A few months ago a very good friend of mine asked me to make her wedding cake (eek) and I was thrilled to be asked so I said of course I would. It was a little bit nerve-wrecking as I’d never done a wedding cake before and even more so because it was for a friend! Kate and Joe chose a red velvet cake and seventy-five cupcakes (half of them lemon, half of them traditional sponge, one which was gluten- and dairy-free). I spent the whole day (and evening) before the wedding making and icing the cakes so that they’d be as fresh as possible, spent a couple of hours tying and glueing ribbons around each cupcake case and the next day we drove to the venue with the cakes in the back of the car, as careful as if we’d had the crown jewels in the boot!
I was really pleased with the way they turned out and, more importantly, Kate and Joe really loved them. The wedding was fab, Kate looked beautiful, Joe looked handsome and we had a brilliant time. In fact, I’d love to do it all over again
Cupcakes in different shades of purple to match the wedding colours
After the excitement of the wedding, we had another market to prepare for. Considering the awful weather we had last time and the fact that the forecast this time was for blue skies and sunshine, we made a mountain of fudge in readiness for hordes of customers and a stampede. The weather was indeed blue and sunny, but the market wasn’t actually much busier than the previous one. We had a great day, and friends dropped in and out throughout but we ended up with a fair bit of stock left so we decided to visit the Richmond market the following Sunday so that none of it went to waste (or worse, down the neck of yours truly and my nearest and dearest – our dentist would have loved us).
Richmond is beautiful and the market there each Sunday is a really nice mix of artisan stalls and delicious food. We discovered Monkey Char teas (bought some heather and peppermint tea, yum) and made friends with a few of the other stallholders – that’s one of the nice things about running a market stall; you end up meeting the same people and get to know them. Some of our friends popped along to browse around the market and to say hello which always brightens the day, and we came home knackered but this time we were dry – definitely a bonus!
The entrance to Heron Square where the market is held.
I haven’t had to go to work for a week and I’m getting rather used to it – I’ve still been getting up reasonably early in the mornings but having time to get on and do things without having to battle the tube in rush hour twice a day has been fab. One of the things I’ve been doing is making new blackboard signs for our market stall, using some tips I discovered on Pinterest. I wanted to do something freehand rather than order signs online (after all, the whole idea of the Little Lemon Bakery is that everything is hand-made) and so I followed three simple steps and ended up with signs that I’m really happy with.
Step one was to print out the wording I wanted to use and the Little Lemon logo, then tape them lightly to the blackboard so that I could outline them in pencil, leaving a faint imprint on the blackboard:
Step two was to go over the outline with pencil to make it nice and easy to see:
And step three was to paint! I found a nice lemon yellow crafters’ acrylic in Hobbycraft:I liked the result so much that I did another one, for the Barkery:
I’ve also made some new signcards for our taste samples seeing as they went down so well at the last market:
So that’s all the crafty bits done; next week the dog-biscuit-baking commences!
Last Sunday saw us launch our first stall at the Duck Pond Market in Ruislip, about two miles from where we live. It’s a great local artisan market where everything which is sold is local and ethical, and we’d visited a couple of times before and liked what we found. The market is held at the Great Barn which has a courtyard out the front and a green out the back so there’s an awful lot to see and buy if you go.
We’d spent a fortnight making all of our produce for the market – dog biscuits (George was on hand to help with quality control, naturally), bucket-loads of fudge (lemon, chocolate and Irish cream), chocolate pretzel bites, lemon biscuits and truffles (chocolate orange and chilli-chocolate). It was a completely crazy two weeks and I felt as though I’d never get out of the kitchen; we also had little idea how much to make as it was our first stall – I went through panics that we’d never manage to make enough and would end up running out at lunchtime, thus getting into trouble with the market organisers, or that we’d make far too much and have to chuck it in the bin afterwards.
The weather was utterly pants on the day, but lots of friends and family popped down to see us which was great, and even though it poured down for most of the day we ended up being quite busy. The free samples were definitely a boon to our sales, although some people tried eating the dog biscuits too so a sign was hastily made and put next to the plate. We met several of the other stallholders too, all of whom were friendly and cheerful (especially Sita and John from Diddy Decor who were right next to us and became unwitting guinea-pigs for our sweets while we were setting up).
We had a brilliant day (even though we came home tired, wet and cold), and are really excited about going back again next month. So many people said such lovely things about our food and it’s really encouraged us.
And the quantities? Well, we ended up with some leftovers… so the following day we dropped the dog biscuits to the Dogs Trust (George would have liked them but we don’t want him ending up looking like the Moog) and took the sweet treats into our respective places of work. I’m pleased to say that they didn’t last long – a very positive sign of things to come…
At the Duck Pond Market
One of the things I love about the Great British weather is that it can be so changable. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t relish the dark early mornings and the biting wind of the winter months, but having got caught in a small snow shower last night on the way to the theatre (more of which later), I wore my usual 25 layers to work this morning only to discover that it was in fact quite mild and that being dressed like the Michelin man was somewhat unnecessary.
Days like today, when it’s warm enough to go out with just the one pair of gloves and it’s still daylight when I get home at five o’clock, cheer me up and make me feel quite jolly about things. I’m certain that one of the reasons we Brits talk about the weather so much is because it affects our moods and dispositions so much. The fact that it’s almost half term also makes me feel quite jolly; I love my job but getting to spend a whole week of days with my Beloved is quite exciting.
This week of changable weather has seen me out walking in the heavy snow with Beloved, Chaps and George (I’ve never known a dog get so excited about being in the snow); heading out to the theatre (twice no less! The 39 Steps and the opening night of Dear World), and sharing pancakes with the family. It’s also seen me say farewell to our dear friend Chaps who breezed into town with the circus and is shortly to breeze back out again to Spain. All this has meant that I’ve had a little less time to spend in the kitchen, but last weekend our godson Josh came to spend a few days with us, and we spent Saturday afternoon baking. George was very appreciative of the apple and cinnamon dog biscuits we made and has been promoted to Chief Taster for The Little Lemon ‘Barkery’. It’s a job he’s really rather good at.
This coming weekend consists of two weddings and a 70th birthday (my dad’s), and Sunday will be filled with breakfast, fresh air and mooching about doing not much. Unless of course the weather changes again. Good old Blighty.