Monthly Archives: September 2011

British Food Fortnight

At the moment, we’re half way through British Food Fortnight. We don’t seem to be go a few days without celebrating a day or a week of something. We’ve just had National Cupcake Week and I doubt it will be long before the next one comes along!

If I’m honest (and as a cake maker I probably shouldn’t be admitting this!) I much prefer British food to cupcakes. I use local and season produce wherever I can, beit in cakes or in cooking for myself, family and friends.

As it’s been a while since my last recipe, I’m sharing a recipe for a plum cake, as plums are very much in season at the moment and this is a great way to celebrate British Food Fortnight. It’s very tasty and is great warm or cold! I’m sure it would work well with other fruit (for example substituting apples for plums and cinnamon for mixed spice).

Ingredients

150g self-raising flour

75g ground almonds

1 tsp mixed spice

100g butter

50g caster sugar

2 large eggs

4 tbsp golden syrup

300g plums, stoned and chopped

 

Method

Preheat oven to 160C.

Grease and line a baking tray measuring 30cm x 20cm.

Prepare the plums and add the mixed spice and half of the sugar. Leave to macerate.

Rub the butter with the flour and then add the ground almonds and the remaining sugar.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs with the golden syrup and then add to the flour mixture. Add the plums and stir until just combined. Transfer to the tin and level the surface.

Bake in the centre of the oven for 45 minutes, but keep an eye on it. It is ready when it has risen and is just firm to the touch. A skewer inserted should come out clean. Cut up and serve.

 

A day at the fair

I’ve been a bit quiet again – sorry! I’ve been keeping busy and trying to juggle 101 things for the last couple of weeks.

Following on from the National Cupcake Championships (which I’m still very proud of, and even more so after some lovely feedback from the judges), I have had a stall at a fair in Twickenham, I’ve held my first ever workshop and I attended the Speciality Food Fair in Olympia (purely for research purposes. I did a lot of research!).

Fairs are an enjoyable part of my business. They are also a stressful and exhausting part. And, if my cakes don’t sell, they can be soul-destroying. I’m still working on my presentation, as you can see, bags etc are visible and I need to find a back-drop (as nice as the bookies was!), but I’m getting there. Every fair I do, I learn a little more and they become just that bit easier.

To give you an insight into the day, I spend around a day and a half baking and packaging my goodies into (hopefully!) a pretty display so people will want to buy my goodies. I take promotional material with me (fliers, leaflets, business cards and post cards), as well as cake stands, table cloths, bunting (some of which I’ve made myself – I don’t just bake!), knives, bags, boxes, napkins, signage, black sacks… I also have a gazebo and a chair; two very useful items for the stall holder!

I have to squeeze in a trip to the bank (so I can give people change) and make sure that I have my insurance documents, health and safety certificate and business registration certificate (I’ve not been asked for this yet, but I like to be prepared!).

I have to come up with prices which customers don’t object to, but which cover the costs of my ingredients, the stall, travel to the fair and home again, my insurance, wear and tear and depreciation of my cake tins and stock, display items (such as cake stands) and also my time, as I have to earn something for the hours that have gone into a fair.

After being on my feet for over a day baking, I have to then stand at my stall, smile and hope people stop by the slightly crazy-looking lady! As I said, it is enjoyable, but it is a lot of work and it’s always a very long day. So the next time you see someone with a stall, smile at them, then go up to them and say hello. Better still, buy something, anything, as that’s why we do it and it will make all of the (many) hours worth it.