5 chocolate work techniques to add flair to your creations

25 February, 2014

Chocolate decoration techniques can be notoriously tricky to master, but as BAKO’s last chocolate workshop with Callebaut demonstrated, if done correctly, they take your cakes to a new level of sophistication.

In this week’s blog, BAKO guides you through five of the most impressive chocolate work techniques.

Chocolate feathering

Recognisable as the characteristic icing style of a cream or custard slice, feathering is perhaps one of the most simple chocolate-work techniques, so is a good starting point for learning new decoration styles. First, coat your chosen cake in glace icing or chocolate ganache, then use a piping bag to add horizontal lines of melted Callebaut chocolate callets in a contrasting colour. Working quickly before the lines set, lightly drag a fork or cocktail skewer vertically across the lines to drag the icing into this beautiful feathered pattern.

Chocolate bowls

Moving up a level, chocolate bowls are still a relatively easy affect to achieve, but offer a high-impact way to serve desserts like mousse or ice cream. Sit an inflated balloon in a bowl and drip half-cooled melted chocolate evenly over the top dome of the balloon to create a bowl-shaped structure. Once set, you can pop the balloon to remove, leaving a bowl made entirely from chocolate.

Chocolate lettering

A staple for classic cakes like the sachertorte, chocolate lettering requires a steady hand but is nonetheless an effective technique, particularly for personalising celebration cakes. You could also try experimenting with other piped designs, including lattices, swirls and hearts.

Chocolate curls

Moving on to slightly more advanced techniques, chocolate swirls are the mark of a master baker and a sure sign of quality for your customers. To create this look, spread a thin layer of melted chocolate evenly over a piece of baking paper and leave until it has cooled back into a solid form but not completely hardened. Use a cheese slicer or vegetable peeler to shave strips of chocolate; these will curl a little naturally, and you can use your fingers to gently roll them into tighter curls.

Chocolate collar

Chocolate collars are the true sign of a show-stopping cake, also covering up any rough edges in the bake itself. First, ice the edges of your cake with a buttercream icing or frosting to hold the chocolate border in place. Then, as with the curls, spread melted chocolate onto a baking paper sheet and leave to cool to a point where the chocolate no longer slides when the paper is held horizontally, but not too long so that cracks appear when it is bent. At this stage, all you need to do is carefully bend the collar around your cake, and you can use a ribbon to hold it in place as the chocolate sets fully.

Ready to get started experimenting with these new techniques? Share your best chocolate work creations with BAKO on Twitter, and don’t forget to let us know if you need to stock up on any more cake or chocolate supplies.

Twitter tips for bakers

6 February, 2014

Since joining Twitter, the team at BAKO have really enjoyed seeing how the social media site has helped bring the baking community together, spurring bakers from across the region to dream up ever more impressive cake creations.

Besides being an enjoyable way to share a love of baking though, Twitter can also be an invaluable tool for baking businesses of all sizes to gain new customers and keep current ones happy.

To give something back to the baking community who uses our extensive range of professional quality ingredients, BAKO have put together some handy tips for bakers on Twitter.

A picture speaks a thousand words

We’ve seen some truly mouth-watering photos of your edible masterpieces on Twitter, but we’ve also noticed some bakers who hardly ever share what their creations look like. Since baking is such a decorative art, you really are missing out if you don’t include any photos of your treats, and with the help of Smartphones and Instagram, even home-based baking businesses can now afford to take enticing shots.

Just try to look at this tweet from Home Sweet Home in Manchester and not be tempted!

Collaborate

Working together with other small businesses in your local area can be a great way to get your baking business noticed and show your communal spirit, so make sure to do the same on Twitter. If your cakes are stocked by a local café, make sure to mention their Twitter handle when you share a photo, and re-tweet photos they share of your cakes.

Chocolate specialists Cocoa Cabana demonstrate the power of this technique through their partnership with Flower Lounge, offering customers a great combination of gifts.

Competition time!

Holding a competition to win a free batch of cupcakes every now and again is not just something your followers will undoubtedly appreciate, it can also be a great way to get your brand noticed by new customers, particularly if you include a unique hashtag or encourage retweets, as Camp Cupcake demonstrates.

A personal touch

Since cakes are often an act of celebration, lots of customers tend to tweet about them, so watch out for mentions of your business name on Twitter, including ones that don’t use your official handle. If customers tell the Twitter community they enjoyed your cake, it’s always a lovely touch to show your gratitude back, as Say it with Flours has done below, and will encourage fans to come back to your business for their next occasion.

In the know

Many customers turn to social media for information, so also make sure to respond to queries in good time and proactively share any details that many customers may wish to know, such as order deadlines in the run-up to major events.

Have fun
Last but not least, have fun! Unsurprisingly, fans don’t just want to see constant sales pitches on their feed, so make sure to put personality into your tweets and show that baking is your passion as well as your career.

We hope this little guide has inspired you to get tweeting and look forward to seeing more of your indulgent creations on Twitter!

Britain’s Best Bakery judges Mich Turner and Peter Sidwell share tips on what it takes to succeed in the baking industry

29 January, 2014

With Britain’s Best Bakery returning to our screens for a second series this January, BAKO spoke to expert judges Mich Turner and Peter Sidwell to hear their thoughts on what makes a stand-out baking business.

Peter Sidwell

“Often local bakeries can be the real hub of the community,” commented Mich Turner, who has baked cakes for the Queen, David Beckham and countless other famous names through her business, Little Venice Cake Company. “They play a very, very important role and our role on Britain’s best bakery is to find the very best.”

“The high street is a pretty tough place at the moment,” adds fellow judge Peter Sidwell, celebrated cookbook author and long-time chef. “Any bakery that’s still out there, still trading, still doing business is worth its weight in gold and deserves to be celebrated.”

“These are bakeries who are really putting their community, their seasonality, their local ingredients and their town on the map for being the very best,” Mich continues, “It’s really championing the wonderful work our independent bakeries are doing.”

Peter also believes the show, which sees bakers from each region of the UK compete to be crowned Britain’s Best Bakery, challenges bakers to go beyond their comfort zone and hone their baking skills even further.

“It’s really interesting to see the bakeries and see how they evolve throughout this competition,” he shares, admitting, “They’re quite competitive, bakers, and once they get stuck in they really want to go for it!”

Of course, beyond the competitive element of the show, Britain’s Best Bakery also provides a rare opportunity for contestants and judges alike to meet others who share their passion for baking.

“For me the food industry is absolutely the best thing in the world,” Peter told BAKO, “For me the creativity is the one thing I absolutely love.”

Creativity is also one of the main reasons Mich enjoys working in the industry so much, enthusing, “I can create new and exciting flavours, design some combinations instantly and for me that’s one of the greatest joys of having the flexibility and the creativity and the entrepreneurialism of running Little Venice Cake Company.”

While both acclaimed bakers wouldn’t trade their job for any other, they do offer a word of warning for anyone looking to launch their own baking business.

“Don’t enter into it without expecting to sacrifice a huge amount,” states Mich, continuing, “You have to be prepared to give up an awful lot in order to really make a success of the business and you have to stay focused.”mich turner

“It’s very important to make sure that when you’re developing products you’re developing for the right customer in the right environment,” Peter adds, concluding, “At the end of the day you’re there to create for them: it’s not about baking for egos, it’s about baking for customers.”

Have Peter and Mich’s words of wisdom inspired you to start preparing to enter the next series of Britain’s Best Bakery? Contact BAKO for all the ingredients you’ll need to whip up the perfect choux, perfect your piping technique or take the humble biscuit to new heights.

You can also follow all the action from the show every weekday from 4:00pm on ITV, or click to learn more about talented judges Mich Turner & Peter Sidwell.

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