We create Memories

I came to the  realisation that we are memory makers recently while working on a business planner called Dream|Plan|Do by the design trust http://www.thedesigntrust.co.uk/ and this fab planner was recommended by my jewllery making friend http://www.kathrynpartington.com/ (check out her work it’s stunning)


So within the March segment of the planner it ask us to define 

“What do you do” ?? 

For example if your a jeweler who makes wedding and engagement rings you sell love, if your a photographer you capture memories and how someone wants to be seen,you get the idea.

So for me and when I asked myself the question “what do I do” my first thought was “I make and decorate cakes”

But when I really thought about what I do like thousands of Cake makers/ cake designers/ cake decorators I realised we not only create great cakes we also create lovely memories.

Who doesn’t remember their birthday cake or there babies christening cake.

Many clients order cakes to make an impact for a special event or occasion and along with this they want to create a memory that the recipient won’t forget.

I have made Birthday cakes for children and when I go to deliver there  cake they always recall the last cake they had or the cake before that. 

Wedding cakes are immortalised and play a pivotal part of a wedding day and the memory is captured forever with the cutting of the cake, we as cake professionals have helped create this memory.

Mother’s Day and mums across the land will be receiving cards, flowers, jewelry and of course cakes of which they will love and remember.

With this is in Mind for this Mother’s Day I created a selection of cupcakes and macarons which instead of presenting in my lovely kraft brown boxes I decided to go with something a bit more special and present in a keepsake box to help create a Mother’s Day memory, maybe a box to store Mother’s Day cards in.


I love packaging and thought these boxes were perfect for a special day like Mother’s Day.

So next time your asked “what do you do” just say you help create memories.

Product review: Foodie flavours

When I’m baking and flavouring a cake or buttercream I always tend to add a teaspoon or two of Vanilla extract which is usually the Delish Nielsen Massey brand and then if making a flavoured cake I tend to keep it natural, lemon cake is lemon rind and lemon juice, strawberry buttercream is fresh strawberry purée, blueberry cake I use fresh or frozen blueberries, avocado (yes avocado) buttercream yep you guessed it real avocado. 


But sometimes you get a flavour request where it’s either not that easy to obtain the natural product or your unsure how to properly incorporate that ingredient and so you need a little help and that’s where the Foodie flavour brand came to the rescue.

 I came across this particular brand on Twitter via a friends Twitter feed and looking on the website I realised that they have a dizzying array of flavours, I counted 51 which is very impressive and very quirky bubblegum, lychee, cream soda anyone???

Me finding Foodie flavours was perfect timing because i needed to find some Rose and Lavender flavouring for some wedding cake samples.

I ordered via the website and delivery was quite quick which is always a bonus, and after opening the box I realised I had also received a complimentary Almond flavouring which was a pleasant surprise and I’m  already thinking about how Im going to use it.

One of the cakes I was making was a Rose and Pistachio cake which just speaks romance to me so is perfect for a wedding cake tier.

I used the flavouring in both the  cake batter and buttercream. There is guidance on the box for usage as it does state it’s “super strength” so I used sparingly as you can always add but you cannot take away. 

The flavour seemed to work really well in both the cake and buttercream and the feedback reinforced this as my clients really enjoyed it.

So my verdict? I’m still going to be using fruits, vegetables and chocolate in my cakes (it’s my thing) but the foodie flavours  range will definatley have a place in my Cakey cupboard and will be perfect for when i am looking for some quirkier flavours and I must admit the bubblegum flavour does intrigue me .

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”

Getting it Just right

  
Happy new year, it’s 2016 and another year beckons of more Adventures in Kakeland.

So what are your goals for you and your business/hobby this year? 

I personally like to set myself goals to keep me focused and I find there are 2 times in a year which I give the most focus. The obvious one is the 1st January where I like to focus on business goals, I don’t have them all set out by the 1st but I like to give myself time to think about them. The second is on my birthday in February which is usually for more personal goals (another year older and all that) so inbetween writing this blog post I’m in the process of putting pen to paper and thinking about what I would like to acheive this year both personally and in my business.

For me last year was super busy with cake orders and a coffee shop contract which was good as it helped increase my sales which for any business is fab as it shows growth and is a tangible measure of how I’m doing so it seems I must be getting something right.

  
One of the goals I set myself for 2015 was a spot of rebranding and to redo my website when I had rebranded . I know the rebranding bit sounds very corporate but with cake making/decorating we rely more on reputation than a brand presence but I suppose I’m thinking a bit more long term. 

The market is flooded with fellow cake makers and I believe their is room for all but at the same time we have to think about how we can make ourselves stand out, find our niche and be instantly recognisable.

So with this in mind I began to think about a logo redesign. 

You see in the beginning I didn’t have one, (logo that is) and here is a pic of my first ever business card to prove it, a generic printed card when I was known as just Kake focusing on Celebration cakes and not much else.

  
And If you have been following my business you will have seen a few logos since this and most recently seen 2 different logos  that represent my burgeoning little brand that is Kake and Cupkakery.

So after a while I gave Kake a little update with a basic logo, it was ok and did the job

  
But then cupcakes went huge and i decided that cupcakes had to be part of my business so I got a separate logo done for that side of the business and called it Cupkakery

  

I loved my Cupkakery logo and the simplicity of it and with this I decided to keep them (the businesses)separate to see which part performed the best. 

The thinking behind it was that if one failed I would get rid and focus on the more sucsessful part,but luckily they both did well so I decided to combine both sides of the businessess together and formed Kake and Cupkakery. So with that yet another logo was needed which I loved (at the time) a bit swirly but I liked it  until I saw the little cupcake image been used on another businesses logo which then made me take an instant dislike to mine.

  
it no longer felt like it represented me or the business anymore as I like to think my cakes are unique with unusual flavours, (Cupcakes) I appeal to both men and women of ages from about 29-45 as well as busy mums so I always like to think I create something a little special for my customers with cakes that look and taste great.so I needed a logo that showed that I was serious about my business but still individual and current. 

So It was while I was at a business expo and sat in on a seminar by a Birmingham based company called Orb http://www.thisisorb.com about branding, that got me really thinking it is definatley time for another change?

So while there I approached a stand from a company called Nettl http://www.nettl.com/uk/ and briefly discussed  my ideas as this time I wanted to take the time to properly explore what me and the business is all about. 

I had a consultation with the lovely Paula from Nettl who also took charge of this project, I think I must have got on her nerves by the end but I really enjoyed the process and after many redesigns and tweaks I now have a logo that I feel represents Kake and cupkakery, not overly fussy, simple, individual and unique to me.

  
I love the simplicity of it and really like black and white logos (if you didn’t guess that already)

 I’m still working on the branding side and thinking about colour matching and colour palettes that best represents Kake and Cupkakery so very much still a work in progress.

Paula even managed to duplicate a cupcake I made as part of the logo so adds even more uniqueness .

  
I also redesigned my website http://www.kakeandcupkakery.co.uk which is still getting a few tweaks but overall I’m pleased with the look of it and glad I was able to tick these off my list.

So I hope you like it, I certainly do as l feel it is a look that will grow with me and the business for when I get a little bakery and hopefully no more changes but you can never say never. So now it’s back to the goal setting and business planning so here is too a fabulous 2016.  

Product Review: Cakes away postable Cupcake boxes 

So incase you didn’t know my business creates Dessert style cupcakes, celebration cakes, layer cakes and I also do the occasional stall and event. I’m kept very busy and at the moment my business operates from my registered kitchen and runs online via a website, I get customers from word of mouth recommendation and also various Social media platforms.

I deliver my orders to your door which is convenient for my customers but at times delivery can be limited regarding the distances to deliver cakes, so I deliver within Birmingham and occasionally out of town. 

Sometimes I do receive request for orders from different parts of the UK and unfortunately many times I have had to turn down these Cakey request simply  because of the delicate nature of cake and my fear of posting cakes.

That is until now as it was with utter joy when I heard about postable Cupcake boxes.

I can’t deny I was extremely skeptical regarding getting cupcakes from A to B without them being tossed about and arriving in a crumbly cakey mess and I  was aware that cupcakes via post services do actually exist so I wanted to look into it this further.

So when I received a request for a wedding out of town I thought sending cupcakes by post would be a perfect way for my customer to try my cupcake samples, and also a great way to try out the postable cupcake boxes.

So via Twitter I found a company called Card cuts who specialise in Cupcake and Gift packaging

http://www.cardcuts.co.uk they are also on Facebook  http ://www.facebook.com/card.cuts.1  and Twitter @card_cuts the boxes are marketed as Cakes away postable cupcake boxes and you can get a 6 hole and singular box with a card which I think is rather cute.

I ordered Via their website and the cost was £5.75 for a case of 2 Cakeaway boxes.

The boxes arrived already assembled and are made out of corrugated card so extremely sturdy.

 

 Inside was a 6 hole insert tray, an all in one plastic pod cover to cover the cupcakes an extra cardboard support to help keep everything in one place, and some special Cupcake cases that you can bake without placing in a muffin tray.

You also receive instructions on the best way to bake and prepare your cupcakes and a handy little guide regarding your baked cakes in their case.

Every angle had been covered, and receiving a call from the company was the icing on the cake and added an extra little touch in that they wanted to ensure you had a good experience of using the boxes.

So back to the cakes, I was attempting to send buttercream cupcakes in various flavors:

Raspberry White Chocolate,Chocolate, Triple lemon and Pina Colada.

 

I was told I could send really high swirls so I had to give it a try and purposely went high with the piña colada flavour, probably a bit too high as there was some squishing going on (my fault)

 

So with all the cakes baked, swirled and boxed  i labeled up and decided to send an extra box as a test to somewhere that was a bit further afield so decided to send a box to ScotIand to my Aunt as a surprise.

Now curiosity was begining to tickle me and I wanted to give the box a mini test so I turned the box with the cupcakes in upside down with a good 360 degree twist, put the box back down and had a peek, and hey presto cakes where fine, (I breathed a sigh of relief) so now confident in my preparation etc…. I was ready to post the following day.

No need for a courier service as the cakes could be sent via Royal Mail The box was classed as a small parcel so I decided to send one box First class £4.30 confirmed delivery and the other box Second class £3.90 Confirmed delivery . You can send as standard but I wanted that extra assurance

So as I waved goodbye to my Cakes I then patiently awaited messages of there safe arrival.

Then a couple days later I received an email (from my customer) and text (from my aunt) to inform me that the cakes had arrived safe and sound, no damage and tasted delicious.

I was over the moon, successful delivery made and I was so impressed with these boxes. 

I’m not sure about sending in the height of summer (if we get one ) with the heat, as we know heat and buttercream do not mix but I think that could easily be remedied by either chilling or freezing in advance.

I now am working on offering cupcakes by post and working on a specific range, so using the boxes can lead to brand extension of products you already offer so I’m giving them a big 10/10 as I was suitably impressed as it was obvious a lot of trial and error had gone into the creation and manufacture of the boxes to allow safe delivery of the cakes.

So have you ever used them? And what was your experience like, I would love to hear.

 

 Cupcakes no longer a fad?


It’s National Cupcake week this week so I’m reblogging this blog post from s couple years ago.

On my Twitter feed a couple weeks ago I came across a list of the 101 best Cupcakes in America http://www.thedailymeal.com/entertain/101-best-cupcakes-america-2015-slideshow?slide=010&_mobile=1 And it got me thinking so many years on and cupcakes are still here after many people put them down to being a fad.

So with this the cupcake was supposed to be over thrown with the cake pop, whoopie pies and Macarons, but in my opinion Macarons are exempt as they truly are a classic so dont deserve to be put into the fad category.

And then there was the cronut the croissant and doughnut hybrid, created by Chef Dominique Ansel and actually is now a trademarked pastry item for his New York Bakery.

  

But through this the cupcake staying power has remained due to its hardcore fans. You only have to look at the list to see in America they are still as popular as ever.

Here are a few from the list that I have followed and lusted over

  
        I love these list, I love to see what our American  cousins are up to regarding Cupcakes.

I remember watching an episode of Sex and the City (i am such a huge fan) and watched how Carrie and Miranda tucked into Cupcakes while Carrie confessed she had a crush on Aiden (told you i was a fan) and the Cupcakes they were tucking into were Magnolia Bakery Cupcakes.

Based in New York City Magnolia bakery are famed with being responsible for the beginning of our love of Cupcakes and they are famous for their candy coloured buttercream and distinctive buttercream swirl, a true New York institution.

you can watch Magnolia Bakery – Putting frosting on there cupcakes here https://youtu.be/uh7bMgUlpTM using a spatula, I’ve tried this method but not very successful at achieving it.(will stick to my nozzles)


But  In the UK we have our own little army of Cupcake bakeries flying the flag


  

Peggy Porschen
Including yours truly Kake and Cupkakery https://www.facebook.com/Kakeandcupkakery


The Cupcake part of my business is as popular as ever and  I love to create new flavours and some of my creations are below.


 Of course Cupcakes still they have their haters who say they are too sweet etc…. but they have moved on so much and the UK appetite for these little cakes is still alive and well.

 You can get boozy ones, gluten free ones, eggless cakes and it’s not just regular buttercream anymore,cupcakes can be topped with whipped ganache, Italian meringue buttercream, filled with caramel or flavored buttercream, crush oreos into the buttercream, top with meringue the possibilities are endless. So much so I’m surprised that they don’t feature in cake week on the great British bake off. 

Even the Telegraph reported our love for anything red, notably Red velvet http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/retailandconsumer/11473794/How-the-red-velvet-phenomenon-took-over-the-world.html and you cannot beat a red velvet cupcake topped with a silky smooth cream cheese buttercream.

Also in the UK Cupcakes are celebrated Every year of which this week is National Cupcake week

This Annual celebration of cupcakes also has a Cupcake Championship with different category’s for bakers to enter their cupcake creations and every year it just keeps  getting better.

I myself entered in 2013,2014 and 2015 and made it to the final on all occasions.

So Cupcakes a fad? How can they be they are just a little cake.

So my verdict I don’t think so but what do you think?

#LongLiveTheCupcake.

Product Review: Sugar and Crumbs flavoured Icing sugars

This is my first product review on my blog, (ooh get me) I really should do more and always meant to write some on on lots of different items so if your reading this and want me to try a product or try a new piece of equipment etc…. feel free to get in touch, anything cake/Sugarcraft related count me in.

Anyway I digress, this post is all about a new product I offered to try after a call out for bloggers to try a couple of new flavoured Icing sugars being launched by a family run business called Sugar and Crumbs,http://www.sugarandcrumbs.co.uk/ they specialise in flavoured icing sugar, flavored cocoa powders all with natural flavorings.

I had actually heard about these icings sugars from various cakey people and kept seeing them popping up on post across social media so was intrigued from the start but never that tempted to try and only because I tend to build different layers of flavour in my cakes and buttercreams using fresh fruit purées, Belgian chocolate etc…. so when the opportunity came to try some samples of the flavoured icing sugars I jumped at the chance.

The two flavours I was asked to try was the Chocolate Milkshake  and Jaffa twist icings.

Chocolate Milkshake Natural Flavoured Icing Sugar

Jaffa Twist Natural Flavoured Chocolate Icing Sugar

I planned to use as flavoured buttercream on some cupcakes of which As well as testing myself I would get some other cakey reviewers who regularly buy my sit back kick back cupcakes, (what’s sit back kick back I hear you cry) read about my sit back promotion here  http://www.theguardian.com/small-business-network/2014/aug/11/showcase-marketing-pr-kake-and-cupkakery

So back to the icing, the packaging is lovely, which comes in resealable bags and in convenient 250g packs. They also do larger bags for wholesale which might appeal more to cakey businesses than the smaller packs which would be perfect for home bakers and hobbyist.

 

The back of the packs has all the information you would expect and labelled really clearly.
you can see the icing through the bag of which is almost mocha in colour but darkens to a more fudgy chocolaty brown when mixed.

When you open the bag you get a delicate whiff of orange and chocolate, no clumps or caking of the sugar which you can sometimes get with other brands of icing sugar

I made the buttercream in an equal quantity recipe of:
250g unsalted butter
250g pack of flavoured icing sugar
Couple tablespoons of Boiled water

I very rarely make the 2:1 buttercream as I find it too sweet so decided to make the buttercream in a 50:50 ratio.

The icing mixed really well and gave a light and fluffy buttercream, my fave out the two was the Jaffa twist, the Chocolate milkshake was nice but the chocolate flavour is very light and delicate replicating a milky chocolate milkshake.

I then created a chocolate milkshake cupcake which was a vanilla cake base with a swirl of chocolate milkshake buttercream and decorated with milk bottle sweets and a retro paper straw.

IMG_2025.JPG

The second was a Jaffa cake cupcake, Chocolate Cake filled with orange curd and finished with a swirl of chocolate orange buttercream and a mini Jaffa cake.

IMG_2033.JPG

The icings would be great dusted over puddings and pies and also used as a glaze on cakes, doughnuts and biscuits and would be perfect for flavoured macarons as well as of course making flavoured buttercream.

So if your looking to add a little flavour to your sweet treats I would recommend you give sugar and crumbs icings a try.