Editor’s Letter: A Happier New Year to All!
By Bakers Journal
Twelve months ago, a colleague and I were staring at the news feed on television, which was breaking the first news of a pandemic flaring up on the other side of the world. We mutually agreed that it would flare, then fizzle, much like SARS had years prior. Months later, both of us laughed grimly that we should have held an office pool as to when we would actually find ourselves back at our work desks. Neither of us could have ever guessed that we’d be spending the majority of 2020 working from home.
It’s been a year of extreme highs and lows; many restaurants and cafés reported enormous losses. Bakeries for the most part were busier than usual, filling in requests for curbside orders, setting up online payment systems and organizing deliveries to meet the demands of COVID-induced stress-eating. Many bakeries learned to pivot, providing sundries and offering household cleaning products alongside their regular baked goods.
The year’s only constant was that food is comfort, and sweets still have a special place in emotional eaters’ hearts. The holiday season is a time where we are particularly aware of making or receiving goodwill gestures, and the tradition of buying or baking goods to make someone smile still holds true, even during a pandemic.
This last issue of 2020 looks at how the baking industry is the one industry that will bring a smile to anyone’s face. Many bakeries are thriving despite the pandemic, and Mary Macleod’s Shortbread is certainly one of those success stories. Though Mary Macleod herself had passed away, her legacy remains. Her bakery, now run by her daughter-in-law, is a Canadian business that lives to serve with a smile and to bring similar smiles to others’ faces. Macleod started with a dream and “lots and lots of butter”, so to build a cookie empire that is currently expanding into the U.S.
The holidays, with Channukah and Christmas counted among them, are a time to share treats as a gesture of caring, enjoying them with friends and family. This means it’s a great time to start packaging your goods as a pandemic-friendly gift centre. Office parties? Promote platters of individually wrapped cookies and pre-sliced cakes. Sell hot cocoa kits of DIY mug cakes or hostess gifts. Some may see a pandemic, where others see opportunity. More than ever, bakeries can satisfy health-conscious clients and those looking for indulgence and comfort.
While we don’t know what challenges 2021 may bring, we can look back on this year and reflect on what we’ve learned. Is a crisis management system in place? Is your point of sale or online ordering system optimized? Clients are looking for healthier options during a time when public health never seemed more precarious. Meanwhile, they are also looking for something that soothes their inner child.
If you were unlucky enough to miss the live version of the California Raisin webinar on The Business of Baking with Raisins, you’re in luck: You can still access it online through our webinar tab on the website. You can learn how to make traditional Christmas stollen with a probiotic twist. It’s a pastry that satisfies the urge for reduced sugar, checks the boxes of those looking for treats made with natural yeast and, as always, provides a deeply luxurious, festive pastry.
No matter how you see the next year unfolding, Bakers Journal and I wish you and your business a happy, and prosperous New Year. Above all, I wish you and your bakery a healthy year ahead. Enjoy your pastry and good company in good health!