Kate, Bucklebury Bakes and the World of Pink!
This week I am going to introduce you to the world of Kate Alexander and her business, Bucklebury Bakes. Shannon and I had the pleasure of spending the morning with Kate in full baking swing and of course, we also got to sample the delights of her freshly baked wares before leaving.
There really isn’t anything quite like walking into a house and picking up the first wafts of something baking in the oven, hmmmm. Those baking aromas give any home a warm, cosy and completely welcoming feel and that is exactly what we experienced.
Kate is not only a fabulous baker; she is also a qualified Spanish teacher who used to Flamenco dance, a doting mother to her daughter and a self-confessed incurable romantic. Kate loves to bake and she pours her heart and soul into Bucklebury Bakes. She told us how she has been greatly inspired by the book ‘Como Agua Para Chocolate’ (Like Water for Chocolate), by Laura Esquivel, which is a tragic story in which every ounce of a girl’s love and emotion is poured into cooking. I’ll definitely be tracking down an English version!
Bucklebury Bakes is a brand new venture for Kate. She has always loved baking but didn’t think about turning it into a business until the launch of the Bucklebury Artisan Food Market. Kate decided to take a stall and sell her beautifully decorated heart-shaped biscuits. That was only in April this year and since then the business has grown week on week.
From biscuits, Kate has added macarons, cheesecakes, millionaire’s shortbread and other delicious baked goodies to her culinary repertoire. She now also caters for weddings and conferences for which macarons are particularly popular in view of the vast colour and flavour palette a client can choose from, complimenting any event perfectly.
To create her bakes, Kate uses a combination of technology and traditional techniques. She uses a Thermomix for biscuits and icings, and then gets the electric hand whisk out for the macarons so that she can feel the texture to get it exactly right. Kate also grinds her own sugar.
Whilst we were there, Kate was baking batches of rich chocolate children’s pumpkin biscuits and a vanilla version for the adults. As a good homemade biscuit should be, they were light but with enough bite and full of flavour. The vanilla one was packed with vanilla and the chocolate biscuit was rich and chocolaty but not too sweet – perfect for adults too in fact!
Flavours for the macaron cream are made from real fruit coulis and Kate forages for fruit locally whenever seasonally possible. The macarons are always generously filled and her core flavours include mango, raspberry, chocolate and hazelnut, pistachio, lemon, blueberry, rosewater, and orange blossom. She has also just had a special request to make macarons with liquorice cream, which she is very excited about creating.
Watching Kate prepare the macaron mix, it was so apparent how much care and love goes into every batch made. No longer a frustrated artist, with her palette of dust food colours to play with she loves the alchemy of colour mixing to get the shell colours just right and she meticulously works the mixture until totally satisfied that it is perfect.
Finally, we were introduced to Kate’s secret method – not for the faint hearted – for getting air bubbles out of the macaron mix before it goes in the oven. Sorry, but I am sworn to secrecy on this. But let’s just say, it made Shannon and I jump and gasp every time she did it!
Kate is now supplying her Bucklebury Bakes to local businesses – Oldbury’s Deli in Newbury and Donnington Grove Country Club for example – and she would be delighted to speak to others who would be interested in stocking her bakes or commissioning her for an event, celebration or conference. Please see the Bucklebury Bakes website www.buckleburybakes.com – warning – it is very pink … naturally!