The big bake

It has been a wee while since I last wrote.  Although it has been a very difficult time in the Upton household (our elderly pooch, Montague lost the use of his back legs a couple of weeks ago (blood clot) and we have been nursing him ever since – he has bad and better days but we are still not sure what the outcome will be) I have been doing quite a bit of baking.

As mentioned in my previous post, I continued to experiment with mince pies and variations thereof.  I made deep filled mince pies with shortbread pastry and mincemeat and pecan crumble slices.  The deep filled mince pies were delicious but the pastry was very fragile.  The thought of making 48 mince pies using shortbread pastry was too much for me to bear.  I decided to try the mincemeat and pecan crumble slices as an alternative as these are made in a tray and can be portioned after the bake.  I was delighted with the outcome of the bake.  So much so that I gave four of them to the neighbour who had requested the 48 mince pies so that she could try them as a possibility a pre-Christmas get-together.  She tried one then and there and we then left her with the rest to eat at her leisure.  I also gave a couple of slices to another neighbour, who has indulged in my bakes from time to time.

In response to receiving the treats, this neighbour sent me the following email:

Morning Bridget,

I had just eaten one, (well maybe two!!), Waitrose mince pies when Joe, the delivery man at the door, presented two beautifully wrapped mincemeat slices. Thank you, you are kind. They are sitting tantalisingly on the counter and will be tonight’s pudding….if I can resist earlier temptation!!

They look scrummy…

The following morning, he popped into where I work and in a lowered tone asked me if I wanted some constructive feedback.  I thought he was going to tell me what a wonderful bake it had been (as Jo and I could not stop eating them once we started).  Instead, he said that he felt that the slices were over- caramelised on the edge and that the mincemeat was a bit on the dry side for his taste.  Despite this criticism  he said that he thought that the slices were very tasty.  The other taster said that they were delicious but that they were slightly on the sweet side. Slightly taken aback by the less than positive feedback, but not put off entirely, I adjusted the sugar and the baking time when I next baked them.

I should mention that my next time I baked the mincemeat and pecan crumble slices was for a coffee roaster in Cirencester, which has a small cafe in it.  I got an opportunity to make a few test bakes for them a week past Friday: a chocolate cake, vegan biscuits, ‘caramel heavens’ and the mincemeat and pecan crumble slices.  After a slight delay (it is the Christmas season after all and coffee roasters are a roasting to meet demand) the feedback to my bakes was as follows:

Cakes went down a storm (especially mince pie crumble and the cake).  Unfortunately, the cake is too messy for us to serve realistically, its perfect otherwise, light, moist, buttery, great cake!

This feedback was followed by an order for another batch of mincemeat and pecan crumble slices and vegan cookies, which I delivered on Monday.  Today I returned to the coffee roasters for a chat about invoicing and future bakes and I received a further order for mincemeat and pecan crumble slices and vegan cookies, which I need to deliver tomorrow morning.

The next four days will be baking mad as in addition to tomorrow’s order for the coffee roaster, I also have to make a batch of the crumble slices and some rocky road for a Christmas gift for my manager.  Also on the back of the pre-Christmas get-together, I have an order for 5 dozen traditional mince pies and one and a half dozen wholewheat mince pies, which I have to deliver on Saturday.

I think Sunday will be a bake-free day as my youngest son, Noah is arriving for Christmas, along with my in-laws who are visiting for the day.  I am then back on it on Monday as I have to make two chocolate roulades for one of the local residents (she bid for them at the recent Auction of Promises) and 24 profiteroles for one of my colleagues at work, who wants to make profiterole snowmen, but doesn’t want to make the profiteroles.

With my big bake looming, I had better sign off and get some sleep.   But before I do, I forgot that I also made another variety of mince pies for one of the regulars at work.  This time, cranberry, orange and almond mince pies.  The crumbliest of pastry with the tastiest of filling.  Although I am a little mince pied out at the moment, I have a few days, 78 mince pies and two mincemeat and pecan crumble slices to make and then I can breathe a sigh of relief, unless of course I get another order through in the meantime.

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