Retail bakeries have long been innovators in the culinary world. Whether it be decorating, flavor, etc., bakeries continue to not only offer those comfort desserts that people will always gravitate toward, but also new and exciting innovations in both ingredients and the health and wellness movement. Today’s retail bakery has something for everyone, from the traditional sweet-tooth to the health conscious shopper who want to indulge, but stay regimented in watching what they eat.
The traditional bakery world is fairly established and has been for a while, but the dried plum is an ingredient with legs for today’s baker looking for new and exciting products to create. “Dried plums have quickly become an ingredient resulting in innovation, adding an interesting twist to culinary applications in some of the world’s top bakeries,” says Tom Leahy, spokesperson for SunSweet Growers Inc., the world's largest handler of dried tree fruits including cranberries, apricots and prunes. “The inspiring inclusion is cost effective, supports the baking industry in the health and wellness movement, and allows bakers to explore outside the lines with their creations.”
Health and Wellness
While traditional “sweet stuff” will always have its place, and always sell to those who are craving it, the business savvy bakery owner understands that the health and wellness movement of today is not going anywhere anytime soon. Consumers have ingredient and nutritional information at the tips of their fingers and learn more and more about what’s healthy with the click of a mouse. Offering and promoting products that are healthy give bakeries access to new customers as well as attracting customers that might not normally shop a bakery, but prefer higher-end foods.
“First and foremost, consumers are focused on eating healthier now more than ever,” Leahy says. “Generally speaking, baking products that include dried plums have lower fat, sugar and caloric levels than those without, which is a huge selling point. Dried plums also provide a significant amount of moisture retention, something that is a major challenge for gluten-free baking.”
In addition to being low-fat, low-sugar and low-calorie, dried plums add great taste and texture to baked goods, but still more health benefits exist. They add fiber and stand up well when baking products that contain hearty grains, both popular attributes to the health conscious shopper.
Incorporating Dried Plums
The incorporation of dried plums into existing baked goods can be done with ease. “Plum dices can be used as inclusions in the same manner as raisins or cranberries, while plum pastes and purees are being used as fat and sugar replacements,” Leahy says. “Some may be surprised to learn just how simple it is to incorporate dried plums into products. The ingredient is easily included in a variety of bakery applications such as breads, sweet goods, cereals, cereal bars, confections, snacks and more.”
Available in a variety of forms, plums and prunes facilitate a number of applications for the baker. Bakers and bakeries have the option of choosing from dried plums, dried plum puree, prune juice concentrate, fresh plum juice concentrate and prune powder/fiber. These products all work well with specific applications.
• Dried plums are best for breads, sweet goods, cereals and cereal bars, and snacks.
• Dried Plum puree and prune juice concentrate is best for breads, sweet goods and snacks.
• Fresh plum juice concentrate is recommended for use in breads, sweet goods, cereals and
cereal bars, and confectionary snacks.
• Prune powder/fiber is used in health bars.
Regardless of the products you choose to incorporate with dried plums, or choose to create with them specifically in mind, it’s clear that dried plums are an ingredient that should be included in your product line up. The advantages they offer for healthy, tasty products and the textures and flavor they offer truly make for a win-win situation in the retail bakery.