Looking back at my last post, just over two weeks ago, I must say that it was a little dull in content. I wish I could say that this post is going to be more exciting, but I really can’t promise anything. I guess things in the Lynwood & Co kitchen are a little same old, same old.
I haven’t had much of an opportunity to experiment with any new cakes, except for a vegan, apple cake with a hint of orange. Last weekend, we had a customer in, who asked whether we had any vegan cakes. I had to hold up my hands and say ‘no’ as although I had considered introducing a vegan cake in the past, I had shied away from it as I had, incorrectly, thought that it was likely to lack flavour. Anyway, after the customer asked about a vegan cake, I thought I had better bite the bullet and explore the unexplored. It didn’t take me long to find a few vegan cakes which I thought may meet the brief: lemon; coffee and apple with a hint of orange. Being a fan of apple and orange, I thought I would give the apple and orange cake a go first. My first attempt at the cake yielded a tasty, moist and beautifully textured cake, even if I say so myself. Although I was very pleased at the result, as were a number of my colleagues, my Head Chef suggested that it lacked flavour. He suggested that I added a bit of rhubarb to my next attempt, especially as rhubarb was coming into season. My next attempt, which included rhubarb, lightly poached in orange juice, sugar and ginger yielded a cake, which got the Head Chef’s approval. When I say approval, it is difficult to really tell, but the fact that he sneaked an extra slice of the cake when he got back to the kitchen, speaks volumes. I should also mention that one of our regular customers came in a bought a whole vegan cake. This was exciting in itself, but I guess only time will tell if it is a complete success, now that it is a permanent item on the menu.
I should mention that the cherry cake has gone through a couple of incarnations since last I wrote, and although quite popular, the Head Chef had decided to take it off the menu for a while to make way for the vegan cake. I think that when and if it manifests itself again, it will reappear in the form of the cherry Bakewell, as this seemed to be the most popular of all the cherry cakes incarnations.
Still on the topic of cakes, whilst I was standing in the queue at work after hours, waiting to pay for some coffee, I overheard a customer discussing the respective merits of our range of gluten free cakes. According to him, or his wife more accurately, but as relayed through him, the carrot cake was too sweet but the lemon, almond and polenta cake was delicious. As she had not as yet tried the chocolate brownie, this was her choice for the day. I haven’t as yet heard the verdict. Feedback from another customer, took a slightly different form. When I was in the local wine shop in Lechlade recently, successfully buying my husband a good bottle of wine for his impending 50th Birthday, the owner asked me if I was the lady responsible for the baking at Lynwood & Co as she had noticed a welcome change in the offering in recent months. She mentioned, particularly, liking the mince pies at Christmas – she thought that they were better than the ones at Huffkins and advised me that she had recommended to the Lynwood & Co owner that we should package mince pies at Christmas to sell to customers. Something to think about for next Christmas. Talking about the mince pies, I am not sure whether I mentioned that one customer, a local photographer, loved my mince pies so much that he took professional photographs of them, which he sent to me. One of these adorns this post.
On a slightly different note, there has been a flurry of activity on Whatsapp recently from my fellow students at Ashburton Cookery School as it has been just over a year since we embarked on our Diploma in Professional Patisserie. I cannot believe that there have been two intakes of students since we left. Despite there being fraught and challenging times during the course, I do miss the cookery school; my fellow students and learning new things everyday. We are planning a reunion in May, in London, so something to look forward to. It will be great to see what everyone is up to.
Possibly not very exciting, but still very important, I have spent the last week doing the costings for all our cakes so that we have up-to-date costings for both our new and house favourite cakes. Even though I suggest that the activity was not very exciting, it was quite nice to be doing some computer work for a change.
On a non baking front, we continue to do our new challenge of 100 plus exercises a day. So far we haven’t missed a day, but we are still in January and there are 11 plus months to go. Despite being the resident baker at Lynwood & Co, my stomach muscles are beginning to become more defined, thanks to TRX pikes, press ups, crunches and leg raises. Long may this continue. We are also managing to fit in quite a bit of running, despite not having the motivation of the 1000 Mile Challenge. We did attempt a rather unsuccessful first run out of our Christmas present from my Brother and Sister-in-law, ‘Day Walks in the Cotswolds’, Southrop and the Eastleaches. We chose the worst day to attempt a run we were not familiar with – it was grey, visibility was poor, it was raining, cold and wet from rain and snow melt and half way through the run, it was getting dark. To cut a long story short, we had to cut the run short after 5.7 miles of a 7.1 mile run. Better time next time, I hope.
Anyway, had better go as work is calling. I need to be there in half and hour and I am not quite ready yet.