Gourmet breads and buns
Staple sandwiches on the menu of any bakery café need to include sandwiches. More specifically, menus need to include at least two to four high-end, gourmet sandwiches. Just like the foundation of a building, a bakery café should build its premium sandwiches on the foundation of great bread or buns. Starting at this point in the construction of sandwiches guarantees any sandwich a solid base to help its success.
Not only do pretzel buns create buzz and taste delicious, but thanks to fast food chains like Wendy’s and Sonic, they’ve also taken hold on the mainstream. However, they still contain enough rarity and novelty to warrant attention on menus. If you operate a bakery café, a sandwich with home-made pretzel bread or bun will make the menu more exciting.
Bakeries with roots that go back to Germany and various other European countries have used pretzel breads and buns on their menus for many years. Now that the trend has caught on in America, retailers in the US should take advantage.
Ralf Sigl, owner of Ralf’s Bavarian Bakery in Bellingham, Washington, began using pretzel breads and buns for his bakery’s sandwich for the past 10 years, but his experience goes farther back. “In Germany before moving to the States, I apprenticed in two traditional Bavarian bakeries and specialized in pretzel bread,” he says.
Sigl’s expertise in all things pretzel pays off with his menu. “Our best sellers are pretzel bun sandwiches offered with different meats and cheeses,” he says. And if you do well with the pretzels and make some contacts in other markets, there can be added revenue benefits to producing pretzel buns as well. Sigl wholesales pretzel buns to restaurants and retailers. Shipping partially baked pretzel buns nationwide represents the main part of his business.
Basic pretzel breads and buns are just the tip of the iceberg for bakery cafes. “Over the last decade, bakeries in Germany have become very inventive using pretzel bread for all kinds of sandwiches and even offering pretzel-baguettes and pretzel-croissants,” Sigl says. It’s worth it for American bakeries to start experimenting with these ideas and be the first to capitalize on them.
Sometimes following the lead of others produces the best results in business. Competition is good for both sides. Get into competition with others by using some of their ideas. Do a better job than them, produce a better product, and customers will reward you by paying higher prices and being loyal shoppers at your bakery.
In 2014, Wendy’s added a brioche bun to its menu, first with the Bacon Portabella Melt on Brioche, and most recently with the Bacon and Blue on Brioche. Already an artisan staple in many bakeries, brioche makes a great bun for a number of different sandwich combinations. Form it into loaves for a traditional looking bread that you can slice, or make smaller individual rolls to use as buns.
One of the most out-of-the-box sandwich “buns” to date comes in the form of a donut. Cypress Street Pint & Plate in Atlanta, Georgia, offers the Sublime Doughnut burger. The dish features a half-pound burger with cheddar, bacon and caramelized onions layered between two donuts from Atlanta’s Sublime Doughnuts.
Use What You Have
While every retail bakery and bakery café might not be properly equipped or zoned for frying hamburgers, bakeries do have the ability to make sandwiches with low overhead and the perfect environment for creating the most important part of a sandwich—bread.
If you do have the ability to make burgers, than make them, and make them gourmet. If you don’t, invest in some high-end charcuterie, develop a few different styles of sauces and condiments, and go to the farmers market for fresh organic vegetables. Take these ingredients and craft sandwiches for the lunch crowd. But most importantly, use your baking skills to enhance these sandwich offerings with delicious, high-quality breads and buns.