I know how frightening it is to check for my new blog on a Sunday and not find it. However, yesterday Marilyn and I were slugging it out, baking as many fruitcakes as we could. I can only describe the experience as similar to deciding to push your car home, rather than driving it.
To make Okanagan Harvest cakes, I have to have all the bags of fruit ready to go. I start by shopping for the fruit and nuts, and get cases of apples, pears, and apricots. Then I have to go to a different store for the butter, eggs, flour and sugar, and finally the licquor store for brandy and rum.
The pears and apples have to be chopped into small pieces, and I do this by hand with shears. The apricots can be chopped in the food processor. Then I measure the fruit, cook it briefly with apple juice, and put it into plastic bags. After that, I have to put sheets of almonds into the oven to gently brown them.
When Marilyn comes, we use the prepared fruit and nuts, but still have to make the dough, and also chop the two kinds of chocolate. The pans have to be sprayed, and the older ones lined in parchment as well. Once we get going, we’re like automatons. We fill pans, put them into the oven, make more dough, remove baked cakes, and stack them on the baking racks.
Once cool, the cakes are de-panned, poked with a skewer, and soaked with rum. They’re then placed into plastic bags, which are then vacuum-sealed. Later on, these go into my little white boxes, onto which I’ve stuck the front and back labels. Did I mention the cleaning of the pans and kitchen at the end of the baking day?
You know what I said to Marilyn? I just love it when people tell me the fruitcakes are too expensive. One day some poor fool’s going to tell me the product is too expensive, and a few seconds later they’re going to be walking away with a black eye. Why I ever wanted to get into the artisan food business I will never know.
A nice woman from The Bay e mailed me a couple of weeks ago and inquired about my fruitcakes. I e mailed back to ask her if she was thinking of ordering tens of thousands, but she replied that she was thinking of trying only 50 – 100 in a few stores.
I sent her my information sheet, and in reply she sent me The Bay’s forms for food suppliers. I laughed when I looked through the pages and pages of information they wanted, including insane stuff like, “% moisture content.” I e mailed back with a pithy message: Look, I’m an artisan baker, and have no clue what the moisture content is, or any of that other stuff!
Of course getting into The Bay would push the value of the company up exponentially, but certainly at the expense of the proprietor’s sanity. I know you’ll want to have me committed anyway for my lack of vision, but to me, it’s just not worth it!