Archive for August, 2014

Cookie Decorating and Marketing Workshop

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

Last weekend, SweetAmbs and Baking Fix held a cookie decorating and marketing workshop for 12 students. The morning was spent learning flooding, wet-on-wet technique, and  brush embroidery. In the afternoon we talked about marketing our business and selling our cookies.

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Amber demonstrated each new technique before students began practicing.

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Finished cookies were left to dry on half sheet trays

and the trays were loaded into a cooling rack.

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We took a break and ate lunch provided by SweetAmbs. In the afternoon we talked about the marketing aspect of running a cookie business. It’s important to organize your thoughts to begin a marketing plan that fits into your overall business plan. This includes developing a concept and structuring a brand, then identifying your target market while enjoying the market research.

Keep an eye on Amber’s website for more upcoming classes. Baking Fix classes are posted here.

And the latest news: Amber is working on a book! More information after the contract is signed!!

Home-Based Baking at its Best!

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Iggy’s Bread – Bakery Tour & Market Research

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

Checking out the display cases and asking questions.

If you’re in the food business, bakery tours are a pleasant way to do market research. There’s a lot to be learned from seeing what new products are being sold, how products are displayed, and tours are a great tool for staying up with current trends.

For bakery owners, these tours are a necessity.  If you like food, it’s fun exploration and gastronomic entertainment. Visiting bakeries is one of my favorite activities.

Everywhere I go, I make a point of visiting at least one bakery. On a recent Sunday morning in Boston MA, we went to Iggy’s Bread,  a large wholesale facility with a retail area in front.

Entrance to the retail area for Iggy's Bread.

We found cookies, pastries, tarts, sandwiches, pizza, buns, and granola. So much more than bread!

Everyone gets to choose.

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Iggy's sticky buns - the best breakfast pastry, ever!

We bought one each of everything that looked enticing.

Hungry now! We stopped outside to open boxes and dig in.

"Should we go back and get daddy a sticky bun, too?"

Suggestions for an easy and enjoyable bakery tour:
1. Buy one each of everything that looks interesting or different. Ask questions but be considerate of the clerk and other customers.
2. After you get home examine your purchases before digging in. (If you’re too hungry or have kids along, dig in immediately!)
3. Don’t plan on eating your regular lunch or dinner. Sometimes we must sacrifice a meal for market research.
4. You don’t have to eat an entire pastry. Just take a bite or nibble to savor the flavor and texture. Take notes.
5. If you have a lot of treats, wrap up any long shelf-life items. Eat them another day.

Home-Based Baking at its Best! Save your receipts! Bakery tours are a legitimate business necessity.

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Customer Service With a Smile

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

Customers can always count on excellent service from the Wright folks.

Summers are for farmers’ markets with local and seasonal produce. Many farms also sell value added products such as pies, cookies, and sweetbreads. For the past few years I’ve been purchasing  from Wright’s Farm. And I’ve always been impressed with three things – wonderful customer service, simple yet beautiful displays, and their hand-decorated pie boxes.

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Hand-decorated pie boxes.

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Last week we visited their farm market.

The market is quite large

and multi-level.

I was privileged to see how they create hand-painted boxes.

I’ve always wondered about the Wright Farm pie boxes. It’s a beautiful touch and surely too time consuming. But as I picked out a triple berry pie, I had a chance to see their streamlined method. With black marker, someone writes in pie names on the flaps and leaves a stack of assorted boxes at the front counter. Then whoever is working colors them in. She did one for me as I watched and in a flash, a stack of boxes were finished.

We bought a still-hot triple berry pie, jar of pickles, and a couple of little zucchini breads for my fall classes.

Home-Based Baking at its Best!

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Seasonal Fruit Pies, FAQ

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

Two crust pie ready for the oven.

Every summer I receive several pie-related emails similar to this one:

Help! For the third week in a row, my farmers’ market customers are asking when I’ll have pies for sale. I know pies are popular, especially fresh fruit pies, but I can’t seem to make a nice looking pie no matter how much I practice. What can I do?

I know it’s frustrating. Rolling out pie dough can be tricky. My usual answer is to practice, practice, practice! Some bakers are naturals, but it can take other bakers years to make passable looking pies. My next suggestion: make a rustic-style pie.

Blueberry filling shows through the center of a rustic seasonal pie.

Rustic means it’s a sort-of two-crust pie, but instead of a top and bottom crust it’s one large circle which folds over the filling. In the blueberry pie above, the filling shows. In the apple pie below, dough completely covers the filling.

The crust is egg washed and sprinkled with sugar.

Mini-blueberry pies are especially easy to make as rustic pies.

There are some baked goods using fresh fruit that can be a substitute for pie, such as crisps, cobblers, and shortcakes. But honestly, there is no good substitute for pie.

Home-Based Baking at its Best! No factory made fillings here! Customers are counting on the small home-based business to make authentic seasonal fresh fruit pies. Pie dough recipe here.

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