Saturday, 20 March 2010

Horses for courses

I criticised Nigella's roll out cookie dough here last time. I find the dough is either too stiff from the fridge or too sticky in the warm kitchen and that Goldilocks time frame of Just Right lasts about 2 minutes. Rebecca disagrees - her kitchen is pretty darned cold and the dough works just fine there.

A few weeks back I gave a link to the Red Velvet cake I use - of the 3 or 4 I've tried, it's the recipe that works best for me although I use a different icing and do half the recipe. Andrew gave it a go and it was a disaster (it really was - I saw it!) When i gave them a wedge of Red Velvet, Jude said it was her family's favourite cake, Liz says hers didn't like it much.

Zach loves the muesli bars. Sair and Cath love the muesli bars. Emma says they are the nicest thing she's had. Michelle thinks they are horrid.

I try pretty hard to make as many people happy with my cakes as possible, obviously. It wouldn't be much of a business if I didn't. But in the past couple of weeks I've noticed how tricky that can get. I need to taste things myself, get Mark to taste them (he's more discerning, which is a nicer way of saying he's more likely to criticise) and have to get 4 or 5 other people's opinions or I end up with a pretty skewed product range.

I've made a mental list of who is a reliable source of tasting. Rebecca's family hate fruit in cake, as do Michelle's, and are keen fans of chocolate cake as long as it doesn't look like chocolate malteser cake. If it does look like chocolate malteser cake, if better be the real thing or they will be disappointed.
Sarah F's family like to try pretty much all kinds of cake but Sarah doesn't like apple or banana. Claire H's kids always have interesting points of view and don't always go for the obvious choices. Lisa and her family are keen to try any and everything and will rank them in preference, which was very useful when I was sorting out apple cakes. SJ loves cheesecakes. Val doesn't like sugar at all.

An added complication is that my palette is changing a bit. I'm not keen on the taste of royal icing (overexposure, I expect) and I'd rather eat a vat of buttercream icing than a tablespoon of sugarpaste. I am definitely keen on less sugar than I used to be. I spend so much time breathing in icing sugar as I sift and mix that I prefer the less sugary things. However, my two biggest selling items are both very sweet indeed. Butter, on the other hand... There's never too much butter, a perspective that Mark and Val both dispute.

So here I am, juggling feedback and tasting notes, suggestions and recipes. At some point I just have to go with what I think works.
You can't please all of the people all of the time etc. The joy of self-employment is that, on the whole, you can please yourself.

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