HonestlyLucy – Hitting the Market?

baking, blog, career, childline, cookies, cooking, cupcakes, doughnuts, festivals, lifestyle, naughtiness, naughty recipes, nottingham, wellbeing

Recently I’ve been having a think about my career, and whether or not I’m on the path I want to be on. Not headache inducing at all, she says, words dripping with the thickest sarcasm known to man. The thing is I do enjoy my job. I like the team I work with and I’m pretty lucky to be given some quite cool opportunities. I’ve been working in my role for about 2 years and I like to think I’m pretty damn good at it. It’s taught me an awful lot about working in an office and at events, the importance of details and the art of juggling professionalism with a ‘quirky’ personality; and I’m really grateful for all of that. The thing is, as much as all of those statements are true, my job is largely an admin role, and it’s not really what I did my degree for. At uni I studied Psychology with English Literature, whilst volunteering as a counsellor at Childline and an assistant at The Stroke Association’s weekly group meetings; whilst also being a programme rep for both the Psychology department and the English department. It was hectic but I really, really loved it. I’m used to having a billion and one things to juggle, and right now I only have a couple, and it’s starting to make me itch. So it’s time for a new challenge.

The idea of selling the things I bake has been loitering around the jumble sale that is the back of my mind for months now. I’ve even got a food standards agency certificate for my kitchen to prove it – 5 stars I’ll have you know! I just haven’t known where to start. The closest I’ve ever got to studying business is watching The Apprentice, and I’m fairly confident that Sir Alan has no interest in my cookie topped brownies. I’ve had fleeting thoughts about maybe applying for a stall at Summer food festivals, which I’ve then shooed away. I’ve attended enough of those to know that they get busy as all hell, and I don’t know that I’m quite ready for that yet.

I’ve worked enough manically hectic Christmases in a discount store to know how to handle a queue of customers – I ain’t scared! The retail side of things I can solidly say, I have down – references upon request. It’s more the production I’m concerned about. How much of everything do I need to bake? Do I buy boxes to put customer’s stuff in, or are bags better? Do I need an adapter for my phone so I can take card payments? I have been knocking around good old planet Earth for long enough now to know that these are the kinds of questions that can only be answered with experience. I’ve also picked up and dropped enough hobbies to know that it’s all too easy to end up severely out of pocket with not a great deal to show for it if you move too fast, too soon. And hello, I’m a broke millennial, I ain’t got time for that!

When I first moved to Nottingham, Andy discovered a company called Phat Doughnuts (which swiftly changed to The Nottingham Doughnut Company after a few name related legal implications). Their premise was essentially: doughnuts on delivery. We ordered from them for my birthday one year and fell in love. In addition to the delivery service, they traded at local markets. That company eventually grew into a pretty massive business success story. Within about 18 months, they went from delivering doughnuts by hand, to running a hugely successful store and having several employees. These days I am 100% convinced that they are the sole reason I will never be a size 8. Seriously. If you’re ever in Nottingham you absolutely NEED to track them down and try one. Anyway, I find their story really inspiring. They really did start from nothing and build what has the potential to be an empire. Far be it for me to assume that every story will be as successful as theirs – this much I have learned from Sir Alan. But it certainly gives me food for thought – no pun intended. Ok, pun definitely intended.

So I had a think about the local markets they used to trade at, and paid a visit to the vegan version of Sneinton market which takes place on the first Saturday every month. I imagine the vegan market is a bit smaller than the regular market, but visiting helped me to realise that it’s not out of my reach. With all of that in mind, I’ve just submitted my application to trade there, which feels very bizarre. I’ll have to wait to hear back of course – maybe they have no use for yet another baked goods stand? But if they do, I shall be sure to blog about it.




Halloween Cupcakes

baking, cupcakes, halloween

Ok so I have to admit, in comparison to the cute pinterest ghost meringues or pumpkin shaped rice crispie treats, my humble little cupcakes aren’t going to win any points for innovation in baking, but still. Who’s going to complain about a good cupcake, right? Certainly not the people I work with, that’s for sure.

On Thursday night, I set about baking some halloween cupcakes for my office buddies. My baking cupboard is looking a bit sparse at the moment, and I don’t like to spend extra cash on ingredients if I don’t have to. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I’m scrooge – If I’m baking somebody a birthday cake I don’t mind, but for a general Halloween treat? Nah mate. So, collecting the remnants of my bakers stash I found I had all the ingredients for some chocolate cupcakes with vanilla frosting, dyed purple and orange to make them a bit more festive.

I used Sally’s Baking Addiction for the cupcake recipe. I swear, I’ve never had a bad bake out of her recipes. I really love that she translates all of the ingredients into grams for us British folk who have weird sized cup measures and aren’t really sure what a stick of butter is. If you want to try your own, the recipe is here. I can whole heartedly confirm by the way, that the Nutella frosting that goes with that recipe is worthy of its own religion. But alas, I didn’t have any Nutella in. Which begs the question, is a house really a home if it doesn’t contain a jar of Nutella?

Whilst contemplating my empty shell of  Nutella-less house, I set about making some regular vanilla buttercream frosting, which I split into two bowls – one to dye orange and one to dye purple. Now. This is where things went a touch pear shaped. I used Dr Oeteker’s gel food colouring, and got through an entire tube of each. I was expecting a neon orange (as the packet declared) and a deep purple. What I actual got was a mid tone orange and a slightly post pastel purple. Suffice to say, Dr Oeteker and I are no longer mates. Still, in spite of the buttercream not exactly being the shades I’d hoped, I have to say, I think the finished product still looked pretty good.

To ice, I used a standard disposable piping bag with metal nozzle I bought in a pack of two on amazon for about £5. I don’t have a dual piping bag yet, although it is on the ‘to buy’ list. Instead, I lined one crease of the piping bag with orange butter cream and the opposite with purple, which created a slightly more blended swirl effect, but a swirl effect all the same. To be honest, after the Dr Oeteker beef, I couldn’t really be bothered to spend much time on the icing. Such a defeatist. So yeah, perhaps not as neat as it could be, but hey! It’s Halloween, things aren’t supposed to be pretty and perfect, right? Right?! Moving on. The decorations came courtesy of Asda and Aldi. Asda for the plastic spiders and aldi for the black/silver/orange sprinkly bits. One of my favourite things about Aldi is that every ‘holiday’, they seem to have special baking bits in, and they’re all at such reasonable prices it’s basically impossible to say no.

So, the fruits of my culinary labour? See below:

Choccie Cupcakes with Nutella Frosting and Cookie Crumbs

baking, cupcakes, food, naughty recipes

Yup. I went there.

I’ve been feeling SO tired lately. Not in a sleepy sort of way, more in a ‘it’s been 6 months since I had a break from work and if I don’t inject a hit of something different into my life soon I’m going to fall apart and it won’t be pretty’ *sharp intake of breath* sort of way. And in the most minor of ways, these cupcakes are that hit. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still counting down the days until my week of annual leave starting August the 3rd; but I think this will keep me going until then. Also see: Lucy, disperse your annual leave more wisely across the year.

It might seem a bit bullshit-esque for somebody who predominantly blogs about food and baking to describe baking cupcakes as something different, but actually, I can’t remember the last time I baked cupcakes. For a long time I had a bit of an axe to grind with them. I kind of just saw them as sponge cake with a fancy hat on, and I’ve never really been a hat person. However, nutella hats are quite a different beast.

This recipe is from sallysbakingaddiction, a blog I am ridiculously late to the party on. I love it though! I love that she ‘translates’ her ingredients list for us UK folk who are too lazy to download a conversion app. The only things I changed were swapping out granulated sugar for soft light brown sugar – just a preference, I think it adds more depth of flavour to chocolatey cakes; and skipping the double cream in the frosting recipe – because I forgot to buy it. The cookie crumb was my own little ‘sod the diet it’s a Sunday’ addition. I’m quite looking forward to taking these into work tomorrow. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it but I’m currently on a temp contract but will be interviewing for permanency this Summer. Our business manager has a sweet tooth. You connect the dots. Anyway, here is a 3 part architectural journey of these delicious little treats:

Slutty Naked Cakes:

Showing Off My Limited Skills with a Piping Bag

Hiding My Limited Skills with a Piping Bag in the Best Way Ever  

In other news, I still haven’t ran since I felt my ankle start to weaken. I’m supposed to have a 3.5 miler tomorrow, but I think I’m going to walk it instead, to test the waters. Ohhh I don’t know though. Maybe I could walk a mile, run a mile, walk a mile, run half. From a mental health perspective, I’m finding that I’m really missing the benefits that regular cardio brings. Dilemmas, dilemmas. I wish I had a little Personal Trainer Fairy hovering above my right shoulder at all times, telling me what the best thing to do is.  I now have images of my old PT, Will, who is heavily tattooed, shaved headed and very much PT looking, wearing fairy wings, a wand and a tiara with his sports gear. I think he would look fabulous.

WELL. That took a turn I was not anticipating when I began writing about cupcakes. I think I’ll go now, but enjoy the food porn!