Getting customers through the bakery door on a warm summer’s day involves some temptations away from the usual breads and morning pastries. Fresh fruit traybakes, fresh from the oven so the sweet aroma hangs in the shop air, is one approach used more in other countries and I’m thinking it’s time we used more fresh fruit in British bakeries.
There have been times when I’ve had a delivery of fresh fruit in a bakery and you would think a box of kittens had been delivered, given the awe it brings out in some of our bakers. For most months of the year, tins, preserves and dried fruit are really helpful. But as soon as cheap fresh fruit is available, use as much of it as you can and you’ll find it boosts sales of the easiest recipes: like traybakes.
The beauty of a traybake is that it doesn’t need the lightest texture or the most delicate structure, or the same careful precision that sponge cake-making requires. A little heaviness and moist solidity can have a reassuring homeliness, and also makes it easier to cut and sell in-store. So all-in mix recipes work well here, or recipes with a firmer base cake and a lighter, richer topping.
It’s important to start small. Even the most economical traybake recipe can rely on some expensive ingredients, so trial small batches first to get your customers’ reaction. Do be patient, though, as new ideas will take a while to build a following. Make it a special Saturday morning event, and make an extra one to cut and offer to customers.
Ovenable paper traybake cases are useful for creating an afternoon tea suggestion or an easy Saturday dessert idea for the customer. Try putting together an afternoon tea special, such as a 12-serve traybake and a loaf of bread, and advertise it on a blackboard outside the bakery.
For the café baking on-site, a traybake prepared the day before and baked fresh in the morning helps to give a personal and homely edge to the menu, without the complication that elaborate cakes can place on a small kitchen.
I’ve tried to make the recipes a little bit more economical, and replaced some of the butter with sunflower oil. This helps the shelf-life and gives the cakes extra moistness. Don’t overbake the mixtures; remember that cakes will hold their heat for a good five minutes after baking and will effectively continue baking during that time. A traybake needs to be moist, so time it carefully.
Be imaginative and look for bargains from your suppliers and local markets. These recipes offer some flexibility, so if you see an offer on cheaper fresh fruit, then see this as your chance.
All recipes make a 25cm square traybake. For a 60cm x 40cm tray, multiply the mix by 4. For a 30-inch x 18-inch tray, multiply the mix by 5 1/2
Chocolate, plum and almond slice
Look for interesting local varieties of plums, or source them from a nearby farm, as this fact can be added to the point-of-sale ticket to help sales. I like to place a small bowl or case of fruit by the tray in the shop to really get the fresh fruit message across to customers. If you want to increase the luxuriousness, mix 200g chopped chocolate into the topping. This works very well with ground hazelnuts.
For the base
Whole egg, beaten liquid60g
For the topping
Light soft brown sugar250g
Fresh firm red plums, stoned and quartered700g
Sieved jam to glaze
1. Line base of trays with non-stick paper. Place all of the ingredients for the base in the bowl of the mixer and work to a smooth soft paste. Press this into the base of the tin evenly and bake in the deck at 180C top/120C bottom, or fan-assisted oven at 160C, for 25 minutes until dry on top but slightly underbaked.
2. For the topping beat all the ingredients (except the plums and flaked almonds) on 3rd speed until smooth. Spoon this onto the base, sit the plums into it so they stick out and upwards, then dust with the flaked almonds.
3. Bake in the deck at 180C top/120C bottom, or fan-assisted oven at 160C, for 45 minutes until barely set in the centre. Glaze with warm diluted plum or apricot jam to finish.
Rhubarb strawberry crumble
Using rhubarb in recipes gives small bakers an edge over the supermarkets, as the flavour is rarely used in bake-off lines. Late-season green British rhubarb can be bought much cheaper, as it lacks the pink colour, but paired with strawberries the colour is restored. Rhubarb juice enhances other fruit flavours, but you can use other red fruit or apple in the recipe instead.
For the base
Whole egg, beaten liquid100g
For the fruit filling
Strawberries, hulled and halved400g
Raw rhubarb, chopped, or firm sour red plums400g
Potato starch or arrowroot25g
Berry jam, any sort150g
For the crumble topping
1. For the base, place all the ingredients except the oats in the bowl of the mixer and beat on 2nd speed for a few minutes until smooth. Stir in the oats, then spread this on the base of a paper-lined tin. Hands make the best tool here.
2. Gently stir the fruit with the icing sugar and starch by hand until it turns sticky. Roughly spread the jam over the base then evenly spread the fruit over this.
3. To make the topping, rub the butter and oil into the flour and sugar. Sprinkle the water over and rub again until it just begins to crumble, then stir in the oats and sprinkle over the fruit.
4. Bake in deck at 180C top/120C bottom, or fan-assisted oven at 160C, for 80 minutes. Leave until cold in the tray.
Fresh apple ginger cake, with lemon icing
Fresh chopped apple keeps the cake soft for days and very moist, and fresh pear works equally well. The higher level of spice is quite peppery, and could be given a XXX rating as a way of selling it in your store.
Honey or golden syrup75g
Butter, soft or part melted120g
Whole egg, beaten liquid150g
Dark ale, stout or milk125g
Bicarbonate of soda10g
Spice mix (see below)30g-50g
Dried skim milk powder50g
Peeled dessert apple, chopped into small pieces250g
For the bulk spice mixture
50g each mixed spice and ground ginger, 5g finely ground black pepper and 10g cocoa. Sift together and use as needed.
For the icing
1. Line base of trays with non-stick paper.
2. In a planetary mixer beat treacle, honey, butter and sugar on second speed for 2 minutes until smooth, then add egg, oil and water and beat for another 30 seconds on 2nd speed.
3. Sift the bicarb and spices with a little of the flour, then beat this through with the remaining flour on 3rd speed for a few minutes until very smooth.
4. Spoon into a tin, allowing for just under double rise in oven. Bake in deck at 180C top/120C bottom, or fan-assisted oven at 160C, for 50-60 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Smaller or larger trays need shorter or longer bake time. Leave until cold in the tray.
5. To ice, beat the lemon juice with the icing sugar until smooth and spread over the cake.