Wedding Cake in Transit

The whole process of a wedding cake is scary. For me, the scariest part is the delivery.

The last delivery I made was a 47 mile journey up to Seahouses on a sunny Saturday morning.

The key thing for me is preparation. I start a few days before by ringing the venue, checking what time the room will be set up and if I haven’t been there before what the access is like (front, side, back, stairs etc…)

I then head over to Google Maps and check the roads – especially when it’s a new venue to me as sometimes my sat nav cannot be trusted!

Then I have a morning routine of boxing the cake up (very sturdy with handles, non slip mat and lid all secure). Once boxed I do the ‘jiggle’ test – just a small wobble when I pick it up – honestly, if it doesn’t move, it’s going to be fine!

My emergency kit usually consists of glue, knife, scissors, ribbon, sugarpaste, and any spare bits I might needs, so flowers, leaves, spare hair (for brides and grooms obviously!!)

Another non slip mat is in my boot, my ‘wedding cake in transit’ sign is on the back of my car and I’m ready to go! (Oh and I always have plenty of petrol in before I set off!!)

Slow and steady always wins the race, or delivers the wedding cake safely in my case, and I’m never intimidated by other drivers. I will not pull out in traffic and I will not be pushed (although sometimes cars are really close because they want to read my sign!!)

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I always try and arrive at least 2 hours before the wedding (sometimes it just isn’t practical) but I always deliver on the same day.
Usually venues are really good, so lifts or a trolley are a great help but for me, I usually just carry the cake myself.

Then it’s getting the cake onto the stand – sometimes it goes really smoothly. Sometimes there are guests milling around and want to chat – smile, breathe and get it done!

Once I’ve taken pictures from every angle (I never ask the venue to sign a disclaimer), I’m free! (Aka the happy dance!!)

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Before I start my return 47 mile journey home I have to pop into SwallowFish. Smokie salmon pieces for tea and a hot kipper in a bun for lunch – delicious!

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And a Partridge in a Pear Tree…

Last week was a total blur!

Us cake makers know that it’s all or nothing and we don’t know the word NO!!

All I had booked in for this week was a sugarcraft demonstration in Scotland at the beginning of the year then a close friend recommended me to her friend to make her wedding cake, ‘of course I can!’  Then a couple of repeat customers wanted cakes and I thought, right that’s it… When a text landed from a good friend asking for a cake for her mum. OK but this is definitely it… Plus another two cakes for my very regular customer. Please stop, I just can’t take any more!

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Then, an email arrived the week before, I’d won a two night stay at the Hilton York with tickets to see James Martins live cookery show AND meet him! Well, I couldn’t say no! (Yes, I was this close and yes, he’s as lovely as you think he is!)

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So, with my lists and military precision timings I got through it all! I even managed my trip to London on Saturday too, with a visit to Sky Garden.

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So, 7 cakes, 4 lists, 3 nights away, 2 sugarcraft classes and 1 cocktail (the vodka infused candy cane one!)

 

 

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What would you say no to?

What would you say no to?

In cake terms of course! I’m asking this question today as a Belfast bakery refused to decorate a cake with the slogan “support gay marriage” because of their Christian beliefs. They didn’t refuse because of the persons sexuality but because of the message itself.

I won’t go into all the details but if you want to read more on the case click here – http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/feb/01/gay-cake-row-i-changed-my-mind-ashers-bakery-freedom-of-conscience-religion

There was also a piece on Radio Newcastle this morning which I had my 2 minutes of fame!

I hate saying no. It’s very rare to be honest, but I do draw the line with very rude cakes! (I’m not a prude, but some things are not meant to be made out of sugar!) What I tend to say is either that I’m fully booked or I give a really high price and that tends to make the decision for me!

In my view, my business is my business. I’m the manager, administrator, receptionist and cleaner! I can refuse to serve or say no to an order if I want without an explanation.

So tell me, when do you draw the line? When something’s too complicated or intricate? Too time consuming? Just not something you want to make? Can’t be bothered!!??!! I’d love to know!

Sunday Nights 

I love going out on a Sunday night. Our working week is usually Monday to Saturday and we’re both knackered by Saturday night, usually nodding off by 8pm! So having a day off (sometimes) on a Sunday is a perfect excuse to go out, plus it’s quieter and cheaper!

We (Graemeand I ) try and find different places to eat locally, usually through one of the deal websites (Groupon/Living Social) but last week we ventured into town to The Botanist.

It was restaurant week and we took advantage of their 2 courses for £10 offer. Nowadays I like to have eaten, drank and be back home for 9pm (gone are the days of nightclubbing until 2am) but they only had reservations for 8.30pm onwards, so 8.30 it was!

We arrived super early (7.45)  and guess what, the place was pretty quiet (as I suspected) and so we got seated straight away with a table overlooking Grey Street.

We already knew what we were having (the luxury of online menus!) so ordered both drinks and meals at the same time (cuts down on the faffing about!) Our drinks came (which were wrong but immediately rectified) and then our starters. Both the soup and the hummus were well presented and delicious. Then we had the obligatory hanging kebabs – one chicken, one prawn. More chicken than prawns I have to add but delicious all the same, especially the garlic butter sauce!  I won’t bore you with pictures as I think everyone knows what a hanging kebab looks like!

We finished off our pints (all £10 of them!),  paid the bill and completed the survey on their tablet!

We did a quick wander upstairs to the roof terrace, just to say we had seen it and made our way back downstairs (my advice, take the lift up!)

We did enjoy the food but the seating (too low), lighting (too dark) and live singer (too loud) were very offputting.

Would we return? No I don’t think so, unless Graeme grew a hipster beard and squeezed himself into a pair of too tight jeans!

The guilty side of cake decorating

Apart from saying no (to cake orders I must add!) my guilty feelings kick in when I go on holiday.

We’ve just had a week away and although I haven’t turned any orders away, I still feel guilty for closing the shop.

We love going away in January. It’s quiet and cold so some sunshine is just what we needed! We flew on Thursday and a very good customer wanted a cake for the Friday so although I said no, she insisted that it would be OK for Wednesday so I agreed.

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So off we went for a week away – answerphone message set and closed sign on our shop door. It’s pretty difficult nowadays to get away from anything completely. I can remember about 4 years ago when we had our first holiday since opening the business. We took our small laptop with us and every other night we sat in the hotel bar (the only place that you get a wifi signal) before dinner to check our messages and orders. Most hotels now have brilliant signals and I could even get wifi in the cave we visited, so there’s no escape!

The snow hit when we arrived back which delayed our flight but as I had two orders for Saturday I was straight back to work on Thursday night after we landed.

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So we’re back to normal now. Settling back into the cold and catching up on emails, it feels like we’ve never been away!

Have you made a New Years resolution? 

I’m not taking about the usual stuff – eat more healthily, exercise more etc… I’m taking about something you can actually achieve!

I was talking to one of my students a few weeks ago and she was saying that she really wants to take more time and care with her cake orders and I actually said I want to do the opposite! Well that’s not strictly true, I just think I need to care a little less! Does that make sense?

I really do spend too much time overthinking things and if you’ve read my cakes=stress post you’ll know why! (if not then go and read it!)

Which brings me onto mindfulness. I recently listened to someone who made total sense (up to a point, I’ll get to that later) of the whole thing. Before then I just thought it was a load of rubbish, like yoga! I just didn’t get it!

So for me, mindfulness is all about now, right this minute, today.

Not thinking about the past and the mistakes I’ve made that I can’t do anything about, or the future and how I can’t predict what’s going to happen (or if the cutter I really need for an order is going to arrive in time!) It’s about today and making the most of it. Enjoying it, whatever you’re doing, not spoiling it by thinking about the past or future.

Obviously, I always think ahead and love a list (or two) but I need to start thinking about today and enjoying the moment, because I do think I’m missing out and life is passing me by!

If you’re sitting with a cuppa reading this then think about; Is it your favourite mug? Is it a special tea or coffee?

What happens more than often is that we make a cuppa then start doing something else and it goes cold. Don’t let it go cold!

Love today and make sure you enjoy it!

Happy New Year!

P.S. The bit I didn’t understand was about thinking about where my tea came from… Mine came from Lidl 😉

Who hides in the bakery at Christmas? 

A Mince Spy of course!

Sorry, couldn’t resist! I thought I’d share with you my no fail Shortbread Sweet Mince Pie recipe. You can just make them for yourself, your family or give as presents. I can’t do Christmas without them!

Recipe (makes 15/16)

250g Plain Flour

175g Butter (my favourite at the minute is stork marg/butter as it’s on offer for £1.00 a tub!)

75g Caster Sugar

1 Jar of Mincemeat

Edible Gold Glitter (optional)

Method

Preheat your oven to 150c/Gas 3. Weigh out your flour and butter and rub them together then stir in the sugar. Knead well to form a dough, wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for half an hour to chill (this just helps it roll and cut out better).

Once chilled, roll out the dough in between 2 sheets of cling film (this is a great tip as it doesn’t add any extra flour into the dough to dry it out and you can actually get more pies out of it too!) image

Use your favourite cutter (I used a double sided circle and star cutter) and cut of your bases, add your mincemeat filling (shop bought, boo I hear you say!) then keep kneading the dough back up and rolling out until you have your 15 pies ready for the oven.

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Bake for approx 30 minutes or until the mincemeat is bubbling and the shortbread is starting to brown on the edges.

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Leave to cool, sprinkle with a little edible glitter and viola!

I hope you give them a try! If you do, send me your pics!

P.S. I even had a smidge leftover for a tiny pastie!

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