Archive for June, 2014

The Healthy Eating Trend

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

Peach pie made with fresh peaches.

Cherry pie made with a whole wheat crust.

Organic blueberries!

Are these products healthy?

Now that the trend for healthy eating has become mainstream, has this impacted your baking business? Have you switched fat-laden, high sugar products for lite versions? Or use more whole grains or produce in your recipes? Or rely on organic ingredients to satisfy customers who are looking for healthy foods?

Squash, cooked and added to

a pumpkin/squash sweetbread.

Or is your customer base more interested in traditional sweets – cookies, cakes, pies, brownies – which are baked from classic recipes?

Fruit, which is naturally sweet, is a great idea and a good addition to your products. It’s possible to reduce the amount of sweetener in the recipe by using a higher proportion of fruit. But be careful of using too much fresh fruit which has a high water content; dried fruits, however, work quite well.

Apple pear coffeecake

cut and plated for a Sunday brunch.

The April 2014 issue of Bake Magazine had an interesting view on this subject. The editor wrote about “the fresh fruit factor” (p3), which mentioned the needs of some customers who regularly cycle through the diet then splurge eating plan.

This editorial addressed how bakers have struggled with the “dilemma of presenting health and indulgence to customers who may be dieting one day and splurging the next.” In our culture it’s a very real issue for bakeries or any eatery selling baked goods. He continued, “Quite simply, you can create the perception of health by adding fresh fruit to the top of your dessert.” Ah, visual appeal as the perception of health. One baker interviewed for the article stated that, “A fruit tart might have the same calories as a chocolate cake, but it’s perceived as a healthier, more natural product.” Yes, sadly, it fools many customers into believing they are eating healthier, less fattening foods.

Home-Based Baking at its Best! As businesses, we need to offer products that customers will buy. Depending upon your target market, health might not be a current issue. But with the healthy eating trend becoming more entrenched in our culture, it may be a good idea to include at least one or two items to your product line.

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Sizing Up the Farmers’ Markets

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

Many home-based food businesses sell their products at farmers’ markets. These markets have become quite trendy over the past few years and more markets are opening everywhere. Many of the older markets now have waiting lists for new vendors with strict regulations as to how many vendors they will allow in each product category.

If you are looking to expand your sales opportunities and begin selling at farmers’ markets, or you want to add additional markets to your list of outlets, first review a market’s regulations. Then visit them with an eye toward how well they would benefit your sales.

How busy is the market?

The market above had five vendors. Can it attract enough shoppers to support your sales?

Are there vendors selling complementary products

that would draw customers

and create additional sales for all of you?

Are there already vendors with similar products?

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Home-Based Baking at its Best! Complementary products are ideal. And having competitors’ products can help stimulate sales,  but only if those products are priced right. Beware of vendors selling too cheaply. It’s often the sign of  a new business owner who has no idea how to run a business. Shoppers will be drawn to those vendors who will not survive for long but will undermine your sales each time they are at the market.

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What’s Better Than a Large Pie?

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

An adorable mini-pie!

In last week’s class, Mini-Pies to Share, we mixed a classic flaky pie crust then made small individual pies.

We made fillings

then began forming the little pies.

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Larger pies and handheld pies need to have a rolled crust. But with small pies it’s just as easy to take a ball of dough and press it into the tin.

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If the pies are still warm, use the tip of a knife to pop them out.

If the pies are cooled, tap the pan and flip upside down. They will fall out!

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Handheld pies.

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Sadly, these little fellas were too hot and didn't make it in one piece...

Home-Based Baking at its Best! Small items are not only cute, but customers often feel it’s easier to buy a small pie than a larger one. And mini-pies are the perfect way for customers to buy their samples.

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Cake Pops… Why?

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

I’m totally stymied by the number of people who sell Cake Pops (aka Cake Balls.) I can see making these treats if you charge enough to get paid well. Or when you have too much cake lying around. Or if you’re a dedicated hobby baker who loves trying new recipes and techniques.

But selling cake pops on the cheap? These are a labor intensive product. Each small ball must be coated and decorated. And the majority of customers equate small with inexpensive. It matters not that these are hand-decorated, time-consuming products.

At my bakery we made rum balls and amaretto balls, but only when we had unsold cake and stale cookies. The balls were a good way to use up leftovers that could not be sold. However, the balls were not dipped in chocolate. We wrapped them in small pieces of gold foil. The foil kept them moist and the gold made them appear upscale.

I no longer have a retail business, so I make cake pops when I have issues…

Yes, they're tasty treats. But still annoying to roll and dip.

Home-Based Baking at its Best!

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