Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Valentine Demands 

Folks know we aren't opening for a year, yet they still want to place "special orders". The cranberry cherry pies from the winter holiday season were very successful, and some people want those pies - with heart cut-outs or shaped like hearts - for Valentine's Day. I guess it makes a good substitute for people who are allergic to chocolate.

So, we promised to make only 3 such pies. Oven space, until we get the Cracked Cauldron open, is at a premium.

The heart shaped cream puffs were very popular at the bank this morning - they liked the cherry and strawberry fool fillings.

We have several different Valentine cookies, too, that we hope will be well accepted.

Manager invented a lovely brie soup, and that is another offering we think we'll offer at Valentine's.

This year, until we open, will be run offering our special holiday and seasonal items to selected guinea pigs and volunteers, to see what proves most popular, and what needs improvement.

We heard back from the Departmente of Health on the herbs, they have no specific ruling on them, so we'll go with the "if it ain't forbidden, it's allowed". After all, since we did check with them (I had them send it to me on official letterhead), the worst they can do is tell us to stop doing it.

Paperwork, we're discovering, is almost more important than the business itself.

Next fall, probably October, or November, we'll be looking for a good financial person, one who understands business cash flows, and can keep our bookkeeping in order. I know Manager can do this, but with everything else she'll be doing (I'll be keeping my day job for a year or two after the Cracked Cauldron opens and longer if needed), letting an expert handle it day-to-day, and her keeping tabs on it is actually the best scenario for us.

We're codifying our recipes for our Queen of the Flour Monkeys, so she'll have it easier when we get closer to opening. Some of our recipes and methods aren't common, and she has already told me that she doesn't have experience with sourdoughs. Since some of our signature breads are depend on special yeasts and poolishes and starters one thing we'll have to teach her is how to take care of the Yeast Beasties. I have a starter that's 40 years old, and it came from a German starter that was 70 years old when this one was grown from it. This starter has a pedigree and a history. We may start a new one just for Cracked Cauldron. Baby starters need a lot of care and work to stay alive and be healthy.

While she's very experienced in bakery work, she trained when par-baked and pre-mixed bakery goods were becoming common, and the bakeries she's worked in used a lot of this. Ours will be a scratch bakery, the only pre-made item we will use will be phyllo dough, simply because it requires special equipment, training,a nd time we aren't willing to invest in at the beginning.

If, at some point, it becomes better for us to make our own phyllo dough, we'll consider investing.

As a start-up, we do have to consider our resources. There are certain things we must have at the beginning, and others that can wait.

We've already decided not to provide donuts, we're contemplating not offering bagels (this is still iffy, a lot of bagelries are going out of business around here, so there may be a market for bagels in a year, just not a large one), and we'll be buying pre-made phyllo dough. Puff pastry, though, is so easy and quick to make we'll have our own, both sweet and savory versions.

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