As any visitors to our café know, we love to offer hungry shoppers a tempting array of savoury and sweet snacks and our imaginative cakes, designed by resident cookery whiz Amy, have become increasingly popular. Recently, Amy took a trip to the Chocolate Academy in London to once again polish up her skillset, this time focusing on pastry and cakes.

Amy is constantly pushing the boundaries of her imagination and capabilities in the kitchen and is always thinking of ways to make even more luxurious, complex and interesting products.  “I chose the ‘Boutique pastry and travel cakes’ course because I haven’t done any pastry training before and I wanted to upscale to high-end patisserie and cakes,” said Amy. “As it was a two-day course we were able to cover a lot of ground and the tutor was guest chef Andres Lara, who’s based in Canada.”

You might be wondering what on earth ‘travel cakes’ are! Well, this is the nickname given to a current trend in cakes that are easily transportable, which stay moist, and are well suited to ‘takeaway’ portions, and have a longer shelf life.

Amy said: “On the course we made some superb cakes. There was a blondie cake with chocolate, apricot and amaretto gel piped in it through a hole in the middle. We also baked an orange cake with pistachio praline, and practised making a citrus peel confit, which takes a bit of effort but results in an amazing, concentrated burst of pure citrusy flavour that can be used on sweet or savoury dishes.”

Always thinking outside the box, Amy has already put this training to use in the White Rabbit kitchen, using the citrus confit with salmon for our sumptuous Valentine’s Day meal, and producing a fruit and nut blondie cake for the café which featured caramelised macadamia nuts and proved a huge hit with customers.

“I was absolutely buzzing with ideas after this course,” she added. “We made individual brownies made in a chocolate éclair mould, and used a cashew nut cookie mix which was then baked into the brownie. It’s a simple recipe but tastes amazing. I can’t wait to try it out on our customers!”

Another useful learning point in the course was the different sugar options available that can offer lower levels of sweetness but still provide the same preservation properties. Amy explained: “A lot of people don’t want to eat an overly sweet cake or pastry, they would rather experience more sophisticated flavours and textures.”

Full of inspiration, Amy is looking forward to putting her new techniques into practice and will soon be mixing up more unusual flavours for the shop and café. “I love experimenting, it’s about being brave enough to push the boat out in the kitchen and try new things. It seems to be working so far, I think I’ve got a good instinct and just need to rely on it,” Amy said.

If you have a particular flavour combination you think would work a treat, then please let us know. Amy added: “I’m always on the lookout for fresh ideas!”

If you are looking for a bespoke cake for a wedding or other event, please contact us on 01482 679325.

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