Sunday, 8 November 2009

Recipe Testing

Recipe testing is a bumpy business.

I love it because I like to try new recipes, I enjoy a change from the things I bake most days, and it's exciting when it all works beautifully. I hate it when I'm on version 9 of a slightly tweaked recipe and it's still not quite right, or becomes too expensive to be commercially viable, and my kitchen is a mess and I've run out of time and energy and I still have work to do.

Also, there's the question of what to do with all those test cakes. If we ate them all we'd be sick. I often make up plates of assorted test batches and take them to my neighbours. Well, my nice neighbours. I bypass any grumpy ones. My pal Lisa, who lives around the corner, is a BIG fan of this habit because she gets a lot of cake this way.

I also take some up to the staff at the deli. Partly it gives me some feedback on the success or otherwise of the cakes, but mostly it's just nice to do because they are so chuffed.

It would be nice to sell some of them - maybe half a cake per batch - to recoup some of the ingredients cost. I bet if I scheduled a test week and told people I'd have boxes of mixed cakes and cookies for sale that week, I'd get some takers. My pal Rebecca always says she'd buy any "spare" cake (can you believe I live in a world that has spare cake? Me neither!) but I feel a little funny putting her on the spot. (My inability to ask for money is a right pain when it comes to being self employed, I can tell you.)

Anyway, this week it's all about Christmassy things. I'm trialling spiced cupcakes, Christmas cakes, mincemeat, Christmassy cookies and all things Yuletide. I've been humming Christmas sons to myself while chopping stem ginger and grating nutmeg. I LOVE nutmeg.

I am on a steep learning curve with the fruit cakes - they just behave so darned differently to normal cake - but I am learning something new at each go. Also, Mark and I are rather enjoying scoffing the results that are a little to rough'n'ready to give away. I'd better get good fast, as I've some orders already. Ah well, fortune favours the bold.

The cupcakes show promise, although getting them to a good commercial price is a little tricky. I'm having fun with the icing - I think a cream cheese icing made with the ginger syrup and cinnamon is the right way to go. Sweet but with a lovely spice flavour. Mark finds it a bit too sweet for him but I think it's delicious. I am still trialling a bunch of recipes for the cupcakes themselves - I'm confident I can crack it this week, if everyone one is well and I've no further delays.

It must be said that is a BIG if.

Edited to add -

Woo hoo! I think I've cracked it. I've found a gorgeous spice cake recipe. Nice as cupcakes and extremely lovely indeed as a layer cake. The accompanying icing wasn't up to much, but my cream cheese icing (above) is gorgeous with it.

I must be on a roll - the packaging for the mini cupcakes looks a treat, too. If only the costs of decent packaging weren't so darned high. Ah well, the tiny cakes look lovely anyway.

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