Thursday, 3 December 2009

Cakes Cakes and more Cakes

This week has been pretty busy getting ready for the Deanery Christmas School fair on Saturday.

I've decided to make some "trio" taster packs (4) which will contain three 4 inch cakes (1 Canadian Carrot, 1 Chocolate Guinness and 1 Chocolate Fruit Cake). In addition to that, I have made 8 x 4" Carrot cakes, 6 x 4" Chocolate Guinness Cakes, 4 x 4" Chocolate Fruit cakes and 4 slabs of Fridge cakes, which should end up into about 20 plus packs.

If this goes OK, then I'll use the same format and numbers for the Christmas Fair I'm doing on the 12th December at Esporta in Lichfield.

This week has also seen me engage a marketing company to create a "logo" and brand identity called "we are homegrown", as I'm rather "eclectic" in my branding.

I am also the proud owner of some flyers to give out this Saturday, using some photo's taken by Kirsty Heaton. The flyer is simple (if not somewhat small - learn for next print, larger font!), but will do the trick.

Picture used for flyer

This week has also seen me follow up some "cold calling" I did with two other cake outlets, which saw me give them a free cake. On Thursday, I went to these places again to see what they thought.

It's great - I got an order for a Canadian Carrot and Chocolate Guinness cake, which may turn into a regular order. At the other outlet, the manager really like the chocolate fudge cake I made (said it was "orgasmic"!), so I think if nothing else, the manager may buy a cake for her Birthday! Hopefully, I'll know in the next few days whether they are interested in more cakes!

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Tobizzy2bake hits a Christmas fair

Well, I've gone and done my first Christmas fair. Having never had a stall at one of these events, I was a little nervous and particularly unsure about the amounts of cakes to make. It seems a little easier with cupcakes as people can by these individually or in multiples, whereas this doesn't tend to happen with the bigger cakes (especially when it's not being sold by the slice).

However, rather than making lots of 23cm cakes, I decided to make a few 4 inch "tasters" of my Canadian Carrot, Guinness and Chocolate Fruit cakes along with packs of Chocolate & Ginger fridge cakes.

4 inch Canadian Carrot cake (I know, it looks like a cupcake from this photo, but its not.)

I borrowed some 4 inch cake tins and spent most of the week baking (oh how I really dislike lining tins!).

As it was a last minute decision to attend the fair, I also had to investigate getting cake boxes (I only have 10 inch ones and thought the cakes might look a little lost!)so had to pay extra for next day delivery from RyePac to get some smaller window cake boxes and 4 inch cake boards.

I also decided that I needed to add a sparkle to these cakes (it is Christmas after all!) so ordered some edible glitter from

As the week leading up to the fair progressed, I was surrounded by more and more cakes and my kids where most put out that none were for them.

In addition to the smaller cakes, I made three "demo" cakes, as my main aim was to get some interest in my bigger cakes which people could order, so here are some pictures of the cakes.

I now have this Christmas fair bug, as I'm doing another two, one on the 5th & 11th of December, so need to start thinking about baking and changing some of the things I did in the first one (win - learn - change).

One thing that did go well, was to have some "tasters" for people to try. For these I used the Fridge Cake, and had little squares for people to try - this bought people to the stall and got them interested in the other types of cakes on offer, so i will certainly do that again and will consider making a cake specifically for that purpose.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Un-naturally Red

Well, I have had another go a my Red Velvet cake. This time, instead of using "natural" red food colouring, I used "Red" food colouring.

It is amazing what a difference it makes - instead of a reddy brown looking cake, I got a bright red one.

This one was sold, and I thought I'd copy the comments I got for it here.

This Saturday sees me doing my first ever Christmas Fair, so I will blog about the lead up to this and the cakes I am doing later..........meanwhile, I need to make two cakes for Wednesday 18th November, so better get on with those now rather than blog about them.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Christmas fair and self employed

Today I made the decision to have a table at the local church Christmas fair.

I now have to think hard and quickly about what to do! I'm pretty sure I will sell small pieces of my chocolate fridge cake - i have developed another version which is made with ginger nuts and has stemmed ginger and glace cherries in.

I will also make a few display cakes and see if I can get any orders for these.

I'm planning on getting a T-shirt done, that says "To busy to bake?" try "tobizzy2bake".

It will look better on a T-shirt, I'm sure.

Tomorrow, I'm going to a workshop to find out what I have to do as a self employed person. What documents do I need to retain, what can I can claim tax back on, all these things I really wanted to avoid.

I will blog about that later.

As well as all that I also have 3 cakes and 1 fridge cake to bake by the end of tomorrow.

Sometimes I think back to having a 9-5 job and how easy it was........but not nearly as much fun!

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

The Tipping point

Well, I've been thinking about this for some time.

When does something you enjoy doing for fun or "pocket" money become more of a chore and a job?

Don't get me wrong, I'm enjoying my baking and investigating new outlets and seeing how to develop "tobizzy2bake" (just had some business cards arrive- I'm very excited!), but don't see me baking 5 days a week.

My week is divided into the following activities:

- Baking cakes for Tobizzy2bake - perhaps this might mean between 5 to 8 cakes a week - would probably like to see this go up to nearer the 8 to 10, but not much more than that.
- Freelance insurance work (won't go in to the detail of what this involves here, but suffice it to say, this is the work that pays the bills!)
- I've decided I want to do some charity work, so have allocated 1 day a week (Thursday) to working in the local Acorns Hospice shop. I really am enjoying this outlet of my time.

One of the things that concerned me when I was made redundant was that after spending 20 years working in an office, how would I cope working at home? Well, I have had to re-work life and ensure I meet people - I most certainly couldn't stay at home all the time.

So, with going "legit" with my baking business, I have got to ensure it does not become a chore or another job whilst ensuring that I take some time to develop it some more.

That's the thoughts whilst I have been cooking today. Today I've delivered 2 Victoria sandwich sponges (here is a question for you - butter cream or fresh cream in the middle?) and have made chocolate fridge cake and in the process of making a Canadian Carrot cake.

Here it is in the process of being cooked:

The thing I haven't done is make cakes for photographing. I wonder whether the deli who is receiving this cake, will allow me to photograph it in situ? I can but ask?

Finally, here are a couple of pictures of my Victoria Sandwich sponge (two layer version)

And Amy, I haven't forgotten about your offer!

Monday, 2 November 2009

Fridge Cake

Well, I have had another go at the fridge cake - I know it tastes great (so my kids tell me!), but hopefully this one looks a little "prettier"!

So, I thought I'd have a another go a taking some photographs of this cake.

I think I need to find a plate or something that shows off the cakes better.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Oh no, what a disaster.....

The bowl on our mixer has broken (obviously over use lol).

I've had to order one via a Kenwood spares web site, and then pay a little extra for next day delivery (thanks Royal Mail for striking), so I can get the mixer back up and running asap.

However, it hasn't tie my baking hands behind my back too much. I have still had a chance to make pumpkin pie for the first time. I even made my own pumpkin puree, rather than buying a tin of it.

Again, another wonderful recipe from the Hummingbird bakery cookbook.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

An interesting day

Well, most of you won't know this, but I currently have a regular order for cakes at the local deli in Aldridge called Simply Delicious.

I might provide them with a carrot cake or two, chocolate fudge cake, Victoria sponge cake or chocolate fridge cake.

Today I asked how my chocolate fridge cake (from the Hummingbird bakery cookbook) went down. The answer was good, but they wondered whether I could make it look a little prettier.

I thought fridge cake was supposed to be a little "rustic".

I will now have to think of a way of making my fridge cake "pretty".

Keeping up with the bakers

Well, one thing I have noticed - all bakers seem to take excellent photographs of their cakes.

This is probably not one of my core skills - as you might be able to tell from the picture below (although I did think about stealing other peoples photos of cakes, but thought I'd rather do it myself), but we all have to start somewhere.

I expect my kids will be delighted, as I'll obviously need to make extra cakes to cut up and photograph. They're always hoping a cake doesn't work out so well so they get to keep and eat it.

Well, here's a couple of pictures of my Chocolate Guinness Cake taken before it gets delivered to the cafe who are buying it this morning.

All I need now is to make one and cut it open and take some more.........

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Why is my Red Velvet more chocolate than red?

I've been baking today - 2 chocolate guinness cakes (lets hope the icing is more solid than last time) and 1 three layer red velvet cake.

Again, the colour of this cake seems to be more brown, than red. You have to mix two bottles of red food colouring with coccoa powder. I reduced the amount of the coccoa, but still it seems more brown than red.

I wonder whether there is a difference between the "natural" red food colouring compared to the artificial. It looks like the artifical food colour looks redder, so for the sake of a few "E's" I might stay with the artifical one (plus its cheaper!)

Anyone one have any issues with making this cake?

Monday, 26 October 2009

Choosing what is for dinner

How do you decide what to eat for tea (or dinner)? How easy it is to get into a routine of Fish Pie on Tuesdays, Spag bol on Wednesdays etc.

I need to work out how to be creative with our daily menu, that doesn't mean spending all day preparing it and increasing the weekly food bill.

Someone ought to create a menu generator - select all the meals you like (and can cook) and it then generates the weekly menu.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Mother and daugther in the kitchen

As part of our new lifestyle at home, its been decided that I'll cook the meals during the week and my wife will cook at the weekends (she said she needed to keep her hand in, but I think its because she's lovely and wants to give me a break from cooking.)

So, as I write my first blog post, I find that instead of cooking, I am watching my wife and daughter cook and prepare dinner for tonight and pudding for tomorrow (we're having friends round to eat with us).

The pudding comes from a great book called "the hummingbird bakery cookbook", which has some great recipes in (a Red Velvet Cake which I've used), although, for tomorrow we having a great Lemon Meringue pie.

Well, I think I'll go and help dry up - its the least I can do :)