Those of you who read this blog might sometimes question what planet I live on, waxing on about individual servings of pastries that cost anything from £5, even £8. This does not resemble anything in your life, you might think. It doesn’t for most of the time in mine either, but when you live and work in Central London, you can’t help but notice these things and it also makes it very exciting.
As I was walking our pooch in the leafy parts of St James yesterday, I saw a tank-sized silver Rolls Royce gently forwarding into a swanky stainless steel car lift. The house attached showed signs of enormous wealth: Doric columns, marble, lush rooftop garden. I thought these must be the sort of people who send their driver to pick up some of the delicacies from the upscale establishments mentioned in previous blogs.
It also confirmed what I read in the paper over my Blueberry Muesli Muffin: a recent study has found that Central London is the richest region in the EU, whereas many other parts of the UK have living standards lower than many other countries in the EU, with the spending power of the poorest close to the poorest citizens of Slovenia or the Czech Republic.
This is the market in which the UK’s bakers and pastry chefs operate. So it’s no wonder there is such variety and contrast in our offers... and some quite challenging opportunities.
Meanwhile, chez Konditor & Cook we are trying to ‘cash in’ on the World Cup. As with all sporting events, entrepreneurial bakers have an opportunity to create something that engages their customers. Our footballer gingerbread men are wearing shorts and shirts iced in the colours of the participating nations’ flags. On match days we put out boxed combinations of our Magic Cakes – square fondant fancies, iced with the flags of the upcoming fixtures.
Lola’s Cupcakes, which is busy rolling out stalls in London’s transport hubs and has just opened one in Waterloo station, has given its footie-inspired cupcakes a star-nozzle piped treatment. Swirls of sweet frosting glow in yellow and green for Brazil, black, gold and red for Germany and, of course, white and red for England – long may they sell!
In Yorkshire the Tour de France is about to get under way, no doubt a welcome boost for bakers in that region. Hungry spectators will want to be fed and creative bakes might want to try giving their ranges a Gallic flavour; pain paysan, baguettes filled with brie, tarte tatin or tarte au citron would make lovely additions to roadside picnics.
One of the cutest gift items created for the Tour de France must be Bettys of Harrogate’s 1919 Vintage Chocolate Teddy Bear. He is so adorable he even made it on to the masthead of the Financial Times’ weekend edition. For the nimble-fingered chocolatiers at Bettys he is probably a bit of a challenge; piping the milk chocolate goggles into the mould can’t be easy, and then there is the white chocolate cap and a yellow marzipan jersey. No wonder it is only produced as a limited edition.
London had its own cycling event last Saturday – the Naked Bake Ride. This peaceful protest against car culture only seems to grow in popularity. Maybe I’ll think of some appropriate merchandise for next year. On the other hand I might just leave it up to the Café Royal; those that sat in its Regent street window sipping Darjeeling First Flush got not only a prime view, but several servings of Boudin Blanc all for free!