Archive for January, 2016

Decorative Edible Dishware, New Business Idea

Friday, January 29th, 2016

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Several years ago at the Piet Zwart Institute‘s Altered Appliances, three design students (Joanne Choueiri, Giulia Cosenza and Povilas Raskevicius) created a project called Rollware, which used laser-cut rolling pins to create patterned edible dishes.

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The concept of edible dishes goes back to the middle ages. Trenchers, plates made from hard, stale bread were used as dishes that soaked up the gravy or meat drippings. After the meal, trenchers could be eaten and were often given to the servants and the poor.

We currently find edible dishware in the form of taco salads, ice cream cones, and bread bowls. On a biodegradable level, Earthpac makes dishware from potatoes.

On a practical level, it’s quite an interesting business idea: bake and sell edible dishware. Think about practical ways in which consumers would use them – such as ice cream bowls, salad bowls, or small dessert plates.

Spend time thinking about your target market. These could be sold to upscale restaurants, gourmet food stores, catering businesses, and directly to consumers for parties, weddings, grand openings, and other high end events.

Home-Based Baking at its Best! Laser cut rolling pins are also referred to as embossed rolling pins.

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Many designs, mostly for cookies, are available from Etsy vendors. Photos courtesy of Etsy.

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Accounting 101

Friday, January 22nd, 2016

For most of us, bookkeeping and accounting are the worst parts of owning a business. But it’s best not to ignore the business side or you could end up going out of business. Before you throw together a Facebook page or flyer for door to door delivery, spend time learning and planning.

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QUIZ: Do you

  • look at the financial aspects of your business?
  • have a basic understanding of your expenses and your income?
  • know what your products cost to make?
  • know how to price products?
  • make sure your customers pay you?

You don’t need to hire a bookkeeper or an accountant. But to run a profitable and sustainable business, you need to have a basic understanding of your finances.

Home-Based Baking at its Best! For help with these issues read Start & Run a Home-Based Food Business.

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Baking With Coconut Flour

Friday, January 15th, 2016

Whole wheat Apple Crumb Coffee Cake, with the addition of coconut flour.

I bought an interesting new ingredient recently, coconut flour. My background includes healthier baking so when I read that this ingredient has a relatively high protein and fiber content, I wanted to try it. Coconut flour has a slightly rough texture which leaves a gritty mouth feel; and a slight coconut flavor. I selected a recipe I’m familiar with, my Apple Crumb Coffee Cake, then added ¼ cup coconut flour and increased the apple cider from ¼ cup to 1 cup because this flour absorbs a lot of liquid.

Delicious! Slightly drier than my recipe so next time I will add an additional ¼ cup liquid.

I realized that in addition to its healthful qualities, the high absorption rate might be useful. In products such as pies and strudels, the extra coconut flour may help in keeping bottom crusts from becoming too soggy. Next, I made an apple/pear strudel.

As the fruit filling waited to be used, excess liquid pooled on the bottom.

Basic fruit fillings tend to have excess liquid. Most recipes compensate by adding flour, corn starch, or tapioca. But still, as it bakes more liquid seeps out and can contribute to a soggy crust, often with run-off.

I made two strudels, with coconut flour sprinkled only on one.

I added the fruit and rolled it up, making sure to place it seam side down on the baking sheet.

(A third hand would have been exceptionally helpful.)

Strudel on right had the coconut flour. Strudel on left had liquid that leaked and a somewhat soggier bottom crust. However, they tasted exactly the same.

If you’re interested in trying coconut flour, I suggest you make a small batch of a recipe you are already familiar with. Then experiment by adding a small amount of the flour and extra liquid.

Home-Based Baking at its Best! The trend for healthy foods is here to stay. Experimenting with new ingredients can be fun and benefit your business.

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Bittersweet Bake Shoppe, Bakery Tour

Friday, January 8th, 2016

 

Bittersweet is a cute little storefront with a very small dark interior.

Bittersweet Bake Shoppe is a tiny bakery located in a rural suburb, an hour northwest of Boston. It’s at the top of a small, steep hill, off a busy intersection. It’s an odd corner and unless you’re familiar with the area, it’s easy to miss this bakery. Passing motorists (think: potential customers) might never look up the hill to see the sign which is lost in a maze of other faded signs. I missed it twice and I was looking for it. I said that to the counter girl who replied oh yeah, people say that all the time.

Bittersweet is a cute little storefront with a very small dark interior. The location is workable for a custom cake business that needs a commercial kitchen and already has a strong following. Customers would drive there as a destination business, to pick up their order. But a retail business at this location is tricky, since there’s no foot traffic.

With a retail location, it’s important to have a well-stocked display with fresh products. When customer count is low, it’s still important to keep an assortment of fresh products on display. The owner has been there for approximately ten years so she’s apparently worked out the kinks. (I wanted bread, as seen in the website photo; but bread is only made to order.) It doesn’t appear to be a busy thriving business, but it seems to work for her.

There were two small cases with small trays lined up across the shelf, each tray with a small selection of cookies, bars, muffins or misc candies. Every tray was wrapped to keep the products fresher. Excellent! But a large platter of stacked butter crunch toffee had softened and each layer had melted into the one below. Everything was labelled but most had no prices, which always annoys me. Customers have the right to know what an item costs, without forcing them to ask about every product on display.

Excellent and fresh: I bought a carrot muffin, pineapple bran muffin, baklava, and fig bar.

Two Christmas Pudding Cakes sat on top of the display case and one had mold surrounding the dried fruit. As I was checking out I told the sales clerk who insisted it was really the green holiday cherries that fool people, but I insisted she look. Yup, it was mold. She pulled both of the cakes.

After visiting many small bakeries over the years, especially during normally slow times (such as after Christmas) I’ve come to expect stale, dry, and inedible products. But not here. I was pleasantly surprised when I tried the items. Both muffins were soft and flavorful; the baklava had a unique delicious flavor; and the fig bar was fresh.

This location made me think of newbie home bakers with no business experience who are desperate to move to a retail location and would think this was a fabulous spot. Again, it would work for someone with an existing cake business, not for someone dependent on income generated from retail walk-in traffic.

Home-Based Baking at its Best! If you’re looking for a storefront, a business plan will help identify the amount of retail traffic to expect.

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Happy New Year!

Friday, January 1st, 2016

Start your new year off with a deep breath. Be introspective. Be thoughtful. Be smart. Spend the necessary time to plan out the steps toward creating a manageable and profitable business.

 

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Home-Based Baking at its Best! Don’t ignore the importance of writing your business plan.

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