April

Indulgence spurs the muffin market

Enjoyment, indulgence and the growth of the café culture are the main ingredients of the recipe for muffins' booming success. One measure of this is the decision by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) last month to add them to the basket of goods it uses to determine the retail price index.

Free-from fervour

When somebody asks you, 'Do you like the taste of hospital food?', it's usually because you've spilt somebody's pint in a packed Wetherspoon's. Last month, British Baker had to ponder this question when we attended a taste test of baked goods, supplied into Southampton University Hospital. And it wasn't without a similar sense of Friday night trepidation. This was a gluten-free taste test.

Greencore trims up in time for US drive

What's a company to do when it's wrapped up a quarter of the UK's manufactured sandwich trade in over a quarter of a decade? Why, take over the US market too, obviously. Greencore's declared - and frankly, long-awaited - ambition to get involved in convenience foods in the US, a country with untapped potential for large-scale chilled foods manufacture, is finally nearing fruition. A small team has been busying itself with this project for the past year and a decision is due in the "relatively near future," says chief operating officer Tony Hynes.

Go with the flow

Well, another financial year has gone and trade has been pretty good. We could always have done with more, but we have eaten regularly. At this time of year, we now start thinking about how we will survive another year.

In my world

Last week I took a call from BB asking if I'd like to become a regular columnist, and I thought, 'At last! I've found a new audience for my ever-rising enthusiasm for all things baking.' But where to start? My five-minute verbal stream, spilling out like dough on the move, covered some of the issues of the moment: my relief at getting five stars at our third shop in the EHO's 'Scores on the Doors' scheme; and a recently revived Lardy cake recipe, generously shared with me by Ro Richards, who although in his 90s, spent a day with me in the bakery, passing on the recipe and, vitally, his time-honoured method. Then there's my work with Theo Guy at Bristol City college to introduce a Craft Bakery Modern Apprenticeship scheme; the reaction of our customers to the foreign taste of Oil of Cassia in our proper Easter biscuits.

Culture corner: book review

Are you planning a store expansion strategy? Want to corner your market? This is the tale of how Howard Schultz, Starbucks' guru, did quite literally that, en route to achieving his modest target of 40,000 outlets (scarily, the company claims it's still on track to hit that).

Seasonal seller

Early English rhubarb is coming into season now. Forced rhubarb has a more delicate flavour and a less woody stem than the outdoor garden type. It is very versatile and, apart from being used in pies, tarts and crumbles, it is also good when added to muffins, cakes, traybakes and strudels.

Select Bag detection

Select Bag Sealers (SBS), which manufactures and supplies tape bag sealers, has launched the high-speed Flexi-Sealer. The sealer can cater for different product widths and incorporates a no-seal detector which, when coupled with the standard tape run-out detector, ensures that any potentially unsealed products, due to bagger misfeeds, are caught.

Mixer adds a delicate touch

Robot Coupe has introduced an R-Mix function as standard on a number of the machines in its vertical cutter mixer range. R-Mix - meaning reverse-mixing - makes it possible to add delicate foodstuffs such as chopped dried fruit or chocolate pieces to a processed mix such as dough, while keeping them whole.

Katermart slims its counter

For kitchens where space is at a premium, refrigeration specialist Katermart has launched a durable, slim-fit counter refrigerator for salad and cold food preparation.

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