“ Brand: Sainsbury's / Type: Cake „
When I suggested this product for a review, I was just keen to let it be known that Sainsbury's have these on offer until 3rd March 2009 at two packs (i.e. four pastries) for £1 instead of £1.78. I hadn't even tasted them at that point but it looked like quite a little bargain when I placed my order! However as the review progressed and I tried to check out the details and credentials of these Danish Raisin Whirls, I found almost a complete lack of information. Therefore the review rapidly developed into something of a crusade!
But back to basics! Most people will be familiar with such Danish patisserie products made of a sweet pastry similar to puff pastry but with yeast added. Danish pastry has quite a fascinating history as it seems to have originated in Vienna but have roots too in the Turkish baclava. The story goes that in 1850 Danish bakery workers went on strike and the owners were forced to employ foreign workers. Amongst these were a number of Austrian bakers who were unfamiliar with Danish recipes and instead baked pastries from their homeland. More details of the history can be found on Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danish_pastry
The pastries come in a variety of forms but the Whirls consist of one long strip of pastry wound in a flat coil, like a Catherine Wheel! I only purchased these as my daughter and I are quite partial to the cinnamon variety from Tesco and those on offer at Sainsbury's looked (in the online picture) like a close alternative. They are one of Sainsbury's own Bakery lines and come in twos in a see through plastic tray. They are quite large about 4-5 inches diameter at a guess but I didn't measure them! The pastry itself is not very flavourful and slightly greasy but a nice texture - quite crisp on the outside with a slightly more chewy interior. I would have welcomed a spicy addition like cinnamon but the only real flavour comes from quite a generous portion of large raisins which are scattered throughout. The difference in texture between the pastry and the raisins makes for an interesting mix.
If it had stopped there or maybe with just a little sprinkling of sugar to finish things off, I might have quite enjoyed them. When I have sampled similar products in the past the icing is a very thin affair, more like a glaze and in the online picture this appeared to be the same. However when they arrived it was clear that the cook that day must either have got the icing too thick or felt in a particularly generous mood. It was more the consistency that you might expect on iced buns, soft but far too thick and too much of it. The resulting sweetness might have been welcomed by some but for me it quite overpowered the taste of the pastry and raisins. I did however enjoy the glace cherry in the middle! My daughter took one look at the icing and turned her nose up so, horror of horrors, I was forced to eat all four. Well it would have been a shame to waste them! However after the first one I did scrape off some of the icing!
Anyone with an ounce of sense would know that these are not the healthiest of snacks but for the purposes of this review I wanted to know just how unhealthy. The only dietary information on the product was 'inc flour treatment agent'. This was far from enlightening but according to the Flour Advisory Board:-
"Flour treatment agents are used to help the manageability of dough during baking. Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) helps the dough become more manageable and gives a helping hand to give your bread good volume"
As such it doesn't look too ominous!
I went on Sainsbury's web site to try to discover more but here again the only item listed under the Ingredients heading is 'Flour Treatment Agent'. Under Dietary Information there is a reference that these 'may contain nuts' and then under 'Storage' (would you believe?) the warning,' NOT SUITABLE FOR NUT, PEANUT OR SEED ALLERGY SUFFERERS. 'That was it! But they definitely contain flour, presumably wheat flour, and Danish pastry recipes also include eggs and milk, all of which are regarded as potential allergens and there is no mention of these. Similarly there is a lack of nutritional information - no details of calories, sugar, fat or salt. There is not even an indication of the weight of the product.
I then checked a number of offerings from Sainsbury's Bakery (presumably the range which is actually cooked and packaged in store). I found the same total lack of information on many products including pastries, scones, Eccles cakes, donuts, muffins and croissants. Some of these descriptions do include advice to ask Bakery staff if further allergy information is required but this is not very helpful when shopping online! All product pages do however include the usual Sainsbury's rider - under the heading 'Important Information' customers are advised:-
"The above details have been prepared to help you select suitable products. Products and their ingredients are liable to change. You should always read the label before consuming the product and never rely solely on the information presented here."
But often there IS no information above whilst the Bakery labels just give little more than the name of the product and the bar code.
Now Sainsbury's pride themselves on helping consumers to eat healthily and the nutritional information on most of their products is, in my opinion, second to none but when it comes to these Whirls and many similar calorie and sugar laden offerings from their Bakery there seems to be a code of silence! Some such products DO include full details online and on the labels so why not all of them? Of course consumers must be sensible enough to realise these are not the healthiest snacks but it would be good to know just how much we are straying from the straight and narrow when choosing these!
Similarly Sainsbury's claim a commitment to maximising the use of recyclable packaging but there is no indication whether these plastic trays are recyclable - I would guess probably not.
Those who are not too concerned about nutritional niceties, have a penchant for the sickly sweet and do not fear excess calories or dental cavities might enjoy these! At 89p for two they are quite a reasonably priced treat and are particularly good value whilst this '2 packs for £1' offer lasts but I don't think I will be buying anything in this line again unless Sainsbury's come up with a non iced, more spicy alternative.