Archive for July, 2014

Florentine Cookies

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

Lace-like appearance with chocolate spread over one side.

The classic name for the above cookie is Florentine, but they are also known as Lace Cookies, Brown Buttercrunch Cookies, French Lace Cookies, Tuille, and Oat Laces. The recipe yields a buttery, crisp-tender, flavorful cookie that can be made plain or fancy. These were a regular offering in my bakery. During the holidays I added chopped glaceed red and green cherries.

One teaspoon dough spreads to 4 or 5 inches.

Drizzled with chocolate.

Sprinkled with almonds.

Florentines
Yield: 2-3 dozen
½ cup butter
½ cup light corn syrup
⅔ cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup old fashioned oats
¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup finely chopped walnuts (may use almonds or pecans)
½ cup chopped (candied) cherries, optional, for holiday cookies
1 ¼ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees, line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
2. In medium saucepan, boil butter, corn syrup and brown sugar. Remove from heat, stir in oats, flour, and vanilla. Add fruits, if using.
3. Drop by teaspoon, three inches apart, on prepared cookie sheets. Do not place too close, they will spread. Bake for 6-8 minutes or until mixture spreads flat, turns golden brown, and bubbles around edge. For a chewier cookie bake one minute less.
4. After cookies cool, spread bottoms with melted chocolate.
5. Store in air-tight container with parchment or waxed paper between layers.

Note: these cookies can be used for Cannoli (form cookies with tube and place seam side down) or bowls (drape over upside down muffin tin or custard cups).

Home-Based Baking at its Best! Customers love these special cookies which can be easily adapted to gluten-free.

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Standard of Identity: Naming Your Product

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

In the U.S. there are federal requirements that determine what a food product must contain in order to be marketed under a certain name. Mandatory standards protect the consumer by ensuring that a label accurately reflects the product; for example, that mayonnaise is not an imitation spread, or that ice cream is not a similar, but different, frozen product. These standards are issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency also issues standards of identity. Standards of Identity

But only some food categories are regulated by the government. Meat, dairy products (milk, cheeses, etc), pasta, peanut butter, even white chocolate, all have definitions. The baked goods category, however, has no regulations and no restrictions. That’s why we see faux products such as Blueberry Donuts with no real blueberries (flavoring comes from imitation gum bits) or banana bread made with imitation flavor and no real bananas. No standard of identity also means we can bake cakes and label them breads.

How many of us bake banana cake (high fat, high sugar content) in loaf form so that cake appears as (lower fat, lower sugar) bread?

Is there too much government interference?

Setting federal standards may sound like a lot of over-regulation, but these standards benefit consumers and small businesses by protecting against adulteration and misbranding.

Recently, the honey industry has been in turmoil over this issue. Foreign companies have been selling a sweet golden liquid that has the appearance of honey but is a substandard imitation. The market has been flooded with a misbranded product and domestic honey producers are threatened with unfair competition. Two U.S. senators are working toward the implementation of a national standard of identity for honey.

“New York has some of the nation’s finest honey and hardest working producers,” Senator Gillibrand (NY) said. “To protect consumers and safeguard the integrity of honey products, we must adopt a national standard of identity for honey to prevent unscrupulous importers from flooding the market with misbranded honey products. The lack of regulation is a food safety concern and a bane to our honey producers.”

For more information click here and here.

Home-Based Baking at its Best! No regulation means we must use our own common sense. As small home-based businesses we can handle that, right?

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Cookie Decorating and Marketing Workshop

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

 

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Visit SweetAmbs for more information and to register

Home-Based Baking at its Best!

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Holiday Weekend, Bakery Tour

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

I love bakeries and visit as often as possible. I love trying new treats! But mostly I love the market research aspect. Regardless of what kind of a baking business you have, there’s a lot to learn from going to a retail bakery. I encourage everyone to do bakery tours. Look at the products on the shelf, how they are displayed, watch what customers are buying, and think about the visual aspects that encourage purchases.

We visited family for the July Fourth weekend and headed to Boston. It was late in the afternoon on July 3rd when we stopped at Lyndell’s Bakery. The shelves were mostly empty, which meant they’d had a very busy day. From their website:

Lyndell’s Bakery has served freshly baked cakes, pastries, pies, and breads daily since 1887. Located in historic Ball Square, Lyndell’s is one of the oldest retail “scratch” bakeries in the country. Pies, breads, specialty cookies, and half moons are chosen as Boston’s Best every year and families have enjoyed our custom made cakes forever!

(Great info, I just don’t understand why the word SCRATCH is in quotes.)

Lyndell's Bakery

Eye-catching and enticing window displays.

Great customer service, always important!

We made our selections.

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We bought bread, brownies, cupcakes, and several varieties of Half Moon cookies (Black & Whites).

On our way home to the Hudson Valley, we stopped at sugar me sweet bakers,  the most darling microbakery I’ve ever seen. Owner Ginny Farris began as a home-based baker, selling her wholesale products to area retail stores. In New York, the cottage food law allows Home Processors to sell wholesale.

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We bought (clockwise from top) Ultimate Chocolate Chip cookies, Cinnamon Roll Bars, vanilla cupcake, mocha cupcake, Banana Walnut muffin,

and a chocolate naked cake.

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Ginny’s secrets to success? Fresh products that are exceptionally unique and tasty, and phenomenal customer service.

Home-Based Baking at its Best! Visit bakeries, enjoy new taste treats, and consider your time a valuable step in market research. For more bakery tours…

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Repackaged: Granola on the Go!

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

When I started in business granola was one of my first products. I made three varieties (peanut butter, basic, and maple nut) and they all sold well from the bulk bins in my local food coop. The biggest advantage for me was the incredibly long shelf life. I could make this product in large batches and keep in tubs until sold.

Granola is still a favorite breakfast food in my house.

Use a pan spray and clean up is fast 'n easy.

When I began teaching people how to start a home-based food business, I always recommended they include a product with a long shelf life, such as granola or biscotti. But over the years as the entrepreneurial trend grew, those categories became saturated.

But as the convenience foods category continues to grow, breakfast cereals are now repackaged and cleverly marketed in a new category.

Granola on the go! Two ounce bag net weight (1/2 cup volume) marketed as a snack.

Kellogg's on the go! Many breakfast cereals are being repackaged as convenience and snack foods.

Home-Based Baking at its Best! Do you make granola? Is it delicious and different? Think about repackaging into smaller, snack sized bags.

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