Ndali and Fairtrade Baking

I’ve been a fan of fairtrade ingredients for a number of years now. If I have the choice of a fairtrade over a non-fairtrade one, I’ll always go for the fairtrade one. I like to think I’m fairly well educated about what I put in my trolley and what I use in my cooking. I’d done some research into fairtrade ingredients and they offer opportunities to farmers and producers to have a better life.

Vanessa Kimbell recently went to Uganda to see how Ndali grow their vanilla and to see the effects of being fairtrade producers. This was subsequently featured on Radio 4’s ‘Food Programme’ and it was fascinating, as the growers and farmers were interviewed and said what being fairtrade meant to them. It was also the first time that I realised just what went into producing vanilla as I’d never really thought about where it came before. I sometimes see pods in the supermarkets and think ‘Crikey, that’s expensive,’ but had never known the process from seed to supermarket.

Vanessa organised the ‘Ndali Vanilla Gift Swap’ at Fortnum and Mason, in association with the Fairtrade Foundation to celebrate the launch of the Fairtrade Bake. All of those who participated, were sent Ndali vanilla pods and Ndali vanilla powder. We could enter up to three products in 4 categories – cakes, biscuits, preserves and sweets.

I made some Viennese whirls, which I filled with plum and vanilla jam and vanilla buttercream and I also made some hazelnut, chocolate and vanilla cupcakes, with a whipped vanilla ganache icing.

It wasn’t exciting enough that we could talk to lots of lovely people and take someone else’s goodies home with us. Vanessa had arranged for Lucas Hollweg, Chantal Coady and two of the buyers from Fortnum & Mason to taste everything. The lovely (and very generous!) Kenwood and Fortnum & Mason had supplied prizes and Chantal also offered a class at her wonderful Rococo chocolates.

Fortnum & Mason had provided tea, coffee, sandwiches and cakey treats for all of us. They looked amazing, but a few months ago I gave up wheat and so I asked whether it would be possible to have something without wheat. I was looking enviously at the food on offer and knew I’d be peckish before I went home.

Time went on, I was chatting to lovely people and I’d given up hope on eating. I was also starting to feel more than just a tad peckish. Imagine my delight, when a lovely waiter from F&M came up to me with these two plates. The sandwiches had been lightly toasted and had had their crusts cut off (as all good sandwiches should!). I didn’t manage to eat everything (it would  have been very gluttonous!), but I was so touched by the thought and my tummy was very happy too!

So, as I was tucking into my sandwiches, Vanessa stepped to the front and told us all about her experiences in Uganda and the generosity of Lulu Sturdy (Ndali’s owner). We all felt moved by Vanessa’s tales and I knew that my support for fairtrade ingredients was absolutely the right thing and I will continue to use fairtrade ingredients in my baking wherever it is possible.

Before I knew it, the prizes were being awarded. There were some fabulous looking goodies around and I was sure that they were going to taste delicious too. I was pleased with what I had made, but the competition was fierce!

I was so chuffed when I realised that my cupcakes had won a ‘runner’s up’ prize in the best cakes and cupcakes category. I wasn’t convinced that the vanilla taste was there, but I thought that they did taste good and so I hoped for the best! As mentioned above, the lovely people at Kenwood very generously donated all of the prizes and I can’t wait for my new toy to come along, so I can have a play.  I already have a Kenwood k-mix food mixer (which is not only a thing of beauty, but a joy to work with as well), so I’m super-dooper excited to be having a new addition to my kitchen gadgetry!

When it was time to leave (after we all congratulated the winners and consoled those who didn’t quite make it on this occasion), it was time to swap gifts and go home. Just before we left, we were given a goody bag from the Fairtrade Foundation, which included some Green & Black’s cooking chocolate, some almonds, apricots, raisins, cardamom seeds, cinnamon sticks, a Divine Chocolate cookery book and a Delicious magazine cookery book too.

I’ve already used the apricots and raisins – I made some Christmas cakes today. I’m also going to make some fig and vanilla jam in the next few days and I have to think of a use for my cinnamon sticks and cooking chocolate, but I’m thinking that either raspberries or cranberries may feature.

I would like to thank Lulu from Ndali for my fabulous vanilla, to Fortnum and Mason for not only being superb hosts, but for providing me with an excellent afternoon tea, to Kenwood for my shiny new toy, to the judges for giving up their afternoon and ‘having to eat’ lots of cake, to the Fairtrade Foundation for the yummy goody bags and finally, to Vanessa for organising such an amazing afternoon. I had such a fantastic day out and realised that the simple choices that I make in a supermarket can (and do) have a feel impact on lives in other parts of the world.

If you feel like baking in the next week, why not make it Fairtrade and take part in the Big Fair Bake? You’ll have something yummy to eat and be making a real difference to the lives of people who don’t want charity, they just want a fair deal.

Advertisements

Gluten free chocolate, hazelnut and vanilla cupcakes

This is the first of my 2 recipes from the Ndali Vanilla gift swap that I attended at Fortnum and Mason on 24 September 2012. It’s also the one I won a ‘runner’s up’ award for the ‘best cake or cupcake’. It was unexpected (there were some fabulous looking baked goodies!) and I was very proud! I got a bit carried away when I was baking and took lots of photos, but it’s nice to see what you’re doing, isn’t it?!

I saw somewhere ages ago, someone offering chocolate, hazelnut and vanilla cupcakes. They sounded interesting and something I wanted to try. Last Christmas, I made something similar – chocolate and hazelnut cupcakes and they went down very well. So, I revisited my recipe (once I found it from my ‘wonderful’ filing system!), tweaked it and the following cupcakes materialised!

I gave up wheat at the start of summer and I feel so much better for it. Occasionally I’ll eat it, as I have no reason not to eat it other than I don’t want to, but I am trying to bake and eat without wheat as far as I can. That’s another reason why I love these cupcakes. Most of the nuts I use in my baking are almonds, so it’s great to find another one to use! One day I’ll get round to making this as a big cake, but in the meantime, here’s the recipe I have adapted from ‘it pleases us

I added vanilla to the cupcakes and I have made a whipped ganache icing, which I think really works well. I also dipped my hazelnuts in chocolate before using them to top my cupcakes, just to make them that little bit prettier!

Finally, just before I get to the recipe, I wanted to add (as I haven’t stated it anywhere else!) that the chocolate, the hazelnuts, the sugar and the vanilla that I used were all fairtrade products. Using fairtrade products is something which is incredibly important to  me and when I post my write up of the gift swap, I’ll explain why. For now, happy baking!

Chocolate, hazelnut and vanilla cupcakes

Makes 9

70g dark chocolate, chopped

50g butter, chopped

2 eggs, separated

60g caster sugar

50g ground hazelnuts

1tsp ndali organic vanilla powder

For the icing

120g dark chocolate, finely chopped

90ml double cream

1tbsp caster sugar

1tsp ndali organic vanilla powder

9 whole (or half) hazelnuts

10g dark chocolate

Firstly, make the cupcakes. Put cases into your cupcake tray and preheat your oven to 150C. (NB, I have a very hot fan oven, so this is the temperature I used. If your oven isn’t a hot fan, I’d suggest using 170C.)

Put the chocolate and butter into a bowl and place over a pan of barely simmering water. Stir until both have melted together. Allow to cool slightly.

Whisk the eggs and sugar in a bowl until thick and creamy. This will take several minutes. Add the chocolate mixture and whisk to combine.

Add the ground hazelnuts and vanilla and stir until well mixed. (To get ground hazelnuts, I used a coffee grinder and blitzed whole ones.)

With a whisk, beat the egg whites in a spotlessly clean bowl until they are of stiff peak consistency. Add 1/3 of the egg whites to the chocolate mixture and stir carefully. Then add the remaining egg whites and fold carefully until just combined. You don’t want to lose all the air you’ve just created!

Spoon the mixture into your cases and bake for about 20 minutes. The best way to describe if your cupcakes are ready, is if you insert a skewer or sharp knife into one, it will come out still a little bit moist.

Leave the cupcakes on a wire rack to cool completely before icing.

Whilst the cakes are baking, start on the icing. Put your finely chopped chocolate into a large bowl. (You are chopping it finely so that it will melt easier – you don’t want lumps of chocolate in your ganache!)

Pour the cream into a pan and add the sugar. Heat gently until the sugar has dissolved and then increase the heat and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. (When I did this, I used 1/2tsp vanilla and although I could taste it in the cream, I couldn’t taste it in the finished ganache, so I would recommended that you use more vanilla.)

Pour the cream mixture onto the chocolate and beat quickly until the chocolate has completely melted. Leave to cool completely. (This is the cooled ganache, just before I whisked it; it’s my ‘before’ shot!)

At this time, melt your remaining chocolate in a small bowl over a pan of water on a very low heat. Then, dip your hazelnuts into the chocolate and allow to cool.

When the ganache has cooled completely, get your whisk out and on a high setting, whisk the ganache until it has a very pale colour and is of a light and smooth consistency. This will take several minutes. (This is the ‘after’ shot – what a difference a whisk makes!)

At this point, put the icing into a piping bag and pipe onto the cupcakes. (If you make your icing before you’re ready to pipe, whisk for a few seconds before you put into your piping bag, as it tends to go hard otherwise.) Place a hazelnut onto the top of each cupcake and enjoy!

* Edit. After pressing ‘publish’ I realised that not everyone will be as confident with piping as I am. To get the swirl on my cupcakes, I used a Wilton 1M nozzle. It’s a great nozzle as if you pipe from the outside of the cupcake to the centre in an anti-clockwork motion, you get a swirl and if you start from the centre of the cupcake and pipe in a clockwise motion, you will pipe a flower. The piping bag I used is a reusable bag, though you can buy disposable ones from cake decorating shops, the internet etc.

You need to pipe when the icing has just been whipped, though be careful as the heat of your hands will melt the ganache towards the end (you may notice that cupcakes 7, 8 and 9 did not make the final photograph!).

If you don’t have piping bags and fancy nozzles, then a palette knife, or simply a small knife will be fine.

Finally, if you don’t use all of your icing, pop it back into your fridge and after an hour or two, you have vanilla truffles. Yum!

Plum and Vanilla Jam

Hello! You may have noticed that summer is over and I’ve been a bit quiet of late. Well, for the duration of summer actually! I’m sorry about that. I have been busy and I have been working, I just have been doing it very quietly! I hope to be a bit more vocal in the autumn and winter and certainly in the next few weeks, I’m sure I’ll more than make up for months of silence!

You may remember last Christmas, when the very lovely and talented Vanessa Kimbell organised ‘Let’s Make Christmas’ at Fortnum and Mason? (To refresh your memories, I made some amaretti biscuits and won a Kenwood food processor and a Fortnum and Mason Christmas hamper!) Well, she’s done it again! Vanessa was recently in Uganda and on her return, has highlighted the plight of vanilla producers and has championed ndali vanilla

So, to get people using ndali vanilla and to bring awareness to their wonderful produce, Vanessa has organised a vanilla gift swap at Fortnum and Mason tomorrow.

So, it stands to reason that I should join in. I love baking, I adore vanilla and meeting fellow bakers and bloggers is always fun. So, what could I possibly make? I’ve decided to make some chocolate, hazelnut and vanilla cupcakes, with a whipped vanilla ganache icing and some Viennese Whirls, filled with a vanilla buttercream and plum and vanilla jam. If I’m going to celebrate vanilla, I’m going to make sure I use a lot of it!

Today, I’ve made the jam and the ganache. I’m not entirely convinced that either have enough vanilla, though I thought I was being generous! I imagine (I hope!) that by the time I’ve made all of the constituent parts, that they will all be sufficiently vanillay, and hopefully I’ve not gone for overkill. There’s a line between not having enough and having it so strong that it’s all that you can taste. I’d like not to cross that line!

So, today I’ll share my jam recipe. Over the next few days, the recipe for the biscuits and the cupcakes as well as my thoughts of the day will follow. After that, I’m hoping to rediscover my love for this blog and I’ll share more thoughts and recipes with you all.

Plum Jam (enough for 5-6 7oz jars)

1 kg plums (I used Victoria)

800g sugar

2 Ndali vanilla pods

300ml water

Begin by ‘preparing’ your pan. Before I make jam, I always wash my pan in hot, soapy water. Once it has dried, I then melt some butter (enough to coat the base of the pan). This helps to stop the jam from sticking to the base, which also makes washing up easier! Then, pre-heat your oven to 120C and once you have done this, place a small saucer into your freezer.

Rinse the plums in water, then halve and stone. Cut in half again and put into your prepared pan. Add the water and the vanilla pods. Before you add the pods, score one lengthways and open up to reveal the seeds. Scrape these out using a sharp knife and add to your pan. Cut the pod in half (so that you can later add this to your jam jars) and repeat for the other vanilla pod.

Put the pan on a low-medium heat and leave for the fruit to soften, which will take about 20 minutes.

In the meantime, prepare the jam jars. Start by washing your jars in hot soapy water. Then rinse them in hot water and place in your pre-heated oven. Ideally, you need to leave them for between 15-20 minutes and this will sterilise them.

Once your jars are in the oven, your plums should be nicely softened and you are ready to add the sugar. I have used granulated sugar. You could use vanilla sugar if you choose; as I’ve only just thought about this, I didn’t! You can warm your sugar to help it dissolve. You don’t have to do this and it’s not something I always do, but I do sometimes. (If you wanted to do this, weigh your sugar out, and then pour onto a large baking tray. Put in the oven on a low heat – no more than 100-120 degrees – and leave for about 5 minutes. You don’t want to cook the sugar, all you want to do is warm it up. Remove from the oven and then add to your pan.)

Put the sugar into the pan and stir occasionally. You don’t want to turn the pan up – you want to leave it at its low-medium temperature. Before you start to boil the fruit, you want to ensure that the sugar has fully dissolved, otherwise you will be left with a very grainy jam. It will take somewhere between 5-10 minutes for the sugar to dissolve fully. Once you are sure that there are no little grains of sugar in your jam, turn up the heat. I had my hob at 4 for this (it goes up to 6) and I felt that was high enough. You want your jam to come to boiling point and then to boil for about 5-10 minutes, but you don’t want your jam to burn and I feel that by having a slightly lower temperature, I’m more in control.

Once you have turned the temperature of your jam up, you need to watch your pan like a hawk! Stir occasionally too. After about 5-10 minutes, take the jam off the heat, remove the saucer from the freezer and then test your jam. Take a teaspoon of jam from the pan and put it onto your saucer. Leave for about 20 seconds. Then, push the jam with your finger. If you notice that when it moves it starts to wrinkle a bit, it’s ready. If not, return to the hob, return the saucer to the freezer and try again after a couple of minutes.

When your jam has wrinkled, you can turn your hob off and you’re ready to pot the jam! Before you do this however, move your pan to your work surface. You may notice that there is a light ‘skim’ on the surface of your jam. If this is the case, stir a small knob of butter into your jam and this will disappear. Leave your jam for a couple of minutes before you jar it. This will ensure that when your jam has cooled, the fruit hasn’t all risen to the top, but remains evenly dispersed throughout your jam.

Remove your jars from the oven and you’re ready to jar the jam! You can use a funnel, but I tend to use a tablespoon and just spoon it in. As you’ve cut your vanilla pods in half, try and get a pod in each of the jars. Once you’ve reached the top of the jar (you don’t want to go right to the top – leave a gap of about 3mm), I always place a waxed disc before sealing. This isn’t always necessary, especially if you’re using new jars, but if you’re using second hand jars, it is advisable. (As an aside, if I were making plum chutney, I would always use wax discs, so the vinegar in the chutney does not react with the lid.)

Place the lid on the jam and then screw. Once the jam has cooled, you can tighten the lid and voila! Your plum jam is ready!

(Another quick aside. You can and probably should, remove the skins from your jam before you bottle it. As I went to remove one, I noticed vanilla seeds all over it and I thought it would be criminal to take them out. So, although when the jam is cool and I go to eat it, I won’t eat the skins, in the meantime, I don’t think it will do any harm to add a little more flavour to my jam. It’s really up to you though, whether you remove the skin before you jar your jam, or later, when you eat it.)

I’m not going to enter the jam in the gift swap (I only have 3 jars of it!), but I will use it to sandwich my Viennese Whirls together and I’ll post the recipe for that over the next few days.

 

Highly Commended

I somehow managed to get through last week! I was pretty pleased with my entry for the cake competition, though I wasn’t that impressed with myself that I was up until 4am the day I was going to Telford to finish it. I thrive on pressure, but I’m not so good at working with no sleep! I didn’t help myself by only deciding on the entry (and ordering the cutters which I didn’t have) with less than 2 weeks to go and there are a few lessons which have been learned for next time!

When the piece was judged and I saw how I’d done, honestly I was a little disappointed to have a ‘highly commended’ in front of my piece. I went away and thought about this though and speaking to the judges helped. My taping and my glazing let me down and they’re both things that I was (deep down!) aware of as I handed my piece in. The flowers themselves I was really pleased with and I received very positive feedback from the judges over them. I was proud of my piece and I hadn’t entered to win anything, I’d entered to challenge myself and to improve my skills. I had achieved both aims. As I was proud of my piece before I handed it over, ultimately, nothing had really changed after I had received a piece of paper. Yes, it would have been nice to have had a bronze or silver, but I can’t argue with the judges and I’m not quite at that standard yet.

I’ve only entered 2 competitions (this being the second) and I can count on 1 hand the number of sprays that I have made. I know deep down I’m not gold standard yet, as being gold in the novice category (the category I had entered) meant that I’m ready to be in the open category and I don’t feel I am, yet. Therefore, with a bit of thought, I’m happy with my ‘highly commended’. I had lots of lovely feedback from friends and lots of ‘well dones’ when I told them and my appetite has been whetted to enter some more competitions and to carry on improving my flowers.

In the short-term, I’ll be catching up on my sleep(!) and I have a stall at the Twickenham Arts and Crafts fair next weekend (Saturday 2 June). After that, I’ll get practising on my flowers as there’s another competition out there and I’d like the judges to comment on how good my taping is next time!

All Change!

Rather shamefully, I haven’t written this for longer than I care to admit. I have been busy, but that’s not really a reason as there’s always time to write something. In the last couple of months, I can’t really say I’ve achieved much, or been able to tick much of any list. I am working on a piece for a sugarcraft competition (organised by the British Sugarcraft Guild and held in Telford this weekend), but that’s only taken over my life for the last week or so!

I’ve been doing a fair amount of thinking recently – about what direction I want my business to go in and how it will get there – and I came to the difficult decision to stop supplying the Earslfield Deli. I had reached the stage where I was baking 3 nights a week and I wasn’t able to do anything else during those evenings. The rest of the week I had to try and catch up on everything else that needed doing and I was struggling to find any balance in my life. As I recently fractured my finger (in February; it’s healing well, but isn’t quite back to normal), I am now more wary of doing too much and I am keen to learn the lessons of not trying to do too much.

I love baking and I did enjoy trying new flavours and recipes, so I’ll keep doing that, but without the pressure of having to do something regularly. I’m also keen to make a few changes in my life and for that reason, I’ve started another blog. That doesn’t mean this one will go to the wall, as they are very different and I’ll be writing about very different things. This will continue to be about my business and cake (and I have promised recipes here, so one day…!) and my other blog is about my adventures in craft. If you want to have a look, please do: http://clairescalling.wordpress.com/

I do have plans for the next few weeks at least – I have the cake competition this
weekend and on Saturday 2 June, I have a stall at the Twickenham Arts and Craft Fair. After that, I’ll start thinking about the future and world domination by cake!

Fayretastic!

So, things didn’t go quite to plan and I didn’t post in the build-up to the wedding fayre (or for a week afterwards!). It was actually quite a fraught week and all I can say is I got through it! I went to check on the progress of my finger a few days before the fayre and the nurse was so concerned, she sent me straight to A&E. Four hours later, I emerged with the knowledge that I had fractured it! It wasn’t quite the news I was expecting (or indeed hoping for)… Needless to say, I didn’t manage to get as much done as I had planned (a fractured finger provides quite an impediment to most cake decorating!), but overall, I’m really pleased with how my stand looked. I ran out of time to make my macaron tower and I had to re-cover a cake which was damaged in transit, but I was so proud of what I had achieved. I couldn’t have done any more, I learned I have some amazing friends, who rallied round and came over and helped me out and my stand screamed ‘this is me’ which is what I really wanted.

I picked up a few tips along the way, which may be helpful to a prospective stall-holder.

1 Know your prices. You will be asked how much the lily cake costs (and how many portions it gives!), so make sure you know.

2 Smile! Even if you’re exhausted and would rather be on your sofa with a glass of wine, don’t let it show.

3 If you have leaflets to give out (and posters to display), don’t wait until you’re due to leave to go to the fayre before you get them ready. (Incidentally, I still don’t know where my A3 poster montage is…)

4 Have examples of your work displayed. Have some photos blown up. Get some photo albums (which you can pick up cheaply from most on-line photo companies) and put them out on your stall in different places. People like to look at things, it will show your versatility and if your stall is busy, will give people something to do whilst they wait for you.

5 Related to 3 & 4, plan your display. When you book your stand, you will be given the dimensions of the table (and any display boards etc) which have been allocated to you. Think about what you will place where, before you leave home ideally.

6 Have a selection of styles / colours / shapes. The cakes that drew the most interest were my purple butterfly cake and my bauble cakes, which no-one had seen before.

7 Related to 6, cover all budgets (or as many as you can!). I had ‘simpler’ cakes as well as more detailed options.

8  Write down how many people you speak to / give your business cards to. This is a really good idea as you will then know how successful the fair has been when the brides contact you.

9 Take food and drink with you! It’s a long day, so be prepared.

10 Take layers with you and just because you are indoors, you will not necessarily be warm!

11 Take painkillers with you! Having barely slept for 2 days and having a fractured finger, meant I wasn’t my usual chirpy self. Over-the-counter drugs really helped.

12 Samples aren’t necessary. I had neither the time (nor the inclination!) to bake and I can honestly say that I don’t think it cost me a single sale. If people like what you’ve done, they will book a consultation with you; free cake won’t really make a difference.

13 Befriend the organisers! The stallholders next to me didn’t show up on the day and I was offered their table. It’s really important to build good relationships. Also, befriend your fellow stall holders as it’s a long day.

14 Last one – enjoy it! You’re there to sell your business and to be involved in what should be the happiest day of a couple’s life.

I hope that I’ve given you some food for thought if you want to have a stall at a wedding fayre. Would I do it again? I honestly don’t know the answer to that, though I am veering to the side of ‘no’. I don’t regret it though and you have to take some risks in business.

 

 

Going to the Chapel…

Hazelnut Macarons

It’s all go at Cake Towers! I have my first ever wedding fayre next weekend and I’m really excited. Or at least I was! I’m now full of trepidation and fear; mainly that I’m not going to be ready in time.

Planning a wedding fayre is quite an undertaking. From deciding which fayre you’re going to exhibit at (if at all – I know people that don’t), to working out what you’re going to display, how and what material you’re going to take with you. If you’re going to have a stand, you want to ensure that you’re the only supplier in your category (so you’re the only cake maker, for example). You need to know that it is being marketed correctly and that brides-to-be will come (and it’s best to find this out before you part with your hard-earned cash!). Remember, you’re paying what can be a lot of money (I know of some fayres which charge in excess of £250 per stand) and you need to know that you’re getting value for money.

Once you’ve decided which fayre you’re going to exhibit at, you’ve paid your money, you then need to plan your stand. It’s good to have as varied a display as possible. You don’t want your table to be crowded and too full, but, on the other hand, you don’t want only one cake on there as you’re there to showcase your talents to an expectant audience.

Ideally, you should have a variety of styles and colours; different shapes and different sizes. Try and be unique as well and have a stand that says ‘this is me!’. When you’ve grabbed the attention of the bride-to-be, you then need to engage with her. Ask her about the wedding; if she knows the time of year, has an idea of colours etc. Be interested in her and her day. You might not receive her commission, but at least she’ll go away thinking you were nice (which is always good!) and of course if you interact with brides, it makes the day a better experience for everyone!

So, you’ve enticed the bride-to-be with your stunning display of cakes. You’ve won her over with your charm and kind words. What next? Don’t necessarily expect her to book with you on the day, but give her something to take away with her so that she won’t forget you. I’ve had some extra business cards, postcards and leaflets printed out, so the brides-to-be can take them away and have my details should they wish to contact me. Why not give her an edible gift as well?

Smile and be as courteous to the bride-to-be that you speak to at 5 minutes to closing time as you are to the one that you speak to first thing in the morning. Remember, you’re providing a service and you’re representing your business. Don’t sit at your stand looking uninterested and texting people. If your business doesn’t interest you, why should it interest anyone else?

There is probably more advice I could give, but having not done a fayre yet, I’ll hold that back until after next week. In the meantime, I’m working on my designs. I’ll not go into too great detail here as they’re all subject to change at the moment. I had an unfortunate accident with a hand blender last weekend (just as I was starting to write this actually).  I don’t know if I can do everything that I would like to, but I have been overwhelmed by offers of help – the cake community really does rally round!

If you’re getting married (congratulations!) and in the area, why not pop by and say hello. I won’t bite and you may find yourself leaving with an edible gift!

http://www.voicebroadcast.co.uk/emails/files/4690/image/Wedding%20Fayre.JPG

I do have one plea to ask of you all. As I mentioned above, wedding fayres can be quite expensive. I have applied to Fund101, from Enterprise Nation and if I am successful, they will cover the cost of the fayre. All I need you good and kind people to do, is to click on the following link and to vote for me: http://www.enterprisenation.com/funding-applications/claires-handmade-cakes/

I really appreciate your help. If all goes to plan (or exceeds my plans), I’ll blog again before the fayre. If not, I shall share the experience (and any lessons learned) sometime in early March… In the mean time, happy baking!