For decades, muffins have served as the perfect fresh bakery product to combine the benefits of health with the allure of flavorful ingredients. Now muffins are moving a notch up the ladder of versatility thanks to a wave of variations that feature savory options. Think Hatch chile muffins, or corny deep dish pizza muffins. You can offer cheesy individual appetizer pizzas by starting with a tender corn muffin base.

Surprise and delight your bakery shoppers using bread in unexpected ways. For instance, General Mills Foodservice shares a flavorful idea for Mocha Cold Brew Croissant Muffins. This decadent product features mocha cold brew mousse as a mouth-watering filling.

For scratch recipes, Tom Santos, a field sales rep at General Mills Foodservice and part of an esteemed team of dedicated flour experts known as the Doughminators, recommends starting with an all-purpose flour, usually milled between 10-11% protein winter wheat.

Sausage and egg muffins or savory cranberry cornbread muffins are examples of trend-setting muffin formulations from Braswell Family Farms, a fourth-generation family-owned company producing and marketing quality eggs for American families and businesses. These eggs are crucial for recipes such as cage-free, pasture-raised, organic.


Hatch chile muffins

Each summer, United Supermarkets, Market Street, Albertsons Market and Amigos locations across Texas and New Mexico kick off Hatch chile season by roasting fresh Hatch chiles on site. Roastings will happen at all locations the first two weekends. Then, roastings will continue the following weekends at select locations until supplies run out. For years, Hatch chile season has been marked by United Family stores across the company roasting chiles fresh on-site for guests.

Special products are available during this time in several different departments. Bakery elevates the delicious flavors of hatch muffins.

“Each year, we look forward to showing our guests how delicious and versatile these chile peppers can be,” explained Joseph Bunting, produce business director for The United Family.


No scooping required

Frozen corn muffin batter comes in an easy freezer-to-oven format, with no scooping or thawing required. Just place, bake and serve. The pre-portioned pucks allow operators to bake any quantity of muffins on demand while minimizing back-of-house labor.

Combine pucks to create different sizes and unique flavor combinations, according to General Mills Convenience & Foodservice, to help drive revenue throughout the day.

Similar to muffins, croissants add allure to the fresh bakery case. Pillsbury Freezer-to-Oven Croissants go straight from the freezer to the oven and require no thawing or proofing—allowing operators to bake off fresh croissants with no advance planning. Featuring 48 flaky layers, the European-style croissants are available in butter and chocolate swirl —made with Barry Callebaut semi-sweet chocolate from Belgium.

Both varieties feature a rich, buttery flavor, tender texture, and flaky crust every time, thanks to a proprietary process backed by rigorous testing from the culinary experts at General Mills.


Takeout rising

Americans’ consumption of bread when dining out or getting takeout is on the rise, according to a nationwide survey conducted by The Harris Poll and commissioned by General Mills Foodservice. In fact, two-thirds of Americans (67%) report eating more bread than they normally would when dining out or ordering takeout in the past year and three in five Americans (60%) say they would rather indulge in a good bread item than dessert when dining out.

General Mills Foodservice together with Pillsbury, its premier baking brand for foodservice professionals, breaks down the results of the recent poll and shares tips for foodservice operations to build out their bread basket and expand their menu with low-labor, scratch-like bread offerings. The nationwide poll surveyed more than 2,000 adults ages 18 and over to learn how they are consuming bread when dining out or ordering takeout.

“Bread and the associated carbs used to get a bad rap, but we are really seeing consumers come back to bread,” said chef Curt Wagner, part of the Chefs of the Mills team with more than 30 years of baking experience. “I expect to see a resurgence of indulgent and creative bread menu items in the year ahead.”


Wild blueberries

Blueberry muffins are a huge favorite among bakery shoppers, but have you considered wild blueberries?

Paul Whitman, Global Organics’ category manager for organic fruit and vegetables, explains that organic wild blueberries are a great choice for health-conscious consumers.

Organic wild blueberries are low in calories, high in fiber, and have a higher concentration of the flavonoid anthocyanin. Anthocyanin is found in the skins of the blueberries and gives them their characteristic deep rich blue color. Their smaller size means they are less watery and provide an extremely flavorful ingredient, with a distinctive deep blue color – both the flavor and color are maintained during the baking process, he said.

Applications include breakfast baked goods: scones, muffins, toaster pastries and pancakes.

“Wild blueberries grow on bushes that are quite low to the ground and are not typically machine harvested,” Whitman said. “Special hand harvesters have been developed to help pickers scoop the berries from the bushes without damaging the plants or bruising the berries. Because these blueberries will be processed immediately into purée (not shipped as whole fruit) they are picked at peak ripeness.”

Wild Blueberry season is typically July through early September. Global Organics sells organic wild blueberries that have been gently picked, sorted, washed, and thoroughly inspected. The berries are then milled, puréed, and screened to remove seeds. The purée is pasteurized and aseptically packaged – preserving the natural flavors, colors, and nutritional value without the need for any added preservatives. Puréed wild blueberries have a 36-month shelf life frozen; 12 months at ambient temperature.


The sustainability factor

Michael Itskovich, founder and director of Innovation and R&D of Nikola’s Bakery, which develops, formulates, and produces for celebrity restaurants, retail bakery, and foodservice, points out the importance of “improving how we think about food and ingredients.” After an eye-opening experience, Itskovich is convinced that Malaysia’s certified sustainable palm shortening is a sleeper ingredient that is about to become a major player. 

Itskovich now uses palm shortening in brownie batter bites and most muffins, as well as all of the bakery’s fruit breads (banana, zucchini, pumpkin, etc.).

He points out Malaysia’s palm shortening does more than perform well. “It is also cost effective, sustainable, naturally non-GMO and trans-fat free, which are all great talking points for the finished products.” 

A family business, Nikola Bakery is proud to create real food for real people. The company’s successes include projects for Kroger, Caribou Coffee, Nutrisystem and others, according to the company.

It was while using Malaysian certified sustainable palm oil shortening for a premium product development project that Itskovich was pleasantly surprised by how well it worked.

“The quality of Malaysian palm oil shortening opened my eyes to the possibilities. It’s not just a minor difference. This is a world apart. It far exceeded my expectations with respect to performance and functionality. Going forward, we will only use Malaysian palm shortening for anything plant-based or requiring a higher fat content,” he said.

A major portion of the company’s new product development is in the better-for-you and plant-based worlds, he explained. Malaysian palm oil is a vegan, plant-based alternative to butter. It functions closer to butter than margarine. It creams better and holds volume better. It even has a pleasant mouthfeel and blends well with other oils, he said.

“Nikola Bakery is currently working on three projects with which we’re using palm shortening,” Itskovich said. “Now that I understand there are many varieties of palm shortenings, produced in a wide range of specifications, I will continue to specify only those made with Malaysian certified sustainable palm oil.” 

Dairy protein ingredients

High protein bakery product launches that include dairy protein ingredients are on the rise as consumers show increased interest, and Glanbia Nutritionals’ new OvenPro Series aligns with their demands. OvenPro provides a range of functionally beneficial ingredients that allow a wide range of baked goods to contain higher levels of protein and fiber with low levels of sugar and net carbs.

Products making high protein claims that include dairy-based proteins constituted 10.7% of launches during the September 2020-August 2021 period. In 2020, about 40% of consumers surveyed said they are somewhat or very interested in consuming high protein muffins and other bakery items.

The OvenPro Series includes OvenPro Bread & Bread Zero Net Carb, OvenPro Cake, and OvenPro QuickBread.  The benefits of OvenPro are:

  • Similar functionality of wheat flour 
  • Addresses high protein formulation challenges
  • Usage levels can be adjusted to achieve a variety of nutritional goals
  • Simple and clean labeling 
  • Optimized specifically for the bakery industry

“With commonly used wheat protein lacking as a complete nutritional protein source, and the well-known challenges associated with adding protein to baked goods at higher levels, we are excited to provide our customers a superior ingredient solution that solves these issues,” said Steve Ham, senior director commercial bakery, Glanbia Nutritionals.