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gfron1

Can you make pastries too nice looking?

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And no, I'm not even close to having this be a big problem, but I've been thinking lately that my nicer looking stuff doesn't sell as fast as my more rustic pastries. A great example is my croissants. When I'm on and they come out perfectly, they often just sit (except when our European customers come in), and I've had numerous people say, "I thought they were fake." Makes my heart warm to hear that, but not what I want to hear financially.

So my question is do others experience this? Do any of you hold back your perfectionist tendencies just to make a sale?

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I find this surprising, and am interested in hearing whether others share gfron1's experience. How could a croissant be too perfect? I need to go find one...

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Absolutely and I don't know how to fix the problem. I'm very particular about my cutting so that everything looks "just so" but that can also leave people thinking they are from the store. I don't want to change how I cut....I don't think I could purposely cut roughly :), it's just the way I am. I strive to make my stuff look different than what you find at the store but that's hard to do with a croissant.


Don't wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great. Orison Swett Marden

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I find this surprising, and am interested in hearing whether others share gfron1's experience.  How could a croissant be too perfect?  I need to go find one...

When the edges show the layers just right, when the sheen on top is perfectly browned and smooth. Sometimes I let a chocolate chip bake on the edge of the opening just so it oozes oh so much.

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How about cutting up one or two, to offer as samples? Then the customers will know that what is in the display case is the same as the yummy bite they just took off the counter.

Theresa :biggrin:


"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."

- Abraham Lincoln

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I've wondered about this myself. I'm a perfectionist, I want everything to look like it came out of a high end NYC patisserie or from the pastry place at the Bellagio.

But perfect doesn't sell as fast as the rustic :wink: I've noticed. The light went off in my head when I watched that Bobby Flay show where he took on a wedding cake baker. His cake was piped with rows of buttercream and had fruit or flowers on it; I don't remember. The pro had perfect fondant and perfectly level tiers - excellent work and beautifully presented. But people said Flay's cake looked more "approachable", and they "couldn't wait to dive in and take a bite". That's when it dawned on me that when something looks too perfect, it becomes art and not food in the eyes of the beholder!

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I've wondered about this myself.  I'm a perfectionist, I want everything to look like it came out of a high end NYC patisserie or from the pastry place at the Bellagio.

But perfect doesn't sell as fast as the rustic  :wink:  I've noticed.  The  light went off in my head when I watched that Bobby Flay show where he took on a wedding cake baker.  His cake was piped with rows of buttercream and had fruit or flowers on it; I don't remember.  The pro had perfect fondant and perfectly level tiers - excellent work and beautifully presented.  But people said Flay's cake looked more "approachable", and they "couldn't wait to dive in and take a bite".  That's when it dawned on me that when something looks too perfect, it becomes art and not food in the eyes of the beholder!

Gordon Ramsay's book "Three-Star Chef" is packed with photos of plates that are extraordinarily beautiful...when does appetite trump art?

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I've wondered about this myself. I'm a perfectionist, I want everything to look like it came out of a high end NYC patisserie or from the pastry place at the Bellagio.

But perfect doesn't sell as fast as the rustic  I've noticed. The light went off in my head when I watched that Bobby Flay show where he took on a wedding cake baker. His cake was piped with rows of buttercream and had fruit or flowers on it; I don't remember. The pro had perfect fondant and perfectly level tiers - excellent work and beautifully presented. But people said Flay's cake looked more "approachable", and they "couldn't wait to dive in and take a bite". That's when it dawned on me that when something looks too perfect, it becomes art and not food in the eyes of the beholder!

I'm not so sure that it's "art" as that the consumer associates rustic/imperfect with homemade and that triggers something almost subconcious in positive associations. Something too perfect can give off an image of artificiality/fakeness, therefore there's no way that could taste good.

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I've wondered about this myself. I'm a perfectionist, I want everything to look like it came out of a high end NYC patisserie or from the pastry place at the Bellagio.

But perfect doesn't sell as fast as the rustic  I've noticed. The light went off in my head when I watched that Bobby Flay show where he took on a wedding cake baker. His cake was piped with rows of buttercream and had fruit or flowers on it; I don't remember. The pro had perfect fondant and perfectly level tiers - excellent work and beautifully presented. But people said Flay's cake looked more "approachable", and they "couldn't wait to dive in and take a bite". That's when it dawned on me that when something looks too perfect, it becomes art and not food in the eyes of the beholder!

I'm not so sure that it's "art" as that the consumer associates rustic/imperfect with homemade and that triggers something almost subconcious in positive associations. Something too perfect can give off an image of artificiality/fakeness, therefore there's no way that could taste good.

I totally agree with this statement. In my rural community, customers always expected grandma to be rolling pie dough in the back room of my store. Perfectly beautiful creations are intimidating, too "fancy" (translation: too NYC.) Rustic always sells better.


Ilene

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I think this whole phenomenon is hilarious. I thought I was the only one dealing with this issue. My rule of thumb is - passive sales pastries don't need perfect, just yumminess looking. If its an active sales item like my mousses and entrements, then I want perfection because they'll be buying it because I told them to. And when I do plated desserts, I want perfection because I want them to view it as art and have that experience.

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I'm strictly a consumer, so here's my take. A lot of times when I pick out a perfect looking sweet of some kind, it has a "processed" taste to it.....like not homemade or maybe a medicinal twang..... Anyway, so I always go for the rustic looking goodies that are oozing yumminess.

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This may be the exception to the rule but I don't have that problem. I'm a perfectionist, and I refuse to put anything out that doesn't meet my standards. Everything I make sells....from the Napoleons to the Brioche to the cakes and to the scones and cookies etc. I make everything from scratch and once you taste my stuff you know there's nothing "artificial" tasting in there.

My theory is that people will buy something once strictly from eye appeal. They won't buy it again if it doesn't have taste appeal. Your repeat business ALWAYS comes from the taste...RARELY on the looks (if it doesn't taste good). If your stuff tastes as good as it looks, then you have a winning combination.

I had a very long stressful day today. We just opened a new cafe, so now I'm making products for not just one, but two cafes. Today my boss came in and happily told me we had a line out the door of the new cafe for 3 hours during lunch-ish time. We nearly sold out of everything. Right now I'm at a loss to figure out how I'm going to keep up with this madness. Right now, instead of being the perfectionist that I am, I'd rather throw a cookie dough ball at someone and say, "here bake it yourself!" :wacko:

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It must be a regional/cultural thing. In Japan there is no such thing as "too perfect", and the most perfect-looking products will be out the door first. That's actually fine with me, since I like the cheese breads with oozy cheese that has crisped up like a tuile, but they don't, so those are usually left for me. :smile:

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Because I've known brilliant pastry chefs (sigh, nightscotsman!) I'm all for perfect. If someone is willing to put in the effort to make Things of Beauty, I feel I can trust them to make them taste good.

But sure, I'll buy "rustic" if it looks tasty.


Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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People..why can't we smack them all over the head with a 2 x 4?

I had a partner in restaurant I worked for tell me my desserts were 'too fancy', that people didn't want the trio of small creme brulees (a great seller, btw), they just wanted one big one. Luckily one of the other partners was on my side, said desserts should be a little bit fancy.

True, sometimes simple and rustic hits the spot for a lot of people, but this is kind of disturbing. Why would people think you had a big pile of fake croissants mixed in with the other pastry? Why are people afraid of fancy? it doesn't seem like it is a money issue, if the croissants are similarly priced with other pastry and if they sell when they are more 'rustic'. Is it some sort of guilt, like they don't think they deserve a perfect pastry? Is it less indulgent if the same $ is spent on something less pretty?

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If we're talking specifically about the croissants there are two factors. The first is that I don't do them daily - don't have the time, so I just put them out on Saturdays. The second factor is, because they are "special" since they only come out once a week, they get their own little pedestal display on the pastry counter (if you've seen my other comments about my search for a better way to display my stuff, this may make more sense). And since they aren't among the pastry masses, I think people walk by them thinking that its a display not a food.

And pass the 2x4 over to me when I mention that 99% of my customers have no idea what a chocolate croissant is (they don't understand the shape not being a crescent...you know, like out of the can) unless it has a huge sign underneath it...and don't put any of that fancy French wording next to it or they'll look the other way.

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And pass the 2x4 over to me when I mention that 99% of my customers have no idea what a chocolate croissant is (they don't understand the shape not being a crescent...you know, like out of the can) unless it has a huge sign underneath it...and don't put any of that fancy French wording next to it or they'll look the other way.

So if you put a pain au chocolat sign they think it's going to hurt?

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Being that I'm not a pro (self-taught and tons still to learn, but doing wholesale business for almost two years), when friends see some of my stuff they're impressed (mostly cakes and cheesecakes) and say "Wow, that looks like it came from a store!" My reply, "Good, this is a business." But I realize that to many people, looks like store bought means it's not homemade. And homemade, like grandma's, means yummy goodness. Homemade also means hand-made, made with love. So, many of my customers, place signs out on the display case letting customers know that it's locally made and fresh and will tell them it's from scratch if they ask. I also make a point to list that on my brochures and website.

Of course, my stuff doesn't look too perfect to begin with, but this is South Mississippi.

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And pass the 2x4 over to me when I mention that 99% of my customers have no idea what a chocolate croissant is (they don't understand the shape not being a crescent...you know, like out of the can) unless it has a huge sign underneath it...and don't put any of that fancy French wording next to it or they'll look the other way.

I guess I would point out the obvious that a lot of this discussion and one's perspective depends on where one lives. Where I have lived in the US and Canada, croissants are pretty common and even a pain au chocolate sign would not be that unusual. When I was thinking about perfect pastries, I was thining about some of the ultra high end Pierre Herme entremet types of things (although you used to be able to buy some of his stuff in Wegman's supermarkets in NJ)

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IIs it some sort of guilt, like they don't think they deserve a perfect pastry? 

I think that's it. I find that quite a few people are suffering from low self esteem. I can't tell you how many times I've been with a friend or partner in a clothing store and said "x item would look really nice on you!' and they've said "but that would be like putting fancy wrapping paper on a Twinkie." It's really sad. Top that with a bunch of guilt about sweets and that seemingly simple pastry choice becomes a neurotic psychological minefield.

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Because perfect nowadays = machine made. It may not be fact but it's perception. It's similar to how being fat used to be a status symbol and now being skinny is.


PS: I am a guy.

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I told my husband about this thread. He immediately said he understood why one would be suspicious of too-perfect pastries. Yet this is the same guy who, when we lived in Switzerland, delighted in surprising me with the most unbelievably constructed and perfect little chocolates and cakes. Maybe the difference is that in Zurich we didn't have to wonder about the quality?

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If we're talking specifically about the croissants there are two factors.  The first is that I don't do them daily - don't have the time, so I just put them out on Saturdays.  The second factor is, because they are "special" since they only come out once a week, they get their own little pedestal display on the pastry counter (if you've seen my other comments about my search for a better way to display my stuff, this may make more sense).  And since they aren't among the pastry masses, I think people walk by them thinking that its a display not a food. 

And pass the 2x4 over to me when I mention that 99% of my customers have no idea what a chocolate croissant is (they don't understand the shape not being a crescent...you know, like out of the can) unless it has a huge sign underneath it...and don't put any of that fancy French wording next to it or they'll look the other way.

I think that people are scared off by what some call a "European Bake" , an almost caramelized color which I love and go for.

But a lot of people get used to that pale underbaked look.

I've been around people who had never egg washed a croissant, that's frightening!.


2317/5000

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