Archive | February, 2011

Farmers’ Markets – to do or not to do?

27 Feb

This morning we went to Cuerden Valley Farmers’ and Craft Market which is set inside and outside at this large public park near me.  I haven’t been to this particular one before and its been on my list of things to do for a while.  I am also pondering economical and enjoyable ways to sell and advertise my cakes so it was a bit of a recce too.  

I agree with the principle of farmers’ markets and there was some great stuff there – locally made chutneys, cheese, meat, and pies.  There were also some crafts.  It is lovely to have a wander around, even in a light February drizzle, and Little Tester loves to sample the different foods.  She liked the sausage but wasn’t overly impressed with the chocolate covered preserved ginger.  Good excuse to follow it with some chocolate fudge though.  Twice – she’s not daft and, truth be told, a bit greedy like her mum.  We ended up buying some lamb, some piccadilli and two slices of candied orange slice dipped in dark chocolate, which was heavenly.  The chocolate stall was very, very tempting and I was quite restrained really. 

All this said, I think that there is a still a part of me that is a little bit cynical about some of the things at farmers’ markets.  I did laugh at the brilliant Armstrong and Miller sketch so I must be a bit cynical.  I love, love, love olives but one particular mini-gripe of mine is the olive stall which is obviously supplied by the cash and carry.  It also pains me when food producers who advocate buying local and fresh, use artificial additives in their produce.  What’s that all about?  Food hygiene and preservation?  Yes, I know, but still… there must be a better way.

I think that these markets have generally moved away from being a true ‘farmers’ market’ to more of a ‘small suppliers market’.  Maybe this is a natural and right progression in the movement against supermarket domination.  I guess what I do fits this ‘small supplier’ model as I am not a farmer or farmer’s wife, so I shouldn’t hint at criticism.  I am still considering enquiring after a stall after all.  There were a few cake stalls or stalls selling cakes so I would have to distinguish myself.  Silly me didn’t think of sampling the competition until I was on the way home.  

Baking is gaining in popularity and I do wonder whether the cake stalls are over-saturating the market as everyone fancies having a go.  What do you think about farmers’ markets as a seller or customer or both?  What do you think about the quality of the produce on them?  What would you like to see done differently?  Most importantly, have you tried the cake?  




Boxercise and Rocky inspired Cake

26 Feb

Helloooo.  I was given a Rocky/boxercise brief for my nephew’s 21st and here is the cake.  It is a 9″ square vanilla madeira layered with vanilla buttercream and raspberry jam.  Great fun and yummy.


Oh When the Saints Coming Marching In…

14 Feb

I have had the pleasure of some lovely family gatherings recently to celebrate some very special birthdays.  Here is the birthday cake I made for my dad who is a Saints football club supporter (no comments please!).  This one made the 250 mile journey from Lancashire to Hampshire successfully – it always amazes me how well cake travels really. 

It is cut and pasted from a 10″ by 8″ vanilla madeira with vanilla buttercream and raspberry jam and covered in sugarpaste.  Diehard Saints fans will instantly recognise the new strip.  I should probably confess that I had to google it (the shame) but now I know it very well indeed.  It tasted good too!

My First Giant Cupcake

9 Feb


Last week was a bit of a first for me as I made two celebration cakes.  I usually peak at one!  This was my first ever giant cupcake.  It is a chocolate sponge layered and covered with a serious amount of white chocolate buttercream, as well as white chocolate fingers and buttons.

Giant cupcakes are great fun and do lend themselves to different occasions.  This one was for a big fan of chocolate cake.   I love the effect of the chocolate biscuits creating the cupcake case and a very extravagant cake and biscuit experience!

You can really go to town with the decorations.  I kept this quite simple for my first try but I really like them with flowers and butterflies.  Of course I wasn’t sure David would be too keen on them either.

I say it was my first giant cupcake.  Well, it was the first one I saw through to completion but I had tried out a couple of cake recipes beforehand to test out the silicon cupcake mould and work out the best cake for it.  I doubled the recipe for an 8″ chocolate cake which seemed to work quite well.

I hope I do another one soon.  I still have no idea how you are supposed to cut them!  What’s the best way do you think?