Archive for February, 2015

Holy Buckets of Brownies, Batman: Recipe Alert!

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

Chocolate brownies are a classic treat and one of the top selling bakery sweets.

Brownies!

After my Valentine’s Day post a couple of weeks ago, a few people commented about finding the “perfect” brownie recipe. In my opinion, the “perfect” brownie recipe is one that’s easy, fast, and creates repeat sales.

Brownie guidance from Baking Fix: 1. One pot recipes are the easiest and fastest. 2. Additions to the batter (nuts, chocolate chips, etc) are nice but not necessary. 3. Frosting is okay, but a soft frosting may be a problem with packaging. 4. The kinds of brownies you offer depends upon your customers and their particular preferences.

Brownie bites!

Chocolate Brownie Overdose This recipe makes an over-the-top chocolate experience for true chocolate addicts.

Yield: (2) pans, 9x13x2
15 ounces unsweetened chocolate
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
3 cups (6 sticks) butter
2-pound bag brown sugar
3 cups granulated sugar
12 large eggs
¼ cup vanilla extract
4 ½ cups all-purpose flour (1 lb. 4 oz.)
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
approximately 2 pounds of your favorite chocolate bars

1. Preheat oven to 350º F and line (2) 9×13 pans with parchment or foil.
2. Melt chocolates and butter in a large stockpot.
3. Cool for ten minutes, then mix in both sugars. Beat in eggs and vanilla; stir in flour, baking powder, and salt.
4. Scoop about ¼ of the batter into the bottom of each lined pan, and spread to cover. Then cover the batter with your choice of candy bars. Carefully scoop the remaining batter over the chocolate and again spread to cover, smoothing the tops of each pan.
5. Bake for 45 minutes, then reduce the heat to 325º and bake 15 minutes. If the brownies still seem soft and wet when a toothpick is inserted near the center, turn heat down to 300º and bake for another 15 minutes. This should be enough time to thoroughly bake the brownies.
6. Cool and cut into large pieces. These are impressive wrapped individually and stacked on a platter.

Top brownie has caramel, middle brownie has a chocolate bar, and bottom brownies have wafer candy/cookies.

My book Home Baking for Profit has a chapter with fourteen brownie recipes along with variations, and several tips for baking and handling.

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Almond Pastries

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

Almond Pastries! Golden and flaky!

Almond Pastries are simple, tasty products that are easy to produce.  These adapt well to any size and (depending upon filling) do not need refrigeration and have a relatively long shelf life. Use any pie or pastry dough, but I prefer using the recipe below.

Use a lot of flour and these are easy to roll out.

Flaky Cream Cheese Dough
1 cup (8 ounces) butter, softened
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons water
2 cups (8.5 ounces) all-purpose flour
Purchased almond filling; may also use fruit pie filling

Cream butter and cream cheese. Mix in water. Add flour and combine until dough forms a clean ball. Wrap and refrigerate. Use approx 2 ounces dough per pastry, but size varies depending upon product needs.

Roll out dough on well-floured surface, place filling in center and spread. Fold sides in and roll up as you would a jelly roll. Place seam side down on baking sheet. Can egg wash and sprinkle with almonds or coarse sanding sugar.

375-400° F for 15-20 minutes, until a golden brown. Cool thoroughly before storing in air-tight container.

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Happy Valentine’s Day

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

If you’re new and still working on a business plan, now is the time to do market research for this sweetest of holidays!

If you are already in business, are you ready for Valentine’s Day sales?

Remember that in our business, nothing says love more than chocolate.

Chocolate Brownies

Fudgy little heart-shaped brownies sell even better than brownie squares.

If you’re looking for fast and easy sellers, bake any of your recipes in heart-shaped pans. Below, an apple crumb coffeecake.

"You're the Apple of My Eye"

Mini pies with heart cut outs.

Plain shortbread cookies, sold in bags or boxes for customers to eat or decorate.

Gingerbread cookies dipped in white chocolate.

Home-Based Baking at its Best! To all of our hard-working sweethearts, a very Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Is the Home-Based Bakery a Saturated Market?

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

The Good News for Bakers
No, the home-based bakery business is not saturated. Baked goods are always in demand. These products are consumable – people are always looking to purchase delicious homemade goods that are eaten and then replaced with more delicious goods! With this kind of repeat business, it’s very possible to have a profitable home baking business.

While certain segments of the industry seem to be filled with too many bakers selling the same products, there are always ways to create a profitable, successful business.

This means planning. Before you throw together a Facebook page or hand out flyers for door-to-door delivery, spend time planning. In a previous post I talked about the importance of writing a business plan. The time you spend doing this will force you to think through the details. This process will save you money and time that can be invested elsewhere.

The Bad News for Cakers
While the home-based bakery business, in general, is still viable, in some regions the market is already saturated with custom cake decorators. This includes sculpted cakes, wedding cakes, and finely decorated all-occasion cakes. If you are thinking about selling custom cakes, consider the skill-level necessary and the competition in your area.

Delicious Desserts* - a successful custom cake business owned by Laney Cowan

Some decorators such as Laney Cowan, who owns Delicious Desserts, are professionals who do remarkable work and charge accordingly.

But unfortunately, some cakers do awesome work for next to nothing. When competitors don’t charge enough to make minimum wage, it’s exceptionally difficult to compete with them.

Those lower-priced cakers either have no idea how to price properly, or they are subsidized by a spouse/partner. Also, some competitors (who may call themselves hobby/businesses) have other jobs. They make cakes as a sideline so their income is additional and they often charge only enough to cover costs. Other cakers charge less because they have a lower skill level and think they will raise prices after they practice on current customers. Still others say they do it for their passion or because they want to provide low-cost cakes since “everyone deserves to have a nice cake.”

The market is also flooded with “cheap cake ladies.” These people charge minimal amounts and offer a lower quality. This cut-rate, sloppy, knock-off cake market is saturated with far too many “businesses” that sell on Facebook and Craigslist. These folks have not learned to price their products and sell at such a low price they often lose money. Unfortunately, they don’t realize it until too late when they decide to stop selling. But in the meantime, other new “businesses” pop up selling cheap cakes.

Regardless of motivation or individual circumstances, all of these cakers are making it impossible to charge a fair price for the work involved. It’s becoming less viable to dream of running a profitable custom cake business. And even less so to have a retail cake shop. So it’s important to think about if your area can handle the price points necessary to support a custom business. That’s where a good business plan is important.

Delicious Desserts Cakes by Laney Cowan
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