Vegan: that’s a different kettle of fish!
Baking a tasty biscuit or delicious bread roll without butter, cream or eggs? Quite a challenge for most bakers. The Bakkerij Frimout in Ghent nevertheless rolled up its sleeves to take this on six years ago. And with success! Almost half the products are now vegan and the bakery has tapped into a new, extensive customer network.
Baker Dieter and his team won the ‘Best Food Product Award’ in 2017 with the vegan assortment of Bakkerij Frimout in Ghent. A few years earlier, Dieter found himself in conversation with a student, who asked why no vegan biscuits, croissants or bread were available in Ghent. “She and I examined what the greatest stumbling blocks were. Honey is an animal product, for example, and so cannot be used. Also, many bread improvers apparently contain milk powder.”
Bakkerij Frimout wishes to offer vegan products that are perfect alternatives to traditional products when it comes to flavour and mouthfeel. “After a few tests, we came up with a water-based batter that rises well. This was soon followed by a vegan puff pastry. Of course there is a difference between the taste of butter and that of margarine. But with a bit of sourdough we were able to get excellent results.”
According to Dieter, the greatest challenge in producing a vegan assortment lies in finding suitable replacements. “Eggs serve to bind ingredients in a pound cake and make it airier, for example. How do you replace that? There seem to be various possible solutions: from crushed bananas to soaked chia seeds or powdered egg substitutes. Sometimes you can simply omit the eggs. Whipped cream can be replaced perfectly well by Debic Vegantop: you beat it very fast and can easily mix it with fruit, alcohol and chocolate, for example. You can also add Debic Vegantop to your dough for pound cake or sponge cake in order to get a supple structure. You have to experiment and think outside the box.”
"Six years ago, Bakkerij Frimout produced around 98% classic bread and pastries and 2% vegan. “Now we are at a crossroads. For some products, we now carry only the vegan variant. People have come to know our plant-based assortment and are ready to try it. And not just students! For people with lactose intolerance, vegan products are ideal. There are also middle-aged customers who are prepared to switch and who would like to adapt their lifestyle in order to contribute to a better world.”
Bakkerij Frimout is promoting its vegan assortment vigorously via social media. Its assortment is also sold under its own name in coffee bars and lunch spots. A third sales channel has been added, far beyond the city of Ghent. All in all, vegan products thus offer interesting opportunities at the Frimout bakery. Dieter confidently advises colleagues to give it a try. “Invest time into developing a vegan assortment and into your communication about it. Inform your customers and encourage them to give it a try. Display the products prominently in your display window, talk about them on social media and offer some samples to taste in the shop. Go for it! For one thing is sure: vegan is here to stay.”"