Tuesday, December 31, 2013

One Conundrum At A Time ...

This was going to be the year.

This was going to be the year that I finally started baking professionally. Commercially. Baking and selling instead of baking and giving away.

I would start with sablés because they'd kind of become my thing. I'd perfected them. People liked them. I had more than one flavor to offer. They were sturdy for shipping. They stayed fresh over time. It was a good plan.

I spent a day compiling numbers. I really hate compiling numbers. But I needed to figure out about how many I could bake per week and how much I would pay for ingredients and how much I would pay to the commercial kitchen where I'd do my baking and how much I'd pay for packaging materials and how much I'd pay for shipping and figured out about what I'd have to charge for all of this to make sense.

And the number was a bit ridiculous. Who pays that for cookies, I wondered.

But friends assured me that people really do pay a lot for baked goods if they're worthy.

So I kept the plan in place, with the intention of getting started as soon as I had the money to pay for insurance and materials and space and such. I didn't want to start the venture in the hole.

This was also the year, though, that I read more and more about grains and their impacts on our health.

I already knew they weren't great for me, but I'd kept on eating them, kept on baking with them.

But as the year wore on, I read more and more that convinced me that I really should eliminate them from my life, wheat chief among them.

Wheat. As in flour. As in the basis of pretty much everything I bake.

So I ditched the plan.

My conscience wouldn't allow me to profit from selling something I knew to be harmful.

"But people have free will!" helpful friends said. "They can decide whether to eat it or not!"

But still, no. I couldn't make a living off of selling something I wouldn't be willing to eat myself.

And then I found a lovely group of grain-free folks and told them of my erstwhile baking plans, and they immediately told me that if I could find a way to bake with grain-free ingredients, the world would beat a path to my door.

Folks who have given up grains don't necessarily want to give up traditionally grain-based foods. They still want cookies and such.

So I resolved to learn how to bake with almond flour.

I set for myself the goal of perfecting an almond-flour sablé.

And then I saw the price of almond flour.

And I laughed.

At the moment, I'm looking at a site that offers a 25-pound bag of almond flour that's well recommended by those who bake with it.

For reference's sake, a 25-pound bag of Ceresota, my wheat flour of choice, can be had for, oh, about 10 bucks.

A 25-pound bag of this almond flour lists for $153.99.

And I thought the cookies were going to be expensive before?!

I still want to perfect the cookie. (I shall be starting with a much smaller quantity of flour, though even a 5-pound bag is $39.99.) And then I'll figure out what the price would have to be, per dozen, if I were to sell them. And I shall consult my grain-free friends and see if that's a price they'd be willing to pay.

So the baking plan may yet move forward, slightly different from what I'd envisioned.

And I may even offer the wheat version alongside the non-wheat treats. Let people decide, indeed.

I keep saying that I don't want to be anyone's food police. If people want to buy wheat-based cookies, so be it.

But wow. Ten dollars versus one hundred and fifty four.

It'll be interesting to see what the market will bear.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Wee Squirrel's Pal ...

When I was ordering the wee squirrel cookie cutter for Angelo's final cookie installment, I spied a very wee pig and he was too cute to leave behind.

Good Times: December Edition ...

The December cookie installment for the angelo:HOME blog features Wee Walnut Shortbread Squirrels. I'll let you click through to read the story behind them.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

I Might Have A Bit Of A Problem ...

I made four double recipes of dough for peppermint sablés.

I baked them off this morning. Three dozen went right out the door, to an event for which I'd offered to bake.

And this is what remained.

And I looked at them and said, "I think I have to bake more."

The "giftable" cookies number just shy of 10 dozen. The "outtakes" cookies – the ones that look like little Kaiser rolls and cookies that are otherwise imperfect – probably add another three dozen to that total. But I don't give away the outtakes, just the giftables.

So I sat down and made a list of the folks who will receive them and decided that another two double batches are in order, just in case.

I think I'm a compulsive baker.