How To Solve The Problem of……Off-Cuts

tiramisu (image from Subtle Mix.com) left and berry tiramisu from The Seaside Baker right

It’s at this time of year that our thoughts turn to “streamlining” in all shapes and forms whether it’s our eating habits, financial affairs or business practices.

One of the biggest sources of annoyance to bakers is the problem of cake off-cuts and what to do with those cake trimmings. Whilst we all hate waste, it can be difficult to come up with solutions as to what to do with these leftovers – apart from eating them oneself, of course.

If you haven’t already tried it, the first step to reducing the domes on your sponge cakes is to reduce your baking temperature by 10 degrees. Oven temperatures vary widely – what reads 170 degrees celsius on your oven settings might actually read 180 degrees when measured with a temperature guage.

Lowering the temperature at which you bake will change the consistency of your sponge cakes a little – the lower the baking temp the denser the sponge, so play around with this to find a temperature and consistency you’re happy with, while keeping those pesky domes to a minimum.

Failing that, one of the best uses of sponge offcuts is the classic British dessert of trifle – sponge layers mixed with fruit, jelly, custard and cream. But have you tried using your sponge off-cuts to make Italian tiramisu?

You’ll find a classic tiramisu receipe here from All Recipes and an even simpler, egg-free one from BBC Good Food here. Instead of using the ladyfinger/savoiardi biscuits that tiramisu receipes usually call for, use your maderia sponge instead. Then instead of dipping it in the coffee/liqueur mixture as the receipes suggest you do with the ladyfinger biscuits, just drizzle it instead over your sponge layers.

There are lots of variations on the classic Italian chocolate and coffee tiramisu  – how about a luscious summer berry tiramisu like that from The Seaside Baker (above right).

Tiramisu is one of the most versatile of desserts, adaptable to lots of different flavours and a great way to use up your off-cuts. Epicurious feature the dreamy white chocolate pear tiramisu, below left. (Image below right from Delish.com).

white chocolate and pear tiramisu via Epicurious left, tiramisu right from Delish.com

Chocolate and raspberries are a match made in heaven so mix up the traditional Venetian tiramisu with this tangy combination (image below from McCormack.com).

chocolate and raspberry tiramisu from mccormack .com

Autumn berries make a mouth-watering tiramisu (image below from ShopRite) and if you want to stick to the Italian theme, limonchello liqueur is a perfect flavouring for an alternative to the classic coffee and chocolate dessert (lemon tiramisu below from Hanneica’s Kitchen blog). White chocolate and lemon happens to be one of Cake Geek’s personal favourite dessert flavourings….

Mixed berries tiramisu left (image via ShopRite), Lemon Tiramisu from Hanneica's Kitchen blog right

With the growth of commercial home-baking and licenced kitchens, there is an increasing demand for fresh, home-baked desserts for restaurants as an alternative to the “bought in” frozen desserts a lot of kitchens have come to rely on. Supplying catering-sized tiramisu desserts to a local restaurant can work out a profitable venture if you have an excess of sponge at your disposal.

To work what you should charge:

  • take an average of your target restaurant’s price per dessert course
  • divide this by three (retailers typically mark up the wholesale price by three)
  • figure out the number of portions your dish will yield and multiply by wholesale portion price.
  • From this figure, subtract your costs (ingredients, packaging, electricity, etc) and this will give you the profit per tiramisu dish, from which you will be able to deduce if it will be a profitable venture that fits your business model.

(Additional images from SubtleMix.com & Delish.com).

Learn more about Italian classic desserts in Grace’s Sweet Life: Homemade Italian Desserts from Cannoli, Tiramisu, and Panna Cotta to Torte, Pizzelle, and Struffoli.

Italian Desserts: Grace's Sweet Life

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