This week has been odd, I guess because of the bank holiday weekend. I have managed to do some Cakes & Cardies work but have been distracted by keeping the house and generally having very little time. Not sure how I fitted everything in when I was working full time!
One of the things that I have started is the search for ingredients. This, of course, brings up lots of questions. Do I want to go organic? In fact, that is the only question really, well the only one that matters. Reading a how to start your own business book earlier this week one of the things that I got from it was differentiation, USP if you will. How to make Cakes & Cardies stand out from the crowd (apart from making delicious cakes, that goes without saying!)? One of those ways is to choose ingredients that stand out too, organic, local, handmade, ethical etc. Of course that way lies the expensive, i.e. expensive ingredients mean an expensive cake. Then the question arises are people willing to pay for that quality of ingredient? In the end I am faced with many questions coming from that one question, do I go organic? But more on ingredients later, the name of this post is not Ingredients is it?
While I am coming up with answers to all the above questions I am still baking and thinking about products. Some of the cakes will come from the customer, they may want a specific cake but if I am to tout myself around I will need products. A list of cakes that Cakes & Cardies produces. And as the blog post suggests, I think I have my first one.
As I mentioned in an earlier blog I went around to a friends house last Saturday for lunch. As I like to take every opportunity to bake I offered make something for afters, always selfless! My offer was accepted with the proviso that my friend paid for it (mates rates, natch). A sponge of some sort was requested.
As I know that a lemon cake is my friends favourite I remembered a sponge sandwich I had made a while ago using lemon curd as the flavouring so I decided to use that as a base and tinker with the flavours. I used a basic sponge mix (equal weight butter, sugar, flour and eggs) but to add lemon flavour I added the zest of a lemon when I was creaming the butter and sugar. Adding it at this stage rather than later helps release the lemonyness. As well as getting lemon into the sponge I wanted to get it into the filling too and what better way than adding lemon curd to the cream.
The last time I made this I used shop bought lemon curd but in my new guise as Cakes & Cardies that wasn’t acceptable, I had to make the lemon curd too. I used a Rachel Allen recipe from Rachel’s Favourite Food at Home that I have used before. The scary thing about making lemon curd is to heat it just enough to thicken it but not enough that you get scrambled egg, eggs being the thickening agent here! A lot of stirring and vigilance goes into it but it is worth it in the end, it tastes just like lemon curd should taste! But better because you have made it from scratch.
When the lemon curd had cooled and set I added about four tablespoons to some whipped double cream, tasting all the time to make sure the lemon came through enough. Into a piping bag with a star nozzle and I was ready to assemble. Once the cake had cooled completely I set the bottom layer on a cake board and spread it with a layer of the lemon curd, piped two thirds of the lemon curd cream on top and set the second sponge atop it. I piped lemon creamy swirls on top and dusted it with icing sugar. But there was something missing…..as it was Easter Saturday I thought I would Easter it up, pimp it, if you will. I happened to have some mini eggs in the cupboard (don’t ask!) so each swirl was topped with a mini egg. Last time I made it I used blueberries but you could also use candied lemon peel or anything else that suits the occasion.
I know that this isn’t innovative but it is a classic and the addition of homemade lemon curd adds that extra dimension of flavour. It went down well at the lunch, people even went back for seconds! I think I will use the zest of two lemons in the sponge the next time as the flavour was a bit too subtle. But I think that’s product number one, barring the odd tweak or two.