The Luxury Caramel range and Bake-in Chocolate Flavoured Chips, from Renshaw (Liverpool) make ideal partners for US-style muffins.The Luxury Caramel and Injectable Creamy Caramels – made with sugar, butter and condensed milk – are available in a range of pack sizes and have an excellent shelf life.The injectable caramel shots complement chocolate, pecan, orange, banana, capuccino or toffee-flavoured muffins.For added texture and taste, Renshaw’s chocolate-flavoured chips fold into muffin batter, and by adding simple frostings and coatings bakers can extend their ’American dream’ muffin range even further.
With Christmas over, the next treats to appear on bakery shelves are hot cross buns, according to Gb Plange UK (Runcorn, Cheshire).”Increasingly we’re seeing bakers add their own touch to hot cross buns – for example, twists of fresh orange and lemon zest in addition to the traditional sultanas, raisins and currants,” says Marie Parnell, managing director of Gb Plange. “Or they can use nuts, which add ’crunch’ to the product.”Gb Plange’s Energie Spiced Bun Concentrate includes spices for extra flavour. It is available in a 12.8kg pack.
Families are “trading up” and returning to the dinner table when it comes to indulgent occasions, according to Rich Products, following extensive market research provided exclusively to British Baker.TNS Worldpanel, which conducted the research, asked 11,000 individuals to compile a two-week food diary twice a year. Participants were asked to comment on food consumption and meal occasions in and out of home, including eating from lunchboxes and snacking throughout the day.Growth in morning goods, that the family can eat at the table, is up by 13%. Products include waffles, crumpets, fruit malt, scones and muffins. Numbers of customers shopping for indulgent treats were up by 39% in Marks & Spencer, 25% in Waitrose and 18% in Tesco.The research identified five “mega-trends” driving the market: healthy eating, convenience, growing food culture – or local provenance, ethical consumerism and empowered consumers. Purchases made by “empowered consumers” are driven by price consciousness, growth of the internet and brand-led consumption.”Consumers want good ingredients in their products and they want to know that the company they are purchasing from is ethical in its business approach,” said Rich Products sales and marketing director Simon Richardson.”Instead of buying two muffins of average quality in one week,” the research said, “consumers are more likely to save their money for one occasion.” Indulgence has risen by 14% since last year, with biscuits accounting for 814 million treat occasions, up 6% since 2004, and confectionery accounting for 563 million treat occasions, up 3% since 2004.’Healthy eating’ remains important, but the rate of growth in indulgent products has overtaken health for the first time.
Bakers and suppliers who source ingredients, finished products and machinery from Europe say they are under increasing pressure from the strong euro.Companies who signed deals months ago have told British Baker the agreements will cost them more than anticipated, as the euro has soared against the pound.The euro-to-pound exchange rate has increased from 68p in May 2007 to its current value of 79p – which means UK companies will get less for the pound.The resurgence will hit companies hard, when combined with the effects of rising fuel, energy and commodities costs.David Marx, sales and marketing director at Giles Foods, which buys raw ingredients and machinery from continental Europe and Ireland, said the situation was making it very difficult for business.The combination of the strong euro and rising energy and commodities costs are “making things very hairy at the moment”, he said, adding that equipment deals signed late last year would now cost the company 15% more than planned due to the resurgent currency.Colin Lyons, director of Goswell’s Bakery, which manufacturs Vogel’s bread, said the company was having to contend both with increases in the price of soya, which it buys from continental Europe, plus the effect of the increasingly strong euro. “I’m sure the euro is having an indirect effect, as every time we buy soya in euros we are paying more,” he added.John Singleton, sales manager of equipment supplier Benier (UK) said the business is protected against currency fluctuations, as most of its business is conducted in euros, unless clients request otherwise.Earlier this month, the euro reached a record high, as the European Central Bank refused to cut interest rates, despite international concerns about the currency’s strength.
Hell Pizza, has launched gluten-free pizza bases in the UK, following their success in New Zealand. The launch of the bases coincided with Coeliac UK’s ’Food Without Fear’ week. In the UK, around one in 100 people suffer from coeliac disease, caused by gluten intolerance.The bases will also be accompanied by a range of carefully selected toppings. “We first found out about coeliac disease when one of our staff mentioned he couldn’t eat pizza, which is unheard of at Hell,” said Callum Davies, owner and founder of Hell Pizza. Hell then decided to create a base for the 40,000 Kiwis with coeliac disease, finding a well-respected supplier and introducing the concept to their restaurants.Hell Pizza started out in New Zealand in 1996. After building up a large customer base, it sold the New Zealand master franchise rights to Burger King, and opened its first UK restaurant in Fulham, London in 2007.[http://www.hellpizza.co.uk]
How do we solve a problem like organics? Once the hills were alive with the sound of ringing cash tills, as the organic market continued its decade-long steady growth. But the organic idyll was recently upset by an ominous rumbling in the form of new data, which showed that the organics market suffered the first year-on-year downturn in sales this year in April (source TNS Global).Alarm bells started ringing at BB when one of the Soil Assoc-iation’s own ’Organic Heroes’, the three-year-old Organic Cake Company – an artisan bakery supplying London and the south-east – went under, citing market pressures. “I stopped baking over a year ago and the whole venture cost me dear. I simply could not compete with the big bakeries,” said baker Paul Kirby from the company.But organics is facing a greater threat than rising costs – its identity. Luke Vincent, client director for Dragon Brands, said that organics faces an identity crisis. The concept has seen itself overtaken in the ’ethical products’ marketplace by Fairtrade and locally sourced. Having ’organic’ as a USP is no longer enough, especially as, he thinks, organics may be vulnerable to recession. “We need to see a shift in positioning,” he said.The proof appears in Mintel research, which shows that 25% of all UK food launches are now labelled additive-free, compared with 9% labelled as organic.While consumers may have an implicit understanding that ’or-ganic’ means ’no chemicals’, additive-free labelling detracts from the organic message. “Or-ganic needs to compete with everything else that’s out there,” continued Vincent. Fairtrade’s humanistic message has further muddied the waters. “They are better at articulating a story that’s relevant to consumers,” he added. “Fairtrade and ’local’ both have a human face, but organic doesn’t. There is an awful lot to be learned in the way ’local’ is communicated in organic.”But Peter Melchett, chair of the Soil Association, insisted organic is not the poor relation. “Organic is not being drowned out – we’re still seeing healthy growth in the organic market. ’Local’ has gained in importance, but the fact that consumers are interested in other things apart from organic, shouldn’t really bother us,” he told BB.Organic producers say their ethical credentials are more rigorous than Fairtrade products, which only require 20% of one ’significant’ ingredient (dry weight) to be Fairtrade in order to carry the logo. But ’local’ is more of a sticking point.A lack of home-grown organic wheat of breadmaking quality in the UK means that over two-thirds of it has to be imported. Consumer research from Mintel shows that those who purchase a wide range of organic products are also most interested in locally-sourced products. The focus on local has the perverse effect of discouraging farmers from putting their land under organic conversion, thus restricting the growth in organic food, said Mintel director David Jago. As conventional grain prices have rocketed, cereal farmers are getting much better prices than they’d expected.While prices rise, half the people surveyed recently by IGD said expense was the biggest barrier to ethical shopping – a 10% price hike for organic products was cited as acceptable. But a price check last week showed an 800g Hovis square, thick, white loaf at 92p in Tesco, with Hovis’s 800g white organic bread at £1.30 – nearly 30% more.Forecasters at the Ernst & Young ITEM club last month reported that customers might stop coughing up 50% premiums for organic, with Joel Segal, head of consumer products, suggesting higher-end consumers are facing a trade off – either sticking to their principles, or living without Fairtrade or organic food to avoid having to cut back elsewhere.While some organic bakers are finding it hard to justify rising prices, Melchett finds a positive angle, saying, “Non-organic wheat prices off the farm have tripled, while organic have only doubled – so relatively speaking, organic bread has become slightly cheaper by comparison.”Room for optimismBut is the sun really setting on organics? One intriguing scenario predicts organics actually getting cheaper over the next 12-18 months. As soaring oil prices continue to drive up energy-intensive fertiliser costs, this may persuade farmers to switch to organic, which uses 26% less energy per kilogram of food. “That could happen this year or next, and that’s a very new way of thinking, because until now, people have thought conventional grain is cheaper,” said Tom Russell, marketing manager for Shipton Mill. “Suddenly, that’s not going to be the case and we may see people switching to organic because the commercial model has changed.”Later this year, a three-year trial conducted by CCFRA and Newcastle University will an-nounce findings that should help farmers produce better protein home-grown organic wheats with greater yields – research areas that have been neglected for 60 years. Some of the supply chain issues that have dogged the organic movement will be addressed by the Organic Trade Board, formed last month with a brief to develop the organic supplier network. And, of course, a good harvest worldwide would be nice for driving down prices.That leaves the issue of identity: how do we make it clearer in consumers’ minds what they’re paying for when they buy an organic bakery product?”The question is, how long will people pay the premium for what is essentially a staple product?” asked Russell. “We believe they will continue to, but may look to buy from a local baker making traditional breads, with whom they have a relationship.”There is potential for significant growth in more traditionally baked bread, despite there being little nutritional research in that particular area, added Melchett: “The potential for the significant health benefits in quality bread is exciting for the industry,” he said. Similarly, the huge growth in organic box schemes remains untapped in bakery.Meanwhile, Joe Reade of Is-land Bakery Organics remains confident that organics will continue to grow as a marker of sustainable food with integrity and taste – as long as the marketing keeps pace with world developments.”[The economy] has undoubtedly had an effect on sales, but how enduring this will be, only time will tell,” he said. “It’s true that the organic consumer is used to slightly higher prices, but they are not more immune to the economic climate.”Organic standards will have to evolve and be properly communicated to the consumer, so that the organic ’brand’ is a clear marker, showing that what they are buying is not only sustainably grown, but also low-carbon, responsibly manufactured, and of high quality.”—-=== Nuts! Organics drops to the bottom of the list of consumer ethical issue s ===A recent survey of 1,500 women cited ’caring about the environment’ as the number one personality trait women find attractive in men. This, we think, is a pretty definitive snapshot of ethical attitudes today, especially given that the online poll was conducted by men’s boob mag, Nuts. However, you might prefer to cite the following data, from IGD Consumer Unit, in your Powerpoint presentations. It shows organics struggling to hold its own in an increasingly crowded ethical marketplace.Q: Which of these are you interested in?Animal Welfare (free range/not tested on animals) 69%Local/British 55%Environmentally friendly 53%Fairly traded 48%Organic products 32%Source: IGD, March 2008Consumers consider Fairtrade labels much more important than organic, states Mintel’s Food Labelling report (Jan 2008). More products have been launched organic than Fairtrade. “Even so, the fact that 16% of consumers have never even seen the organic logo, compared to only 6% for Fairtrade, is striking given all the media attention that organic receives,” it said.
Tony and Barbara Phillips met at a party, they sat on the floor together, and talked, and talked. Barbara says: “At the end of the party, I knew that was the man I wanted to marry.”Tony felt the same. He said not so long ago: “I love her so much. In conversations they have always built each other up, paid each other compliments. Sounds like a good recipe – for a happy marriage. At work Tony had outstanding business acumen, Barbara has wonderful creative talents. Their wit and humour always bounced off each other. And they never stopped holding hands, it was their trademark as a couple.Tony would always phone me up with the latest news and was so proud when daughter, Jane, recently got the MBE in the Philippines, and he immediately said – it was with the support of his other daughter, Andrea, over here.His big love, apart from Barbara and family, was business. He started up with a cheque in the form of £97.76p from the finance company where he worked, went to deposit it at the bank and walked out with a £750 loan to start his own business.He began by opening fabric shops, then a travel agency, a restaurant and a bar. He became a respected Tory councillor. Tony told me one day, chuckling, that he’d left the bar to be run by a manager. One day, the manager decided to hire strippers. Of course the press loved that one – and when then prime minister Margaret Thatcher came down to visit the local MP, she said: “What’s that dreadful man Tony Phillips doing down in Gloucester?”So Tony started again. He opened a bakery known as Jane’s Pantry. One shop grew steadily to 9 and, with the help of Barbara, his managing director Neville Morse and all the staff, it expanded into bakery catering, chocolate-making and also a food van delivery service. Janes Pantry has always prided itself on quality ingredients in all the baked goods. Tony would not compromise on ingredients or price. He monitored every penny of outgoings and income. He was brilliant at business. His mind was razor-sharp. Two of the things he really cared about were accuracy and truth.How did he become British Baker’s magazine’s columnist? I heard him speak at a National Association of Master Bakers annual conference. He was dissecting the balance sheet with devastating accuracy, but an equal amount of wit and humour. I thought: “If this man can write as he speaks, he’ll be a brilliant columnist for British Baker. And so he was. The Simple Country Baker, as he was known – was simply – the best! It would sometimes take him less than 20 minutes to write out a column. He’d sometimes read it to me first and I’d say: “Great” – or else “NO!, you can’t say that – it wouldn’t be ‘politically correct’.” Then I’d hear peals of laughter and he’d say: “Well it’s just right then!”He was proud, too, of Neville. He said: “ He’s marvellous in the bakery and no-one could work harder. He started with me 26 years ago, as a trainee baker, and is now the best MD the business could have.”It was extraordinary that, as well as becoming the Master Bakers’ president and chairman, Tony became the first-ever English president of Retail Confectioners International, comprising over 300 top confectioners in the USA. Years ago, Tony popped over to look at some equipment, was invited to their conference, then to become a member and last year ended up as president. When he became ill in September, they flew their flag at half-mast, brought it down, folded it and sent it here to Barbara and Tony. It was a mark of their great affection and respect. It moved Tony to tears. Although very kind, Tony pretended to have a stiff upper lip. It wasn’t real. He was actually quite an emotional man, full of love, who enjoyed making use of the talents God gave him.As a Christian I discussed faith with him. And, two years ago, he asked me to take him down a King James version of the Bible. He used to pray and recently he said he looked forward to starting to go to church with Barbara and Andrea as a family. But it was not to be. He was very brave towards the end, exhorting Barbara to pick up her life after her period of mourning. Finally, when Tony first launched personalised chocolate bars, he let people choose their own message, including. ‘Congratulations’, ‘Thank you’, ‘I love you’. Those are exactly the words he would want to say to you, his family, friends, and readers who have worked hard in life and have your own special memories of A Simple Country Baker and his comment in BB. Sylvia MacdonaldEditor.
== ABI head retires ==Alan Hempton, managing director of Allied Bakeries Ireland (ABI), has retired after 45 years in the trade. He joined the business as a 16-year-old apprentice engineer in 1964 and went on to become managing director in 1987. In his time as MD, ABI began exporting to the Republic of Ireland in 1991 and to Great Britain in ’98. Hempton notes the success of Kingsmill as one of his career highlights. An announcement on the new MD is expected later this month.== Fired-up Bells ==Bells of Lazonby, which installed the UK’s first wood-fired rack oven, built by Acrivarn in 2001, says it is now in 24-hour use. “We installed it for environmental reasons, but the recent increase in fossil fuel costs means it has also proved significantly cheaper,” says owner Michael Bell.== Costa tops poll ==Costa Coffee has been voted the best coffee chain by customers who rate its friendly staff and tidy stores more highly than its main rivals. Costa beat Caffè Nero into second place, with Starbucks and Coffee Republic in third and fourth respectively, in consultancy firm him!’s Coffee Chain Customer Tracking Programme, which asked customers to rate their visits on quality of drinks, choice of food and time spent queuing.== Competition raisins ==There are less than two months left to enter California Raisins’ innovation competition, which involves developing new products using California Raisins. The winning bakery business will get its hands on thousands of pounds worth of advertising for the product and free PR for the company. The closing date for entries is 31 March. For details, call 020 8741 8513 or email [email protected]
It’s a time-worn tradition for rock stars to stipulate indulgent treats in their contracts to perform gigs – or “riders” as they’re known – and their left-field demands often come to light under headlines like “Madonna insists on 50 cupcakes arranged in shape of her star sign, Leo” (not true, but it’s surely a matter of time). Now news has reached Stop the Week that this practice is filtering down to civilians, specifically one retail landlord in New York who has requested a cupcake rider from his bakery tenant.The landlord, Jack Resnick & Sons in Manhattan, slipped in a clause when writing up the lease for Crumbs – which has a chain of bakeries – for a dozen of Crumbs’ cupcakes to be delivered to its monthly sales meetings. As if that weren’t cheeky enough, the package must also contain one red velvet cupcake. Owner Jason Bauer is reported to have said: “I obviously picked [the contract] up on the first read and got a chuckle… I wish all landlords took an interest in our business the way they do. With most landlords, you pay your rent and that’s it.”Which brings us to Stop the Week’s rider. We won’t even get out of bed for anything less than a dozen Welsh cakes with all the raisins removed.
I always prefer to top my cakes with fresh fruit, nuts and ingredients that work with the overall flavour of the recipe. It seems a shame to put so much work into getting a cake right and only to dust it all over with sugar-shock sprinkles or ultra-sweet fondant, unless I’m making a sculpture or the job absolutely demands it. You can usually come up with ways of using ingredients that work well with the flavours of the cake to decorate cupcakes.I was recently commissioned to design some cakes for designer Maaike Meeking’s show at Fashion Week the theme of which was the horror film Susperia, directed by Dario Argento. The show also included a video clip of me in a long white dress in the dead of night, being drenched in fake blood, but that’s another story!I put together some gore-splattered, cream cheese-frosted red velvet cupcakes, using sweet pulped black cherries with lime for the blood & gore, dotted in places with redcurrants. The sweet cherries and ultra-sharp redcurrants worked perfectly with the cocoa buttermilk red velvet and vanilla cream cheese frosting.Try this easy, quick and affordable way of making a Halloween cake display that’s both striking and delicious. Laid out altogether at the show on cake stands, lined with black lace, it looked like a blood bath! I made these to look like the cakes had Dracula-style incisions but they looked just as good splattered haphazardly with the pulp and cherry juice.London-based cake specialist Lily Jones bakes under the pseudonym Lily Vanilli. Find out more at: www.lilyvanilli.com