(This article appeared in the Spring 2022 issue of Pastry Arts Magazine)
By Sophia Bennet
American pastry professionals have a new resource for bakery ingredients: Royal Steensma, a Dutch company that began distributing in the U.S. earlier this year.
Founded in 1839, Steensma began as a bakery but transitioned into a distribution and production company for flour, sugar, almond pastes, and other staples in the 1920s. For many years, it was best known for its jams and fruit fillings made with a variety of berries and tree fruits. In the 1950s, it took over a facility for making candied fruit, which remains one of the brand’s top-selling items. Over time, it has acquired other small companies and expanded its product line, which now includes custard powders, bakery mixes, compound coatings, rolled fondants and nut paste.
The addition of “royal” to the brand’s name in 2015 wasn’t just for show. The King of the Netherlands, Willem Alexander, officially bestowed that designation on the brand in recognition of its stellar international reputation and long-standing commitment to quality and reliability. These features, along with the ability to customize products to the specifications of chefs and manufacturers, remain the company’s hallmarks.
“We have an in-house R&D department at every one of our four factories that can change recipes to a company’s specifications,” says Thomas Calvaruso, the company’s U.S. representative. “We’re big enough to work with a lot of manufacturers but still small enough to be flexible to their needs. Whether the need is tweaking a flavor to a specific recipe or altering the viscosity of a product so it can more easily run through machinery, the team is typically able to oblige.”
Royal Steensma also offers a few products that pastry chefs can’t find elsewhere. One of them is Souplesse, an easy-to-use chocuise coating with multiple benefits. “Due to an optimal balance of fats, Souplesse stays flexible and doesn’t crack when it’s cut,” says Calvaruso. “It can go in the refrigerator or freezer and it won’t get condensation as it starts to warm up.” The fact that it doesn’t have to be tempered makes it convenient; just pop it in the microwave, melt it and it’s ready to use.
Taste isn’t an afterthought in this category. “Normally there’s a real difference in taste between a chocolate and a chocuise,” says Calvaruso. “If you have a blind taste test with his coating, you’d think it was chocolate.”
Souplesse can be used for pouring, dipping and spraying cakes and other confectionaries. Bakers have also used it in mirror glaze or creme coating. The product comes in 12 corresponding colors and flavors, including white and dark chocolate, coffee, pistachio, limoncello and caramel.
Almond and other nut pastes continue to be an important product line for the company, with the focus on taste front and center. “The almonds are blanched and peeled in-house without using any chemical aides, which gives the almond paste its distinct, rich almond flavor.”
Professionals looking for more economical alternatives can choose Royal Steensma’s pastes, which are made partially with white beans. The legumes provide the same pleasing texture without adding flavor, which allows the essence of the almonds or other ingredients to come through. However, lowering the quantity of nuts required for the pastes makes these pastes less expensive.
Looking into the future, Royal Steensma is excited to continue investing in its Food Innovation Academy, a teaching center at its Vlaardingen facility on the outskirts of Rotterdam. Calvaruso looks forward to bringing knowledge and new products from the company’s existing R&D staff—to its new U.S. customers. But no matter whether professionals seek the brand’s longstanding products or new innovations developed with European excellence, they can expect to receive royal treatment in every interaction.
Photos courtesy of Royal Steensma