New Nectarine Starter, a photo story

Day one, nectarines added to sterile water and left to ferment over six days
Day one, nectarines added to sterile water and left to ferment over six days

Nectarines floating to the top, water cloudy and some bubbles appearing
Day five, nectarines floating to the top, water cloudy and some bubbles appearing

Fermented nectarine water plus flour left to bubble
Day six, fermented nectarine water plus flour left to bubble

Day 12 After six days of feeding it is ready to use
Day 12 After six days of feeding it is ready to use

Day 13 The first loaf, very flat. Too much of the starter in the recipe so the dough was wet, next time I will halve the amount on advice from @SourdoughBaking
Day 13 The first loaf, very flat. Too much of the starter in the recipe so the dough was wet, next time I will halve the amount on advice from @SourdoughBaking

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Business Almost Ready to Launch!

Much progress in the last few weeks in the world of Cakes & Cardies. The big news is that I finished my business plan and submitted it to my mentor for assessment and it has been passed! What this means is that as part of the NEA program I now have thirteen weeks in which to start trading and therefore be eligible for the allowance. In real terms, that should happen a lot earlier. Exciting and scary in equal measures, this is really going to happen! In some way I never really thought it would happen, a pipe dream that will never come true but no, this is real.

The main thing I have been doing over the last few weeks is sorting out the kitchen. When I moved in here I just added my kitchen stuff to my husband’s which meant that we had a lot of overlap and doubling up. The kitchen is big so it was never a problem. But I wanted to streamline everything, make the kitchen work better so that meant de-cluttering. It was very satisfying emptying every cupboard and deciding what I wanted to keep, needed to keep and what was surplus to requirements. Once the cupboards were empty I cleaned them and then rearranged everything that was staying. Although it was hard work and at one point I wondered why I had started it, but it was worth it in the end. Some of the excess went to a good home with a friend who has just moved to a new flat and the rest will go to our local charity shop.

The other main thing in the kitchen was the table and chairs. These have been there since my husband moved in and have never been used as a table and chairs only as another surface. After much talking my husband was persuaded to get rid of it so that I could use the space for shelving. As luck would have it my friend was also in need of a table and chairs so it has gone to a good home and my husband has visiting rights!

Now that the kitchen was clear I could buy the shelving units I wanted. I have had my eyes on chrome open shelving, that way everything is easily accessible. After some price comparisons I bought them (two units) from a website called Next Day Catering, they had the best price. I bought some ingredient bins, a couple of aprons, spatulas and dredgers for flour and icing sugar too. The shelves arrived last week and in a fit of excitement I assembled the first unit, with a little help from my husband.

First unit in place and already cluttered!
First unit in place and already cluttered!

Since then the weather has been so hot that the thought of cleaning the kitchen blinds (I need to do this before I put the units in place) and assembling the second unit has made me come out in a sweat!  I was going to do it this morning but decided some sitting at my desk work makes more sense in this heat! I hear there will be a break in the weather over the weekend so first thing Monday this will be sorted.

There are a few more bits that I need to buy (hand towel dispenser and hand towels, baking parchment, foil, clingfilm etc) and then I will be ready to register with Southwark environmental health. This is the final hurdle, they need to inspect the kitchen to make sure it is up to standard and once they pass me (she says hopefully) then it is all systems go. I have pretty much decided on the ingredients I want to use and can buy all that closer to the time. The other things I have sorted are my cash book (an excel spreadsheet with a tab each for sales and purchases), I have bought folders for invoices and set up my cleaning file for the kitchen.

Last year when I started to think about opening my own business I made a list of all the things I would need to do, pretty daunting. I went back last week and looked at the list again and there were a lot of things that I could cross off (a lot still to do but….) which made me feel very positive about my progress. Not long now.

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Cakegate and Other News

One story keeps coming up this week, the bakery in Northern Ireland who refused to make a cake for a Support Gay Marriage campaign (with Bert and Ernie on top, always had my suspicions about them!). Lots of points of view from both sides. I’m not sure that cake is the forum for such a debate although it does get people talking at least. Janet Street Porter’s article in the Independent seemed to me to have the most sensible take on the whole thing. Tolerance is the order of the day here, “christian” should mean tolerance and acceptance of all and leave cake out of it!

Given the popularity of animals doing silly things videos this one made me giggle, mini cake for a hedgehog’s birthday! http://www.mtv.com/news/1865003/hedgehog-birthday/

As we (well me really!) wait for the new series of Great British Bake Off it was interesting to read about the winner of the Irish edition of the show, http://www.irishexaminer.com/lifestyle/features/life-after-the-final-will-great-irish-bake-off-winner-tracy-rise-to-the-top-274207.html. It’s not all plain sailing after a win, but I guess it’s helpful to have it under your belt!

This week I have decided to make another bread starter (I did have one on the go for a couple of years but it seems to have died on me). Last week on one of my web trawling sessions (surfing I think it is called!) I came across this great blog The World of Sweets Diary. It is part of The World of Sweets Bakery and a lot of the blogs are about bread making, sourdough in particular. As I was reading the blog a pop up kept appearing in the bottom right hand corner offering step by step advise on how to make your own starter. I duly signed up and have received my first three emails (what you need, step one (water and fruit mixed), step two (observe water and fruit ferment over about 6 days). I have just completed step one and have instagramed it, here’s the link. Look out for more fermenting fruit pictures in the week ahead.

 

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