When 31 October rolls around, do you have a selection of festively themed treats in your window or are you happy to serve your usual offerings? If the potential profits are anything to go by, bakers opting for the latter approach are missing a trick as well as a treat. For independent outlets, this is one area where you may be able to out-bake the supermarkets.
One baker doing exactly that is Angie Townsend of the Tiny Cake Company. She’s come up with her own fast-selling Halloween innovations, including ’cake pops’ which she themes with various spooky decorations.
"The cake pops are little cake fondants on sticks like the winter equivalent of lollipops," she explains. "They’re easy to make. You just use a regular cake sponge with any buttercream you like, refrigerate, use some melted chocolate to attach them to a stick, chill again, and coat them in chocolate or fondant. I then cut out shapes like pumpkins, witches and ghosts to decorate. They’re really popular. Kids can’t resist them."
The key to Angie’s success is the small but perfectly formed motif. She’s created a small fast-turnover item for Halloween that larger outlets would find hard to package for bulk sale, so the individual little cake pops fly out of the door.
But while the cake pops are a perfect example of an innovative Halloween, some bakers are going further still with their creative licence. One such baker is independent Phil Joy of Phil’s Handmade Bread, who plans to make a selection of ghoulish cupcakes this year using a mix of savoury and sweet ingredients. "I’m making sweet cupcakes with courgette, and some bright red ones, which I might dye using beetroot," says Joy. "It’s unusual, and the kind of thing that puts a smile on people’s faces something you wouldn’t expect."
Manufacturers of premixes and other time-saving buy-ins are well aware of the Halloween potential. This year Dawn Foods has put together a special combination of moist orange cake with orange icing and fondant, especially for Halloween sales. So bakers can use the vibrant colours of the season and make cakes that are Halloween-themed from the icing to the cake underneath.
British bakers can often find inspiration from the outlandish creations of our American cousins. Last year, for example, Universal Studios’ café went to town with an entire spread of creations in honour of Harry Potter, such as cauldron cakes. Using popular movies and fiction as a theme can really help to lift a Halloween display.
This year, several suppliers have put together recipes and ideas specifically for Halloween, allowing you to make tried-and-tested seasonal treats at minimal cost. CSM, for example, has designed a range of ’spookily simple’ cupcakes for bakers, with attention to profit-oriented detail such as minimal wastage and good shelf-life. The recipes use suitably seasonal sticky ginger cake mix.
Or how about pumpkin-shaped bread? Ireks has launched a Pumpkin Bread Mix, rich in colour and flavour, which it is encouraging bakers to mould into pumpkins, produced on a 50/50 mix to flour ratio. "Moulded round and cut in the style of the pumpkin, this gives an added feature to bakers’ shops for the festival," says Ireks’ Maurice Van Tongeren. Meanwhile, with cheap pumpkins coming into season, Jus-Rol is offering a recipe for a pumpkin tart.
So whichever way you choose to celebrate Halloween, take advantage of the wide range of options to create some fast-selling treats for spookily good profits.