Monday, 28 March 2011

To Market, To Market

Saturday 26 March 2011 was my official launch of Maeli's Homemade at the Parap Markets. Such a stressful lead up and set up but once I had figured out that the secret to market stall domination is to sit back and look relaxed/un-interested/not desperate, everything seems to just be A-OK. I made 82 cakes, muffin size and mini size, and I only had about a dozen leftover at the end of the market day. By 12 noon, the icing was oozing off the cakes because it was so hot and I felt embarrassed selling such dismal cakes, but next week I will try to rotate them into the esky more frequently. I also will be buying another table for more space.
The stall setup

All in all, I had a successful day. The government Health people came to audit my stall too (on my first day!) and after some discussion about the fact that buttercream cannot spoil in a way that will give someone food poisoning, I was A-Approved. Lastly, a girl at the markets offered to pay me to make her a replica of the self-made dress I was wearing.. such a compliment.
See you this Saturday at Parap Markets

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Afternoon T

So I haven't exactly been in the best mood for blogging but I just wanted to show and tell about my Taste Tester Afternoon Tea I held on Sunday on my verandah. In an attempt to try something new to showcase for my friends, I tried the ice cream cone cupcakes by putting the cake batter into an ice cream cone and baking it using the cone as a patty paper... FAIL! I wish I'd taken a photo of the melted ice cream cones! It was awful. Three batches of cupcake mixture later, I realised that the recipe was way out in the butter measurements and the mixture rose heaps in the oven but then overflowed and flopped. I ended up just using a small cupcake and popping it into an ice cream cone.

I also attempted to make my Grandma's Pink Laminton Balls.. however, needed to let the red jelly set before dipping cake in it!
Overall, it looked pretty nice, but I had only eaten icing and cake mixture all day so I was on a mega sugar low by the time people arrived at 3pm.
Lemon Meringue Cupcakes - Success

Pink Lamington Balls

Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes 

On another note I have ordered a stamp for stamping my paper bags and a sticker for my cake boxes. Parap Markets have given me the thumbs up to start selling but to be honest its seems like a lot of work. I'm aiming to make 4 varieties of cakes/biscuits and 24 of each. So thats approximately 100 items to make for a Saturday morning. Hence why I am looking into changing my stall to the Nightcliff Sunday morning market just so I have a whole day on Saturday to bake.. Thanks for reading!

My stamp - Self Designed

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Four Birds Cake Review

Today we went to Four Birds, on Smith St Mall in Star Arcade for a morning coffee. I noticed a huge cake on their bench so I thought this is a good opportunity to review one of Darwin's cake shops. Four Birds is one of the most cutest, funky coffee shops in Darwin. I like it for its milk crates with seat cushions outside and minimal shop interior with a few corner seats and nice cushions. Its amazing how the little touches make such a big difference to a coffee shop. It is cool and airy inside the shop and you can sit outside where its warmer but fairly shaded.

My moist and luscious piece of Four Birds Carrot Cake.  
For $4.50 I received a HUGE piece of Carrot Cake with cream cheese icing served in a container in a stamped brown paper bag. I am pleased with the moistness of the cake although it contains pineapple which I wasn't expecting. I would have to say that it is a good quality home made raisin-filled cake and definitely tastes and looks fresh. I am now rather full!

The "Freshness Factor" is a big deal for me in my products to be sold at Maeli's Homemade market stall. I have tasted extra large cupcakes sold at the Mindil Beach Night markets that have amazing looking icing toppings and garnishes but the cake inside tasted like it was made from packet mix. I think my biggest pressure on myself is ensuring that my baked goods stay fresh inside as well as looking appealing to customers. I am worried about the heat melting my buttercream and I know that I cannot have whipped cream or cream cheese toppings. Such a shame. So now I am researching and experimenting with different products and cake covers to see what I can display on a table for about 6 hours at a Saturday morning market.
An example of how I will need to cover my cakes so they don't dry out.
I have bought some cake boxes (fits about 4-6 items) that look really professional and acrylic cake covers like those shown in the photo above. I also bought a 500 pack of white paper packets for an individual item which seem to be too small now that I can experiment with them. I would ultimately like to stamp each packet for advertising purposes but now I'm considering that brown paper packets would look better. Oh the choices and opportunities!

Lastly, I will find out tomorrow from the Parap Market Committee if my market stall application has been accepted and then I can zoom ahead and finally open my stall. Arrivederci !!

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Blogging moment # 1

So, in an attempt to start a fantastic blog like Sheryl on, I do endeavor to learn to write in a more "readable", "internet-friendly" manner that will hopefully keep people interested. I can't say that I'm into the whole BLOG thing; it seems a bit Julie and Julia which didn't work out so well for the modern day Julia (ie. her employer was reading her posts). And it kind of seems a bit self-involved, assuming that people actually care about your life happenings enough to read several blog posts. However, I do enjoy the idea of recording my progress in opening my first cake stall at the Parap Markets in Darwin.

Ok, so a bit of a run down on Darwin. NO CAKE SHOPS and NO INDEPENDENT BAKERIES! I'm sorry, there is a Greek Bakery in the suburbs that makes greek sweets like chocolate coated Baklava and vanilla slice but its a shame there isn't more of the sweet here. Sure Darwin is becoming more metropolitan with the young southerners moving up here for jobs (guilty; I immigrated from Brisbane) but the advent of funky little Melbourne coffee shops hasn't quite taken off yet. Likewise with the 4 different markets that are held in Darwin. You'll find a large array of fresh produce and asian cuisine (think laksa, satays and noodle soup) but currently I am lucky that there are only a couple of cake stalls at the markets held in Darwin.

And so appears Maeli's little Niche! A market cake stall and potentially, one day, in another far away place, my own real cake shop with funky furniture and good coffee.

I think I like baking a bit too much. In fact I use it as an excuse because it makes me feel good, relieves stress and hits that sweet craving feeling you get at work about 4pm everyday. I admit I've still got a long way to go in presenting my baked goods professionally, but I can happily say that thanks to my mum and granny being amazing bakers (and sweet tooths), I have the process of ingredient, ingredient, beat, ingredient, stir, ladle, open oven door, wait and eat, down pat pretty well now.

So now is my chance to make the rest of Darwin fat instead of torturing myself into eating most of my cakes/biscuits because my boyfriend and housemates just don't enjoy eating them as often as me. Isn't that weird!!?