Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Client visits for the day: An outsiders view of our little world!!!!

I myself have a passion for baking at home, working my way through Nigellas cookbook, but what would this hobby be like as an actual profession?  I had the excellent opportunity to go to The Family Cake Company's bakery to find out for myself what it’s really like to work there.  I spent 3 hours in the kitchen on Friday with Vincenzo and Anna.

When I thought of professional kitchens, I pictured those I had seen on the likes of Ramsay’s Best Restaurant or The F word, fast paced, hot and sweaty and generally a rather stressful place to be.  I’m pleased to report that The Family Cake Company's bakery is the entire opposite to the common misconception.  The kitchen is nice and cool, clean and slow paced and calm.

I watched as Anna decorated 2 birthday cakes, taking time and care for each one to ensure it was perfect.  Neither of them were rushed; each one was given the seal of approval by Vincenzo or Daniel.  Little touches possibly added to ensure that the cake is extra special and just right for that birthday boy or girl.  For the Toy Story cake- some white clouds to match the clouds on the wallpaper in Andy’s room in the film, something that may be insignificant to most, but to a fan of the film memorable. For the golf cake- a surrounding of green turf of course, made of green icing pushed through a metal sieve in order to give its grass texture!

Next Vincenzo showed me how to package Madolines, delicately wrapped and tied with ribbon and personalised for the specific company.  My first half a dozen bows were a bit messy going by Vincenzo’s beautifully tied one, but he persevered and showed me many times how to tie a simple neat bow, until I got the hang of it.  Time and care was taken to ensure each one looks great.

It was then time for a spot of lunch, a little picnic and a chat.

After lunch, Anna moved on to the marzipan animals for Valentine's Day.  In the corner were trays upon trays of marzipan animals such as ladybirds, rabbits, dinosaurs, bears and lions. Anna created twenty of each kind; each one looked as good as the one before it.  Anna made it look so easy, yet each one was done to the highest standard like the one before.

I really enjoyed my time in The Family Cakes Company's kitchen.  Personally I feel so much happier about the product I am buying when I know time and care have been taken to ensure it is the best it can be, and that someone cares enough to ensure it is just right, with little touches to make it extra special for me.  So if you want a truly personal cake created especially for you with care and attention, then I would highly recommend The Family Cake Company

Lisa Donaldson

Friday, 14 January 2011

The Best Ever & Easiest Pavlova

I've become oh so slightly gaga about egg whites & sugar = the heavenly mallowy yumminess that is Pavlova...
What is so special about a meringue I hear you say???  Don't be fooled by the churlish almost impertinent eggy excuses the retail giants like to call.... 'meringue nests' !!!  No no no... don't do it.
Please please have a go & my easiest in the world meringue & I can promise you 1000% fantabulous results everytime.  I've become quite the specialist at WOWing everyone within my inner circle.... give it a go.. & let me know what you think:

The Best Ever Pavlova

Serves 6

4 large Free Range egg whites
200g golden caster sugar

Double cream 1 large pot.. or however much you fancy + a little bit for pouring
1 table spoon of icing sugar
Fruit of your choice: Berries in Summer.  Sweet wine or saffron poached pears in Winter + some melted chocolate for drizzling

To make:

Preheat your oven to 150 degrees

Place the egg whites in a clean dry bowl & start whisking till they reach soft peaks. Start adding the golden caster sugar in stages, all the time whisking.

Keep on whisking until the mix has reached stiff peaks, is thick & glossy & you can no longer feel the grains of sugar between your fingers if you touch it.

Lay some parchment paper onto a baking sheet & spread your meringue mix into which ever shape you like.  I favour square as it's much easier to portion out to the dribbling masses.

Bake in the oven for 1 hour.  After one hour turn the oven off & leave the oven door slightly open for about couple of hours so that it can dry & settle.  I usually make the meringue an hour before bed time then leave it over night to cool.

Before serving, whip the double cream & the icing sugar together, leaving a tiny amount of icing sugar for a final flurry of decoration.

Once the cream has reached your preferred consistency spread it over the meringue & add your prepared fruit or choice.

If you're using the cooked pears (or caramelised clementine's are delicious) melt the chocolate in the microwave & drizzle over the top of the pavlova using a large spoon.

The meringue will be billowy and mallowy and you will be very very popular !!!!!!