Home Kitchens Meet the Bun Pan Rack

March 21st, 2017

Does your business baking turn your kitchen into a hunt for space?

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Do you dread the holiday production nightmare?

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I often receive questions from home bakers asking for help with this problem, especially when I show photos from my baking classes with this wonderful piece of equipment:

This sheet pan rack is old, but certainly does the job!

If you have a home-based food business you already know about heavy production in a home kitchen. Meet the home version of this commercial equipment, useful for cooling and storing baking pans as they come out hot from the oven.

Meet the half height bun pan rack.

The Webstaurant Store is only one of numerous restaurant equipment stores that sell many types of bun pan (or sheet pan) racks. The above rack is an end load half-height rack, designed for half sheet pans and can be assembled with or without wheels, and can be put away after the holidays. It holds up to 10 full size or 20 half size sheet pans and is not too costly. You can find new ones for just over $100.

You’ll find more tips and tricks for home kitchen efficiency in Home Baking for Profit.

Home-Based Baking at its Best!

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Chocolate Walnut Strudel

February 2nd, 2017

Strudel for those long winter nights.

Chocolate Walnut Strudel is a nice, fast strudel, especially for times of the year when there’s no local/seasonal fruits. And everyone loves chocolate, no matter what the time of year.

Any pie dough will work. This dough was somewhat wet so I used a lot of extra flour.

Don't worry about too much flour. After you roll up the strudel, remove excess with a soft brush. You can see, above, the flour did not create a problem.

Use your favorite pie dough. Sprinkle with cinnamon/sugar/cocoa. Top with chopped walnuts (toasted nuts makes a better product) and chocolate chunks. Roll up, place seam side down, and vent the top.

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Home-Based Baking at its Best! Sell by the slice or whole piece.

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New Year 2017!

January 2nd, 2017

It’s a new year, and quite a new one for those who live in the United States.

We started the new year off with a bakery tour at the Danish Pastry House near Boston and Tufts University. We arrived early, while they were setting up, and thoroughly examined the pastry cases.

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I was quite surprised to see these tarts dusted with gold glitter.

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We placed our order

with a box for home.

We took our coffee and a Kringle brioche to the seating area.

Home-Based Baking at its Best! Visiting retail bakeries is a pleasant way to do market research and develop ideas for new products.

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A Growing Trend That Makes Me Sad

September 14th, 2016

Our culture is food obsessed. And as the obsession grows, we’re becoming more obnoxious with our food preoccupation.

Bake Magazine featured an article this week, Zagat survey shows national dining trends to look out for

The Zagat survey had results from 10,000 diners across the U.S. Not only did the survey find that photography is a growing trend, but also:

1. 41% of diners say they post food photos to social media immediately at the table
2. 60% have stopped dining companions from eating so they can take food photos
3. 50% have taken photos of every dish at the table
4. And, quite shockingly obnoxious, 5% have even asked another table if they can photograph their dish

But what I find absolutely appalling, the survey goes on to tell us that “17% admit they have or would lie about it being a special occasion in order to get a freebie while 14% have or would fake a food allergy to get a dish modified to their liking, such as gluten-free offerings.”

That makes me sad. Why would anyone lie about such things? And then I think, what else are they lying about?

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Almost back from vacation… see you soon!

August 21st, 2016

Sidestepping Food Industry License Regulations

June 8th, 2016

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A recent article, Homemade App Connects Local Cooks And Eaters Through Home Cooked Meals, was published in a Philadelphia magazine. It describes the new app Homemade, as “an incredible resource for cooks who can’t afford or are too busy to run their own restaurant but would like to make some money selling their food. Not only is the app an effective platform for that, but it also offers free coaching for cooks to help them become successful… cooks can get help with food photography, marketing, establishing their brand, and setting prices for their meals.”

Another article in the Wall Street Journal glorifies and promotes Homemade as an idea of selling home prepared foods with no license regulations. “Homemade … sidesteps laws that forbid food sales without a licensed commercial kitchen by deeming all purchases made through the app as a food-with-friends arrangement… We think that over time the laws and the regulatory environment will advance and sort of catch up…”

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Clearly, these tech people are naïve. They’ve strayed from their area of expertise and have no idea how health and safety regulators will respond. In terms of protecting the public from serious food violations, agencies responsible for public welfare will no doubt step in to correct the “sidesteppers.”

Home-Based Baking at its Best! Really best when businesses are licensed.

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Slumping Sales for Factory Made Foods and Mixes

May 20th, 2016

No mixes here! Real scratch-made, homemade cake!

How is our friend, Betty Crocker? Glad you asked!

“The fictional homemaker General Mills invented back in the 1920s is not happy.” From a Star-Tribune article, General Mills’ Betty Crocker, Pillsbury cope with baking slump, “Sales of Betty Crocker baking mixes, a classic General Mills offering, have been in the dumps for over two years. Another major part of the General Mills baking business, its Pillsbury refrigerated dough line, has experienced weakness, too. Indeed, the entire U.S. baking mix market has been eroding. …’the biggest factor in our category is that people are just busy,’ said Elizabeth Nordlie, vice president for baking at Golden Valley-based General Mills.” The article goes on to state that, “On-the-go consumers are more drawn to ready-made cookies, cakes or pies.”

Why is this important to us, the home-based food processor? Because this story confirms that sales of fresh baked goods are growing.

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Naked Cake – Trend or Fad? FAQ

May 6th, 2016

Top: Blueberry cake is true nakedness. Bottom: Raspberry Limoncello and Pink Velvet cakes with un-iced sides.

Have you seen the original idea behind naked cakes? The concept began as simple cakes with no icing, as in the blueberry cake above. Then some bakers, pastry chefs, and cake decorators gave their cakes a swipe of icing across the top. Over the years the naked cake phenomenon gained in popularity and more cakers began offering their own version. With simple designs and professional execution, these cakes were elegant (and especially good for people who don’t like frosting).

Cakes by sugar me sweet bakers.

Then something happened. The word naked continued to be used, but the previously simple designs with no frosting traveled into a different cake universe. Some cakes were crumb-coated (a thin layer of icing used to seal in the crumbs before the actual icing) and then some cakes ended up fully iced, yet bakeries still referred to their creations as “naked.”

While many of these cakes are beautifully executed, others are sloppy and lean heavily to one side. Or worse, many are now so laden with “stuff” (twigs, pine cones, flowers, fruits, candies, etc) we can hardly see the cake.

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In Brides magazine, most of the cakes are lovely and simple, and epitomize the idea of naked cakes. But the cake photo above is from an article in The Knot, another wedding industry magazine.

The industry must stop using the word naked. Maybe we can call them half-naked or semi-nude. The sloppy ones can just be called sloppies.

Home-Based Baking at its Best!

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Holy Ingenious Marketing, Batman!

April 28th, 2016

Freestanding display in a health food store.

Bake-At-Home Bread? These loaves already appear to be fully baked. And according to the promo they stay fresh for months not days.

Sounds delish.

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Home-Based Baking at its Best! Holy ingenious (albeit disingenuous) marketing, Batman.

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Clean Eating Trend, Good News or Bad?

April 22nd, 2016

Fresh produce and open air markets.

Is the clean eating trend good news for us? I’d say yes! For consumers, and society as a whole, we are all better off eating a more healthful diet. But not everyone is happy.

Sometimes, when I read a food industry trade magazine, I wonder: who are these people and why are they writing such nonsense? In a recent issue of Bake magazine I found a convoluted article, The paradox of choice, which explained their side.

The article began by talking about consumer TV habits. “Not long ago, Nielsen released an eye-opening report on the television watching habits of Americans. Despite the fact that the average number of TV channels received by US households increased dramatically from 128 to 189 within five years (a 48 percent jump), the average number of channels actually watched remained flat at just 17. More channels did not equate to viewing a wider selection.”

Apparently, they believe the number of increased stations should mean people can increase their viewing to match what’s available. Sadly, these folks don’t realize there’s a finite number of hours in each day. People chose from what’s available and if there are new programs, they stop watching older ones.

The article moved on, to the food analogy. “The same can be said about consumer eating habits. While Americans are moving in all sorts of different directions, as people become increasingly more selective about the foods they will and won’t eat, the overall number of food and beverage occasions consumed by the average consumer is flat, according to a new report by The NPD Group.”

Why, yes, of course the number of food and beverage occasions remains flat. Most people are not eating more, they are replacing what they eat with new choices. And with the healthy food trend, people are choosing healthier foods. Good for them! Trends happen, people change, and this trend bodes well for the other trends: eat natural, eat local, support your small businesses. And these small local businesses produce foods with fewer chemicals. Isn’t that a good thing?

Uh, oh, I kept reading. “Another equally menacing fact for food manufacturers and food retailers is consumers’ increasing demand for purity in their foods and beverages. Consumers are avoiding adulterated elements and looking for natural and fresh foods and beverages, as well as avoiding some of the processed foods on which many major food companies base their business.”

“Another equally menacing fact”? That seems to be a shame. But it sure is great for most home-based bakers who don’t usually add chemicals to their homemade baked goods.

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