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!

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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.

Even more cake baking

When I started making cakes for The Earl Grey Tearoom in Southborough, they were asking me mainly for Victoria sponges with the occasional carrot and mascarpone or coffee and walnut cake for a change.

This week, I have delivered eight cakes, some flapjacks, rocky road and cookies. New cakes include the Dundee cake, which always used to be my favourite (I love fruit cakes!) and a gingerbread cake made with fresh grated ginger and treacle (which I forgot to photograph so I’ll have to make another!). I think I am getting quicker at making some of these cakes but others take time, such as the gluten free chocolate fudge cake which needs chocolate to be melted and cooled for both the cake and the buttercream icing. However, the smell is divine so I’m happy to make it regularly.

If the supermarkets are analysing my recent shopping habits, they will notice a huge increase in my consumption of eggs, flour, sugar, butter and olive spread. I have also been getting through the baking parchment circles very quickly – a pack of 100 will only last a month now! 

I’m hoping to try out a few new recipes over the next few weeks including some different gluten free cakes. The Great British Bake Off caramel week has inspired me to try that as a flavour although I’m sure mine won’t look as spectacular as some of their creations!

Courgette and chocolate cake

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Here is another cake made with grated courgette – please don’t stop reading now! This one is gluten free as it is made with rice flour and ground pistachio nuts. The sponge contains cocoa powder for a rich, dark chocolate flavour and it is sandwiched together with a cocoa flavoured butter cream. The grated courgette keep the sponge moist and the ground pistachio nuts give it a slight crunch. It seems strange to make a cake with vegetables and then say you can’t tell that they are there but don’t be put off – this is a delicious cake!