Look anywhere these days and you’ll discover breakfast and brunch are trending away from the traditional all-you-can-eat buffet towards carefully curated à la carte menus. Today’s well-engineered brunch menus contain well-thought-out offerings; nothing is an afterthought – everything has a specific purpose.
The same is true for breakfast breads, once used as a buffet profit-hedging tactic thanks to their tendency to be inexpensive and filling. However, when thoughtfully produced and celebrated accordingly, breakfast breads can be both delicious and profitable! With a little updated tailoring, a signature breakfast bread program can help you leverage the rapidly rising popularity of brunch and enhance your restaurant’s brand all at once.
Proper popover technique all boils down to science. With just a little milk, eggs, and flour in the proper ratio, you’ll get the perfect “pop,” and a magically light and airy texture. The golden brown, crisp shells and soft, custard-like interiors of well-made popovers are simply irresistible, and literally beg to be slathered with honey, compound butters, and preserves. The urge to customize can be satisfied when popovers are creatively presented with a selection of condiments and offered as a stand-alone menu experience. Popovers can also be miniaturized making a fun and unexpected side choice. They also pair wonderfully with coffee and tea, which is a great merchandising opportunity and check average boost. No matter how you serve them, make sure they are served hot and as fresh as possible, capturing every bit of their aroma and comforting appeal.
While our Southern neighbors may disagree, great biscuits can be made and appreciated anywhere, coast to coast. Their soft and flaky texture is a natural fit for breakfast and brunch menu items, and biscuits have proudly served as the official vehicle for every imaginable cured and smoked pork product for as long as any of us Americans choose to remember. Simple and versatile, the texture of biscuits can be adjusted easily by switching up buttermilk with cream, butter with shortening, combining different flours and experimenting with different leavenings. They can be enjoyed “au naturel,” or in a traditional role as the frame of a hearty breakfast sandwich or adorned with rib-grabbing sausage gravy, made even more interesting with alternative sausages like chorizo, Irish, and even hot Italian! Although filling by nature, they are also satisfying, and customers just can’t resist indulging, soaking up every last drop of syrup, jam, and sauce. Avoid wasting biscuit dough by cutting into rectangles, ensuring less moisture escapes during baking and resulting in an even better end product. If time and labor are concerns, ask your Maines Territory Manager for our frozen ready-to-bake items as well as excellent thaw-and-serve options.
A great muffin is delicious, unique, and memorable. A “less-than-great” muffin adds no value to your morning dining experience whatsoever. What kind of muffin are you selling? Chefs are slowly realizing some customers see muffins as cupcakes in disguise, and while everybody loves cupcakes, today’s customers are expecting healthier options. If taking the from-scratch approach, excellent muffins should take advantage of whole grains, healthy fruits, nuts, fiber, and nutrient-rich ingredients and even seasonal produce – and not so much sugar that customers are compelled to stick a candle in! Think of today’s muffin as the baker’s version of a well-tended yogurt and granola parfait or post-workout smoothie… with crumbs! Whether you want to make muffins from scratch, use a prepared batter, or thaw-and-serve, Maines has you covered in the muffin department.
The key to making traditional Southern cornbread with a golden-brown exterior and crumbly-yet-moist interior is using the right tools and ingredients. Most important, is the cast iron skillet, which should already be hot when the cornbread batter hits it, browning all of the outside edges beautifully. Rather than presenting predictable blocks of tepid cornbread, we suggest serving it for the table in smaller cast iron pans that many of you already own. A six inch cast iron pan swollen with hot cornbread cut into wedges and topped with a generous scoop of homemade molasses butter for the table to share? Who on Earth is going to say no to that!? If molasses butter isn’t your thing, it can also be enhanced with other homemade condiments or preserves like honey butter or summer preserves. Go savory by punching it up with fresh chilies, local Cheddar cheese, and even fresh herbs. Leftovers are easily made into croutons for topping soups and salads or ground into crumbs for breading fried chicken or shrimp! Cross-utilization is key for any successful brunch, and with well-made cornbread, you can’t lose.
Artisanal toasts have been around for a few years, but they are beginning to explode in our market, showing up in creative and unique combinations. The easiest way to customize them and reintroduce excitement to the concept is by upgrading the bread itself! Options like sourdough, deli-style rye, and brioche all make great bases for custom toast. Avocado toast, in particular, is widely popular due to its vegetarian appeal – try a simple combination like fresh avocado, goat cheese, basil, tomatoes, and dill which is delicious and easy to execute. Or, capitalize on the popularity of Nutella® and spread it on toast topped with bananas and a drizzle of honey. Review Maines’ broad selection of bread lines with your territory manager and keep the bread choices interesting for your customers. Brickfire Bakery, Bakery de France, or Eurobake have every conceivable artisan toast concept covered!
Rich in American history, the bagel continues to serve as a stand-alone breakfast unto itself in cities across the country. Whether it’s a hole in the wall bagel shop or a street cart in New York City, you can usually find a flavor to fit just about any penchant, from blueberry to cinnamon-raisin to the always quintessential “everything.” Bagels are literally everywhere, so be ready to do something a little different! Instead of the standard smoked salmon and cream cheese, top your bagels with more creative toppings like chicken salad, avocado (yes, more avocado!) or seasonal produce preparations. Or, go ahead and add smoked salmon, but take it to the next level with the addition of sun-dried tomatoes, sprouts, and cottage cheese instead of the traditional cream cheese. Bagels offer a lot of latitude to be creative, so challenge yourself and have fun with them!
No matter what breads you choose to serve or how you serve them, we strongly encourage you to consider them carefully and present them thoughtfully. Some bread fans took a hiatus during the gluten-free movement, so whatever you do serve, make sure it’s delicious, memorable, and rewarding for those you lure back. Consider the customer’s perspective, and ask yourself if each menu item is enhancing your brand, or just playing the role of “ballast.” Maines is happy to show you the best way to source each item you choose, and support your new adventure into the enlightened world of breakfast breads!