I started life in food. My first job was in a cafe and I loved it. The money was rubbish though, so I got a job in a deli where I was surrounded by wonderful new food and I had my first taste of catering.
This might be a little controversial, and I apologise if it offends. But, I have really had my eyes opened since delving deeply into the world of baking. And, even more so when it comes to professional home baking. I am shocked, and at times, utterly disgusted, by the standards some home bakers uphold when they bake for clients. So much so that I really feel the need to write about it. Honestly, I will never buy a cake from a home baker again.
Baking in your own kitchen
It had not even occurred to me that a person could bake for paying customers in their own home kitchen, but they can, and they very often do. Of course, it’s not as simple as just starting a Facebook page and taking orders. You must register with your local environmental health department if you intend to bake professionally. They will require proof that you have a basic understanding of food safety and hygiene, and in most cases, they will also do an inspection of your facilities. You must also register with the HMRC, have permission from your landlord or mortgage provider, and you must have proper insurance.
Buttermilk is a tangy, milky liquid that is often used in baking. It adds a lovely flavour to the dish, but it also works perfectly with baking powder to add rise to your bakes.
It comes in two different forms. The stuff you buy in the supermarket is a cultured milk that contains acid. This is what you should use if your recipe calls for buttermilk. The other kind is made from churning double cream. This kind of buttermilk will taste nice as a drink, plus you also get butter as a by product. But, it isn’t acidic, and that means it will be no good for your baking.
Marshmallows, as we know them, have been around for thousands of years. Originally, they were made with root sap from the marsh mallow plant, hence the name. The root was boiled with sugar, and once thickened, it was strained, cooled and flavoured. We know the Egyptians were making honey flavoured marshmallows as early as 2000 BC, although this treat was reserved only for gods and royalty!
Not just any old treat, these might be good for you!
Yay! After hours (literally) of hard work I am now qualified to bake, decorate and sell cakes of all kinds. It sounds very exciting but, if I’m honest, the course seemed a little on the simple side. I’m a little concerned, actually, by how easy it is to set yourself up as a food producer. I take my victories where I find them though, so…
I had so many intentions to make all kinds of wonderful cakes and bakes over Christmas. The problem being, that apart from me and my fiance, there is no one here to eat them. This is a frequent problem for me. So, I had some tough decisions had to make.
I already had my Christmas cake, and you can’t have Christmas without mince pies. I was also dying to try out a new recipe for a muffin/croissant/mince pie hybrid. So, the traditional yule log was given the boot. That was a shame, as I had just bought an awesome new swiss roll tin in the Black Friday sales. It was a Mary Berry too – but I had to consider my waist-line. So there was going to be no yule log for us, this Christmas.
Setting fire to the cooker and eating raw chicken was a grim day for teenage-me. Of course, looking back it was just the wake up call I needed. I couldn’t afford to eat out, but I loved good food. I needed to learn how to cook, and fast.
That was a lot of (more than twenty) years ago now and do you know what, once I got going I found it wasn’t really that hard. And, not only that, but I actually quite enjoyed it.