A day off from baking

About once a week, I have a day off from baking. Today is such a day – I delivered two cakes to The Earl Grey this morning (Victoria sponge and gluten free Chocolate Fudge cake, for those that are interested) and their next order is for one on Thursday and three on Friday. I have loads to make for the Riverhill Himalayan Garden tomorrow for delivery on Thursday, so will have a long day in the kitchen.

Sometimes, my ‘day off’ is spent shopping for ingredients. I buy most from Sainsbury’s but also go to Waitrose (organic self raising flour, sugar) and Lidl (dark chocolate, limes, mascarpone and nuts). Going to three different shops does take time but I like the quality of the ingredients I use.

Sometimes, I make preserves instead. My latest is a new batch of lime marmalade which still needs labelling.

This afternoon, I am making a batch of Granola to see me through breakfast for the next month or so. Chopping the fruit takes a little time but it is worth it – toasted oats, seeds and bran with honey and groundnut oil, with dates, apricots, sultanas and toasted hazelnuts, which I have with yoghurt and fresh fruit.

Tonight I need to make 4 trays of Rocky Road so my cake tins are ready for baking tomorrow. This isn’t baking as it just requires melting, chopping and mixing followed by overnight in the fridge to set.

And then there is supper …. possibly Lebanese spinach and chickpeas, recipe courtesy of Riverford, followed by ironing (not my favourite job!).

So even on a day off from baking, there is plenty of cooking going on!

Thank you for reading.

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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.

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.

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!

Back to biscuit baking

This week I am back to baking biscuits to sell at the Penshurst Farmers’ Market this weekend, on Saturday 5 August.

These biscotti have flaked almonds and pistachio nuts – great for having with coffee or with dessert. The oat and walnut biscuits can be eaten with cheese – try with a blue cheese or ripe Brie – or with a morning cup of tea. The seeded biscuits go well with any cheese board. Both the oat and walnut and seeded biscuits are made with buckwheat flour so are fine for gluten-free and wheat-free diets.

Having baked all these biscuits, I now need to spend the evening weighing, packing and labelling them ready for selling on Saturday.

Savoury biscuits

This evening, I have made savoury seeded biscuits and cheesy biscuits – all are made with buckwheat flour so are suitable for gluten free diets.

These are being packaged up ready for selling at Penshurst Farmers Market on Saturday 3 June.

Tomorrow will be my last day in the kitchen for this event – more biscuits and maybe something different!

Biscuits for cheese

 

Each Christmas, I make savoury biscuits for hampers sold by South Downs Cellars. Initially, I made oatcakes flavoured with fresh thyme or rosemary. Last year, I tried a different recipe for oat and walnut biscuits. These contain a small amount of sugar but are not sweet and go well with soft blue cheeses like Gorgonzola or Dolcelatte as well as other rinded soft cheeses like Brie or Taleggio.

As another experiment, I made a batch replacing the wheat flour with buckwheat flour. They are gluten free and taste delicious. The oats and chopped walnuts give them an interesting texture.

I will be adding these to my list of products available to buy – either with buckwheat or wheat flour, depending on your preference.

An experiment

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I have been making these cheesy biscuits for a few years – the dough can be prepared in advance and stored in the fridge until needed. Then I bake as many biscuits as are needed, topping them with different seeds or cayenne pepper. They are quite crumbly but have a strong cheese flavour and are great served with pre-meal drinks.

I decided to try making a batch with gluten free buckwheat flour to see if they were as good and yes, they are. The dough didn’t seem to stick together quite as well, but after 24 hours in the fridge I could cut the discs as usual and the flavour is certainly as good as the wheat version. The buckwheat version is on the left, the wheat version on the right.

 

 

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!