Archive for March, 2016

Pied Piper Pies, Bakery Tour

Thursday, March 31st, 2016

Pied Piper Pies is located in Highland Falls, a quaint town in New York’s lovely Hudson Valley. All the delicious pies in this recently opened shop are made from scratch using Suzanne Carroll Quillen’s home recipes for fillings and crust.

The eatery has two strong advantages: a corner location and an energetic owner.

Meet Suzanne - owner of Pied Piper Pies.

Day two!

Front counter display.

Daily menu.

Chicken pot pies!

Snickers pies!

Ginny and I tried several delicious pies. We'll be back to try more!

Suzanne began as a home-based business, selling her pies at area farmers’ markets and festivals.

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Home-Based Baking at its Best!

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Is “Convenience of Delivery” Realistic?

Thursday, March 24th, 2016

Delivery may sound like a good idea, but will it work?

Trade publication Bake magazine is a fast read with occasionally helpful articles and lots of food pictures. In the March issue there’s an interesting article, Believe it or not, bakeries can deliver too, about the ability of bakeries to jump on the “convenience of delivery” bandwagon. Bake believes this is another source of revenue that bakeries should seek.

“As consumer demand for convenience and instant gratification continues to build, local mom and pop bakeries looking to remain competitive with big names like Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts must be able to provide the convenience of online ordering and on-demand delivery without having to completely restructure or make capital investments in infrastructure like fleets of delivery cars.”

These are fancy, but unrealistic words aimed directly at small businesses. Too bad it paints a rosy picture and glosses over the reality of delivery cost and sustained consumer interest. It may work in densely populated cities or college towns, but even in those areas, it’s a stretch for long-term success.


A customer may place an order when they are in a tight spot, or for the novelty of it. The erratic behavior of college students might prompt a call for a late night delivery. But would it work for the “local mom and pop bakeries looking to remain competitive with big names like Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts” to have a delivery person available?

Pizza delivery has been hugely successful, but it’s tied into the American love affair with an already popular, favorite food. If Bake magazine wants to hand out advice for success, they would be more helpful if they began a column sharing successful ideas that already work for small bakeries, rather than send struggling businesses down a well-oiled rabbit hole.

Home-Based Baking at its Best! When you hear or read about great new ideas, be sure to do some serious thinking.

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Irish Orange Soda Bread

Thursday, March 17th, 2016

Orange juice gives this bread a golden glow.

Irish Soda Bread is the classic holiday bread for March 17, St. Patrick’s Day. We start seeing these breads for sale at the beginning of March.

The original version was made with only four ingredients: flour, buttermilk, salt, and baking soda. But the American taste for sweet and tender has spurred creative bakers to offer a sweet, rich bread that’s enjoyed by most folks, whether Irish or not.

Irish Orange Soda Bread
Yield: two small loaves, or 18-24 rolls
4 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup (½ stick) butter, softened
½ cup buttermilk (or use 7/8 cup milk with 2 tablespoons vinegar)
½ cup orange juice
2 tablespoons orange zest
1 egg, beaten
½-1 cup raisins

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment or silicone sheet.
2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and butter. Add raisins.
3. Stir in buttermilk, juice, zest, and egg. Mix until it forms a soft dough.
4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead slightly. Form dough into two small loaves, or 18-24 rolls. Place on prepared baking sheet and with a sharp knife cut an ‘X’ into the top.
5. Bake in preheated oven until a light golden brown, 20 to 50 minutes, depending upon size.

Home-Based Baking at its Best! Customers like classic foods, but especially ones with a new twist. Even a size difference is enough to catch a consumer’s attention. Try making single-serve breads – simply round the small balls of dough, flatten slightly, and score the tops. Sprinkle with sanding sugar or streusel.

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Funding for Food Businesses

Friday, March 11th, 2016

Finding enough capital to start or grow a business can be difficult.  Conventional banks were never too keen about loaning money to food businesses; and these days, with the food industry failure rate continuing to grow, banks seem more reluctant than ever.

But two other funding categories have stepped in to help. For the new food entrepreneur who needs more money than friends and family can provide, there are other options.

Crowdfunding    $ $ $ $      $ $ $ $      $ $ $ $
Crowdfunding is the practice of funding a project or venture by raising monetary contributions from a large number of people. It’s been instrumental in helping some businesses move forward. A few well-known sites are gofundme, KICKSTARTER, and indiegogo.

Venture Capital    $ $ $ $      $ $ $ $      $ $ $ $
Venture Capital is private (non-bank) money provided by investors. These venture groups step in to help businesses and individuals who have new and exciting ideas, but are not eligible for traditional loans. “With consumers craving specialty foods and beverages, new industry-specific funds are cropping up to build up-and-coming brands that serve the taste buds of the future.”

$ $ $ $      $ $ $ $        $ $ $ $      $ $ $ $        $ $ $ $      $ $ $ $

Home-Based Baking at its Best! Have you written a business plan? If you have ideas, writing a plan will help you see the whole picture – the good points as well as potential problems.

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Recipe Development, Orange Almond Biscuits

Friday, March 4th, 2016

Orange Almond Biscuits: one recipe, two cookies.

Recipe development can be fun but it often takes several attempts to refine your new product. My client wanted a tasty, not-too-sweet, dry, long shelf life, healthier cookie suitable for eating with coffee, tea, or wine.

First attempt had the basics.

My first attempt had the basics – good sweetness level, texture, and health component. I made this several more times with some changes in both the recipe and technique.

I made the recipe several times to refine the final outcome.

I settled on two sizes and shapes, each with a different finish. The small logs were rolled in Turbinado sugar which gave them a wonderful crunch and added sweetness. The S shaped cookies (S is for sesame!) were rolled in sesame seeds. Recipe development was complete.


Orange Almond Biscuits
Yield: 30 ounces dough
• ½ cup butter, melted
• ½ cup sugar
• ¼ cup fresh squeezed orange juice
• 3 eggs
• ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
• ½ teaspoon orange extract
• zest from 1 orange
• 2 ounces almond meal
• 6 ounces whole wheat pastry flour
• 6 ounces unbleached all-purpose flour
• 1 tablespoon baking powder
• ½ teaspoon salt
• toppings, if desired, sesame seeds and/or Turbinado sugar

1. Mix butter, sugar, orange juice, eggs, extracts, and zest. (Use oil if you prefer. But if dough is sticky, refrigerate for easier handling.)
2. Add all dry ingredients and mix to combine.
3. Divide into equal-sized pieces, roll each piece into shape. Put topping into bowls and lightly press cookie in, then flip over and place on baking sheets. Sesame seeds make a nutty crunch, Turbinado sugar gives an extra sweetness and nice crunch.
4. Bake at 325° F for 30 minutes; drop temp to 300° F and bake longer, maybe 15 minutes. Turn off heat but leave in oven. If after cooling, these are still soft inside, bake again to dry out, 250° F for 30 minutes or so.

Home-Based Baking at its Best!

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