Posts tagged ‘Ringmer’

April 28, 2016

Biggest baking challenge to date

So far my baking journey has taken me from trying to make gluten free cheese muffins to orange polenta cake to French Macarons. I’ve perfected gluten and dairy free pastry, made many jars of dairy free lemon curd and eaten far too many leftover biscuits.
I’ve made things I never thought I would and not always been successful but have enjoyed the journey and enjoyed sharing my successes with my customers and my failures with the food recycling bin.
The Countrymarket is a unique market place, with an average of 40 customers a week most of which are over 70, I was concerned that there would be no takers for my creations. Gradually more & more people bought my bakes regardless whether they needed it to be dairy or gluten free. Dairy free doesn’t make it taste bad, for some of us dairy free is not a choice but a necessity. I recently watched a programme about shoppers choosing to buy gluten free foods because they believed it be healthier, tosh, manufacturers brain wash us and charge the earth for products that have no health benefits. I don’t understand how ‘gluten free’ oats can cost so much when the cheapest oats are gluten free anyway, if only others would take the time to read labels and realise the harsh power of advertising. I have been reading labels for over 30 years as I’m sure other sufferers do, I won’t eat food at a buffet unless the person who has prepared it is there to ask what went into it. I know what it’s like to be denied puddings, or offered a banana as dessert when everyone else is tucking into a hot pudding with lashings of custard. I’m trying to make life happier for those who have gone without the joys of puddings and biscuits.
I love being part of the market community and have made some great new friends which when you are self employed and work from home is really important.
Our village hall has been undergoing much needed improvements to cater for our ever growing community and the country market was asked to provide canapés for the opening of our new library extension. Between 6 of us bakers we will be baking an assortment of savoury and sweet nibbles. No sausages on sticks for us! My choice was French Macarons and mini cupcakes. Then I realised no one was making anything savoury that was dairy or gluten free so I offered up 2 savoury options too. With a fridge full of butter substitutes, a mountain of eggs on the counter, packages of almonds at the ready, tomorrow I will make a start on the cup cakes & Macarons. The devilled eggs will be done Saturday morning as will the decorations on the cup cakes. When catering for 80 people this is certainly a different kettle of fish to what I’m used too.
Wish me luck!

December 30, 2015

Baking for Christmas, GF or otherwise

I recently joined the Lewes Women in Business group, a fantastic group of very talented women with skills that I lack. Our leader a wonderful cook was hosting a Christmas baking day at the community prep kitchen in Lewes so I thought it would be a good idea to join her. Being the awkward one I requested GF flour and Stork margarine for my cakes.  With just 4 willing students Chloe introduced us to the joys of mixing by hand with ingredients that had so much brandy in them the fumes almost put us over the legal limit.

After a day of baking we had produced Christmas Biscotti, chocolate hazelnut biscotti, gingerbread dough and some delicious smelling cakes. I could barely carry my stash to the bus stop-blinding wind & rain didn’t help. I duly ‘fed’ my cakes with more brandy over the following weeks then waited for the orders to come in. Seems people in the village didn’t need gluten free cakes. Plan B. Luckily I have several friends who appreciated the opportunity to eat cake that wouldn’t make them ill so I was just left with one small loaf shaped cake-perfect for MOI.

A couple of weeks later I was asked to make regular cakes complete with marzipan & icing. I love a challenge! 2 x Yule logs & Mince pies too…..

Now my kitchen is tiny, in real life it isn’t a kitchen, it’s a space you walk through at the top of the stairs. My workspace is 4′ long, needless to say it took military precision to organise the baking, storage and decorating of these cakes. I pulled it off. whew. Even made a chocolate snowman cake for a special GF customer.white cake12317341_1072790349408291_1312000709_n


GF snowman cake


Falling bauble cake


square cake


September 20, 2015

Baking experiments Part two. Or Having a Portfolio career.

Pastry made with gluten free flour was very ‘short’, delicious but short. Half of what I created sold but I had to eat the other half, life as a baker is really tough! However, muffins made with GF flour using a ‘normal’ recipe were an epic FAIL. I could have built an outhouse with them. Dry, tasteless,claggy. Just a few words that my official tasters came up with. I didn’t think the birds would enjoy them either so in the food recycling bin they went.

It makes a change to talk to people about something other than wool, to say my life revolved around wool is an understatement, get me started and you’ll be asleep before I’m finished taking about my favourite breeds and their uses. My Mastermind subject- wool, favourite holiday destinations- anywhere there are sheep. Favourite meal- Roast Lamb.  But, now I can hold a conversation about gluten free recipes too. Who’d have thought it?

I can even start a conversation about the highs & lows of running a monthly market, I feel a bit like a juggler with 3 balls on the go at the same time, apparently there is a NAME for this, not multi tasking, oh no, that is So last season. I now have a Portfolio career. Yes really, it is a known THING according to my self employed Copywriter son. Many people choose this style of life rather than having a boring old 9-5 job until they retire, juggling charity work alongside paid jobs, I saw an article in the Times about it. (so it must be true)

I am rather enjoying my Portfolio career and so glad I wasn’t pensioned off at 60 as I might never have achieved this milestone in my life. My pensioning age is now 65 1/2 so I will enjoy the next 3 1/2 years in this line of work and see how many other balls I can collect along the way.

Recipe books sit alongside my collection of knitting and felting books now but there may have to be a shuffle soon as the bookcase is hanging off the wall! I have had to make room for all the extra ingredients I have to buy and am already stocking up with dried fruit ready for the GF Christmas cakes I plan on baking. New cake tins have already arrived.

Next time I order business cards I wont have to add, baker or market organiser to the other titles I have , I just write Portfolio Careerist.

September 15, 2015

Baking experiments. Part 1. Using gluten free Flour.

I gave up volunteering at Oxfam after over ten years of service. I miss the camaraderie and the rummaging but it did mean I could now attend the Country market held every Tuesday morning in the village hall. I thought it would be a great place to sell some of my cards & felt items. I wasn’t expecting to be asked if I could bake?

I used to bake for the children & husband, loved making special celebrations cakes for them and the family but now I rarely bake as there’s only me.

Trawling through recipes I found some simple ones to start me off, everything would be dairy free as any leftovers have to be EATEN. First week I sold a few things but the jam tarts were ignored. I became bolder and after talking to other bakers & customers it was obvious they needed a gluten free supplier too. That was all new to me so I trawled more websites and found delicious looking recipes, headed to town for the ingredients and gave them a go. Successes and disasters ensued.

My daughter ( a dietician) told me I had to be careful about cross contamination with regular flour into the gluten free bakes as this could cause serious problems for coeliacs. So I decided I would only bake GF & DF things in my kitchen on a Monday and make sure all pans & cake tins were thoroughly scoured.

My coconut & almond macaroons were an instant hit and my flapjacks are a weekly staple. I’ve had varied success with gluten free cakes though and the chocolate one last week looked like cardboard and didn’t rise. I thought I’d try making pastry-by hand- dairy & gluten free, now there’s a challenge. It formed ok and after it warmed up a bit after resting in the fridge for a few days I was set to roll it. Kept breaking… more kneading, more rolling, I was going to make old fashioned apple turnovers ( I ran out in the pouring rain to pick the apples earlier). I cut 3 circles, placed on non stick reuseable sheet and added a little of the cooked & cooled apple, added the egg wash to stick it together but then as I tried to fold the other half over it just broke. I couldn’t turn back now so carried on with all 3, gave it a good egg wash sprinkled with golden caster sugar & shoved in oven. They turned out ok, well 2 of the 3 looked presentable, I had to ‘try’ the third. Very short pastry as I suppose it would be. Plan B, the remaining pastry was turned into 6 mini apple pies. 2 of which got stuck in the tins so 4 are going to market & 2 are for dessert….

I’m going to get fat……

I will pesevere with this. Lessons learnt- always line baking tins, greasing & dusting with gf flour doesn’t make the tin non stick and pastry will be very short.

July 27, 2012

Bell ringing

I went along to St. Mary’s church in Ringmer this morning to take part in the bell ringing. A large group of villagers turned out with eager hands for the celebration. I was given a hand bell which had quite a dull dong so when the offer came to ring the church bells I jumped at the chance. Up lots of steep steps, almost in need of resuscitation when I reached the top where more volunteers were waiting with their professional helpers. I was ably assisted by Ian who promptly went into overdrive about church bell ringing. All of which went straight over my head. Being only 5′ 2″ I had trouble reaching the ‘Sally’ (the fluffy bit) so I had to stand on tippy toes to reach! We had a countdown and the peeling began, 3 minutes of tugging on the rope (with Ian’s help) and my hands were sore & upper arms ached. Then we were offered the chance to ascend the bell tower up a ladder & through loft hatch. I was up for it but then once I had got almost level with the bells my bottle deserted me & I had to climb back down.

Croissants & coffee awaited us in the church hall and a certificate to say I was there!


July 23, 2011

Ringmer Village Societies, groups and businesses fair today

The village hall will be packed out today from 10am til 2pm with local clubs, businesses and societies most of which use the hall on a regular basis. I shall be there to promote my workshops and very local yarn from Roger and Dave.