Monday, 27 September 2010

Link-y post

Here are some links to Good Things -

  • the lovely plum cake - which is dead easy as well as delicious, so what's not to like?
  • my talented friend Jo's blog about her sewing projects (and life in general)
  • Nic's exciting blog about her plans to travel the UK learning about becoming a smallholder
  • A shop I like to browse for baking things
  • Read It Swap It, a great idea; swap your old books for something new to read
  • a very lovely yarn shop run by friendly and helpful people
I'm assuming you all have iPlayer in your favourites bar already, so i won't bother with that other than to say having Radio 4 on iPlayer is one of the greatest inventions of the 21st century.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Back to school

Just a quick one this time. The kids are settling into school with the usual ups and downs, gardening projects and household stuff grind ever onwards. I am starting to wonder where all this Free Time I was promised has got to - despite a week of all three kids in full time school I seem to have dashed trying desperately to cram all the work into the available hours.

There's been a real shift in my workload and in my working days. The soft play centre wants to try having all their weekly cake done on one day, which turns Wednesday from my day off to my busiest day. The Deli has been really quiet, and orders are down by about a third. I got in touch to chat about it; if there was a problem with the quality or appeal of my cakes, i needed to address it immediately. However, it's been a drop in sales across all product ranges and apparently lots of other retail outlets are finding a similar drop.

I guess that credit crunch is still, erm, crunching. (What is the correct verb for a credit crunch? Answers on a postcard...)

I'm getting quite a few requests for birthday cakes by word of mouth or from my association with the play centre. I've got a busy couple of weekends lined up with them. This is great for the business but not much good for helping me get my raised beds finished in time to plant the spring bulbs.

College restarted. It's lovely to see everyone again but 3 hours for swearing at royal icing and blocked piping tubes made me feel like we'd never left. I love what we learn to do but the process is often rather fraught with cussing and stomping off for emergency caffeine rations. Which is counterproductive, of course, as what is really needed is a steady hand. Steady hands after a full day or work and kid-wrangling are rare enough. Caffeine fuelled steady hands are rarer still.

What I really ought to be doing is promoting the relaunch of the cake box scheme. It is planned work at retail profit margins, it's quite labour intensive but it's worth it. However, the thought of selling makes my toes curl. I might just put it off a little bit longer...

Friday, 10 September 2010

Coming over all Keats-like

Here we are in Autumn and I'm feeling very Ode To Autumn- 'season of mists and mellow fruitfulness' and all that sort of thing. (A-Level Eng Lit lingers in the brain somewhat)

Still worshipping the twin gods of Seasonality and Local Produce, I've been dabbling with more recipes. I can get away with lemon and raspberry cake for another few weeks because my own raspberries are only just coming out. However, the Big News in the garden at the moment is the plethora of plums (what a nice bit of alliteration). I've made 6 jars of plum jam and we still have a good crop on the trees. So, plum cake it is.

I've tested 3 recipes so far. One of them was horrid - claggy and pointless. One was not bad but had no longevity and the taste didn't really wow me. It was essentially a vanilla sponge with halved plums on top. The other - the first one I tried - is lovely. It's full of chopped plums, sultanas and cinnamon and it tastes only just sweet enough. For the moment I can use my own plums too (if Z and I don't eat them all first) so I get the double glow of using things from the garden and being in touch with the tastes of the season.

As always, I get other people's verdicts too. I sliced it up and took it to the playground at school pick-up time. It was enthusiastically received. In fact, my lovely mate Julie only waited until she'd got back to her house before texting me an order for it for the next day. The deli is keen as well. The cake did quite well in on practical issues, too. I wrapped a large slice and put it in a tin, and put another slice in the freezer. The frozen slice was pretty good and the fresh slice kept a decent texture for 3 or 4 days before feeling a bit stale. That makes it a goer - Hurray!

Apples are also coming into season again, which means Riet's apple cake is back on the menu. I've rather missed it. I'll do a dummy run before I start supplying the shop with it but I expect to be selling it within the month.