Cupcakes with a Savory Twist: Lasagna Style

Savory isn’t a flavor that usually comes to mind when thinking of cupcakes or other baked goods and treats, but that doesn’t have to be the case. As cupcakes as a brand continue to sweep the country and become ever more popular owners and chefs have to continually come up with new, innovative ideas to keep the trend fresh and exciting in the eyes of the consumer. Enter the lasagna cupcake. While not necessarily a new idea the lasagna cupcake is the perfect twist on a regular sweet cupcake to get consumers excited and out to their local cupcake shop or bakery.

Lasagna Cupcakes

Source: tablespoon.com

No one wants to devote the time and energy required to make a whole pan of lasagna when more often than not you’ll tire of all the leftovers after a couple days and then it just feels like a waste, making lasagna cupcakes the perfect substitute for a family gathering or addition to any party.

This savory is treat is crafted using wonton wrappers nestled in muffin tins to create that classing layered element lasagna is known for. The original recipe calls for beef, but that can easily be swiped out for something that suits your unique tastes. You could even substitute zucchini or another vegetable to create a delectable vegetarian version.

Recipe via tablespoon.com

  • 1/3 pound ground beef
  • Salt and pepper
  • 24 wonton wrappers or boiled lasagna noodles (about 6-8)
  • 1 3/4 cups Parmesan cheese, grated
  • (divided)
  • 1 3/4 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded (divided)
  • 3/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup jarred pasta sauce
  • Basil for garnish (optional)
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray muffin tin with cooking spray.
  • Brown beef, and season with salt and pepper. Drain.
  • Cut wonton wrappers or lasagna noodles into circle shapes (about 2 1/4- inches) using a biscuit cutter or the top of a drinking glass. You can cut several at a time. Note: For a more rustic look, no cutting necessary!
  • Reserve 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese and 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese for the top of the cupcakes. Start layering the lasagna cupcakes. Begin with a wonton wrapper and press it into the bottom of each muffin tin. Sprinkle a little Parmesan cheese, ricotta cheese, and mozzarella cheese in each. Top with a little meat and pasta sauce.
  • Repeat layers again (i.e. wonton, Parmesan, ricotta, mozzarella and pasta sauce). Top with reserved Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses.
  • Bake for 18-20 minutes or until edges are brown. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. To remove, use a knife to loosen the edges, then pop each lasagna out.
  • Garnish with basil and serve. Makes 12 cupcakes.

 

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

215 calories; 11 g fat (6 g saturated fat; 46 percent calories from fat); 12 g carbohydrates; 1 g sugar; 39 mg cholesterol; 533 mg sodium; 16 g protein; 0.5 g fiber.

 

Have you or will you be trying these scrumptious lasagna cupcakes? Leave a comment below!

 

 

Best Bakery Point of Sale

Surface tablet bakery

How to Create a Sweet Business with your Bakery

 
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             Creating a Sweet Business with your …

Bakery

 

 

Provide the Right Atmosphere in your Bakery

Determine what demographic you are catering to:

 

  • If you are in a location with older generation groups then you want to place emphasis on having several tables with very friendly customer service. Also think about design and sounds. For this group you would perhaps to keep a dimlit place with soft music. Retirees will want to come in and stay for some time to read the newspaper, a book or just enjoy their mornings.

 

  • Now if you are working in a busy area then you want to aim your shop to be more of a stop-and-go kind of place. Customers can stop by to grab a pastry and coffee and leave to continue on with their day. With this atmosphere, you can keep the lighting bright and use light colors in your shop. Music and extra decor is not as important because these customers are coming for the product not the experience.

 

  • Another option is being by a younger, perhaps college, crowd.  Here you would want to create a relaxing and comfortable atmosphere. People can come in to use the venue as a studying place, or friends will come to hang out or you may even find couples on casual dates. This will require a relaxing setting, wifi and you may want to add some couches or booths.

 

Whichever atmosphere you create, just remember to adjust it to the primary customers that you are serving. The atmosphere is mainly determined from the location of your bakery or shop.

 

 

Keeping your Business on Track

 

A bakery requires several key elements that will help run smooth operations;

 

  • inventory control

  • adaptability

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  • employee management

  • sales reports

 

Acquire a POS software to handle all of these responsibilities for your bakery.  Save costs on efficiently using your inventory and knowing when to re-order. Introduce a new item or create a custom order through your point of sale system whenever you need to. Have employees clock in and out to easily track their times and pays. Lastly, analyze your financial reports to improve your business. You can see what items are doing well, at what time are you making the most sales at and what needs change.

 

 

Holiday Cupcake Flavors

Jazz up your cupcake shop with these festive desserts this winter.

Chocolate Eggnog

Eggnog is a classic holiday drink that brings warmness to any cupcake case. Frost it with a nutmeg-infused vanilla cream cheese. This recipe does it with bourbon and coffee… YUM!

Cranberry Spice

Cranberries are a beautiful winter fruit and they contrast the sweetness, beautifully. Try it with a Chai cake!

Sticky Toffee Pudding

If you travel across the pond you’ll find Christmas cakes everywhere except they call them pudding. I’m on board if they taste like this!

Rudolph Red Velvet

You can’t beat the crowd appeal of a moist rich red velvet cupcake. Decorating it with Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer  is a great class holiday party platter waiting to happen. These from the brown-eyed baker are sure to please.

White Chocolate Peppermint

A candy cane cake with easy decoration. This easy holiday recipe is sure to make your spirits bright!

Christmas Cookie

If your bakery doesn’t specialize in cupcakes these pretty, white sugar cookie inspired cupcakes are simple enough and the perfect treat to leave out for Santa.

Butterbeer

As a Potterhead the holiday season also means Harry Potter marathons. This cupcake is essentially a brown sugar cupcake with cream soda and butter flavors filled with a butterscotch ganache. This is sure to satisfy any bookworm, witch or wizard.


Champagne (New Years)

These pretty little cupcakes are both delicious and toast worthy. Release them as your New Year’s 2014 signature flavor. Use a simple decoration atop the elegant italian buttercream.

Coconut Macaroon

My mom makes a version of these indulgent buttery cakes every Christmas morning. For my family it wouldn’t be Christmas without coconut.

Mini Pies

These little beauties are sure to brighten up any buffet table this holiday season. So pretty and a great opportunity to diversify your bakery.

Best Social Media Platform For Your Cupcake Shop

It’s hard to ignore the buzz about social media for small businesses. Small business owners are constantly told how they should Tweet, Instagram, Vine, YouTube, Foursquare,Yelp, Pin, start bakery blogs and Facebook to increase business for their bakery. The problem with this is that no one really tells you where to start. In order to grow your business with social media while still focusing on your bakery takes some business time management and choosing which social media platforms will work best for your business.

Choosing the Best Social Media Site for Your Bakery

There is no perfect social media site for your bakery that will magically generate more leads as soon as you sign-up (despite what some of them might promise.) This means you’ll have to try and see what works best for you. Don’t be overwhelmed! This social media marketing strategy will make finding your social media site manageable while still giving you enough time to run your business.

1.) Choose 2 to 3 social media sites to begin with. Many small business owners start with Facebook because they already have a personal profile so they are well versed with the site. This is a good move. Some other sites that are good for starting your bakery’s social media presence and easy to use are Yelp, Foursquare, Twitter and Instagram.

2.) Set up your business profiles on each of these sites. Make sure to include as much information about your bakery as possible; including: address, phone number, logo, pictures, mission statement, prices, and how you got started.

3.) Set up 30 minutes to an hour of social media time into your work days. This will make sure you stay focused on your business while still growing your online marketing campaigns.

4.) Post or update your social media profiles about once a day. Go ahead and cross-promote your content through your profiles. Instagram and Facebook let you post to Twitter all at once.

5.) Gage what kind of audience you’re building and how these sites are increasing your bakery’s visibility. You can measure your social media growth through the amount of engagement you get as time grows. Give yourself at least 6 months with a platform. Social media takes some time to show direct results to your bottom line. 6 months is a good amount of time to gage progress and see returns coming back for your social media ROI or return on investment.

6.) If one platform doesn’t work, drop it for a while and try another. Have fun with it and try some new sites or strategies. You never know where there might be a hidden niche for your bakery.

Source: blogtyrant.com

What Does the FDA’s Gluten Free Label Mean for Bakeries

Earlier this year the FDA passed food legislation that began regulating the foods that manufacturers label as gluten-free. This is a big change to health food stores and gluten-free bakeries across the country but first let’s define what gluten and what gluten-free actually means.

What is gluten?

Gluten is a type of protein largely found in wheats and grains. Gluten has been getting some attention lately due to a rise in celiac disease, a disease that prevents you from being able to process gluten, and recent diet and health trends.

 

So what does “gluten-free” mean?

The U.S Food and Drug Administration now defines gluten free as the following:

  • A food that naturally does not have gluten such as a bag of raw vegetables or bottled water
  • Does not contain an ingredient that is a whole gluten-containing grain such as wheat, barley, rye, or crossbred hybrids of any of the grains.
  • Does not contain an ingredient that is derived from a gluten-containing grain and has not been processed to remove gluten (wheat flour)
  • May contain an ingredient that is derived from a gluten ingredient but has been processed to remove gluten as long as the food product contains less than 20 parts per million of gluten.
  • And unavoidable gluten in the food due to cross-contact or cross-contamination is less than 20 ppm of gluten. This is widely considered a small enough amount to not be harmful to those with celiac disease.
  • All manufacturers must comply to these standards by August 5th, 2014

This means that you will no longer be able to label food products with the FDA’s gluten-free label unless your product follows these rules.

This is an unverified image of the FDA’s gluten-free label. The official label design has not yet been released.

 

What it means for your business

This means that gluten free will no longer be loosely regulated and used as simply a way for manufacturers to market their product. Truly gluten-free products will be the only ones that can be certified to protect those that are allergic or intolerant of the ingredient.

This is great information if your health food store carries gluten-free product. You will now be able to confidently sell the FDA certified product to your customers without fear of an allergic reaction.

As a bakery owner if you are looking to be certified as a gluten-free establishment you’ll need to exceed the federal standards. Small business owners that are looking to be certified as gluten-free will look to the Gluten Free Certification Organization for certification and gluten-free listing which goes a step further than federal standards.

GFCO gluten-free label

 

GFCO Requirements for Bakeries and Restaurants

Tu-lu’s Gluten- Free Bakery out of New York with two more locations in Dallas
  • Once gluten-free application is sent and a price quote is received the GFCO sends an auditor to the establishment to evaluate how the facility shares it’s space, uses and stores it’s ingredients, where ingredients are coming from and what the operations are within the business space.
  • Standards for gluten free baking include: dual-use sections of the kitchen (one for gluten, one without,) thoroughly washed stations, machinery, and equipment along with wiped down surfaces.  According to the GFCO gluten particles can stay floating in the air for up to 24 hours after gluten-containing production which means thorough and strict cleaning measures are observed.
  • Gluten-free testing results must be submitted to the GFCO and all of them must be below 10 ppm.

 

 

Sources: celiaccentral.org

tasteguru.com

 

Unique Fall Flavors for your Cupcake Shop

This past Sunday was the first official day of Fall! For your cupcake shop this means that flavors like pineapple and coconut might be switched out for some warmer cinnamony versions of baked pies that make your customers feel the seasons change. Try some of these fall classics in your shop to get people talking and your competitors trying to keep up.

1.) Cinnamon Apple: This classic fall flavor combines two of my favorite ingredients apples and cinnamon. It’s hard not to imagine the leaves crunching beneath your feet when you get this on your taste buds. Try and apple cake with a cinnamon marshmallow icing.
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2.) Caramel Apple: This second apple forward flavor screams Halloween to me. This sweet flavor is a treat for both parents and kids alike and combined with a sweet cream frosting you won’t be able to keep your shelves stocked fast enough.

3.)Cider Doughnut: The first baked inspiration on this list is a cinnamon cider donut. I love the idea of combining this with a whipped cream to top it off instead of standard frosting. Finish with a sprinkling of cinnamon.

4.) Persimmon is an unconventional choice in some circles but in my opinion it is the ultimate fall fruit. We had a tree growing up and every autumn the fruit would fall in abundance and after I got my fill of the raw fruit I’d bake them into muffins so my mom could take them to work with her. The sweet flesh of persimmon tastes like a cross between a mango and a pumpkin. A great segway into the wintery holidays! A pistachio frosting compliments the velvetiness of the persimmon nicely. Look how pretty they are!

5.) Maple Pecan Pie: This simple flavor is a definite crowd pleaser and fall favorite. Do a standard maple frosting with a pecan cake for a satisfying fall treat for the entire family.

6.) Figs with honey: While figs can both be sweet or savory figs and honey make a nice sweet (but not overly sweet) offering for the changing of seasons. (Go bold and try goat cheese frosting and fig cake for fall. DO IT.)

7.) Hazelnut: This nut (or actually seed) came into popularity thanks to its bosom buddy chocolate in the addictive spread Nutella. But hazelnut actually stands on it’s own as a great fall flavor. The smokey and toasty flavor pairs well with a chocolate frosting. duh! Or make a great nutella cupcake!

8.) Toffee: The best desserts I’ve ever made have always had toffee in them. Toffee or butterscotch are great paired with a coffee frosting. Or reverse it for a toffee nut latte cupcake!

9.) Apple Cider: This last apple addition to the list is quintessential fall. The sparkling variety elevates the crispness of apples and combined with a cinnamon buttercream frosting screams autumn.

10.) Pumpkin: And of course the king of fall, pumpkin. Some real cheesecake frosting to top this one please!

Happy Fall Everybody!!

How to Market Your Bakery: Doing Your Marketing Research (Part 2 of 10)

Now in this second post we are going to find out how marketing research will help your business. Conducting marketing research is important because it targets your customers specific needs at your location so you can focus your marketing and not waste capital on things that won’t work.

 

First off, lets separate marketing research into two categories. There’s primary research and secondary research. Primary research is research is research that you conduct yourself while secondary is research you gather from another source that has already been done such as on the internet or from a marketing research company. Since secondary research is widely available online cheaply through related industry blogs, google news, and marketing blogs we are going to focus on doing your own primary research that focuses on your bakery location.

 

Conducting primary research for your marketing campaign:

 

There’s a few things you’ll need to utilize this series. I imagine you have all the following, but I’ll just make a little inventory list for you.

 

1. Your Bakery

2. Customers

3. A Point of Sale System

4. Inventory

 

Okay, great now that you’ve got these items all arranged, we can begin the exciting trek of strategizing marketing campaigns.

 

Some examples of research would be: determine your customer average demographic, your nearby competition, and what nearby businesses you may want to partner with or work with.

 

Research methods for these options:

 

What should you research? This park takes a little bit of detective work; how about some examples:

1. Make a questionnaire: Ask a few questions you think your customers might answer that could help your sales.

 

Offer them an incentive to filling it out, for example $5.00 coupon. Give them the questionnaire after they have placed their order. – Congratulations that’s your first campaign, this method builds some loyalty, your customers now have to come back to get their discount.

 

How to:

So then you have a few questions. How do you make a questionnaire? And who wants to print out all that paper and enter in the results later. Fortunately there’s quite a few sites now that help you make questionnaires, track the information and export it out to useable spreadsheets.

 

You could even import some of your info back into your point of sale, depending on your data and it’s capabilities. One site we have used is www.surveymonkey.com You could do a quick google search for survey’s to look at other survey help websites.

 

2. Add a loyalty program: Keep it simple and keep the method simple for it. By keeping track of your customers you can see their habits. If you don’t have a POS System that can handle loyalty, you can try punch cards, or consider getting a POS System, they are invaluable to your operation.

 

3. Your Credit Card Sales act as a loyalty program. Even though you don’t store all of your credit card numbers, you can group the last four digits and the first four, plus the expiration date and potentially the customers name from the card, to make a report that shows a reasonable view of what returning customers are spending on average, items they are buying, how often they buy and maybe what days of the week they come in. This is where a POS System really comes in handy.

 

Going back to the previous post, over time you may obtain research that may contradict parts of your current Bakery Marketing Plan if you have already taken a crack at laying one out. Don’t fret! Just go back and make proper adjustments. Gathering more research will only help you fine tune your analysis and marketing strategy and may even alter your ultimate goal. But, that’s a good thing because you are working with a clearer picture, which means you are better on track for success!

 

 

 

How to Market Your Bakery: Simplifying the Plans and Strategies (Part 1 of 10)

Where do I start in Marketing my Bakery?

In order to increase the success of your shop, some attention needs to be paid to your marketing strategy.This can sometimes be overwhelming and confusing but I’m going to try and break it down and demystify the process for you. A marketing strategy is a process or plan that your business can use to concentrate it’s money and divide it among opportunities to increase sales/ achieve an advantage in the marketplace. What this means is that by taking some time to determine and plan what ways you will be attracting customers to your new cafe, you will see increased returns to your profit margin. Here are a few things to consider when figuring out your marketing strategy:

1. Mission Statement: A mission statement defines the goals and values of your business. This clearly illustrates your ultimate goal, for your customers yes, but mostly for you. Referring back to your mission statement frequently insures a clear and concise direction for your business to constantly be working towards and improving upon itself. In writing terms, a mission statement is like your thesis: make sure it’s clear and all of the following business decisions and practices are reflective of the mission statement. Some examples of strong mission statements are:

  • “We want our customers to enjoy the best beignets around, and most fresh cup of organic coffee possible. We make it our job for our customers to leave our bakery feeling like they had an experience, not just a standard transaction.“ -Cafe Tourane http://www.cafetourane.com/
  • ”To maintain a Facebook business page of 5,000 individuals by the end of its third year as a sign of its community and to become profitable in its second year.”

2. Situation Analysis: a structured planning method used to evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats involved in a project or in a business venture. These consider all of the obstacles and how to overcome them when achieving a business goal.

  • Strengths are characteristics of the business or project that give it an advantage over others. For example: Customer Service, central location, great visibility.
  • Weaknesses are characteristics that place the team at a disadvantage relative to others. For example: No online presence, limited product selection, minimal advertising.
  • Opportunities are elements that the project could exploit to its advantage. For example: social media, advertising, promotional item demos, loyalty programs.
  • Threats are elements in the environment that could cause trouble for the business or project. For example: restrictive licensing laws, local competitors, downward economy.

3. Marketing Strategy: This is the meat of the operation. You take your intended goal (mission statement) consider your obstacles and opportunities (situation analysis) and create a plan in which to achieve said goal.

  • For example: overcome your lack of advertising by creating a vibrant and exciting facebook profile in order to achieve the goal of accruing 5,000 facebook likes by your third year.

4. Budgets: This is a plan for your allocation of money to meet your objectives without breaking the bank. Make decisions on what will help you achieve your goals by within your budget. What will work most effectively with your long-term goals in mind. Some short term solutions may be cheaper but more costly and time consuming in the long run.

  • For example: coming up with a loyalty program and implementing it absent mindedly as you go can 1.) be time consuming 2.) inefficient and 3.) could cost you money rather than add to your customer base. If you consider your loyalty program for your bakery ahead of time and integrate it with your point of sale system you will save yourself and your customers time, money and energy; managing points and rewards. This would also help you achieve your customer service goals as well.

5. Performance Analysis: Evaluating your results. Were you successful? What could you have done better? What strategies worked best? How could you make something work more efficiently/effectively? Consider this analysis when tackling your next objectives.

 

Marketing plans are flexible and should be suited to fit your unique goals and objectives as a bakery owner. Adjust as needed but be sure to follow your plan to success.

 

Keep reading in the following weeks for some follow-up blog posts on how to specifically market your bakery:

  • social media
  • defining your target market
  • and, search engine optimization tools.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrating Shark Week in Your Cupcake Shop

On the first week of August every year the Discovery Channel rolls out their week long series of television programs and documentaries dedicated to sharks. This week long network event has become a cult phenomenon and is celebrated with shark week inspired viewing parties and events. Have your bakery or cupcake shop join in on the fun by offering some shark week inspired desserts in the case this week.

Decorating ideas:

*Like I said shark week is a cult phenomenon, just searching through the shark week tag on twitter any given night this week you’ll see viewing parties all around the country. Be the premiere bakery in your area offering shark week cupcakes to feed all of the carnivorous fans. Try adding a strawberry jelly center for a shark attack inspired surprise.

 

*Shark week cookies are the BEST after school surprise

 

*Shark cake pops are a fun way to act out the thrashing puppet style. Check out this blog post on why to incorporate cake pops into your bakery http://goo.gl/GJgdG0.

*A fun idea for a summer themed wedding that just so happens to fall on shark week:

*Here are some really amazing ideas to get the ideas flowing on your own shark week cake to add to the portfolio. Swedish Fish make great accents for this theme.