Friday, January 27, 2012

Stollen Scones

So…who has some Komplt Stollen Mix 22065 left?! I know there are a few of you out there who ordered a bag or two too many, just in case we ran out, or you ran out or you got a run on stollen this year. Well, the good news is, you can get it out of your storage closet, or freezer, or garage or off your floor. There’s a great recipe I love to share with people around this time of year. It’s basically Stollen scones, it’s still close enough to the time of year people expect Stollen to remember how delicious it is, it is a MUCH more reasonable size for all those people who are still following their New Year’s Resolution (over achievers) and it’s a great way for you to use up some potentially left over stuff taking up shelf room. Click here for the recipe and don’t forget…dust with Sweet New Snow 03060. Maybe not quite as much, but at least a sprinkle on top so people recognize it in its new form! Fortunately, I still have one loaf I made over the winter holiday in my freezer. I think I’ll take it out and enjoy it this weekend! 

PS. I couldn't find a picture of the small scones, so this will have to serve as a delicious reminder! Looks amazing, doesn't it?

It's Sweet To Me

The Wall Street Journal Online had an interesting article about artificial sweeteners. I don't usually pay much attention to them, but I do use the fake stuff. And it seems lately Truvia is gaining quite a bit of attention. I usually refer to artificial sugar by the color of the package it’s in, that's how little I care, but I know I should care more. And I’m not so much brand loyal as I am color loyal. I like the ‘pink’ sugar (saccharin) in iced tea, the ‘yellow’ (sucralose) in coffee and the ‘blue’ (aspartame) in a yogurt I make at home. I’ve never taken too much notice to what’s in them or what it’s going to do to me if I consume too much, since I don’t consume very much at all, but what I do know is I don’t like them interchanged. I can’t stand the ‘blue’ or ‘pink’ in coffee, it leaves an aftertaste, the ‘yellow’ is too subtle for iced tea and the ‘blue’ I only like in my yogurt because I grew up eating it. But, what's interesting is what I really haven’t developed a taste for is the new sweetener Stevia or Truvia (rebiana with erythritol), although to be fair, I’ve only tried it in coffee. I’ve seen green and white packages around and I personally find they give my coffee a bad aftertaste; worse than the aftertaste of coffee, although it’s known for having a sweet, clean taste. Anyway, it seems this new sweetener is more expensive because it claims it is natural, so consumers are loving it. I don’t usually bake with artificial sweeteners and when I do, I of course use the Abel & Schafer One by One Sugar Substitute 43066 which contains maltitol and sucralose and is not only Parve but also non-GMO. I find that this gives me the best luck with consistency, measuring and flavor. To judge which powdery white "sugar" the author liked best, he did a "non scientific" taste test where he added 1 packet each of the popular retail sugars and put it into a small cup of hot coffee. Fortunately, they are all a little more hidden in baked goods! See what you think;
Calories: 0

Sweetening agent: Rebiana
Verdict: Smells like cupcake icing, granular texture like sugar.
Sweetness overpowers the coffee's flavor. We detected a 'Tab'-like aftertaste.

Calories: 0

Sweetening agent: Sucralose
Verdict: No aroma with a subtle, acidic but not overly chemical taste. A little like soap water.

Calories: 0

Sweetening agent: aspartame
Verdict: Super-concentrated sweetness, not in a good way. Leaves a metallic aftertaste.

Calories: 0

Sweetening agent: saccharin
Verdict: Subtle sweetness that doesn't knock the edge off strong coffee. Aftertaste is like a copper pipe.

Domino SUGAR
Calories: 15 per teaspoon

Sweetening agent: sucrose
Verdict: About half the sweetness of the others with less aftertaste. Leaves coffee flavor unsullied. Doesn't dissolve as quickly.

The WSJ article was a bit more detailed and probably more interesting. If you have a few minutes, give it a read.

If You Love What You Do...

...You'll Never Work A Day In Your Life!
I keep hearing about layoffs (Kraft), bankruptcy (Kodak) and work stress (everyone). Each time I hear of any of these complications I think of what a mixed blessing it is to be a small business owner. I mean, if there are layoff’s it’s not going to be you. It might mean more work for you; but as the owner of the business you are generally safe. You will be the first to know if you are going to go bankrupt and I'm pretty sure most people are unhappy at work because of their upward management or lack of ability to advance/make more money. As a business owner if you don’t like your boss we have bigger issues to tackle and I might not be the right person to help you, and if you want more money, the ball is in your court. But in saying that it’s not all fun and games. Work; even when you are working for yourself, can still be very stressful, cause aggravation, greying or less hair in general and in the midst of all this furry it’s easy to forget why you started up this business and how to enjoy your daily life. Open Forum by American Express published what is probably a repetitive well needed reminder of an article. They state 14 ways to make work more enjoyable this year. Even one way to make more enjoyable this year is good for most people! Take the click, head over to the article and try to make a promise to yourself to do AT LEAST one of these things! I’ll give you one, two and three. You have to go get the others!

1. Eliminate stresses, especially the little ones. Remember that book you all have heard the title of, but may not have read? “Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff….(and it’s all small stuff!!)”. Maybe cliché, but it’s true. In the grand scheme of things, how important are the nuances that creep up on you and cause you aggravation? There are lots of tools out there, use them! The thing you hate doing most…there may be an app for that. Tired of phone calls today? Let the machine get it and get back to them. Is your ‘to do’ list harassing you? Stop writing one, find another way to stay organized. Just letting the little things go can make you a lot happier!

2. Break some rules…not laws…rules. Who says you have to open at a certain time?  Who says your menu or distributor can’t change? Tired of the same old uniform? Get new ones, let them be brighter or more interesting. Admit you were wrong or don’t know something or don’t have something….and join a blog! Some down time, reading that is applicable to your industry, interesting to tell your customers about, a place where you can talk to people who do the same thing. Get a break, and some insight at the same time. I know one you’ll love…this one!!

3. Focus your time and energy. Know what you have to do and get to it! Your day will go faster if you aren’t hemming and hawing over decisions you have to make or trying to decide what to do next or which job to tackle. Make a decision and stick to it. And for those of you who aren’t controlled by or aggravated by lists already, it really is a great way to stay on top of things.

Head over to Open Forum for the rest. It's a quick read and I think you might just walk away with an idea or two. Give it a try, what can it hurt?!

Nutrition Facts
I’m not even certain if this is worth reporting on right now as it seems to be quite a ways in the distance but it seems we may be seeing a change in the nutritional information listed on packaged food in the distant future. An anonymous source from the Food and Drug Administration spoke to Baking & Snack about a proposal they are working on to update the recommended dietary allowances listed on the Nutrition Facts Panel. I was shocked to see that the current nutritional information is from 1968! That seems well past overdue for a makeover! The dietary guidelines for the ‘MyPyramid’ and “My Plate” tend to change way more often than that. The hope is that by changing the amounts to what people are actually consuming vs what the package determines to be a serving might better help them understand the dangers of overeating and the amount of calories they may actually be consuming which will most likely be highly unpleasant. Especially when posted on delicious snacks like macaroni and cheese and cookies. There is no word on when this proposal will actually be ready or available for view or comment. If I hear anything, I’ll let you know.

Now Really...

Maybe I should have mentioned it earlier, but when I send out the newsletter I can see who reads it, who doesn’t, who follows the links, who shares it…information like that. I guess what I’m saying is I know not a lot of you are reading this!! Another way I know this is that I have been getting quite a few e-mails each week asking or just assuming I’m back in my previous position and requests for information or samples. So I wanted to share with everyone again my status. My official and only position with Abel & Schafer is in the form or blogger and newsletter writer. I watch what is happening in the industry each week, look for interesting articles and stories to pass along, try to stay on top of shows or lectures and share those with you and in general, just talk. I’d love if you guys talked back. I’d love some feedback, some comments on the blog, ideas, thoughts, conversation between you guys about what’s happening in your shops, trends you see, problems you are having and having a forum to help each other out. But, I’m not in sales any longer, I can’t provide price lists or visits or leads, I don’t have that information any longer. Mike Lang, my previous Sales Manager took over the territory and he will be more than happy to help you with anything you need. You can reach him by calling the office at the phone number on the bottom of the newsletter.

So, I am sorry I’m not more of a help, but I’ll be as much of one as I can be through the blog! I have had some big changes in the past few months; I’m engaged and soon to be married so planning what is turning out to be a big wedding. My betrothed is very soon deploying, again, and not for the last time. W adopted a puppy before I was hired to help open and run a cupcake shop; which had its opening day this week. We went through over 500 cupcakes in under an hour. We “opened” at 2:00 and by 3:00 were cleaned out. It’s been a few busy weeks getting the store ready and it is unfortunately quite a commute, most of my day is shot by the time I get home. Needless to say, my hands are full!! But, Abel & Schafer is still alive and well, waiting for you to call, wanting to fill your order and with plenty of answers to all the questions you have! They will always be just a phone call away! So, Mom, who I have to assume is my readership, I’ll see you this weekend and in the meantime, if you need anything, call Mike.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Code Red Velvet

 I didn’t hear about this until earlier this week, but maybe some of you New Englanders have. WickedGood Cupcakes, a small mother/daughter operation in Cohasset, MA has had some bad publicity turn into good luck. In December, a woman who had purchased the ‘National Velvet’ cupcake (a red velvet cupcake constructed in a jar for eating on the go with a spoon) had her dessert confiscated by the TSA, because they felt it posed a risk. Not to the travelers health, but to the rest of the population; the TSA felt it could possibly be a bomb…not "da bomb", but an actual, explosive bomb. Ha ha ha...the article is great, read it here.

Wicked Good Cupcakes has 9 travel varieties, which are very popular and while this could have been a disaster for the small bakery, they have had their websites hits go from 100 a day to over 3,000 and their sales numbers have “probably doubled” according to the store manager. The cupcake customer, a professor of advertising and media studies at Salem State University, also blogs and posted on her blog about the event, “Code Red Velvet – Cupcakes of Mass Destruction”, which personally, I think is hilarious! What a great way to take advantage of the press! What is it they say…no publicity is bad publicity? As it turns out, that’s only partially true. Studies from Stanford University and University of Pennsylvania have said that negative publicity helps small businesses, people remember the publicity but not the reason, but harms larger, well known companies.

Have you participated in the cupcake craze yet? Abel & Schafer sells a number of products that make fantastic cupcakes! The A& Dream Cake (22021) is fantastic for cupcakes, along with Good Nature Chocolate and Vanilla cake mix (37320 and 37321 respectively), the Natural Parve Chocolate and Vanilla Crème Cakes (22177 and 24024 respectively), White Cake Mix (22005), and the healthiest of the bunch, Whole Grain Good Nature Chocolate and Yellow Cake Mix (37330 and 37331). The options are endless! Who needs a sample?!

It's a Marshmallow World
According to a London based online newspaper, home-made marshmallows are taking New York City by storm! If I lived a bit closer, I would head into my favorite US city to check it out, but it’s quite far for me so I’ll have to take London’s word for truth until I get there or hear differently from some of you. While these are no “State Puffs”, and don’t likely resemble the marshmallows you remember or still buy to put on the end of a stick and catch fire, they are beautiful, flavorful and apparently, becoming quite trendy. I hesitate to say it because personally I don't believe it, but owner and chef of Three Tarts Bakery in Chelsea, NYC, Maria D’Urso told the New York Times that they are the new cupcakes! Scandal! The Three Tarts Bakery makes many flavors for the kid in all of us such as cinnamon, strawberry basil and chocolate rosemary. At CityBakery in New York City, they most amazing hot chocolate I’ve ever had is topped with a delicious homemade puff, as is the delicious hot chocolate at one of my favorite restaurants in Williamsburg, VA. In Indiana at a bakery called 240Sweet, chefs make marshmallows of all kinds; avocado and lime, cherry lime-aid, pineapple and mango, red bean and sesame and even chicken and beef flavor. Now personally…I’m not eating beef or chicken flavored marshmallow. I have to ignore the whole gelatin bit as it is. Making it taste like beef as well…Check out these flavors here...seriously! Who knew?!