Meet the baker- Bindweed Bakery

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So here is the very first Meet the baker feature and i hope you enjoy reading about Kie and her business as much as i have.

So here it is.

 
So firstly please introduce yourself and your business, and where in the UK/World are you based?
My name is Kie Spate and I own and run Bindweed Bakery (http://bindweedbakery.com) which is based Six Bells, Abertillery, in the picturesque South Wales Valleys.

Are you a self-taught cake decorator/baker or are you trained?
I am a self taught baker have no formal training in cake decorating, but have learned a huge amount through experimentation, trial and error and by watching various online tutorials.

How long have you been baking?
I have loved baking since I was big enough to wield a wooden spoon, and have many fond childhood memories of making delicious welsh-cakes, breads, and cakes with my mother.

How long have you been running your cake business?
I developed an interest in cake decorating in December 2013 when my youngest son asked if I could make him a dragon cake for his birthday. I started searching the internet for ideas and stumbled across the wonderful world of sculpted cakes! Sculpting has always been a passion of mine (and I have sculpted in polymer clay for quite a few years) so you can imagine my delight as I quickly realised that it was the perfect opportunity to combine both of my passions into one! Not being the sort of person to start with something easy and work my way up to making something more difficult I jumped right in with a sculpted 3D dragon cake – I learnt so much while making it, and loved doing it so much that the month later I registered with my local council and Bindweed Bakery was born!

What was the last cake you made?
The last cake that I made was actually a gift for my beautiful niece Lauren, who had her little boy Oscar ten weeks early – thankfully both mother and baby are both doing well.
The top tier was carrot cake filled with lemon buttercream and the bottom tier was chocolate cake filled with chocolate buttercream.

The last cake topper that I made was a vintage lady

  
How do you attract customers to your business?
As a still quite new business I’m still trying to figure out the best ways of attracting customers. Going to craft fairs and selling simple cakes and tray bakes but taking photographs of my more elaborate creations has helped in getting my name out there and even though I have only just really started trying to promote myself on it, social media (mainly Facebook https://www.facebook.com/BindweedBakery has its merits to.
I have also recently opened an Etsy Shop http://bindweedbakery.etsy.com where I sell my hand sculpted sugarpaste toppers.

What do you find the hardest aspect of running your cake business?
For me its definitely the ‘grown up’ stuff like keeping on top of my accounts! That and pricing.

What do you love or find the easiest aspect of running your cake business?
I love being able to be creative – and still sometimes can’t believe that people will pay me to sit and turn a piece of sugarpaste into a dog, animal or object!

What is your specialty? Wedding cakes, novelty cakes, cupcakes etc…..
My specialty is hand sculpted sugarpaste cake toppers and sculpted cakes – they are definitely what I enjoy making the most.

Who is your favourite cake artist, cake business or you tube channel
There are loads of cake artists that I really admire.
Some I admire because they are so innovative, some because they make the sorts of cakes and cake toppers that I love to make, but they make them so much better than I currently can; and some I admire because they simply make beautiful, perfectly pristine cakes that aren’t the sort of cakes that I make at all, but they are just so beautiful I can’t help admire them!
Among those that I really admire are Shawna Mcgreevy, Carlos Lischetti, Jessica Harris, Michelle Sugar Art, Avalon Yarnes, Mike McCarey and Rosie Cake Diva.

What one piece of cake decorating/baking equipment could you not do without?
I love my modelling tools and my stand mixer.

What was the last bit of cake equipment you purchased?
I’ve been pretty good recently and have stopped myself making spontaneous cake related purchases, but I do currently have some Dinkydoodle airbrush paints in my online shopping basket with my finger hovering over the checkout button!

What is the one piece of cake equipment you regret purchasing
I can’t actually choose just one – when I started out I bought a ton of cake decorating stuff that I thought would come in useful – but the sad truth is that half of it has never been used!

What is your favourite brand of sugarpaste
For modelling I like Asda’s own brand sugarpaste. I’m still trying out different brands when it comes to covering cakes.

Is there a new skill you would love to learn?
Having warm hands, I would love to learn how to model with modelling chocolate without having it melt on me! Its the main reason I model with sugarpaste, but would love to find a way around it as I’ve seen amazing things made with it.

What are the goals and ambitions for your business over the next 12 months?
I love what I do, so all I really want is for Bindweed Bakery to continue to grow so I can carry on doing what I love!

What advice would you give a new cake business just starting out?
I guess my biggest piece of advice would be don’t try to do to many things all at the same time – decide what your best at, most interested in and work on that.
Find your own style and believe in yourself.

And lastly what do you prefer a slice of cake or a cupcake?
Neither! I don’t eat cake at all anymore – Gluten and eating lots of carbohydrates don’t make me feel well so I tend to avoid them as much as I can – but even though I don’t eat cake I still love to bake, and spend most of my time thinking about different ways to decorate it!

  

if you would like to take part in the Meet the baker feature please email hello@kakenadcupkakery.co.uk

 

Meet the baker

  

  
Us Cakey peeps we have a lot in common, we love buying cake kit,get dazzled with glitter, in awe of a drip cake, oh yes we certainly share our love of all things baked and cake, but yet every business is so unique. 

The Cake community is a large one that can be super supportive, critical, fun,innovative. We love sharing techniques, hints and tips but we don’t always get a chance to shout about what we do or just share what makes us tick.

So with this in mind 1-2 times a month I will feature a cake business on my blog.

 You’ll get a set of questions to answer, all based on you and your Cakey biz.

Your replies will then be shared with thousands of Cakey peeps and beyond.

Feel free to add your website and any social media links to your feature which will also be shared within the meet the baker blog.

If your interested in this feature please email hello@kakeandcupkakery.co.uk with Meet the baker in the subject line I’ll then send you your questions and let you know when your business is featured.

You can then share with your followers on your cake pages and social media which will give a little insight into what us bakers do.

If your on Twitter be sure to keep an eye out for the #MeetTheBaker and be sure to share the #MeetTheBaker on fb too to connect the Cakey love.

I hope you enjoy this series

Yvonne

Kake and Cupkakery 

What’s your Niche?

  
They always say the reason to start a business is to solve a problem or identify a need and once you have identified what the problem or the need is you will quite likely have a concept/idea for a business.

If you have a business baking and decorating cakes like myself you will have either started your business from being a hobbyist or just made the decision to start a cake business.

Either way we have identified that the problem that we solve as cakers is creating speciality cakes handmade for various celebrations and occasions, small or large, budget or more expensive we are certainly in the business of bringing a little joy into people’s lives with cake, in fact I would say we are memory makers as most people can remember receiving an extra special birthday cake. 

Now starting the business that’s the easy part,the next is to identify your niche or in other words what your good at or where your passion is.

Do you need to have a niche? Maybe not but think of any business and you will see that their is at least one thing that they excel at or they are known for. 

In the Cakey world it is just so diverse we have businesses who specialise in life size cakes, gravity defying cakes, sugar paste flowers, decorating with buttercream, royal icing, Wedding cakes, Cupcakes, brownies, bundt cakes, too many to list all but I can guarantee every single person who bakes and decorates cakes has a niche.

For me my business focuses on celebration cakes and dessert style cupcakes with the occasional wedding cake.

 The wedding cake market is an area that I haven’t really targeted much but I have some ideas around this that will suit my niche so will look into more marketing in this area over the next few months ready for the 2017 wedding season.

  
With celebration cakes I mainly make birthday cakes, and this has happened quite organically as that is where the majority of my orders come from and I would say compared to wedding cakes the percentage of birthday cakes I make in comparison to wedding cakes is 90% so I feel pretty comfortable knowing that this is enjoyably a big part of my business because that’s what my customers mainly order and then thankfully  go on to recommend me to family and friends who then in turn order  a birthday cake themselves.

   
 Now what I consider to be my niche is dessert style cupcakes, basically put I love cupcakes and wanted my customers to not necessarily order a cake for a special occasion but order some cupcakes just because they fancy a treat in different flavor combinations or they want to gift a box to friends and family. My customers are always keen to see what flavor combinations I will come up with next and if you can get the word out about what you do in your local area or beyond it really helps you to stand out from what others do in a similar market.

So over the years I have concentrated in coming up with a whole concept around my cupcakes and I recognize this is to be my niche.

 
Early on I made the mistake of trying to be all things to all people and this is easily done because we want to try everything and in my opinion doing this usually brings you to a conclusion of what you like to do and what sells well with your customers but being all things to all people has the danger that you end up not really appealing to anyone or spreading yourself too thin.

I tried cake pops and macarons, haven’t ventured into iced cookies (yet) but might have a dabble.

 I do bake other items such as brownies, doughnuts etc… but I quickly realised cake pops and macarons didn’t come to me as easily as cakes plus there wasn’t much of a demand with my customers for cake pops or macarons. So putting this to one side I leave it to businesses that do this so much better than me and I decided cake pops and macarons wouldn’t be part of my product offering on a permanent basis just very limited occasions or special request.

The advantages of what finding your niche brings is that your customers will know what you do, you can then target and market more effectively depending on your niche.

There are many  baking related business who I believe have captured their niche perfectly and it is very clear what they do.

Pop bakery- cake pops http://www.popbakery.co.uk

Tasty cakes – large and life size cakes https://www.facebook.com/Cakes.Tasty

Yipsy macarons – Macarons http://www.yipsymacarons.com/

Crumbs and doilies – Cupcakes http://www.crumbsanddoilies.co.uk 

Cakes by cliff – Drip cakes http://www.cakesbycliff.com

Queen of hearts couture cakes -Buttercream artist http://www.queenofheartscouturecakes.com

The businesses mentioned above have clearly identified what they enjoy doing and what their customers want and through social media has allowed the customer to buy into what they do and what they specialise in.

So if you ever find yourself feeling stuck on the direction of your business go back to basics and focus on what you do best, where your passion lies or where the majority of your orders come from. Before you know it you have your niche.

I would love to hear what your niche is so please feel free to comment and share.

***Update***

So the lovely Valeri and Christina from Queen of hearts couture cakes have sent me this brilliant message regarding finding your Niche:

Aaawwww! Thank you so much for thinking about us. 

Well, what we can say is, it is indeed important to find your niche. Although, market is very competitive so you have to up your game. You can or not necessarily have your niche..or maybe you’ll eventually discover it. But what’s important is, every cake photo you post, HAS TO BE: neat, professional looking, and with your style in it. This is your portfolio..and this is what people see and will remember you for. So every post you will do is a chance to get people interested and remember you..so make the most of it 🙂

Hope we make sense! Haha 

Much love to all of you from 2 crazy buttercream girls,

Valeri & Christina xxx”

Eton Mess Roulade


its a given that you can buy almost anything all year round, our fresh fruit and vegetables are no longer restricted to the seasons, but even so I like to buy fresh fruit in the season it belongs, rhubarb in spring, strawberries and raspberries in summer and it’s especially nice to buy British strawberries in the height of summer with their distinctive Fragrance, sweetness and flavour.

So with this abundance of fresh summer fruit I decided to tweak one of my favourite summer desserts Eton Mess and convert into a summer roulade (Swiss roll).

I’ve also made a bigger version of the cake but used buttercream, fresh raspberries and strawberriesn and covered in meringue.

The Roulade is made with a Genoese sponge which is a fat free sponge whereby the air is added to the cake by the whisking of the eggs and sugar.

So if you want to give this ago the ingredients and method are below.

Equipment needed

  • Baking tray approx 15″x10″
  • Grease proof paper
  • Food mixer
  • Spatula/palette knife

Ingredients

  • 8 large eggs
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 250g plain flour
  • Double cream enough for the inside and outside approx 430 ml
  • Fresh raspberries and strawberries
  • Vanilla essence
  • A little extra sugar to sweeten the cream and the cooled roulade
  • Meringue nest

Method

  • Preheat your oven to 220c/gas mark 7
  • Line the baking tray with greaseproof paper, then lay a large piece of greaseproof on your counter dusted with caster sugar.
  • Using the mixer whisk the eggs until light and fluffy and then add the sugar a little at a time and continue to whisk until the mixture has doubled in volume
  • When fully whisked the mixture will fall in a ribbon type consistency 
  • Then carefully fold in the flour, and when just mixed add the mixture to the baking tray, use a palette knife to smooth the top and then bake for approx 5-10 minutes, when touched the cake should spring back.
  • Remove from the oven, allow to cool slightly then tip the cake onto the sugar covered greaseproof and allow to fully cool
  • In the meantime whip the double cream with vanilla and a little caster sugar until whipped 
  • Wash and slice fruit
  • Cover the roulade with cream and add the fruit
  • Then carefully roll up the roulade using the greaseproof as a lever
  • When rolled remove greaseproof paper, cover in more cream and then cover the roulade in crushed meringue        

You can make other variations of Genoese sponge such as chocolate as well as other flavoured centres.

I hope you give it ago and enjoy the roulade. 

Recipe: Cream Egg Chocolate Concrete

 

Have you ever tried Chocolate concrete? Aka Chocolate Crunch? you will answer either Yes or No.

 So what is it? 

Well I think if your of a certain age you might remember this treat of a pudd that was served up at school accompanied with pink custard or green peppermint Custard., and I must admit back in the day the dinner ladies/Cooks were legendary,the meals they produced were delishhhhh and even better was that my piece of cake only cost me 5p,what a bargain (think I’m really showing my age).

 So me and my school friends lunch time strategy was to spend as little as possible on dinner and then gorge on cake, 

 I’m not really sure if it is a Brummie thing or Uk wide but at times when I’ve asked people who didn’t grow up in Birmingham about chocolate concrete they have looked at me blankly as if to say ” what are you on about” .

So the best way to describe it is that it is similar to Chocolate Shortbread that you need a pneumatic drill to break.
It can break a spoon, take an eye out if it shoots across the room (it actually never did, slight exaggeration) And the recipe was top secret, nobody knew how to make, I always imagined the recipe been kept in a safe and dinner ladies across brum being sworn never to reveal the secret of the Chocolate Concrete.

So I know your now intrigued right…….

If you want to give this a try here is a little tutorial on how to make this chocolatey treat, it’s super easy and even a baking novice will find it easy and since it’s nearly Easter I’ve pimped it up with some Cadburys Creme eggs Which will give a slightly chewer texture but omit the cream eggs if you like.

 So have fun baking this Easter and feel free to share your pics and tell me what was your fave pudd at school?

Ingredients 

350g/12oz Self Raising Flour

225g/8oz Caster Sugar

225g/8oz butter (I used unsalted but whatever is your oreference)

25g/1oz Cocoa Powder (I love Green and blacks) but any cocoa will do

6 Cadburys Creme Eggs

Utensils

Baking tray/Brownie tin

Bowl

Wooden spoon

Metal spoon 

Small saucepan or microwaveable bowl

Grease proof paper or Baking parchment 

Method 

  1. Line your baking tin with your greaseproof  paper  
  2. Weigh out your ingredients and mix all the dry ingredients together   
  3. Melt your butter either in the microwave or in a pan on your cooker top
  4. Add the melted butter to your dry ingredients, you now need to mix until the butter is fully combined and the texture resembles wet sand  
  5. Then tip your mix into the baking tin and using the back of a metal spoon press into the tin, splash the mix with a little cold water 
  6. Cut your cream eggs in half and arrange on top of your mix  
  7. Pop in the oven, middle shelf for approx 30 mins this is on Gas 4, 180c, 160c Fan , 350f
  8. Allow to cool in the tin for 5 minutes then cut your portions while warm while still in the tin, some like to eat warm but for full impact allow to cool
  9. When cool remove portions from the tin, pop the kettle on make a brew and enjoy

Happy Easter 

It’s no Secret

This particular blog post is for my fellow cake makers and our valued Cakey customers.

We all know what goes into making a cake, flour, eggs, margarine, sugar,butter etc etc ….. And for some people when they decide they want a cake baked and decorated to order that’s still what they see, but there is just so much more that goes on, it’s no secret, so here is a snapshot of what actually goes into the bespoke cakes and cupcakes baked by me Yvonne aka Kake and Cupkakery

You see firstly I get a message

“Could I get a price on a cake”?

“Sure,what do you have in mind”?

The customer might have already undertaken some research and provided pictures of cakes they have found on google or another cake page but there is an unwritten Cakey rule that cakes are never copied to be identical so we always tweak, it is now the process can begin.

Day 1

So unless I’ve made the cake before I will not instantly know how much to charge, so i undertake some research on the design (unless I have a picture already) I get the spreadsheet up on the laptop and get costing. 

I now cost three different prices for cakes so that you the customer have choices from a simple design, midrange and then a higher end priced cake which is either a larger /tiered or a more intricate decorated cake.

The majority of customers choose the second option where cakes start from around £55 (8″)  this usually has a small amount of Modelling and detailed work.

I took some time out a while ago to do a costing exercise and now have a lot of the basic cost of making a cake already done so basically it’s add on the decoration time, delivery cost and supplies, I.e extra sugarpaste, ribbon, board and Box.

Then I need to determine how long it will take? this is always dependent on  what decorative work is involved in your cake,the more detail on a cake the higher the price will be.

 I have to calculate how much I will be paying myself to work on this cake as I run this as a business and pay tax on the income earned to HMRC,pay insurance (public liability) pay for a website etc… I have to make sure everything is covered because even though the business is based at home (and registered with the local council) there are still overheads to cover, less than a shop but regardless these cost must be included.

So my labour cost also includes getting the tin out and lining it,weighing out ingredients and mixing the cake. I pay myself just like I would expect to pay an employee the minute they start work as nobody works for free.

Day 2

Then it’s shopping,most of my suppliers are online but I have to go shopping for the more perishable ingredients such as fresh eggs ( only use free range) and butter (I always use unsalted) 

I like to buy in bulk when I can but it’s mainly the flour, sugar and chocolate ( usually Callebaut belgian chocolate) that I purchase in bulk, this reduces the time spent picking up supplies plus I always have a rolling stock.

Day 3

Cake is mixed and In the oven it goes in for 1.5 hours, (depending on the size of the cake) gas goes on, electric on (lights) and while that’s baking i will cover the cake board, begin making any models etc…. and then allow to dry

Day 4

Make buttercream,fill the cake,cover the cake, make more models if needed or add finishing touches to the ones already made,allow the covered cake to set overnight.

Day 5

Finish cake, add all the made pieces, photograph, box it up, add labels and business card/sticker which are purchased through the business.

Day 6

Delivery day, drive to deliver to customers home or venue.

Inbetween this is the cleaning,oh how I hate washing up any volunteers to do it for me?? (I’ll pay you in cake )

Now I’ve listed this in sequence but in fact dependng on orders this process could be 2 weeks or more in advance or only 2 days (for last minute orders) .  

So as you can see the whole process can be days and weeks in the making.

I’m lucky in that it’s rare a customer will tell me a cake is too costly but I can understand that some may think a quote they receive is too expensive because it’s just a cake,but in that cake is years of experience from starting as a hobbyist to launching a small business. And remember you are having a product specifically made for you,not mass produced but baked to order with care and attention to your own specific brief. And I always like to think of a celebration cake as memory making so to me they are even more special.

I know many cake decorators  feel insecure about what to charge and thousands constantly undercharge (I’ve been one of them). when you deliver a cake and realise it took 8 hours to decorate rather than the 3 hours you calculated,yes I’ve definitely been there and even now we can sometimes lose money on a order.

To my fellow decorators especially if your just starting out my advice is to get to grips with your pricing early on, understand what it cost you and what you would like to be paid for the skilled work you produce. I would allocate a few days to working it out,you’ll be happy you did as It is much harder to suddenly increase prices when you realise that the two tier cake you charged your customer £40 for actually cost you £20 to make. 

We have to make some money/ profit (it’s not a dirty word) or else your business is losing money and no matter what business your in losing money is very dishearting. 

You may lose 5% of customers if you suddenly need to increase pricing  but it’s better to get paid properly for two cakes than lose money working on 6


Now cake decorators across the land I know I may have left out some details because if we had to account for every single second a cake would cost £100 every time but I know you understand.

And to all my lovely customers who return and recommend me i just wanted to share my process with you as it’s because of you that 3.5 years later Kake and cupkakery is still baking.

And for those that are considering ordering a cake I hope this gives you a clearer idea what it entails.

Running a cake business is hard work and it’s not nearly as glamorous as people may think but I am absolutely loving it,so saying a Hugeeee Thank You to my customers and those that support there own local cake business.

So I hope you enjoyed this post because as I said in the beginning It’s no secret.