Mouthing off

Tipsy treats for cake lovers

As the world is introduced to the concept of wine and cupcake pairing (see Caught in the Web below), two bakers are making a living from baking tipsy treats laced with alcohol. Krystina Castella and Terry Lee Stone have published a book: Booze Cakes Confections spiked with spirits, wine and beer. Particular favourites of ours though they may present something of a choking hazard are cake shooters, served in shot glasses.

Halloween horrors

Ok, the UK's first-ever 18+ pop-up cake shop has come and gone and the 'good taste' bar has been officially set to a backbreaking limbo low. Opened for the Halloween weekend only, Eat Your Heart Out was the first bakery shop in recent memory to operate a one-in, one-out door policy, as punters flocked in for a series of treats that put a new spin on the phrase 'sickly sweet'.

Sweet somethings

Although presents such as chocolates, jewellery or flowers are seen as the Valentine's Day stalwarts, why not promote special Valentine's bakery products as the gift of choice in 2011? To coin a new phrase, "If cake be the food of love, eat on". Ideas could include: heart-shaped cookies or cakes iced with declarations of love, or red-velvet cupcakes decorated with red and white edible hearts. And as these items are likely to be given as gifts, make sure you consider the packaging for example adorned gift boxes or cookies in clear plastic pouches tied with coloured ribbon.

Puff up your pastry skills

With all the emphasis we place on good bread-making in bakeries, and on getting strong morning sales in the store, we can sometimes assume that our customers' entire concern is finding something for breakfast and lunch when they walk into a baker's shop. So we emphasise morning goods and loaves, or snack items, to fit that assumption and sometimes overlook the customer looking for the perfect pudding or dessert.

Back to brands

Through the downturn, the desserts market has held up well but it has been own-label and core own-label rather than premium own-label leading the growth. Now, it looks like the brands are staging a comeback.

Swings and roundabouts

Did you know that the UK is the world's biggest importer of Californian raisins? We can't get enough of them - quite literally now that world supplies are being squeezed. So with prices going up, it's a big deal for bakers.

Click here for local food

Islington in London is home to dozens of independent food businesses with a loyal following among the area's residents. Butchers, delicatessens and cheesemongers thrive there and Ottolenghi, the bakery and restaurant, has its flagship store in Islington making and selling patisserie, including its best-sellers, passion fruit meringue tart and lemon mascarpone tart.

Book Review

The High Street

Traditionals with a twist Seed Cake by Fiona Burrell

Seed Cake was a favourite in Victorian times, but is not something we see very often these days and it is worth reviving. The seeds are caraway seeds and care must be taken with the amount that is added, as they can be a little too pungent if too many are in the mixture. Used well they give a light flavour of anise.

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