Monday, 28 December 2009

An Explanation

Despite my best intentions, I haven't been blogging nearly as frequently as I'd like in the past couple of months. Part of this is due to poor light for photos and lack of interesting dinners, but the main reason has been this:

I was made redundant in the summer, annoyingly at an early enough point in my contract to not qualify for any payoff. As Edinburgh is a financial centre, the labour market here is flooded with unemployed bank staff with a several years experience under their belt. No one wanted a recent graduate with only a year or so of temping, when they could get someone more experienced for the same price. At the other end of the scale, minimum wage jobs weren't interested as I was obviously overqualified. So, seeing as no one else would employ me, I decided to employ myself.

I've spent the last few months endlessly steaming Christmas Puddings, taking food hygiene exams (credit pass - check out my cleanliness!), testing recipes and buying wholesale packaging. The first market I signed up to do lost its street closure licence, and the second market didn't manage to get a food licence granted. I looked in to the Edinburgh Farmers' Market, but the waiting list is long, its not really a feasible option for someone just starting out.

Eventually I found a Christmas market in the Grassmarket, and booked a stall. 10 hour baking sessions were followed by an early morning taxi the next day. I had too much stuff to carry myself, so the journey to the market also had to be incorporated in to T's journey to work. So I got to sit in a freezing marquee for 3 hours waiting for the market to open. On the third day I let someone watch my stuff while I repaired to Peter's Yard for some serious carbs.

Carrot Cake - The best seller.

Anyway, despite the cold and lack of sleep, I really enjoyed it all! The first day, I just brought my favourite cakes. It was interesting to see which ones sold and which ones didn't. A version of Korova cookies went down well, as did a carrot cake with mascarpone and pecan icing, and salted caramel shortbread. Red velvet cake attracted a lot of attention, but didn't really sell. Cupcakes and Christmas puddings were Marmitey - people seemed to love them or hate them, but people who did love them were happy to buy them.

Chocolate cupcakes with ganache and vanilla buttercream.

The Sunday was quite busy, and I sold out with just a few minutes left before the doors closed. I'd had a lot of requests for gluten free items, so I made 2 banana breads, which sold so quickly. Peanut blondies went ok, but weren't as popular as I'd hoped.

Cardamom shortbread with Pistachios

On the final day, I mixed it up and took cardamom shortbread and gluten free lemon drizzle, as well as the past favourites of the salted caramel, carrot cake and banana bread. I almost sold out, so gave away the last few remaining bits to the other stall holders, rather than take them home.

The feedback was really positive, something I really needed as I haven't had much confidence in my cooking lately. I handed out lots of cards with my name and number, so hopefully I might get some commissions in the new year.

So that's my excuse for being a bad blogger...


Chele said...

What a great idea! I've always wanted to start my own baking business but just odn't have the confidence to do it. Let me know if you ever need a hand, I'll be happy to help out.

Alison said...

Let me know if you need any exposure for what you're doing FOC, happy to help a fellow foodie :)

Anonymous said...

I hope this all works out for you. Sounds like a great business venture.

Nora said...

Wow, well done you. Extremely enterprising and exciting! Those cakes look absolutely lovely, so I hope you do blog them at some point! :D Otherwise I'll just have to pop (ahem!) up to Edinburgh to buy some myself. I wonder how long it takes to get there from Cambridge...!

Vonnie said...

Well done! We're facing a similar predicament and are trying to get our business off the ground. Time will tell whether it's a goer or not!

Niamh said...

Oh, welcome to the world of markets! It's impossible to gauge what people will like, isn't it?

All the best for 2010 and market-ing, should you decide to stick with it :)

Jenny said...

Niamh, I have a new found appreciation for thermals now! Not sure whether there are enough markets around Edinburgh to do it regularly, but who knows.

Thanks to everyone else for being supportive, if anyone is in the Edinburgh area and needs some cake get in touch! (demeterbakingATgmailDOTcom)

Chele said...

Hi Jenny. I've just been given an award for my blog and am now passing it on to you as one of my favourite blogs. To collect the award go to my blog ;0)