Hi! Welcome to my blog. I am a major foodie, with a haphazard cooking philosophy, currently making that transition from cooking and baking for friends and family to 'wonder if I could make this my career'. Follow me for recipes, the outcomes of a few experiments, and general lovely foodiness. Opinions, reviews and recommendations are all my own.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

The Pantry Door Update - 11th June

... This **** Just Got Real... 

That's pretty much the thought that has occupied my mind the last two weeks, as I've juggled work, sales targets, housework, baking cakes, decorating cakes, not to mention all those little day to day things that pop up. It has suddenly occurred to me (forgive me I can be a little slow on the uptake sometimes) that I am now running a business. Yikes! A business no less that is taking off at something of a pace, and I'm am equal parts thrilled and terrified. Ok, maybe more on the side of thrilled, however I am very aware that my customers are no longer just my friends, but people I have never met before. Anxiety about letting people down is creeping in, and I have had to give myself a few stern talkings-to lately, as has Gary. 

May 2014 brought in 18 orders, against a forecasted 6 - June looks set to equal that, despite being on holiday for 10 days of the month. Last week I delivered my first 5 tier wedding cake, amongst several other projects, and after a hard week, seeing the bride and groom cut the cake (I was invited to the evening party) reaffirmed all the hard work, and cemented that fact that wedding cakes is where I wanted to be. I think I really needed that. 

We have some fun cakes lined up this week before we hit the sun and sand of Majorca, here's a recap of what's been happening the last few weeks...

30th Birthday and 2nd Birthday Cupcakes

Birthday Boy Cupcakes

Defibrillator Cake - for an Office party 

Elvis Cake

Frozen Cake - all characters were handmade

Marmite Jar Cake

Mickey Mouse Cake

Peppa Pig and Friends Cake

Pigs In Mud Cake

Vintage Styled Cake

Wakeboarding Cake - the only direction I was given was the photo on the left...
And last but by no means least - here are a few snaps of the wedding cake delivered to the Sandpiper Hotel on Saturday....
There were 100 vanilla cupcakes, marbled to match the colour and pattern on the bridesmaid dresses. Both the frosting and the cake inside had the marble effect

The 5 Tier Wedding Cake

The toppers were handmade, to represent the bride and groom in their day jobs, him with his overalls, and her with marigolds and an apron

The second to top tier had an monogrammed panel with the bride and grooms initials

The inside of the cake was also marbled to match the bridesmaid dresses

Monday, 26 May 2014

The Pantry Door Update - 26th May

Just a quick post from me tonight to share the latest goings-on from our kitchen - it's been a really busy week, so lots to share, and I'm in the middle of prepping toppers and flowers for the next two weeks to get a jump on orders. Here's what we've done recently...

Cookie Monster Cake

F.R.I.E.N.D.S Themed Cupcakes

More F.R.I.E.N.D.S Themed Cupcakes

Minion Cake

Minion Cupcakes

Monster High Cake with Clawdeen Wolf

New York New York Cake

Tatty Teddy Christening Cake

Vintage Style Mini Cupcakes - 72 in total!
Hope you have all had a lovely Bank Holiday! x

Sunday, 11 May 2014

The Pantry Door Sunday Update - 11th May

Well! That was a busy two weeks! Cakes, weddings, visitors, bank holidays, and a whole lot of day job too! The biggest news this weekend however is this - on Friday, the local council came out to assess my home kitchen for running the business, and I am pleased to say not only did we pass the inspection, but were awarded the full 5 stars! Phew, that's another hurdle overcome!

I must say, this is one of the reasons that I put off setting up for so long - having been told by so many people I can't do this or I can't have that - there were so many reasons given to me as why my beautiful kitchen would not be suitable. And they were all wrong. In truth, the local environmental health team are more concerned with your procedures for managing hygiene, and CBC have been great from my first enquiry, offering both advice and reassurance throughout. If anyone else is in a similar position and not sure about taking the next step, my advice is pick up the phone, and talk to the experts - you'll be surprised how supportive they can be. 

So now everything is 100% in place, the council, the tax man, and the customers! Here's the fun bit, this is what we have been making in the kitchen these past two weeks... 

iPhone Cake - complete with apps and the birthday girl taking a 'selfie'

Damask Print 50th Birthday Cupcakes

Metallic Gold and Ivory Wedding Cake with Gold Edged Sugar Roses

Mixed Cupcakes for a Mechanic

Dirty Dancing Movie Reel Cake - with Edible Pictures

Dairy Free 'In The Night Garden' Cake

Star Trek 'Enterprise in the Galaxy' Cake

Subaru Cake

Sunday, 27 April 2014

The Pantry Door Sunday Update - April 27th

As promised, here is a glimpse of what we've been up to this week! As our first official month of trading draws to a close, I am feeling really positive about the progress we have made. Gary and I have had a lot of discussions about the best way to approach turning this cake decorating malarkey into a business. The two key objectives for our first year are to test whether people are prepared to pay the full price for our product (it seems that yes they are!) and to see how it fits in and around my day job, which to be fair, has to take priority as it is what pays the bills. To this end we agreed not to advertise or seek out business, but just to build a reputation and customer base built on recommendation. 

We have forecast a modest 6 cakes per month - roughly what I'd been doing for friends before we turned into a business. This month we surpassed that and delivered 8 cakes. For May we have 16 booked. Yikes! We are already taking orders 6 - 8 months in advance, people I've never heard of are contacting me to order cakes, so the recommendation plan must be working! This next month will be really testing, as not only do we have so many cake orders, but my day job commitments this month are pretty huge and require a lot of travel too. That being said, some of the requests are epic, and there are going to be some really great designs to share! 

And talking of sharing, here is this week's offering... a chocolate Mini Cooper, and an Oreo flavoured Oreo cake for a lover of - you guessed it - Oreos! 

Thanks for reading - next week's projects include a classic sci-fi series, an even more classic movie, and my forth wedding cake! 

Happy Sunday! xx

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

A Kick At The Pantry Door and the Feel Good Food Challenge

For those of you that follow this blog (and if you are still following in spite of my sporadic posting of late I am ever thankful!) you will be aware of some pretty big changes happening here. I blogged a few weeks ago that the time demands of holding down a full time job whilst setting up my own business had left me with some pretty hard choices to make about the direction of this blog. One of those was the decision for the time being not to be involved in product reviews, as last minute cake orders have compromised review deadlines of late. Once the business is a little more established this may be something I pursue again in the future.
I am working on getting back into a routine for blogging recipes, and I will be sharing updates from the business every Sunday afternoon.
The one aspect of the blog that I have umm-ed and arr-ed over for the past few month's is the Feel Good Food blogging challenge. I have been so reluctant to call time on the challenge, but as I'm sure you have noticed, I simply have not been able to keep up with the administration each month. I have appealed for guest hosts to take up the mantel for a few months to keep the spirit alive, however as none are forthcoming sadly I have to say that the challenge will no longer be taking place.
I will leave the challenge page pinned to the menu at the top of the blog, so any previous challenges and link ups will still be available to read. I thank each and every person that has supported the challenge in the past and taken the time to link up.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

The Pantry Door Update - April 20th 2014

The Pantry Door is officially open for business! Orders are coming in, cakes are going out. So far our customers have been incredibly positive about both the look and even more importantly about the taste of our cakes. We have surpassed our forecast for April, and already have more orders in for May and June than anticipated. I am so excited about this venture, and have decided to share the work we do each week with a little description of the cakes leaving our doors. (This is the first 2 weeks...)

Mechanic and Rally Car Cake

The cake was for a friend's husband. We discussed a few ideas based on his love of rugby, formula one and rallying, but in the end decided on something a little more personal. The little Peugeot 205 is his own rally car, the fact that he is fixing it rather than driving it was an in-joke! 

Superheroes Cake

This cake was for a little boy who loves all things superhero. We managed to incorporate seven different superheroes into the design; Superman, Batman, Spiderman, Thor, Iron Man, The Hulk and Captain America. His Mum messaged me the day after the party to say her little boy thought eating the cake had given him superpowers! 

Orchid Pot Cake

I made this cake last weekend for my Mum's birthday. I really enjoy making cakes as gifts for people, as it gives me the chance to try new skills and push the boundaries. I made a series of sugar orchid flowers and buds, forming them together to make the typical stem of an orchid plant, and bedded it in a small carrot cake covered to look like a flowerpot. The double take from my Mum and Grandparents was worth the hard work on this one! 

Japanese Sushimi Cake

Making food look like other food is all a little bit Heston, but I think it really worked in this replica of the birthday girl's favourite dish from her favourite restaurant! The salmon and squid sushimi pieces were modelled from white modelling chocolate (I make the modelling chocolate myself, and will share the recipe and method one day soon) whilst the wasabi was actually a thickened buttercream. 

iPhone Cake

I found out after I had made this cake, that the birthday girl had asked for an iPhone for her birthday, and would be getting this cake instead. Personally, I think a chocolate cake version is the far better option anyway! 

Honda CBR Motorbike Cake

This cake tested everything I've learned to date about cake sculpting and 3-D cakes. The very nature of the shape and dynamics of a motorbike defy the weight and balance of a cake, and I have not yet made the move into making bespoke boards and hidden support structures for cake, but I think I figured out a way to do this, and I can honestly say this is 100% edible, with no support structure at all...

Chesterfield F.C Football Shirt Cake

Last but not least, a football shirt cake for my home town team. The puma and CFC logo are hand piped from royal icing, and the club itself re-tweeted a picture of the cake sent in by the birthday boy! 

As you can see it's been a busy couple of weeks! Next week is quieter, but I will have a Mini Cooper and an Oreo themed cake to share with you all! 

Happy Sunday! x

Thursday, 20 March 2014

... a Change is Coming

On September 1st 2012 I started writing a food blog, essentially (and possibly naively) because I wanted to write a cookery book. It was a Saturday morning, I was lazily watching Saturday kitchen whilst drinking a cup of tea, and realised that although the dishes that were being prepared looked amazing, I didn't possess a single one of the ingredients being used in my cupboards. I had an idea about a cookery book that would contain recipes that could be made using a core selection of store cupboard ingredients, and be made up of versatile recipes that could be easily adapted, with recommendations for substitutions and alternatives. 

A Kick At The Pantry Door was born of this thought. A place where I could start to share basic recipes and hone my writing skills. In all honesty however, I had never read another blog in my life. I had no idea how it all worked, but my very nature is to make a leap before considering the depth of the drop prevailed and by teatime on that Saturday in September I had a blog, a name, a facebook page and a twitter profile. 

Over the last year and a half, I have virtually met some amazing people, as this blog uncovered a whole new world for me. A lot of negative things are said about social media and it's affect on our modern society, but when a group of people with shared interests and commonalities from all corners of our fair country and indeed the world can come together to form such tight communities and support networks, that can only be a good thing. In truth, there have been a few darker times in the past year and a half that only my blogging network managed to pull me out of, many of you without even knowing. 

This blog has given me a much needed outlet. An escape from a sometimes difficult reality. A focus when life suddenly lost direction. An insight into the best parts of human nature. Not to mention lots of opportunities to 'test' food! It has become very dear to me. Through writing this blog I learned to meal plan and budget, and as a result we are much better off financially and have managed to clear nearly all of our debt. Through writing this blog, I embarked on a mission to follow Paul Hollywood's series to learn to make bread, and taught myself a whole new skill set. And through writing this blog, I learned to decorate cakes.

Right back near the very beginning, I tried to explain to a friend of mine what I was doing with A Kick At The Pantry Door. Her response was "ooo that's great, you can make our wedding cupcakes!" I can honestly say at this point that cake decorating had not crossed my mind, however I have a slight problem that I cannot say "No" to people... So I started to do some research. For those of you that have followed this blog, or read a few of my posts, you will see how this has gradually taken over my life. I unwittingly discovered an interest, that turned into a hobby, that became a passion, and if I may be so bold, uncovered a dormant talent. Being a person who struggles with a very short attention span, oh what a joy to have found something that not only has kept my interest, but makes me what to learn more, do more, be better.

I am so proud to confirm that from the 7th April this year, my little fledgling cake decorating business will be launched upon the unsuspecting folk of Chesterfield and the surrounding areas. My absence from blogging for the past two months I hope can be explained and forgiven by the list of things that I have had to do to get to this point, finances, tax, insurance, environmental health, website building to name but a few. Incidentally, I would really appreciate some feedback on the new site www.kickatthepantrydoor.wix.com/thepantrydoor

I hope to get back into a more regular and consistent mode of recipe blogging over the next few months, although (quite excitingly) my order book is already fuller than my initial forecast for cakes. I do however need to make some decisions about the blog, not least the future of the Feel Good Food challenge. For the time being I won't be taking on review projects, as last minute cake orders may impact deadlines and I would only ever want to do a good job for my readers. As hard as it has been to balance everything at the moment, I am not quite ready to let go of this blog, so as long as you all want to hear from me I shall keep at it.

Thank you all for your continued patience and support! I will leave you for now with a few glimpses at recent projects. Thanks for reading! xXx