Friday, November 28, 2003
You know, croissant dough makes for a yummy cream pie crust.
The computer I'm using right now has the crappiest keyboard, so I probably won't post again until Monday. Ick.
Monday, November 24, 2003
Manager has decided we will, after all, offer croissants, because she's discovered a knack for making them.
And we experimented around with a variety of coffee cakes.
Sunday, we set up a Cocoa Bar with coffee cakes to test out the Cocoa Creator idea inspired by the movie Chocolat, and it was a smashing success. We've been asked to cater a Cocoa Bar for other events.
The more we do this, the more confident we are of our future success. This pre-test marketing of our ideas and products is giving us a number of things: confidence, of course, but also a dedicated customer base. With a dedicated customer base, we'll have more leverage when asking for the start-up loans. It helps to have something other than the house as collateral.
Yes, I'm aware that much of the bakery equipment will also be seen as collateral - the ovens, proofing boxes, the floor mixers, and such.
We'll have intelluctual property (our recipes for the low-carb breads, the structure of our Cocoa Bar, Pastry Buffet, and Stage, and our other recipes), real property, a good credit history, business management education, good employees (including a CPA and advice from a business attorney), and the house to offer the loan officer. Taking this year to complete everything, have fun testing our recipes, and building up a solid reputation will be a plus.
The only downside is that it will take that much more time before we can offer more than token help to the homeless around here. We started Sandwich Saturdays several months ago as a way of getting the word out among the homeless community of what we were planning - and to help us find their hiding places so we can give them food at the very least, and at best a stable life and a future.
Our expansion plans for the Cracked Cauldron will always include assistance plans and provisions for helping others.
Friday, November 21, 2003
I'll be off for the weekend, doing shopping and winter-proofing the house. Gotta keep it in good shape so it will be good collateral.
Thursday, November 20, 2003
Is next week.
How could I forget?
Talk about a great time to experiment with stuffing balls, cookies, pies, tarts, yam annas, spanakopitas, meats en brioche, and fairy cakes!
And plan out our own Thanksgiving menu. Hmmmm.
OK, we can start with mini spanakopitas, goat cheese puffs, portobello caps, and Bacchus Bites to round out the antipasto tray.
Next will come a tortilla soup and a clear turkey broth garnished with turkey shaped celery and carrot bits to clear our palates and get ready for the real food.
The main course is our tradition "baby turkeys" - cornish hens (or, since they are so overpopulated this year - quail) with stuffing balls, a salmon en brioche, "baby cabbages" (Brussels sprouts) in tarragon butter, wild rice pilaf, julienned carrots, green beans and parsnips with almonds, dollar corn, yam annas, a brie and onion tart, and mashed potatoes with gravy.
The salads will be the usual German potato, Southern potato, broccoli slaw, tossed greens, a pasta salad (wagons west - wagon wheel pasta with kidney beans and salsa),and a layered pea salad.
The bread will naturally be feather rolls, with several kinds of butter.
It's dessert where people will really need to loosen their garments.
There will be a buffet of sugar cookies, gingerbread, Turkey shaped Krispie Treats, banana nut bread, cherry pecan bread, Banbury tarts, a rose apple tart, chocolate bread puddings, a Black Forest pie, chocolate cream pie, lemon lemon cheesecake, dipped madeleines, pecan pie, a Dobosh Torte, a Lady Baltimore cake, spotted dogs, and Indian pudding.
Along with that, we'll have Moonfeathers Winery's Concord Grape wine, Wyldewood Cellar's sweet Elderberry wine, pumpkin mead, hot sage tea, a cocoa bar, a coffee bar, cold apricot tea, cold mint tea, and a milk bar.
That should satisfy everyone who's coming for Thanksgiving.
Now, if I'll just remember to buy more blankets and pillows...
And, hehehe, I'll use the family as guinea pigs for some recipes to use in the Cracked Cauldron.
Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Supper last night consisted of cornish pasties, steak and kidney pie, hand held chicken pies, beef pies, turkey pies, tuna pies, and several vegetarian blends: root pie, sky pie, and vine pies.
Sounds like a lot, but we only made one or two of each to test them and argue over adjustments.
I think the chicken pies need a dash of cumin in them to bring out the warmth. Manager prefers using something stronger, like habaneros.
Practically any of our hot soups can be quickly and easily converted to a pie. Even some of the cold soups would make good pie bases.
Christmas (or Valentine's) Soup for example - chilled tart cherry cranberry soup flavored with tarragon and vanilla and served with extra vanilla flavored whipped cream, topped with a sprig of rosemary. If we added whole fruits to this soup and baked it in the crust, it would make a marvelous pie.
The vegetarian pies were equally simple. Root pie, of course, is made with root vegetables: potatoes, carrots, rutabagas, turnips, onions, parsnips, garlic, and such. Sky pie, of course, is made of vegetables which grow in the air, but not on vines: corn, peppers, tomatoes, spinach, and the like. And vine pies, of course, are made from veggies on a vine: peas, lentils, beans, all kinds of squashes, grapes, and such. An earth and sky pie would have a mix.
We'll take the weekend to work on word choices for the business proposal.
But tomorrow night will be Soup Night.
We've got to finalize our main, daily soup recipe.
I think the whole neighborhood will get involved in this, just like the Cinnamon War we had earlier. Manager and I have definite ideas of what to put in the soups, and they don't match up.
Tuesday, November 18, 2003
Apparently, blogger was hacked and many blogrolls adversely affected, mine included. Fortunately, I keep back-ups. It will be a bit of a pain to restore it, but it will be done as soon as Blogroll gives the all-clear. In the meantime, I have no clue what links will appear or how they got there.
Last night's baking adventure was a much happier affair. Fruit cakes.
I personally detest candied fruits in fruit cakes, much prefering dried fruits, and even fresh ones where possible. We have created a banana fruitcake that we hope will age well. We started out with a banana bread recipe, added extra dried fruits - pineapple, oranges, tart cherries and cranberries, mangoes, and papaya, toasted brazil nuts, pecans, and filberts. We added in a few yummy spices. Then we soaked it in a lush coconut liquor and rum.
We also made a "white fruit cake", which meant flavoring the sugars rather than adding the spices directly, and selecting pale fruits and nuts. This one was made with almonds, apples, banana (not much, just enough to be evocative), pears, white currants and white cranberries, and yellow pear tomatoes. We used a kirsch as the liquor, eschewing rum because it would overwhelm the delicate flavors.
Monday, November 17, 2003
I can't believe we actually threw away an entire cake.
No, really - the whole thing.
Well, all but 2 bites -mine and Manager's.
It was a nasty horrid cake that will never ever be on a Cracked Cauldron shelf.
Be glad you've been spared the horror of the coconut-filbert cake that filled a trash can.
On a happier note, the fudge bottomed lime cake was a smash hit and devoured quickly
It was so cute when the little orphan Oliver Twist came up and begged for more with big pleading eyes. OK - it wasn't Oliver Twist, but to see such hopefully pleading eyes from our test market is certainly a happy sign that making a fudge bottomed dark chocolate cake with lime juice is a success.
After the dismal and dreadful failure of the coconut filbert cake, we needed this success.
Inspired by our fudge bottomed lime cake, we went on to create splodges and hot drops.
Splodges are splats of cookie dough, kind of like dropped cookies, but not so well shaped. Amoebas come close in appearance, but amoebas sound like a disease, and splodges, well, splodges are fun.
Hot drops are puffed cracker like cookies made with cayenne pepper and habanero souce and topped with cheese. They are searingly delicious served hot and fresh or cold, and they carry dip exceptionally well. They do well with a bean dip, a queso, and salsas of various sorts. Surprisingly, they do great with a salmon or tuna dip, or served with sour cream. They make nice carriers for hors d'eurves, topped with shrimp, or cream cheese and dill, or a varity of other pretty toppings.
Friday, November 14, 2003
Along with pest control, I suppose we will have to deal with humidity control as well. Breads are rather picky about what humidity level they rise best in.
I've noticed this even at my favorite donut shop - Best Donuts. On rainy days or miserably humid summer days, their donuts tend to be heavier. Granted, they are still much lighter than the donuts at any competitor's (Dunkin' Donuts, Krispy Kreme, Winchell's, Daylight), but the difference is still noticeable. The worst donuts Best Donuts produces is still better than the best donuts anyone else makes.
So, likely we will have the same problem.
And thinking of that brings to mind the dreaded Power Outage. That, however, we can take care of with a lovely back-up generator. Yes, it will be an expense up front, but considering this city experience 8-10 power outages a year that can last from a few hours to days (and in a few instances, more than a week!), the first year's use will pay for itself, both in saving whatever's in the oven, and being able to remain open and providing what few others will have - hot food - will certainly help our profit margin.
Anyway, this weekend, we'll be celebrating First Fire because temperatures here have dropped low enough to necessitate turning on heaters, lighting fireplaces, and otherwise preparing for the cold weather. Not that it ever gets truly cold here. Still. it's an excuse for a party - and when we open the Cracked Cauldron, an excuse for a sale and special bakery goods.
Anything that can be cooked over an open flame - Dough Wands, Shaggy Dogs, S'Mores, Orange Cups, Woofers inna Wrap, and such, along with hot spiced cranberry juice, mulled cider, and varieties of hot cocoa - are what we do, so the Cracked Cauldron can maybe offer a First Fire Special which involves the customer's choice of any First Fire Beverage and three First Fire treats. Sounds good to me. Decorate with wintry scenes, put little knit scarves around the cauldrons, that sort of thing.
Thursday, November 13, 2003
Not much to report, unless, of course, you want to hear about the mouse adventures.
Vermin control will, of course, be a priority at the Cracked Cauldron. Mice like the foods we'll be storing and serving. And weevils, and maggot flies, and flies, and silverfish, and a variety of other pests. No matter how clean it's kept, because food is on the premises, pests will invade.
Oh, right. The mouse adventure.
Well, I crawl in from work and discover there's a small brown mouse in my bathtub! So, I bait a live-trap with peanut butter and put it in the tub with the mouse. Most mice adore peanut butter. Not this stubborn little rodent.
So, the next day, I rebait the trap with cheese.
Still no catch.
We're entering day 2 of Mouse Owns Bathtub.
So, I rebait the trap with bacon grease. Voila! Caught mouse!
Now, I have to figure out how to release the mouse without the dogs eating it or it getting back into the house.
Wednesday, November 12, 2003
Low carb cookies!
We came up with a few recipes that are even now being tested for a nutritional analysis: peanut butter, snickerdoodles, chocolate chip, sugar, and gingerbread.
We've also got the analysis back on the lemon lemon cheesecake, the pumpkin pie, and the stuffing balls.
The stuffing balls are 3.5 g of carbs each, a single serving is a ball.
The lemon lemon cheesecake (which meant creating our own lemon curd) is 5.3 g of carbs per serving.
And the pumpkin pie? It weighs in at a hefty 8 g of carbs per normal slice (8 slices per pie), but cutting it to 12 (very thin!) slices leaves it at 5.4 g of carbs - and if we adjust the pie crust a bit, we can probably lower that, so that a 10 slice pie would give a satisfying taste without too many grams of carbs.
Now we need to test some muffins and pastries - cheese danish!
Then we'll have a nice line-up for the low-carb people.
And don't think we've been neglecting people who enjoy rich decadence in their breads and pastries! We have developed a lemon cheese pound cake with a cinnamon glaze that is delicious! We've also developed a "prettier" version of what I've always called "yeast cake" - a yeast-raised coffee cake topped with milk, butter, sugar, cinnamon, and pecans. It's addictive. Delicious. High carb, high calorie yumminess.
Why, yes, I suppose someday I might get fat, but at my age, who cares? This is fun, and scary.
I mean - we'll be putting my house up as collateral. Of course it's scary. Two years from now, I could be homeless.
On the other hand, I've been homeless before, and it wasn't that bad.
Tuesday, November 11, 2003
We'll be reviewing the business plan tonight, as we test bake some more bread.
Gotta plan for making dough while the dough rises.
OK. Maybe you had to be there for this to be funny.
Anyway, we plan to open with a limited menu:
Daily Breads (whole wheat, white, German brown sourdough, white sourdough), Special Breads (low-carb bacon bits, low-carb multigrain, wheat-free cornbread, wheatfree potato rice bread - all using Splenda so they're also diabetic), Specialty Breads (sourdough tomato basil, Four Cheese, pumpernickel, Boston Brown), and our rotating Ethnic Breads, at least 3 varieties. All of these breads will also be made as rolls and in 8 ounce, 1 1/2 pound and 3 pound loaves.
Every Day Cakes (chocolate, white, lemon, pound - made up as both bundt and layered), Special Cakes (frosted fancier, more complex flavors like pecan spice, macadamia pineapple, cherry almond, mocha coffee, multi-layered like tortes or fancy ones like Lady Baltimore), Cupcakes (in the same flavors as the day's cakes).
Pies. Fruit pies like cherry, apple, peach, blackberry, blueberry. Cream pies like cheesecake, pumpkin, chocolate silk, vanilla cookie, banana cream. Pecan pies. Savory pies like calzones, chicken, beef, turkey, Veg-All, mincemeat. These pies will be both family sized and individual handpie sized.
Pastries. Coffee cakes, both yeast and quick, by the entire cake or by the slice. Petit fours. Bite sized tarts. Porcupines. Mice. Danishes. Blintzes.
Cookies. Chocolate chip, shortbread, oatmeal, snickerdoodles, sugar, Billy Goats, linzer cookies, pecan corners, thumbprints, gingerbread, honeycakes.
Soups. Chicken noodle. Deep Beef Stew. A vegetarian choice. And an Ethnic Choice.
Beverages. A full line up of coffees and flavored coffees. Herb teas. Black teas and flavored black teas. Hot and cold milks. Juices. Sodas.
Everything possible will be made on the premises, from scratch.
In addition to these delectables, we'll be offering live entertainment at least 2 nights a week to start with: garage bands, local talent, that sort of thing. On entertainment nights, we'll offer a Sweet Tooth Buffet: Buy a clean plate, fill it up with your choice of sweets, add a beverage, for one price. Want a second helping? (Oh Gods! What a Sweet Tooth!), you'll have to buy a clean plate. We'll give out coupons to homeless people to redeem for a Personal Loaf of bread and a serving of soup, and offer information on where they can get more help.
Once we are underway, we'll expand our base offerings - more nights of entertainment, more breads and soups, special events. After 5 years, we hope to be in a position to offer a line of jams, jellies, and butters to go with the breads: plum butter, apple strawberry kiwi jelly, elderberry jelly, pawpaw jam, quince jelly, ash jam, buffalo berry preserves, apple butter, tarragon blackberry jelly, and more. We hope by then to have also expanded our homeless project to include a set of dorms and a research library, along with lockers, an answering service, computers, and mail service.
After we're well established, say 10 years down the way, we want to add meads to our line-up and local wines. Yes, a liquor license. They can't drink it on the property, but they can buy the bottles and take them home. At this point, we hope to be far enough along to be growing many of our own fruits, herbs, and vegetables, and maybe a few hives of bees - giving jobs to homeless people as well as living space, educational assitance, legal help, and even medical help.
The selling and the helping should be organically involved. We hope to have many of our employees get their leg up from homelessness back into homes of their own, however humble, and keep them stabilized so they don't fall back into homelessness.
It will be not just a profitable business, but a community and a community resource center.
People can stop in for a cookie and a glass of milk, or they can buy a soup dinner with bread, dessert, and beverage. They can stay to listen to the entertainment. They can pick up party yummies.
One of the things I've always disliked about many of hte local bakeries is that they have on display lovely braided breads and shaped breads, but you can't walk in off the street and buy them (they're plastic!), you have to special order them, and it can take up to a week before you can pick up the shaped bread you ordered.
Even if I have to do it myself, we'll have mermaids, and bready bears, and bunny rolls, and braids and twists and sheaves of wheat and such - seasonally and some regularly. It's no fun displaying fun breads if you can't buy them easily!
Monday, November 10, 2003
I brought cookies in for taste testing today: snickerdoodles, chocolate chips, oatmeal, shortbread.
Oddly enough, no one asked about their carb levels. Why are they all so worked up about carbs on bread, then not at all over cookies? One cookie had more carb in it that one slice of bacon bits bread. Yet they cringed over the bread, but didn't hesitate to eat 3-4 cookies.
I think Atkins people have lost sight of the true goal of the diet, and resort to simply bad-mouthing bread, forgetting about all the other carb foods. The goal is not to eliminate all carbs, but to restrict them. And erally, if you're eating a well-balanced, healthy diet, you won't be eating more carbs than the Atkins diet allows - which means a decent dose of grains - via bread, cereals, and other baked goods.
Fortunately, with our low-carb breads, luscious desserts, and soups, we'll have hte Atkins people as loyal customers, as well as hypoglycemics, diabetics, and people with wheat or soy allergies.
I think one thing we ought to do, just as a common thing, is to make labels that list the nutritional content of each item we will have on our menu. That way, people can see how delicious and nutritious our bakery goods are.
Breads, rolls, muffins, cookies, pies, cakes, tarts, pastries, soups, coffees, teas, milks, juices, and even sodas.
We've been looking into the Americans with Disabilities Act as it applies to bakeries.
Good thing most buildings are already compliant. The back areas where the bakers will be producing floury goodness doesn't have to be compliant, only the customer areas, and that's already covered at most of the places we've been looking at.
Baking is not for wusses or people with less than full use of their physical attributes.
And no, that doesn't mean you have to be pretty to be a baker. The Coffee Monkeys have to be good looking. Or at least not hideous. But as long as the bakers are strong and clean (and wear hairnets), they could look like orangutangs.
Hey, if they were orangutangs, they'd certainly have the strength needed to pound all that dough and shape it and lift it and move it.
Actually, we'll excercise our right to be discriminatory and hire humans, not orangutangs.
Sunday, November 09, 2003
Nordic Ware has a line of specialty bundt forms we've been drooling over in the catalogs - at around $30-$40 each. So, we limited it to drooling.
Then, I stumble across two of the patterns on sale at a local store, the Bavarian and Star paterns - for $14!!!
I buy them.
How could I not?
Until the bakery opens, I can use them for parties, and after the bakery opens, along with my hundreds of cookie cutters and molds, they will become part of the bakery equipment.
Naturally, I tested the Star bundt mold out right away, using a lemon cheese pound cake recipe. I used a cinnamon glaze and the cake is deliciously yummy. I'll take the leftovers to work tomorrow and get an opinion there.
Friday, November 07, 2003
We had a lengthy discussion on pricing last night.
Manager and I both want to keep the prices reasonable, yet at a fair market - and definitely profitable. We aren't going into this as a tax-write-off. We'll probably even be paying taxes on the free bread-and-soup we'll be offering the homeless.
Moneybags needs a fireplace, and Manager needs a reliable car, and hungry people need to eat - and bread will get us there.
Thursday, November 06, 2003
A limited taste testing done by the faculty and staff of a high school and the staff of the near-by medical teaching hospital has created a huge demand for the Bacon Bits Low-Carb Bread. Because each loaf has 12 ounces of bacon in it, it is a pricier bread, but people have expressed an eagerness to pay $6.00 or $7.00 a loaf for it!
This just blows me away. I was cringing at offering it for $3.00 a loaf.
Of course, I'm a cheap old woman. I think a decent loaf of daily bread should cost no more than 75¢ for a 1 1/2 pound loaf. What makes the bacon bread so expensive is, of course, the bacon. I guess this means rethinking prices altogether.
How can people afford to spend that much for a single loaf of bread?
It amazes me. Just amazes me.
But it is a very good loaf of bread. It slices thinly, smaller even than the standard 1/2 slices commercial bread has set as the standard. It holds up well to fillings. It will make a great French Toast, or grilled cheese sandwich. Toasted and cut into small shapes, it will make an excellent hors d'euvre bread. Guacamole, tomatoes, lettuce, Westphalian aged ham, all would taste great on this bread. And Egg Toast! Imagine cutting the middle out of this bread, dropping in an egg and frying it (cut-out and all) so the yolk is still runny. What a scrumptious idea. I have to go home and bake some more now.
If all of our specialty breads are as well received as this one was, the Cracked Cauldron Bakery Boutique will be a tremendous success.
Wednesday, November 05, 2003
Well, the analysis results are back from the test loaves of low-carb bread.
We created cornbread, whole wheat bread, white bread, lemon poppyseed bread, orange cranberry bread, bacon bits bread, and banana nut bread. The highest carb is the orange cranberry bread.
I think we've done it - a line of delicious breads that are low carb and soy free, and equal in price to produce as regular bread so the people who require low-carbs won't be penalized for their dietary differences.
Diabetics, hypoglycemics, and people on weight-loss programs will love these breads. They are made with dried fruit - less fruit, more intense flavor, hence less carbs - wheat gluten and protein for all but the cornbread (which has grits and rice proteins instead), cornstarch, leavening (mostly yeast, but baking powder in other cases).
The best of the lot, in my opinion, is the bacon bits bread. It's high protein, low carb, and rich in flavor. It makes an excellent sandwich bread, thinly sliced.
Even though it's not as light as regular orange cranberry bread, the dense low-carb orange cranberry bread is bursting with flavor. Even though it tested the highest in carbs, it's still low enough to satisfy most low-carb diets.
I think a variety of seven different low carb breads will make a community hit.
Next thing to tackle - low carb cookies. Chocolate chip, of course. Brownies. They won't suffer from the density that low-carb seems to create, they may even benefit from it. Fudgy brownies, low carb and made with Splenda. Spritz cookies - high in fats and sugar, but low in flour - might be an option, and meringues, of course. Crispy, flavorful meringues - minty chocolate, sharply citrus, and javalicious.
Once we finish this line of product, then we'll need to tackle the wheat allergy breads. The corn bread is acceptable for that - low-carb and wheat-free. I'm thinking of a rice/apple bread and maybe a potato rice bread. Amaranth, rice, potato, chickpea, milo, rye, there are a lot more choices for wheat-free than low-carb.
Monday, November 03, 2003
Even though we're not even near opening, we had many bake requests for this Halloween: Dragon Eyes, Firedrake Breadsticks, Ogre Fingers, Witche's Digits, Broomsticks, Pointy Hats, skull and crossbone meringues, Mummy cookies, Graveyard Cake, and VooDoo Gingerbreads, along with pumpkin bundtlings, pumpkin tarts, pumpkin yeast breads, pumpkin bread pudding, and pumpkin nut breads.
I explored a used restaurant supply place, and found our floor mixer for only $5,000.00. I looked at their deck ovens and ranges, and unless we find them elsewhere at better prices, new is our best option here. The deck ovens were missing too many important pieces and were almost the same price as new. Not a bargain at all. And the ranges - they were selling used for hte same price as new, and were set temperatures. We'll want variable temperature controls - and if we have to pay new prices, we may as well buy new.
On the plus side, we're pretty sure we have some of the best and most creative Halloween treats to offer.
We're already gearing up to test out Thanksgiving recipes. The above pumpkin recipes will be joined by apples and cranberries in our goodies, and we'll offer Stuffing Balls. I think the Stuffing Balls will be popular with people who are eating Thanksgiving alone or at work (an amazing number of people will work that day, not just emergency response people, but all the Call Centers will be open, and some offices will remain open, too.) and these Stuffing Balls will be perfect for them to have a single serving size to go with that slice of turkey and and all.
I think adding apples and streusel topping to our butternut kuchen will be a delicious sell-out. There's orange-cranberry-nut bread, and pecan pies and tarts, and cheesecakes, and sugar cookies, and turkey krispies, and pilgrim hat cakes and Indian pudding, and all sorts of yummies. Fruit pies. Fancy little cakes. Wonderful breads - all American ones, of course - Boston Brown, and Anadama, and sourdough white, and parkerhouse rolls, and multigrain loaves.