Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Happy Easter!

Loretta, our baker, has great buns. Hot cross buns that is. She has really persevered and we hope to have some ready for Easter weekend.

Many people have been inquiring about our cake decorating classes and we're listening. Judy and Beth, two of our decorators are working to set up the teaching schedule which we hope to be posting in the next couple weeks. So, if you think this might interest you, give us a call and we'll put your name on the list. We will most likely start the classes in July since we are already booked solid for the month of June.

The Easter orders are coming in and we have begun working longer hours to produce our number one cookie - iced cut outs. We have a wider Easter selection than we've ever had with different mini's added to the list. Check out our web sight for all the different shapes.

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Monday, March 16, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

People always ask me, "Are you busy?" I'm never quite sure what they mean. Are they asking in a polite way how my sales are or are they asking me how I'm doing personally. As for sales, they are always slower at this time of year, but this is when we experiment with new items, make our display cakes and set our goals for the remainder of the year. Whether it's a good economy or bad, I'm an expert at worrying about what the year will hold. Our bakery did terrific last year although I saw some signs of the weakening economy during the fall months. We once again sold record breaking numbers of iced cut outs at Christmas to keep our overall sales strong. Focusing on our web site and changing our packaging to allow for more shipping was a good decision. We had many customers from all four corners of the U.S. order online and they loved our product. We are now focusing on offering more shippable products and getting the word out.

Personally, one would think that at a slower time of year I would have more time on my hands but it seems the opposite. Between learning how to do new things such as blogging and downloading pictures, and doing inventory, taxes and the all wonderful FAFSA forms for my two sons in college, my life is a whirlwind. Life is never boring.

In the past two weeks my decorator and I spent two mornings at Kent Roosevelt High School teaching almost 50 students some very basic cake decorating techniques. Having been a teacher several years ago I am a firm believer in businesses being involved with schools and I love working with young people. These particular students were great. We hope to have some pictures of our day with them shortly.

I also was a judge at the regional pastry arts culinary competition for the Akron schools. The students have to demonstrate how to bake their cake, make their icing and decorate their cake in one hour. It's a tough challenge and the kids take this seriously since this is what they want to do after high school.

I did not judge her but our high school employee, Amanda, was in the competition and did well enough to go on to state competition. She competes again on March 26 and while we won't be there to cheer her on, we're rooting for her.

Happy St. Paddy's Day! We sold out of our shamrock cut outs and made more just for Tuesday. We will also have our St. Paddy's mint cupcakes we introduced for the first time this year and which have been a hit. We will probably carry these to the end of the week. We will definitely have these back again next year.

Easter is coming and we are now producing our Easter cut out cookies as well as the spring butterflies and tulips. Nut rolls, cookie trays and pies are always on request too. Just give us a call to place your order.

Our Easter cookies will be on sale at Akron General Hospital on Friday, April 10 in their Petite Bazaar gift shop. In support of the charitable works that are funded through the gift shop, we give a donation for every box that's sold. Last year these sold out within one hour of the store opening.

Do you get our e-newsletter? If you sign up online, you'll receive our newsletter with updates every other month. A coupon is included just for those customers each time so it might be worth your while.


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Sunday, March 1, 2009

Easter and St. Patrick's Day Cookies

Mother nature may not be ready to let us Ohioans have spring, but everyone I've talked to is most certainly ready for it. The weather here has been as bad as the economic forecasts and in these past two weeks we can just feel the anxiety from being cooped up too long and the yearning for a climate change.

It was refreshing for my staff to start designing and baking spring pastry. With that in mind, our Easter and St. Patrick's Day cutout cookies are now ready for sale and our tulips and butterflies should be ready shortly. We weren't actually thinking tulips and butterflies quite yet, but we're getting calls for these from our online customers. We have always been a customer driven business, it's the strength of our growth and so we decided why not do it earlier. It's what our customers want.

We are still working on a good hot cross bun recipe. The first buns could have been used as a weapon of mass destruction. They were so heavy we could have used them as a rock. Recipe #2 didn't make it to the oven before it had problems. As my baker began brushing the buns with the egg wash, they collapsed before our very eyes. And, yes, they did not improve with the baking. Recipe #3 has potential with a few adjustments. My philosophy of my bakery is it not only has to look good but taste good too. I had never eaten a hot cross bun before but liked the religious significance of it. Hence, my desire to create something tasty and meaningful. We will be doubling the amount of raisins and adding more cinnamon and more glaze. We want our buns to be light and soft and with a sweet cinnamon flavor.
I'll keep you posted on recipe #4.

This week will be a crazy week for me personally. I am occasionally called upon to give demonstrations or talks about my business. Having been a teacher previously, I am an advocate for helping kids whenever time permits. I along with one of my decorators will be at Kent High school on Wed. and Thurs. morning teaching some basic cake decorating skills. The students will then design and decorate their own cake. I love seeing the creativity that the students show after just a few short lessons.
I will also be a judge at the regional pastry arts competition for the culinary programs in our high schools this Saturday. This will be my third year judging and I always look forward to this. The students put a lot of time in and I can appreciate the nervousness they go through to give their demonstration.

Finally, we have been invited to set up a display about our business at the Home Savings Bank in Brimfield, Ohio for the month of March. This is one of the friendliest banks and the staff is wonderful. They really go all out to service their customers.

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