Archive for November, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

Thanksgiving is our favorite holiday. It’s a time to be thankful for everything we have.

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Your Thanksgiving Products

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

Are you ready for Thanksgiving orders? What are you offering this year? Popular items are always bread, rolls, pies, tarts, cheesecake, and sweetbreads.

If you don’t like to roll out pie crusts, there are press-in cookie crusts that work exceptionally well. Tarts are also popular. After pumpkin and apple pies, my shop’s runner-ups were a fruit tart (made with jam, no fresh fruit) and a pecan chocolate chip pie made with a cookie crust. Another option is to bake an apple cake in a pie pan, so it has the appearance of a pie.

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Customers order products for both their Thanksgiving meal and for breakfast/brunch on Thanksgiving Day, so don’t forget to offer items such as muffins, cinnamon buns, and coffeecakes.

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Home-Based Baking at its Best! By now you should be all set with your Thanksgiving offerings. But it’s never too early to start next year’s menu. Do your market research now and keep notes and photos.

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Cranberries, the Seasonal Favorite

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

Fresh cranberries, harvested in September and October, are available for sale from October through December.

The tartness of fresh cranberries is perfect when combined with the tender crumb of a flavorful sweet bread.

Cranberry Orange Bread

This time of year, customers crave traditional foods on their holiday tables. In addition to cranberry jelly, this bright red berry is a must have on bakery product lists.

For this loaf, I used a plain batter, substituted orange juice for the liquid, and added chopped berries.

I have several cranberry bread recipes, but I often use whichever recipe is handy and simply add fresh chopped cranberries. If you have a favorite recipe that calls for raisins, try substituting these bright red berries.

Cranberry bread is a Thanksgiving favorite.

How to Select and Store
Choose fresh, plump cranberries, deep red in color, and quite firm to the touch. Firmness is a primary indicator of quality. Fresh ripe cranberries can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 20 days. Before storing, discard any soft, discolored, pitted or shriveled fruits. When removed from the refrigerator, cranberries may look damp, but such moistness does not indicate spoilage, unless the berries are discolored or feel sticky, leathery or tough.

During cranberry season I purchase several bags, enough to have extra for freezing. Cranberries can be kept frozen for several years. To freeze, rinse and spread on a cookie sheet and place in freezer. Once frozen, place in freezer bags and use them frozen – otherwise the berries become soft and soggy as they thaw.

For more info and to learn about healthful aspects of cranberries.

Home-Based Baking at its Best! Cranberry breads and muffins are excellent sellers at the farmers’ market.

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Baking With Almond Paste, Class

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

Almond paste is a firm, dense mixture of almonds and sugar. It’s used in many classic European recipes such as basic almond cakes; macaroons; Italian cookies such as rainbows (Neapolitans), crescents, Amoretti, and basic butter cookies; and is used as the filling in frangipane tarts, Danish, and Stollen. In my baking, I use it extensively in frangipane (my favorite way to bake seasonal tarts and pies), coffeecakes, biscotti, and butter cookies.

Almond paste is similar to marzipan, a candy that contains almond paste plus a sugar syrup. The paste is pricey, but it’s not difficult to make from scratch, although it’s difficult to get the consistency as smooth as the factory made variety.

Last night we had a full class and made Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies, Almond Biscotti, and Almond Drop Cookies.

Full class!

Almond chocolate chip cookies.

Above, these cookies are the most favorite of all!

Cherry Almond Biscotti

Italian Drop Cookies

Other products I often make: Frangipane Crumb Bars,

Frangipane Pear Tart,

Frangipane Plum Tarts,

Peach 'n Plum Frangipane Pies,

and Almond Pastries.

Frangipane Filling
1 cup almond paste (8 ounces)
1 cup sugar
½ cup butter
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon almond
½ cup flour
¼ teaspoon salt

Beat together almond paste, sugar, and butter. Add eggs and extracts, beating until smooth. Mix in flour and salt. Spread thin layer over tart crust or use as filling for other products. Store in fridge.

Fresh fruit season is perfect for selling this product, especially at farmers’ markets. Make individual tarts or a large tart cut into small pieces. Optional: add a dusting of confectioners’ sugar.

Home-Based Baking at its Best!

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