Northern Bites

first_imgNorthern Cyprus is not the best country for anyone who enjoys good food and expects high levels of quality. Years of underinvestment has left the food industry woefully lacking in the wide variety of raw materials available in the UK and, indeed, most other European countries.The basic materials for bakery production can be of a good standard, but the lack of quality assurance systems means there is wide variation. Despite this there are some very good bakery products and the level of craftsmanship is high. Bakers tend to use scratch recipes that are robust enough to withstand variations in raw material quality or, alternatively, enable the craftsman to adjust to the situation.Having to skin almonds to make almond paste, using fruit as it comes from the tree and vegetables as they come from the grower can be an eye-opener. Icing sugar is made by pulverising granulated sugar, clever starches and stabilisers are unknown, and savoury flavour concentrates are too expensive to use – it is cheaper to increase the meat content or make your own stock. Some products from ingredients suppliers Puratos and Dawn are available, but again, expense and import restrictions make obtaining them difficult, so the country’s bakers make most things from scratch.Northern Cypriot people also tend to believe that their food is the best and they do not need to learn from other countries. Having worked in developing countries, where people thirst for knowledge, I find this attitude difficult to live with. But there are supermarket groups that are starting to show interest in introducing European products and systems.Turkish bakery products vary little in appearance or eating quality – be they from small or large bakeries. I put this down to the fact that all use the same recipe, which they consider the best, and no one cuts corners. Effort and enthusiasmI hope my recent back-to-basics experience and knowledge of high-tech production will allow me to offer some exciting ideas with easy-to-obtain raw materials, ways to improve what you already make and simplified processes. That said, effort and enthusiasm are required, if you want to make the best of anything.The following recipes are made using puff pastry. You can use any type you wish and these recipes will work, but if you want the best, your pastry must be the best. A full puff pastry, made with butter, cannot be beaten. One tip gleaned from the pastry-making section of a top French patissier is to make a very soft dough and use what seems to be a wildly excessive amount of dusting flour. The resulting baked pastry was unbelievably light, tender, and kept its delicate crispiness for days. Being of a somewhat scientific bent of mind, I calculated how much dusting flour was absorbed in the process – it was sufficient to reduce the butter content to 85%. Quiche LorraineYour immediate reaction might be: ‘What is new about quiche Lorraine? It will never be a best seller.’ But I have never seen one in the UK that was remotely like the original.It is best to pre-bake the base, depending on your oven, but it must be baked through. Use the trimmings from butter puff pastry or perhaps use the Scottish method – introducing laminating fat at the dough-making stage rather than later in the process. Roll it 2mm thin to line your chosen tin. Individual quiches in an 8cm tin or foil are preferable, but whatever the size, it should be shallow – 2-2.5cm deep – and, when lining, an allowance must be made for shrinkage. All the components can be made in advance.The bacon should be smoked, roughly cut into 3mm squares, then fried or baked in your oven until golden. Drain off the fat and keep the bacon until needed; a small quantity of this fat will give a delicious flavour to savoury short pastry. Do not be tempted to use cheap, mass-produced bacon – it may be alright for a BLT, but not for a quality quiche.The savoury custard is a mix of whipping cream – vegetable cream works very well and is half the cost – and for each litre, add half a litre of beaten whole egg, 15g salt and white pepper to taste. You can add a little grated cheddar if desired, but only around 50g. Spread the cooked bacon over the bottom of the pastry and fill nearly to the top with custard. For each litre of custard you need approximately 400g of uncooked bacon, but be generous – it is the bacon that gives the taste. Bake at 200ºC until pale golden and the custard is just set – about 25 minutes – but do not over-bakeOnion tart Properly made, using onions or leeks, this is wonderful. Use the savoury custard as in the quiche above, but with a little more cheese – around 100g.Slice the onions (or leeks) into 3mm thick half rings, fry them in butter without colouring, until they start to soften, but retain some crispness. Allow them to go cold, then follow the procedure as for quiche Lorraine. Puff pastry crownsAs bakeries in Northern Cyprus do not have blocking machines, I had to devise a simple way of lining tins. Cut 2.5mm-thick pastry into squares, a little larger than your baking tin/foil. Position the squares over the tin, fill with whichever filling you like then fold the corners into the centre, as shown in the picture. You can also make the crowns straight onto a baking tray. Suggested fillings are below. Portions are given in percentages or parts, so that they can be adapted to the amount required.Spinach and cheese (spanakopita) fillingSpinach, cooked very well, then drained. Frozen leaf works well (100% required)Crumbled cheese – for example, a mixture of feta and cheddar (25% required)One whole egg (20% required)Onion, 15mm diced, fried in a generous amount of butter until soft (10% required)Whipping or vegetable cream (2% required)Nutmeg, dill, salt and black pepper to tasteChicken and coriander filling Minced chicken (100% required) One whole egg (20% required) Chopped fresh coriander (5% required)Day-old bread soaked in creamy milk (10% required)Salt and white pepper to tasteMix the ingredients together and use like sausage meat. I like to add about 5% of cottage cheese because it gives a touch of acidity and increases the creamy mouthfeel. It also freezes really well. Another popular filling is made with a tomato conserve. Cook tinned tomatoes very slowly with butter, sugar, herbs, and salt and pepper until they are the consistency of jam. Spoon this into the pastry and top with fresh tomatoes, before baking. All the crowns can be frozen and baked off. Puff pastry casseroles of salmon and asparagus with a pastry handle. This uses a vol au vent made from butter puff with an optional pan handle, which is also made from puff pastry. All components can be prepared in advance and stored for easy assembly and baking to suit your customer pattern.Put a layer of drained, canned asparagus in the bottom, top with lightly poached salmon, fill with savoury custard and bake. For a touch of class, decorate with a puff pastry pan handle, pushed into the centre of the ‘casserole’.last_img read more

French Croissant firm scoops deal with Marks & Spencer

first_imgSupplier the French Croissant company says it is rolling out an expanded range with Marks & Spencer (M&S), after taking over a £5 million supply contract from Northern Foods.The London-based company started supplying all M&S bakeries and cafés with a range of sweet and butter croissants this summer.It is now introducing a savoury range, starting with a mature Cheddar cheese croissant, head of sales and marketing Eric Balzan told British Baker. He said the M&S account has added £5m to the company’s turnover. French Croissant’s turnover has grown from £15m to £31m in the last five years, he added.”We started talking to M&S last November, before the Northern Foods issues came up, with various parts of its business being put up for sale,” explained Balzan. “We are very proud, it is quite an achievement to supply a customer like that.”last_img read more

Greencore profits hit by difficult summer trading

first_imgConvenience foods giant Greencore has become the latest supplier to complain that unseasonal summer weather and raw material cost inflation had hit its profits in 2007.Greencore, which claims to be Europe’s largest sandwich manufacturer, making more than 200 million sandwiches a year, said that, in common with the rest of the industry, it was working hard to offset the impact of high levels of raw material inflation on the division.Although its convenience foods division, which accounts for 70% of sales, performed well in the first half of the year, with profits up 5%, its profit declined 16% in the second half.Raw material and packaging prices increased considerably during the year, with increases seen in items such as bread, flour, dairy, eggs, cooked meats, onions, glass, corrugated paper and PET. Inflationary pressures in full-year 2007 were not recovered through customer price increases in the year and overall sales price deflation for the year, including trading terms and promotional support, amounted to nearly 1%, largely due to pricing arrangements carried forward from the previous year.Despite difficult trading conditions, Greencore said its “summer-weighted” categories – sandwiches, water and quiche – maintained or grew market share during the year. New product development was a major focus, with more than 40% of the convenience division’s products less than one year old, it said.Greencore said it had removed all trans fats and hydrogenated vegetable oils from its products and made significant progress towards lower salt level targets.last_img read more

Cornish pasties travel to Cyprus

first_imgPasty maker Crantock Bakery is now supplying pasties to the Cypriot market.The Cornish company has agreed a deal with Ayia-Napa-based The Pasty Mine, set up by Cornish couple Jon and Julie Carter.All the pasties sold at the Pasty Mine will be made at Crantock Bakery to a traditional recipe and are hand-crimped before being blast-frozen ready for transportation.The Carters moved from Cornwall to Cyprus specifically to set up their business. Julie Carter said: “The response has been absolutely fantastic; in the first week alone we’ve sold over 1,000 pasties.”And it’s not just the holidaymakers who have shown an interest since the shop officially opened on 21 April. Locals have also been really interested in sampling a traditional Cornish pasty and they keep coming back for more.”Nick Ringer, managing director of Crantock Bakery, said: “The opening in Cyprus is another example of Crantock Bakery developing new markets not just in the UK, but across Europe.”We are delighted to be bringing the much-loved Cornish pasty to a wider audience.”The overseas outlet is the latest opening for the New- quay-based bakery. Crantock’s Cornish Pasties can already be found in shops across Spain and Portugal.last_img read more

Snow business at Eurotek

first_imgEurotek has launched a snow removal system for frozen food manufacturers. Designed to keep evaporator fins clear of snow, it allows freezing lines to run for twice as long between defrosts.The SRS is “proving a popular option on lines dedicated to handling high volumes of high moisture products such as oven- fresh baked goods”, according to Eurotek. “Intense blasts of compressed air help to minimise snow build-up on the evaporator fins,” said Eurotek’s managing director Roger Smith. “We piloted the system with a frozen herb producer. The snow removal system meant the line could run for 22 hours between defrosts.”[]last_img

In the Archives

first_img== 20 January, 1933: Bridget Jones wanted ==It is not very often that a letter reaches us from a shop assistant, but one has come to hand this week from a Kentish woman who draws attention to the question of employing married women in place of those who are single. Our correspondent, who describes herself as “a mere but capable shop assistant”, complains about the employment of married women while Labour Exchanges are “flooded with unemployed experienced single women trying to gain a decent livelihood”.If married women were not employed in our own trade, she says, there would be less unemployment among those who are single. There are, of course, exceptional circumstances, but we believe most women would be inclined to urge that the place of the married woman is in the home and not in the office, shop or factory.last_img read more

Sell more this summer

first_imgHow many times have you thought about how to increase your sales? Well here’s how: suggestive selling, up-selling, link selling and promotional selling.As retailers, you have so much power when it comes to the point of purchase with your customers. But you can increase your ’at counter sales’ by over 20%, using these very simple techniques. When a customer approaches your sales counter or even browses in your store, you should encourage your staff to ’suggestive sell’ products that customers might be interested in. Equally a big opportunity is up-selling; by getting your staff to increase the size of the coffee, pastry, sandwich or savoury snack, you can increase profitability by up to 30% – all this by getting your customers to buy more than they intended to. Our colleagues at him! show that 85% of customers do not have a specific budget in mind and are open to buying more.Link-selling is also an excellent example of how to get more out of your customers by offering a thoughtful approach to increased sales. So, the next time a customer comes to the till with only a sandwich in their hand, make sure your staff are focused on linking the sandwich with a hot or cold drink, savoury snack or dessert item for example.You all run promotions these days, yet how many of you actually drive customer take-up? The major chains have increased their profit margins by over 45% with the introduction of meal deals and increased volume sales. But you can achieve exactly the same results if you bundle together the items your customers want and, most importantly, discount them.Be bold and speak to some of your suppliers, get them involved and produce professional-looking visuals, posters and promotions.Most importantly, make sure your team understand the value and benefit of your selling activities to the business. You could set daily or weekly targets by person or shift, but sometimes a simple ’thank you’ for a job well done is all it takes.As you can see, there are loads of opportunities to increase sales, so be flexible, get creative and, most importantly, sell, sell, sell!last_img read more

Krispy Kreme reveals plan to double UK stores

first_imgBy Patrick McGuiganIconic US doughnut brand Krispy Kreme plans to double its number of stores in the UK in the next five years and increase sales through Tesco, as part of a massive £12m expansion plan.The company, which launched in the UK in 2003 and currently operates 42 stores, intends to open a further 40 outlets in the next five years, starting with a factory shop in Bristol in August, after securing a £12m lending facility from Santander. It also plans to double the number of Tesco stores it supplies, from its current base of 180 outlets.”We went from zero to 40 shops between 2003 and 2009, but decided to take a break in 2009 because of the economic climate,” chief financial officer Rob Hunt told British Baker. “We actually had quite a good year in 2009 from a trading perspective, which has given us confidence to continue the expansion.”Rather than using a central production unit, Krispy Kreme’s ring doughnuts are made in regional factory shops large retail outlets comprising a 25-30 cover café and manufacturing facility that is visible to customers. These sites make fresh doughnuts each day, which are delivered to other smaller Krispy Kreme shops and Tesco stores in the local area.The company currently has eight factory shops in the UK and aims to open a further 10, at a rate of two a year, with Scotland being a target in 2011, followed by the north east, Yorkshire and the East Midlands.Krispy Kreme UK saw sales increase by 3.5% to £30m in the year to 31 January 2010. Profits hit £1m, up from an underlying loss of £500,000 the previous year.last_img read more

One more week for BIA entries

first_imgLate entries for this year’s Baking Industry Awards are being allowed till the end of this week, so make sure you get them all in by Friday 27 May.Awards categories include: Confectioner of the Year, In-Store Bakery of the Year and Bakery Supplier of the Year.The Rising Star Award and The Lifetime Achievement Award categories only have longer deadlines; Rising Star is 20 June and Lifetime Achievement is 30 June.This year’s Brazilian carnival-themed event will be held on Wednesday 7 September at the Park Lane Hilton, London.For details on all 11 categories and to download an entry form, visit or email [email protected] or call 01293 610422.To book your place at this top industry networking event, contact Elizabeth Ellis on 01293 846593 or email [email protected] for tickets.last_img read more

In Short

first_imgAdvice for youngstersUnited Biscuits KP Teesside’s factory manager Mark Duffy and employees spoke to unemployed youths, taking part in The Prince’s Trust’s team programme at Stockton Riverside College, about jobs in food manufacturing. The firm offered mock interview sessions, in addition to advice on job-hunting, application form writing and CV preparation.Burton’s Canada dealThe Burton’s Biscuit Company has signed a deal to distribute a selection of Cadbury biscuit products to Canada’s largest supermarket. The deal includes 11 products from the range, which will appear in more than half of Loblaw’s retail outlets.Rice for starchUlrick & Short has moved from using GM-free maize to using rice for its clean-label starches, as the availability of maize is reducing and is therefore rising in price. The firm added that another important reason for using rice is for its functionality.Pasty maker soughtBayjid Choudhury from Brockworth Enterprise School in Gloucester, is trying to secure a deal with a manufacturer to produce a new naan-style curry pasty. The sixth-former emailed retailers to pitch his product and received a response from The Co-operative. Following a meeting, he hopes to get the products listed if he can find a manufacturer to make them.last_img read more