With Mother’s Day around the corner, I started working on a new cookie flavour combination. I’ve always wanted to work with lavender but the thought of it tasting like soap always put me off. I knew getting the correct type of lavender (culinary lavender) will be beneficial so my search started. We have several lavender farms in New Zealand of which some are local, but most of them grow the fragrant lavender meant for soaps and lavender rich products. I finally found a farm in Masterton who grows cooking lavender, or more precisely . I ordered 2 packets and couldn’t wait to experiment with it.
Now, I didn’t want to only make a lavender cookie and looked at options that will elevate the lavender yet still stand out flavour wise. From what I read lemon and lavender are great friends and I know lemon adds a gorgeous citrus flavour to any dish.
Obviously I didn’t want to be heavy handed when adding the lavender, so I first grind it a little finer to release the lavender fragrance and then pinch-by-pinch added it to the wet batter until I could slightly smell and taste it. Once in the oven and baked, the most beautiful aroma oozes from the cookies. The most subtle lemon flavour followed by a stream of lavender.
I am really happy with these beautiful cookies and every small mouthful is a pleasure.
My sister tagged me in a post on Facebook to which I could only giggle as it is so very true. I have always enjoyed baking but only truly found my passion for it over the past few years. I think it came about when I started baking to fundraise for my daughter’s gymnastics competitions back in 2011. We had additional costs that year as we were travelling up to Auckland from Cambridge once a week for extensive training. I started out by baking one of the best biscuits I had ever tasted called Death by Chocolate biscuits. It is not an easy biscuit to bake compare to the ones I bake now, but they are devilish good. Rich, sweet, decadent and literally melt in the mouth.
Soon afterwards my husband bought me my first Nigella Lawson cookbook. I have made several of her desserts and baked goods but what I love the most about her books is the way she writes them. You might as well be having a one-on-one conversation with her. It’s personal, funny, witty, just like her.
Baking cakes only started in 2013 when I worked for a company where sharing your baking was considered the best thing since slice bread. At first I didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes (the seasoned company bakers) so I didn’t bake anything for the first few months. It was only when we moved to our new premises in April 2014 and we lost more than 1/2 of our workforce that I brought my baking in. I baked traditional and fail proof cakes, muffins and biscuits at first. It was through the encouragement of my work mates that I started experimenting with flavours and cake combinations. Whatever I baked I took with to work. I baked for individual employees, whether it was to celebrate their birthday or send them off as a farewell. I felt great joy when I could share these baked goods with them. My most memorable cake was the Hummingbird Cake which I baked for the sales manager’s farewell. It was rustic and full of flavour and oh so pretty.
Today I still mainly bake to share. I bake to give as gifts, to show love and empathy when friends loose a loved one, for my husband to share at work (expecially when the ladies ask for anything sweet with chocolate). One of those cakes was a traditional Black Forest Cherry Gateau. I baked it for my husband’s birthday so naturally he took it into work for everyone to share.
I bake because I learn something new every time. I bake because I can’t think of anything more satisfying to do. I bake because nothing smells more divine than the aroma of freshly baked cookies. I bake because I owe it to myself to enjoy food.
You know the saying “Biting off more than you can chew”? Today was just such as day!
I had the privileged to bake a cake for a lovely lady who was, like me, made redundant. We worked together for 3 1/2 years for a company who went into receivership, was bought by a new owner and then started making huge changes with most of those changes being departments closing and people loosing their jobs. She had been very fortunate to have been in a position where she was needed, seeing as she had been in this position for 12 years. She was the last person I thought would be let go but I guess when money speaks louder, then selfish decisions are made.
The cake is one I have baked on several occasions. It is Nigella’s Devils Food Cake, a rich and tasty cake, easy to make and you can dress it up which ever way you want. I layered it with a strawberry buttercream filling, made a white chocolate ganache to spread over the top, blitzed chocolate speckled eggs to decorate the edges.
My son also had a shared morning tea for which I baked 72 mini vanilla cupcakes, with a vanilla buttercream frosting, shaved milk chocolate and mini speckled eggs as decorations. These little morsels were so much fun to bake. Petite bites of happiness.
And to top it off, I started on an order of 35 packets of the Easter Speckled Egg cookies of my Say It With Cookies label. I made a small change in that I switched from traditional icing to a royal icing to stick the colourful speckled egg on. The only downfall is that the royal icing takes longer to dry if applied in a thicker consistency, but it is actually tastier than normal icing.
The kitchen smells of a whirlwind of cakes, cookies and chocolates…best smell ever!
Today I launched my cookie label, Say It With Cookies. I am very fortunate to have my parents support in that I can promote the cookies in their shops. I have been baking these cookies for about 5 years now and have managed to successfully get 5 flavours from them:
White Choc & Macadamia Nut
Dark Choc & Hazelnut
Choc Chip & Orange
I started baking them as a fundraiser for my daughter’s gymnastics when she had a competition in Wellington and we couldn’t financially afford the trip. I managed to sell enough cookies to cover her flight and accommodation for two days. We sold them at her school and at my parents shop.
Since then I have baked them for morning tea work treats, as gifts for special friends and for the just because-our-cookie-jar-is-empty days.
I have thinking of baking them to sell for a broader market but fear, disappointment and doubt always puts a stop to this. I have spoken to my dad regarding an action plan, how to start small and then build once you see an increase in sales. I have made the sums and he has double checked the cost. I bought the ingredients, spend 2 days baking, decorating and filling bags. To promote the cookies I have an Easter themed cookie called Speckled Egg Cookies. They are sweet and crispy from the candy coated speckled eggs.
I will give it a few weeks to see how sales go inside the shop, but ideally I would like to have my product at market places where people tend to be a bit more open to new baking endeavours.
I have been contemplating starting up a small business after several people has told me that I need to make some $ from my baking. The idea of risking resources and capital to start a business scares the crap out of me! I am NOT a risk-taker. I hide from fear and doubt, and am usually filled with a deep sense of insecurity whenever my mind wonders unto unknown territories.
My dad on the other hand is a businessman, has been for most part of his life. He ran a very successful company in South Africa and currently owns 2 shops here in New Zealand. I have spoken to him on a few occasions about what to do and how to go about it if I want to start something small. Dad isn’t a huge risk-taker himself but he plans, speaks to advisors and looks at the long term impact before making any sound decisions. His advice to me was to start small, get a feel for the demand for your product, advertise, and only when it progresses into something more substantial, go big.
I spend most of today getting the kids’ school gear ready. I am slightly unorganised, as per usual, at the last moment realising that I don’t have labels for their covers, nor do I have enough covers for my son’s books as I am recycling last years covers. So they might be attending their first day back at school half ‘n half packed, but if there is one thing they will certainly have, which is a full and healthy packed lunchbox.
I found some tasty and easy back to school recipes while browsing the world wide web of baking. I made two varieties today, a natural no bake bliss ball and baked cookies. The Avocado Bliss Balls was a first for me as I have never made energy or bliss balls before, but I was recently inspired by a lovely friend after reading her blog entry Energy Bite Adventures and I am amazed at how quick they are to put together. The avocado is a bit of a strange taste to add but I do love the flavour. Luckily one of my children think so too.
The Oatmeal, Coconut and Raisin Cookies on the other hand are absolutely delicious! Crunchy, wholesome goodness. I didn’t have enough golden syrup so I used the remaining organic brown rice syrup I bought for our nut and seed bars, which is a healthier replacement for any sweet syrup.
Good, honest and healthy baking for new school adventures.