with beautiful bakes
Managing director of Squires Kitchen, Beverley Dutton, reveals how appealing to your customers’ indulgent sides is key to boosting your business in a time of austerity
The food sector in the UK has fared better in the economic downturn than many other markets.
While consumers have attempted to cut their overall spending, items such as cakes, biscuits and other confectionery are considered relatively low-cost treats and remain as allowable indulgences.
Caterers can benefit from the trend towards indulgence in the food sector by introducing a range of top-quality cakes and treats that not only taste fantastic but look fabulous.
Well-decorated, eye-catching cakes attract customers who are prepared to spend more; you may find that your current clients will be more willing to treat themselves if you improve your offering.
Quick ways of decorating are important in a busy catering business but that doesn’t mean you can’t stand out from the crowd. Whether you bake on the premises or use readymade cakes, make sure you decorate them for maximum impact. Top-quality fondant icings that use real fruit to give them a delicious natural taste and colour (a great selling point) are incredibly versatile and will help you to create tempting cakes and cookies quickly and easily. Pep up a plain iced sponge or fruit cake by adding readymade sugar flowers, piped dots of royal icing, dragées or sugar handbags, hearts, bows and tiny teatime treats made using silicone moulds.
For the ultimate decoration and a premium sale, use crystallised real flowers such as roses, jasmine and violets. These dainty little flowers are coated in sparkling sugar and are completely edible, making them ideal decorations for wedding cakes, chocolates, desserts, cupcakes and more. Place some small pieces of edible gold leaf on top of cakes and treats to create a premium product for which you can charge the discerning customer a premium price.
Chocolate cakes are a real favourite and it’s easy to make a plain cake stunning. Simply cover in rough ganache buttercream or, for a smooth chocolate coating, cover the cake in chocolate marzipan first and pour silky ganache over the top. Top with readymade decorations such as chocolate roses, chocolate cigarillos, chocolate panels, shavings or colourful chocolate vermicelli: they can be placed on a cake in a second but add a wow factor that customers would be happy to pay for.
Cupcakes are still big news and a favourite treat to accompany a cappuccino, espresso or latte. They can be dressed up with colourful dotty or baroque cases, and you can appeal to younger generations with readymade piped sugar animals, figures or pretty flowers.
If you want to offer something different, then the miniature cupcake is a new concept that has taken the confectionery and wedding cake market by storm. At a quarter of the size of a regular cupcake, the miniature version lends itself well to marketing to customers as a ‘little treat’. This is a great up-selling idea to offer alongside coffees, teas and other drinks or to box up in pretty packaging for customers to take away and share with their friends.
Return of the mac
Macaroons have made a huge comeback. Create a statement with a sundae glass or cake stand filled with pretty pastel-coloured macaroons, or stack macaroons like a croquembouche for a truly stunning centrepiece at your next event.
If making macaroons from scratch sounds too complicated, try the instant Macaroon Mix from Squires Kitchen. Customise your macaroons with colours, flavours, patterns, toppings and fillings. Squires Kitchen’s Guide to Making Macaroons by Mark Tilling – pastry chef and chocolatier – contains a wide variety of flavour and colour combinations alongside advice on how best to present macaroons on different occasions.
If you have been asked to provide the cake at a wedding, there are plenty of quick and easy ways to decorate it. Vintage style has huge appeal at the moment and is easy to achieve. Romantic rose decorations on cakes and cupcakes look amazing but needn’t take long to make. Use a silicone rose mould to produce perfectly formed roses in a flash. Simply push modelling paste into the mould, release and place on top of cakes and cupcakes.
Butterfly-themed weddings are also popular this year. Squires Kitchen has various butterfly cupcake cases as well as all that is required – cutters, modelling paste and colouring – to create delicate sugar butterflies, which can be used for decorating.
If there’s no time to bake your own, you can even buy ready-iced cakes, which you then decorate – don’t forget to present on an attractive cake stand. Alternatively, cupcakes and mini cakes have become a massive wedding trend: stack them on a tiered stand to get the impact of a large wedding cake without the need for cutting.
Keep on top of the latest trends by looking out for new ingredients, decorations and tools: magazines such as Cakes & Sugarcraft and Wedding Cakes - A Design Source are full of inspiring, contemporary designs and Inspired by Food is packed with creative and decorative ideas for baking, cake and food decoration.
All items and publications mentioned are available at Squires Shop.
Based in Farnham, Surrey, Squires Kitchen was launched 25 years ago in Beverley Dutton’s very own kitchen. Today’s impressive premises – with a brand new custom-built kitchen – are somewhat different, but Beverley remains very much hands on in a business that supplies caterers, cake decorators and sugarcrafters worldwide from a product range comprising over 5500 items. As trade, you benefit from a discount; for information email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 0845 61 71 810.
Squires Kitchen’s International School holds cookery and sugarcraft classes for all levels from the complete beginner to the professional chef. Find out more at www.squires-school.co.uk