Difference between name brand and no name brands for baking
Posted: 21 April 2013 07:21 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Hi there,

I’m looking for people’s thoughts and opinions on the use of no name and name brands butters, flours etc when it comes to baking. Is there a difference in taste? So far I have only been baking with no name brand ingredients and I don’t believe there has been an issue with taste though I have nothing to compare this too. The reason why I ask is I am thinking of setting up a food stall at the farmers market and selling brownies so I don’t want to compromise on quality. However when there is a significant price difference between brands I don’t want to limit my profit margins either.

Thanks,

Michka

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Posted: 21 April 2013 09:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Only you can make the decision about which ingredients makes the best quality product to your taste; if people agree, they will buy it.  If not, they won’t. 

In my experience, there is a difference in the amount of water in various brands of butter.  I cannot tell you what the numbers are, but I can tell you that if butter is the top note in something I am making, I will always go with the best because you’ll taste it.  In our bakeshop, I have Cabot for our every day, doesn’t matter what I’m making - cookie dough, ganache, caramel, lava cakes and butter cakes.  But when it comes to buttercream, we use only Keller brand.  If I could afford to use Plugra, I would,  but my client base can’t afford it because it causes my food costs to go up.  If you have a warehouse club near you, see what they have for the ingredients you are looking for - their house brand of butter may be better than the supermarket type - you won’t know til you try it and see if it makes a difference in taste.

It’s more evident in chocolate, too.  In your brownies you might be using cocoa.  I get a high fat cocoa from Felchlin that makes everything it touches magical; but sometimes it is not the right choice (look up threads on the Wowie cake.  That recipe works best with Hershey’s.) Passover brownies are phenomenal with the Felchlin and just ok with the Hersheys.  You will have to try out different types of cocoa to see what gives you the best product for the price you’re selling at.  You’re going to take a hit giving out product samples at the Farmer’s Market - you need to make them wonderful enough to get people to come back and buy from you each week!

I have a better product with the Gold Medal Bleached flour for my shortbread type cookies but I don’t notice a difference in other things we make so I use the “no name” flour from a distributor for the brownies, etc because it’s cheaper.  Sugar doesn’t matter; buy the no name variety.  This may sound strange, but I can taste a difference in cheap vanilla extract (not the imitation stuff) and the better quality ones.  Especially in cream cheese frosting and caramel!  When you bake with it, you can’t always tell a difference, but when it isn’t baked, you can.

So my long-winded answer to your question is: it depends.  On the type of ingredient, the product you’re making with it and the price your market will bear.

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Posted: 21 April 2013 10:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Thank you so much for that information, you are a wealth of knowledge! I agree in regards to the butter as that is a key component in brownies so i am going to make a batch using the expensive brand and the no name brand this week to compare (I attempted to make them once with vegetable oil instead of butter when I had run out of butter and all i could taste was oil so I defintely know that butter is the only way to go!). I am also going to source some good quality cocoa too after your suggestion, my local health food shop has supplies of this which is what i usually use though I will look further into it. Thanks for the feedback on the sugar, i agree sugar is sugar! I have though recently started using the brown caster sugar instead of the white caster sugar which I have found makes a difference.

I am going to make blondies as well, I have been using good quality peanut butter and also good quality white chocolate for the mix so I am not going to substitute on that as I am hoping I will be making flavours that the public will come back for more! Ideally i would like to use candy such as Reeces peanut butter cups to throw in but again not sure of the knock on affect like you said with what customers are willing to pay… always bake to give and have had some great feedback from from friends so i’ll do a blind bake test with the different butters and cocoa and see what the feedback is!

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Posted: 21 April 2013 10:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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About the brownies - I think the chocolate or cocoa is going to make a bigger difference than the butter, but in a blind taste test, you need to make all things equal.  Decide on a cocoa, and on a chocolate if you are using one (personally I like bittersweet but others might like semi sweet.)  For example - in Rose’s Christmas book, the recipe for brownies is amazing and the chocolate flavor comes from cocoa instead of melted chocolate.  The quality of the cocoa is going to make a bigger difference than the butter.  So while I think you can get away with a store brand butter for that recipe, I would look for the best quality cocoa powder I can get my hands on.  If it’s a recipe with melted unsweetened chocolate, then the amount of sugar is going to make a difference and here is where you might add some brown sugar for an added depth of flavor or replace portion of the white sugar with brown (one of my professional recipes acquired from a pastry chef friend 10 years ago calls for both white and brown sugar.) with all other things being equal.

I love Blondies!  Do you have Maida Heatter’s Book of Great American Desserts?  She has a recipe for California Fruit Bars that are the perfect answer to my Blondie dreams.  I always add more fruit to the recipe because I love the way it tastes with figs and apricots but I’ve made it with other dried fruits and it’s gotten good reviews.  When I followed her instructions for California Pecan Bars, people swooned.  That reminds me I wanted to make that Pecan Bar and add dried cranberries to it….

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Posted: 22 April 2013 01:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Jeanne - 22 April 2013 01:56 AM

California Fruit Bars that are the perfect answer to my Blondie dreams.

Thank you for all the great information Jeanne. I have this recipe in Maida’s cookie book. I have made my son addicted to Blondies (Alice Medrich). I have got to try Maida’s recipe.

Can I ask where Felchin’s cocoa is sold?

Thank you!

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Posted: 22 April 2013 05:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Yes I am a bittersweet chocolate user too I ink it makes the brownie more rich. I haven’t seen roses Christmas book but it looks like I’ll have to now! And yuuuummmm I will google that blondie recipe sounds like a divine idea putting in figs and apricots very decadent! Thank you for your tips I really appreciate it, I will do a test in the next couple days and let you know results…

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Posted: 22 April 2013 06:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Felchlin is sold by Swiss Chalet Fine Foods (http://www.scff.com) - I have been buying it for years through them, but I have a business account so I’m not sure if they sell to consumers.  I get the extra brut cocoa; it is so dark and delicious!

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Posted: 22 April 2013 09:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Jeanne - 22 April 2013 09:44 AM

Felchlin is sold by Swiss Chalet Fine Foods (http://www.scff.com) - I have been buying it for years through them, but I have a business account so I’m not sure if they sell to consumers.  I get the extra brut cocoa; it is so dark and delicious!

Thanks Jeanne! I went to their website and everything looks amazing. I’ll call and ask if they sell to consumers. Thank you very much!

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Posted: 22 April 2013 10:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Michka - 22 April 2013 01:36 AM

Thank you so much for that information, you are a wealth of knowledge!

Jeanne, ditto! smile

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