With the challenges of the current financial climate, bakers need to minimise production costs while maximising sales. Here, Dawn provides some practical tips on how to achieve this with clever use of sweet bakery ingredients.

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From choux buns to brownies, fruit tarts to crème cake, donuts to muffins and cake, sweet bakery in all its glorious formats has been a delicious staple in the British food canon for hundreds of years.

And while in the past consumers may have felt guilty about indulging, today’s consumers view enjoying a ‘daily delight’ sweet treat as good for their wellbeing. This point is highlighted in Dawn Foods’ Global Bakery Trends Report, with the same survey revealing that there is also plenty of demand from consumers – especially Gen Z audiences – for experimental ideas in cake format and flavours.

The challenge for bakers

The reality, though, is that keeping up with fast-changing consumer demand can be challenging in the current uncertain economic climate, where production costs and labour shortages are an issue and spending patterns have changed.

“While we advocate that bakers always try to stay ahead of the game by keeping up with trends in the market, producing new recipes and introducing additional lines can be a draw on valuable time and resources,” explains Jacqui Passmore, marketing lead West EU & AMEAP at Dawn Foods. “As a result, we are finding that our bakery customers are looking for the ingredients that they currently use to work much harder for them. They are looking for support in how to make more of the ingredients they buy regularly – whether to make a simple but great-tasting Madeira cake, for example, or taking the same mix and creating something adventurous to really elevate their offering.

“Adding a seasonal twist or creating a limited edition or themed bake by introducing different icings, toppings and fillings is proving to be a successful plan in the current climate for many bakers to introduce new ideas and maintain healthy profit margins.”

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Yuzu mini loaf for Mother’s Day

Add value with simple cake solutions

So, what is the best advice for bakers on introducing ‘added value’ options to their ranges and producing the kind of quality cakes that their customers will love to buy?

Garry Russell, sales director at Dawn Foods and a trained baker, specialising in cake creations, explains: “As every good baker knows, exceptional cakes that sell must deliver on physical appearance, versatility in application, crumb structure, eating quality, flavour and indulgence as well as being sold at a favourable price point. The key, though, is consistency, so many bakers find that using a quality cake premix not only means they can keep the price of the finished product on an even keel, but that they achieve a quality result with every bake. A quality base will give bakers the platform from which to create any number of options – from simple through to indulgent or unique.”

In fact, Dawn’s Global Bakery Trends Report Europe reveals that 76% of European consumers say that they enjoy sweet baked goods that put a new spin on a traditional item.

“Our advice to bakers is to introduce sweet bakery theming to keep their customers interested throughout the year,” suggests Passmore. “Many customers will use the same base – a plain muffin or donut for example – but create a seasonal or themed product by using different fillings, toppings or inclusions. It is not only efficient in terms of cost and function, but this type of approach appeals to consumers’ desire for a new version of a cake with which they are already familiar.”

When it comes to ideas for updating a sweet bakery item, bakers should look out for fruit and citrus flavours – especially yuzu, which saw a 25% growth in 2023 across new food and beverage launches for adding to frostings. Dessert and confectionery flavours will continue in sweet bakes too; for example, a plain muffin can be transformed into a Classic English Trifle Muffin with an elevated price point, simply with the addition of Classic Trifle flavourings to the frosting and an injection of raspberry fruit filling. And to appeal to the Kidults in all of us, on-trend Bueno flavour will easily elevate a donut frosting or filling.

Donut worry be happy!

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Black cherry donut

One key area where bakers are adding new innovations to a blank canvas is in donuts, resulting in these becoming one of the fastest-growing categories in sweet bakery across Europe over the last five years, with the UK and Spain the top markets for packaged donuts [Mintel Retail Products Database].

According to Russell, there are a few things bakers can do to maximise the use of a single 1kg bag of donut mix to ensure its performance in the bakery. For Yeast Raised Donuts, he advises ensuring that the donuts have achieved a smooth, dry surface before frying. He also recommends leaving the donuts out of the prover for the last 10 minutes of the proving time but keeping an eye on them, as over-drying could cause the donuts to collapse or blister.

“To maximise usage from one bag of mix, try making other products too,” he says. “You can use Yeast Raised Donut Mix for other yeast raised products such as iced or Chelsea buns; make up as the recipe, cut your dough, add flavour/fillings, then pin out your bake, brush with melted butter, prove and then bake. If you don’t have a fryer, try baked donuts. Fully prove the donuts, then bake them on a sheet for 12 minutes at 220-230°C. Brush with melted butter as soon as they come out of the oven and roll in caster sugar.”

Marvellous muffins and elevated éclairs

“Don’t hold back on creativity when it comes to muffins,” adds Russell. “A few tweaks can create some modern twists. Use muffin mix to make traditional sponge puddings or create new colour, flavour and texture by adding black treacle to muffin mix for traditional moist ginger cake.”

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Summer eclairs with yuzu

Dawn’s Choux Pastry Mix offers a quick, easy, no-mess solution to creating choux pastry products such as éclairs, profiteroles and choux buns, large or small. For a more premium, artisan finish, Russell suggests that bakers elevate their choux pastry products with a craquelin topping. This can be achieved by simply making a crumble paste, chill, roll and cut into the desired shape. Place a strip on-top of the choux or éclair before baking.

“Choux pastry products generally have a short shelf-life and are best sold and consumed fresh, on the same day or the day after. Try to avoid overusing lots of wet fillings to help keep the base dry,” he advises.

Total cake solutions

“Each month, the bakery team at Dawn Foods will be focusing on a different type of sweet bakery mix and demonstrating how bakers can best maximise sales,” concludes Passmore. “From a classic ball donut, for example, through to an indulgent Instagram-worthy creation, our Bakery Ingredients campaign will give bakers all the tools they need – from recipe ideas to practical in-bakery tips – all designed to help bakers make the most of cake and give their customers a little bit of sweetness every day.”

For more information about Dawn Foods visit www.dawnfoods.com/uk