche.
For full on loaves most clients prefer just French or Italian bread. Every once in a while I get someone a bit more adventurous and I get to do roasted garlic bread or herbed bread and rarely I get to do my personal favorite, kalamata olive bread.
I once did chocolate apricot bread that I sliced and cut out with petites four cutters then topped with a slice of Havarti and some homemade peach wine jelly for hors de oeuvres. Yummy.
I do bagels from time to time, but usually they are for my husband, I have never had much of a market for them in my area.
I make sour dough regularly but not so much for serving as bread. I find that it makes the best croutons and bread chips ever. So when I need croutons I make round loaves and when I need bread chips I make long skinny loaves and take my electric knife to them. Make up a butter, olive oil, minced garlic and sea salt concoction and boy howdy are they good.
Cookies, cakes and desserts are all done from scratch.
I cater so that I can have the opportunity to bake. I would rather have a boutique bakery than a catering business. But a bakery is more of a retail set hours business and my children are not all (I have five total) quite old enough for me to be able to make the commitment. I’ve got about four years before I can do that, but in the mean time I’m planning for it.
As to cost, (flour, water, yeast) it’s pretty cheap. Butter and other dairy is the largest expense. When you make whole grain breads, the more expensive flours only make up a small portion of the flour used, otherwise you’d have a very heavy bread. So even there the ingredient cost is not that much.
If you have the equipment and the know-how in house baking means that the client gets baked goods that are as fresh as possible and you can not beat that for flavor. Good bread accentuates the meal. Bad stale bread doesn’t get eaten and that’s a pretty expensive table garnish.