Organic & Natural Ingredients

Baking By SweetpeasBakery Updated 12 Jul 2011 , 11:54pm by Baker_Rose

SweetpeasBakery Posted 7 Jul 2011 , 6:33pm
post #1 of 16

I'm looking to use as many organic and natural ingredients possible when baking cakes/cupcakes/cookies/muffins. Does anyone else here have any advice or experience doing this? Any 'words of wisdom' or things to look out for?

Also, in addition to organic/natural, I'm also going LOCAL (not to be confused with loco... lol!) I'm trying to use all ingredients sourced within New England or closer. I'm looking for reccomendations on local products (butter, milk, etc.)

I am in northern Massachusetts on the NH line. Right now, I've chosen to use Pete & Gerry's Organic Eggs (New Hampshire) and Kate's Real Buttermilk (Maine).

Any info, advice or help is greatly appreciated! icon_smile.gif

15 replies
Baker_Rose Posted 7 Jul 2011 , 8:41pm
post #2 of 16

Organic ingredients are great, "natural" is usually a gimmick. All eggs are natural, they aren't man-made, it's how the hens are raised etc. You need to know your ingredients inside and out, if you advertise organic and local your customers are going to be very savvy about it, so you need to be on top of everything. Big deal that your eggs are organic, how are the hens raised and treated? Organic means that they are fed organic NOT that they are kept humanely. The best eggs out there are pasture raised eggs, then hens are on grass like mother nature intended. Your customers will want to know this.

Local milk, butter and eggs will be the easiest, but what about flour and sugar, lemon flavor and vanilla?? Those items come from far away. You can go with the King Arthur Flour, they are in your neck of the woods, but they will maybe cost more.

At the end of the day, your ingredients will cost YOU more, so be sure you have customers that care enough to pay the higher price, but know your sourcing!!

Tami icon_smile.gif

bobwonderbuns Posted 7 Jul 2011 , 9:09pm
post #3 of 16

Be sure you test, test and retest your recipes -- organic ingredients will RADICALLY alter the outcome of a cake -- turning a light, fluffy cake into a heavy, dense sugar disaster. When we advertise we tell people we try to use fresh local products whenever possible -- which is true. It also doesn't strap me into "is my sour cream locally made" or something silly like that. If it is, I'll use it. If not, it's not.

SweetpeasBakery Posted 7 Jul 2011 , 9:55pm
post #4 of 16

The eggs I chose are not only organic, but vegetarian/organic grain fed, free range, antibiotic and hormone free and humanely raised. If I find other local ones that top that, I'll switch. icon_smile.gif I'm very picky about my eggs even before getting into baking.

I realize not ALL ingredients will be able to be local- chocolate, vanilla, etc. but I'd like to do as many as possible. I'm not going to advertise that I bake organic cakes, but I will note that I bake using mainly organic ingredients.

Thank you for the responses- looking forward to more.

Elcee Posted 8 Jul 2011 , 1:53am
post #5 of 16

My friend's brother owns this company... not sure if you would need or use any of their products. http://nhhoneybee.com/index.aspx

Slightly off topic, but I'm originally from Lowell, not far from you icon_smile.gif and my cousin's family owned Valley Forge Pizza in Westford for years. I don't know if it's even still there; they had sold it before we moved here.

Baker_Rose Posted 12 Jul 2011 , 1:04am
post #6 of 16

"The eggs I chose are not only organic, but vegetarian/organic grain fed, free range, antibiotic and hormone free and humanely raised. If I find other local ones that top that, I'll switch. I'm very picky about my eggs even before getting into baking. "


Okay, they are fed a veggie only diet, "free range" means they aren't caged, but they can only be allowed to walk around inside on dirt. The key term to look for these days is "pasture raised" which means that they are in the sunshine, on grass eating bugs and greens. Trust me, customers are really savvy about this these days. Mine don't take my word for it, they want to walk outside and inspect my coop and my girls for themselves to "be sure". I have 36 happy hens who live a very pampered life and produce many eggs. I have even had customers want to inspect my feed bags to read the label of the feed the girls eat!! I now keep a label on hand because I recycle my bags in the garden as mulch.

Tami icon_smile.gif

Pasture raised eggs have more omega 3's naturally, less cholesterol, less fat and a much higher amount of vitamins and minerals. There have been many independent tests now to show the quality of even commercial "free range" eggs over pasture raised eggs. When I was selling eggs everyone told me that they could taste the difference in my eggs vs "organic free range" store bought eggs. I'm very careful what the girls eat, I try to keep it as natural as possible with as little commercial feed as I can. Oh to have a farm where I could grow all their food (and my food icon_smile.gif ), but that isn't to be. Deep sigh..............

Adevag Posted 12 Jul 2011 , 1:27am
post #7 of 16

I also use as many organic ingredients as I can. I use local, organic, pasture raised eggs (I have even visited the farm once with my kids and the fact that they welcome visitors is a good sign. My kids fed the hens sunflower seeds and we all got to hand pick the eggs).
I use local, organic, grass fed milk. I think dairy is easy to find.
What is hard to find is cake flour. That is when I use regular brand (softasilk). I have tried King Arthur's unbleached cake flour with great success as well, but it's not organic.

Also, it's hard (if not impossible) to find fresh, organic fruits all year long. I don't always find organic lemons or raspberries (or if I do in the winter the berries are way to expensive for me anyway).
So if you don't want to make any exceptions you would probably have to make lots of lemon curd (as an example) to last you when they're not available.

SweetpeasBakery Posted 12 Jul 2011 , 4:00am
post #8 of 16

I don't mind making exceptions but I'd like to stick to better-for-you ingredients overall. I went out on a mission to find butter today but it wasn't successful. I have 3 small farm stands/country stores within a MILE of my house. All of them had milk (I decided to go with a local whole milk from grass fed cows.) All had butter but one was sourced in Ohio (I'm in MA!), and the other two were the same company but only available as sweet-cream salted, no unsalted. I spoke with the owner at one place and she said she'd see if she would be able to get some unsalted. It was an Amish brand and sold as a "roll", not the traditional bars. We'll see. My hunt continues tomorrow icon_smile.gif

They had eggs also but I'm not sure what the conditions and environment were for them. I'll have to do more research- I was short on time today.

SweetpeasBakery Posted 12 Jul 2011 , 4:02am
post #9 of 16

"Slightly off topic, but I'm originally from Lowell, not far from you Smile and my cousin's family owned Valley Forge Pizza in Westford for years. I don't know if it's even still there; they had sold it before we moved here."

If that became "Presti Pizza" in Forge Village (right near the train tracks) I literally live about 1-2 miles away! hahah what a small world. icon_smile.gif My boyfriend actually lives in Lowell on the Tewksbury line, too.

scp1127 Posted 12 Jul 2011 , 8:15am
post #10 of 16

That Amish butter is legit. They sell to many Amish markets and farmers' markets. I can't use it in my baking because it has too much fat and throws off the balance. I am currently experimenting with it in European buttercreams.

My bakery is branded as a small batch artisan bakery, dedicated to offering baked goods made with the finest ingredients. Some of my ingredients are organic and none are artificial. Organic is not always the finest. For example, a health food shop offers a 1 lb. bag of Dutch process cocoa powder for $8.00. I pay much more for Guittard and I won't even try this weird colored bag. For each ingredient, I use what will be best for the final product. I do use all local dairy products. They are expensive, but make a considerable difference.

If you go this route of true fine ingredients, be prepared to price yourself far above your competitors and make sure you know how to reach your target market. Not only will your ingredients be higher, but the techniques and time needed to use these products, plus the skill level will all need to factor into your prices. For example, that fine butter may taste best in a custard based buttercream or one of the European methods... both of which are more time-consuming than ABC. Expensive buttermilk and sour cream will taste best in a recipe that brings out the flavors. These recipes must taste better than average in order to get the premium price you will need. Just using the ingredients will probably not be enough.

Baker_Rose Posted 12 Jul 2011 , 5:22pm
post #11 of 16

Two quotes come to mind from Alton Brown:

"The simpler something is, the more the reason to do it right."

"A stereo is only as good as it's weakest component."

Why use eggs that are but hours old, flour that is freshly hand milled, honey from the hive and rancid margarine in your bread?

If your customers are savvy and willing to "pony-up" for quality ingredients then it will always be worth your while to source the best ingredients. The end result is always King.

BUT, if your customers don't care, or don't have the palate to appreciate the difference in taste then you are just spending too much on your ingredients.

I used to work for a popular caterer here in town. My Mother introduced me to a friend of hers, followed by the fact that I was the head baker for this caterer. The woman exclaimed that a certain butter cookie was the best cookie she had ever eaten. She went on to tell me about how it was so buttery tasting and just melted in your mouth. I was a little confused because at that bakery we used one of the cheapest margarine on the market, NEVER butter. She mentioned it was a delicate, buttery cherry cookie. AAhh, we made an odd cookie with shortening, yes, shortening and NO BUTTER with chopped up maraschino cherries in it. Most people made this cookie and you had to really beat it to get the wet, slimy maraschino cherries to mix into the dense dough. I really couldn't stand this cookie, it was crumbly, greasy and I really don't like maraschino cherries. But to this woman's palate it was light, delicate and buttery. Go figure.

BUT....people who regularly eat my cookies, made with real butter, tell me they can't stand the cookies from that caterer. I think it's because they now have a better palate and so the margarine and heavy hand with flour no longer appeals to them. At the end of the day, you really need to know your customer.

Tami icon_smile.gif

Elcee Posted 12 Jul 2011 , 6:34pm
post #12 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by SweetpeasBakery

If that became "Presti Pizza" in Forge Village (right near the train tracks) I literally live about 1-2 miles away! hahah what a small world. icon_smile.gif My boyfriend actually lives in Lowell on the Tewksbury line, too.




icon_redface.gif Right, Forge Village, not Valley Forge icon_redface.gif but yes, right by the train tracks so it must be the same place.

A small world it is! icon_smile.gif

jason_kraft Posted 12 Jul 2011 , 7:01pm
post #13 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Baker_Rose

BUT....people who regularly eat my cookies, made with real butter, tell me they can't stand the cookies from that caterer. I think it's because they now have a better palate and so the margarine and heavy hand with flour no longer appeals to them.



I'm not sure I would describe one person's palate as "better" simply because they have a preference for one type of fat over another, people tend to prefer tastes they grew up with.

Also I don't know why you were confused about something with no butter being "buttery", good recipes can produce buttery results regardless of which fat is included.

Dizzymaiden Posted 12 Jul 2011 , 7:16pm
post #14 of 16

Finding vendors that provide consistant, high quality product is HARD.

I agree that sometimes finding the the highest quality with the best results and taste sometimes outways a label of "organic".

To me I like buying my eggs off the lady down the street because I can walk around her farm and see with my own eyes the condition of the hens and surroundings. Plus, when I talk to her you can tell how much she loves raising her hens.

But it is hard to find the person responsible for good chocolate-so I go with the best.

Isn't baking fun! icon_biggrin.gif

Dizzymaiden Posted 12 Jul 2011 , 7:18pm
post #15 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Baker_Rose

Two quotes come to mind from Alton Brown: "The simpler something is, the more the reason to do it rightTami icon_smile.gif




Tami - I would love to see some of your baked goods - do you plan on posting any pictures?

Baker_Rose Posted 12 Jul 2011 , 11:54pm
post #16 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dizzymaiden

Quote:
Originally Posted by Baker_Rose

Two quotes come to mind from Alton Brown: "The simpler something is, the more the reason to do it rightTami icon_smile.gif



Tami - I would love to see some of your baked goods - do you plan on posting any pictures?




Hopefully my photos worked, I'm mainly a lurker who chimes in here and there. My "specialty" is art work sheet cakes and wedding cakes. I'm old school, and I do very little fondant work. Most people in my area want a fondant cake but not the fondant taste, so I have been doing "fondant looking" cakes out of buttercream for years now.

I do pictures on cakes like a painting. And over the years most of my pictures have been the very illegal, copyrighted ones for children's birthdays. As I work on opening my own basement studio kitchen I'm moving towards art pictures for adults. Not naughty, but the kind that the wife comes in for a cake for her husband and has no idea what kind of cake to do. I'm doing more woodsy themed, hunting cakes etc for men, and a lot of very girly, lots of flowers and color for women. Once I'm officially legal the "illegal" stuff goes. icon_smile.gif

I've been baking for 40 years now, and I have many recipes that are my own invention. I can't help myself when I get a new recipe, I usually end up changing it into several others.

Tami icon_smile.gif

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