Gerhard’s blog: Eschewing Easter

Gerhard Jenne examines his firm’s performance at Easter, and finds that a Velvet Bunny Cake hit just the right note with customers

With the last few Easter chocolates on ‘buy one get one free’, it’s time to look back at this year’s campaign and record what we could do better next year.

While this was not the best, it certainly wasn’t the worst of Easters recorded (in more detail) over the last seven years. In fact, it sat bang in the middle. I always look at the two weeks in the run-up and the week after the Bank Holiday in my evaluation of Easter. This year this was particularly important since the school holidays were before Easter (normally not that good for trade), but then everyone came back immediately, giving the Bank Holiday week a very good uplift.

Hot cross bun sales were better than last year, since we managed to get the forecasting more accurate, and our Simnel cakes also did very well. In fact, we could have sold more, had we been a bit more optimistic with our projections. Since we like to mature the golden fruit cake base for a few months, there was no way of baking a few more once stocks ran low. It appears that the classics have continuous appeal and we will be baking 20% more next year.

A great hit was a cute Velvet Bunny Cake, with a body made from a dome-shaped vanilla sponge filled with chocolate ganache, covered in cocoa, dusted chocolate marzipan and an iced head baked from chocolate shortbread. It had so much cute factor, it sold five times more than last year’s ‘Hoppit’ Mount des-res. Just goes to show what difference the right cake design can make.

Next year, of course, we might be out of business, as my book, out this Thursday (1 May), features the very recipe in the Fun & Festivities section. On the other hand, cleaning a kitchen down after a ‘dust’ cloud of cocoa has settled and coated every nook and cranny will probably only be tried once, then it’s back to buying it from Konditor (or so I hope).

I reckon that no matter how many baking books are published, it’s only a hard core that will go through all the trouble of sourcing the ingredients. The rest will feast with their eyes and then buy something similar from the pros. I have it on good authority that most buyers of cookery books only ever use two or three recipes – and even less if there’s no photo to accompany the recipe or, god forbid, the first attempt goes wrong at the hands of the author, rather than mistakes made with the execution.

As publishing date is this Thursday, we are planning a bit of a bash the following week. It was music to my ears when our loyal neighbour and customer offered us her ‘Cello Factory’ gallery as a venue. This allows us to exhibit some of the fantastic photos, blown up to a very large format, and naturally we will baking some matching samples. There will even be room to get down and dirty with some interactive ‘Gingerbread Granny’ icing. If you find yourself in Waterloo on the Friday, Saturday or Sunday of next week, do pop in and say hello.

www.konditorandcook.com

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