Planning

People sometimes ask me how many cakes I make a week. My answer is usually vague as it depends on how many I am asked for. Some weeks, it may only be five or six, other weeks it may be more than 30. Planning is therefore quite important.

First, I always keep stock of certain ingredients (self raising flour, olive spread, unsalted butter, caster sugar, icing sugar and eggs). This means I can usually make a Victoria sponge or a lemon drizzle cake without having to go shopping.

When I have received my orders, usually by Sunday evening, I know what I will be making in the first part of the week. I then work out what I need to buy and go shopping on Monday. I then bake for the orders and deliver as required. The local Tearoom usually have two deliveries a week while Riverhill Himalayan Garden just have one delivery. I then fit in private orders as and when requested as well as having days for making preserves.

Some cakes recipes are developed through trial and error – a request for something with certain ingredients that change until they become a cake that meets the requirements. Others are taken from published recipes but increased so they make a three layer sponge. Each variation has to be noted down so I can remember what ingredients were used to produce the same next time.

Some cakes end up rather tall which makes fitting them in the cake stand at the Tearoom somewhat of a challenge! The cake shown above is a banana sponge with mascarpone icing and a salted caramel topping. If this cake is too tall, the salted caramel topping sticks to the cake cover, which would never do! And icing the sides of the cakes makes them almost impossible to transport and display so the sides are now left open.

Sometimes, cookies are requested (especially during school holidays) and Smarties ones are always popular. These have some Smarties in the cookie dough as well as others placed on top halfway through the baking process. Keeping them the same size is important – electronic scales help weighing out precise amounts!

Cupcakes are also very popular in the school holidays. These ones were made for a private order with pale blue icing. I regularly make chocolate cupcakes with chocolate buttercream icing and vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream icing which can have extra toppings added as required.

I usually have to do a top-up shop later in the week, depending on what has been ordered. The advantage is that it keeps the ingredients fresh but is also a necessity as I have limited storage space. Buying 20 bars of chocolate at a time may seem excessive but when making a large batch of Rocky Road, I need almost 2kg!

Enjoy your summer holidays!

Keep baking

I have always enjoyed making cakes and love receiving positive feedback from people who have enjoyed eating them.

Last year, I made over 350 cakes, more than 100 cupcakes and 18 traybakes for The Earl Grey Tearoom in Southborough. The favourites there are a Victoria sponge, carrot and mascarpone, coffee and walnut, gluten free chocolate fudge, lemon drizzle, coconut and lime, white chocolate and raspberry, cherry Bakewell and blueberry and lemon. I also made 46 gluten free chocolate cakes, 42 trays of Rocky Road and 36 traybakes for The Riverhill Himalayan Garden near Sevenoaks. Around Christmas, the focus switched to Christmas cake and Panforte – and all the time, I have been making chutneys, jams, marmalades and jellies with fresh locally picked fruit or dried fruit.

One of the biggest challenges is keeping stock of the basic ingredients so I don’t have to go shopping every time a cake is ordered. So rather than buying eggs by the dozen, I usually buy 36 a week and some weeks, even this isn’t enough! I used about 1800 eggs last year, or 300 boxes of 6. I also have to keep stock of different types of flour (plain, self raising, rice, gluten free plain and gluten free self raising) and sugar (caster, golden caster, light soft brown, light muscovado, dark muscovado, Demerara and icing) not to mention baking powder and gluten free baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cocoa powder, dark chocolate, desiccated coconut, lemons, limes and oranges. I rarely have an empty fridge or larder!

If you want a cake made for an occasion, please contact me as I am happy to help. You can contact me via this blog, or through Facebook or Instagram and we can discuss timing and price. I have a good selection of cake tins but most are 8″ round (with a few 7″ round) or any size square or rectangle (as I have a multi size cake tin, up to 12″ square). Any recipe can be resized based on the number of eggs used.

Thank you for reading.

A change of emphasis

About a year ago, I started making cakes for The Earl Grey Tearoom in Southborough. To begin with, I made just Victoria sponges, then we added carrot cake, coffee and walnut and lemon drizzle cakes. Numbers have increased as their business goes from strength to strength and most weeks I am baking at least eight cakes plus some flapjacks or butterscotch brownies.

New favourites include lemon and blueberry, white chocolate and raspberry and a cherry Bakewell cake. I love trying out new recipes so it is always fun being set a new challenge by Roz and the team. Some recipes need tweaking so they produce a three layer cake, some are adapted after tasting to produce something that the customers will enjoy. Some have to be translated from American cups to metric but with my trusty balance scales, electronic scales, measuring spoons and calculator, anything can be done. I just have to remember to write everything down so I only have to calculate it once.

Since mid-March, I have also been making some cakes for the Riverhill Himalayan Garden. They mainly order gluten free chocolate fudge cakes, gluten free cocoa, courgette and pistachio cakes, Rocky Road and traybakes in a variety of flavours including white chocolate & raspberry, blueberry & Demerara, pear & hazelnut and plum & almond.

In addition, I occasionally make other cakes for special orders such as birthdays.

This increase in cake production has kept me busy but I am still trying to find time to keep up with preserve making, building up stocks of marmalade, chutney, jam and jelly to see me through to Christmas and making the most of seasonal produce like elderflowers, by making cordial. The delicious soft fruit season is starting so I will be making the most of as many different fruits as I can, including them in my baking as well as preserving them for the months and years ahead.

And more cakes ….

It is always reassuring when you get positive feedback and I have been delighted with the comments I have been getting about the cakes I have made recently for The Earl Grey Tearoom in Southborough. 

This week, I have delivered ten more cakes – Victoria sponges, carrot cakes, a coffee and walnut cake and lemon drizzle cakes. After a short break, I will be back baking, hoping to try out some different recipes as well as these popular ones. 

Baking cakes

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In an exciting new venture, I am now baking some cakes for a local business The Earl Grey Tearoom, in Southborough.

So far, I have made them a carrot cake with mascarpone icing (left) and two Victoria sponges with butter cream icing and jam. I have also supplied them with some spiced almond and pistachio biscotti – great for dunking in your coffee or tea!

I hope this venture will continue for a long time – it is great for Southborough to have an independent tearoom and I love the fact I can make a cake and deliver it on foot! I must also admit, I have missed not baking cakes regularly. There is something I find relaxing about mixing together ingredients to produce a (hopefully!) light sponge cake and then decorating it. The very hot weather has made the mixing quite problematic but hopefully by the end of the week, as temperatures return to near normal, cake mixes will go back to the right consistency. Since my youngest went off to University, I can’t justify baking anything for just me. My neighbours have become my testing ground so if you see me crossing Prospect Road with plates of cake or biscuit, you know I am experimenting again.