Archive for the ‘Product Ideas’ Category

Making Fun Products

Monday, April 17th, 2017

The enhanced donut. (Image courtesy of Strange Donuts and Bake Magazine.)

Bake Magazine shows us a fun idea for new bakery offerings – incorporate colorful and familiar breakfast cereals to create your own unique products.

“Cereal adds a crunch to something sweet, and cereal flavors can be paired with dessert flavors to find scrumptious combinations. Additionally, they look visually appealing as many breakfast cereals have unique colors and designs. Lucky Charms, Fruity Pebbles, Cocoa Puffs, Captain Crunch, Frosted Flakes, and Golden Grahams are just a few of the options at your disposal.”

Read the full story, Breakfast Cereal: The Prize on Sweets

Home-Based Baking at its Best!

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Chocolate Walnut Strudel

Thursday, February 2nd, 2017

Strudel for those long winter nights.

Chocolate Walnut Strudel is a nice, fast strudel, especially for times of the year when there’s no local/seasonal fruits. And everyone loves chocolate, no matter what the time of year.

Any pie dough will work. This dough was somewhat wet so I used a lot of extra flour.

Don't worry about too much flour. After you roll up the strudel, remove excess with a soft brush. You can see, above, the flour did not create a problem.

Use your favorite pie dough. Sprinkle with cinnamon/sugar/cocoa. Top with chopped walnuts (toasted nuts makes a better product) and chocolate chunks. Roll up, place seam side down, and vent the top.

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Home-Based Baking at its Best! Sell by the slice or whole piece.

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New Year 2017!

Monday, January 2nd, 2017

It’s a new year, and quite a new one for those who live in the United States.

We started the new year off with a bakery tour at the Danish Pastry House near Boston and Tufts University. We arrived early, while they were setting up, and thoroughly examined the pastry cases.

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I was quite surprised to see these tarts dusted with gold glitter.

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We placed our order

with a box for home.

We took our coffee and a Kringle brioche to the seating area.

Home-Based Baking at its Best! Visiting retail bakeries is a pleasant way to do market research and develop ideas for new products.

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Clean Eating Trend, Good News or Bad?

Friday, April 22nd, 2016

Fresh produce and open air markets.

Is the clean eating trend good news for us? I’d say yes! For consumers, and society as a whole, we are all better off eating a more healthful diet. But not everyone is happy.

Sometimes, when I read a food industry trade magazine, I wonder: who are these people and why are they writing such nonsense? In a recent issue of Bake magazine I found a convoluted article, The paradox of choice, which explained their side.

The article began by talking about consumer TV habits. “Not long ago, Nielsen released an eye-opening report on the television watching habits of Americans. Despite the fact that the average number of TV channels received by US households increased dramatically from 128 to 189 within five years (a 48 percent jump), the average number of channels actually watched remained flat at just 17. More channels did not equate to viewing a wider selection.”

Apparently, they believe the number of increased stations should mean people can increase their viewing to match what’s available. Sadly, these folks don’t realize there’s a finite number of hours in each day. People chose from what’s available and if there are new programs, they stop watching older ones.

The article moved on, to the food analogy. “The same can be said about consumer eating habits. While Americans are moving in all sorts of different directions, as people become increasingly more selective about the foods they will and won’t eat, the overall number of food and beverage occasions consumed by the average consumer is flat, according to a new report by The NPD Group.”

Why, yes, of course the number of food and beverage occasions remains flat. Most people are not eating more, they are replacing what they eat with new choices. And with the healthy food trend, people are choosing healthier foods. Good for them! Trends happen, people change, and this trend bodes well for the other trends: eat natural, eat local, support your small businesses. And these small local businesses produce foods with fewer chemicals. Isn’t that a good thing?

Uh, oh, I kept reading. “Another equally menacing fact for food manufacturers and food retailers is consumers’ increasing demand for purity in their foods and beverages. Consumers are avoiding adulterated elements and looking for natural and fresh foods and beverages, as well as avoiding some of the processed foods on which many major food companies base their business.”

“Another equally menacing fact”? That seems to be a shame. But it sure is great for most home-based bakers who don’t usually add chemicals to their homemade baked goods.

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Home-Based Baking at its Best!

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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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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.

Excellent!

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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Pears!

Friday, February 19th, 2016

For something different to offer your customers, bake with pears! Every year when in season, I make a few pear pies and strudels. This fruit has a pleasant, unique flavor.

Pear strudels.

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The most important point about pear filling, is that pears should not be treated like apples. The filling needs to have an abundance of spice. That’s the single biggest mistake most people make and then complain it was a terrible, tasteless pastry.

Pear Tips:
1. Unlike apples, pears need to be ripe before baking. Otherwise, they have little to no flavor and the crunchy texture of apples. About pears. How to tell when a pear is ripe, plus other facts.
2. Remember, you are not making apple pie  or apple pastries, you are baking with pears. I’ve seen far too many recipes for pear filling that have no spice or just a pinch of cinnamon. Use enough spice to add flavor to your pie. I suggest using up to 50% more spice than you would if baking an apple pie. Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cardamom are all good spices to use.
3. For the crust, use any pie or strudel dough, phyllo leaves, or puff pastry dough. Below is my flaky pie crust recipe.

Pear strudel.

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Crust
yield: 6-8 medium-small strudel
5 cups all-purpose flour (approx. 1¼#)
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups vegetable shortening (1#)
¾ cup cold water (or use part vodka, part water)
extra flour for rolling out dough

Pear filling
6-8 ripe pears
½ cup sugar, or to taste
1 tablespoon mixed spice, your choice of nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, cardamom
½ cup flour (or ¼ cup cornstarch)

1. For filling, I gauge how much I need by how many strudels I will make. Approximately 1 pear per strudel. Mix all ingredients and set aside.
2. Line baking pan with parchment paper and preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
3. For dough: In a large bowl, lightly mix flour and salt, then cut in shortening. When mixture looks fine-grained, drizzle in water and mix into a ball. Knead lightly, separate into pieces. Use at once (or wrap and chill for one hour or up to five days
4. For strudels, roll dough into a rectangle, spread filling, roll up and place seam side down on prepared baking sheet. Slit dough deep enough  to reach the middle of the strudel. This helps the center dough bake properly.  If you wish, tops can be brushed with water, milk, butter, or beaten egg. You can also sprinkle with sugar.
5. Bake in preheated 375° oven 45-60 minutes. Strudels are done when juice has bubbled out for a few minutes.
6. Let cool at least an hour before cutting. If wrapping for market, cool thoroughly before wrapping. To freeze, cool to room temperature then wrap well and place in freezer.

Home-Based Baking at its Best! With the trend toward home-made, seasonal, and local, your customers would appreciate purchasing fresh fruit pastries. If you want to be known for your incredible pear pastries, remember to NOT treat them like apple products.

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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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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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Merry Christmas

Friday, December 25th, 2015

Merry Christmas everyone!!!!

Handmade multi-color holiday cane cookies.

Home-Based Baking at its Best!

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