Wednesday 30 July 2014

Where it happens...& giveaway results!

What a week it's been so far...although the last one really didn't end for me until yesterday afternoon! It was a 9 day week, strictly speaking. That's because yesterday was my monthly Farmer's Market day, here in Aylesbury. I've had a stall on this market for almost 8 years....and I love doing it, although it means a lot more work than usual. I start baking on the Saturday before (earlier in Winter, when it's cooler & I make more items that benefit from maturing, like fruitcake and sticky parkin..)
 And of course, it's not just brownies on the I get to be really creative and try out all the recipes that I find or devise & ache to bake! This was a divine Saffron Lemon Cake, from the book I told you about a couple of posts back...Honey & Co ...
 those are tiny strands of saffron above...they add such flavour & colour to this gorgeous confection. In the book, Sarit Packer (whose recipe it is) describes it as glowing..and it truly is!
 The cake above was a Fresh Apricot & Hazelnut one....I replaced almost all the flour with roasted ground hazelnuts. I love to be seasonal in my choices for the market, and in my opinion apricots are one fruit that tastes so much better cooked than they do raw, when they can be disappointingly 'woolly' in texture. I sell these cakes by the slice...and they sold out by lunchtime, I'm happy to say (the market runs from 9am-2pm.) I always have big towers of bestselling Double Chocolate & Walnut Fudge brownies for sale...but I l have always also had a 'Brownie of the Month' for regulars who like to taste something different. July's flavour was Fresh Raspberry is a tray before baking...
 that's freeze-dried raspberries on the top, which gives a beautiful 'zing' of pure berry flavour. They were a hit!
I'm happy to say that Sugar Moon Brownies are proving very popular already, even though it's early recipient of a birthday gift pack (the 'taster' option, which offers 3 random flavours to try) posted this wonderful montage on her Twitter feed...
 It made me very proud...& thrilled that she enjoyed them so much!

As it's been so hot here in the UK, I thought I'd show you how delicious a brownie can be, even on a sultry day...
 ...this was a Toasted Pecan, slightly warm...with clotted cream ice cream & homemade caramel sauce....who could resist that?!

I wonder whether you might like a glimpse of the kitchen where I bake these delights? Many people assume that I use our kitchen at home. This would be virtually impossible! I bake so many trays that my domestic oven, great as it is, would just conk out...
No, this is where it all happens! I am very lucky to be able to rent a beautifully equipped kitchen unit that has everything I could possibly need, including storage for my essentials...including the chocolate that I use in vast quantities (it comes in 25kg sacks!)

 This is the view...farmland...& LOTS of rabbits!
 Outside is calm & kites nest in these trees...
 The unit is based on a former WW2's a heritage site, and although there are many businesses based here (including a rocket testing facility!) you can still see many fascinating traces of the history of this place...
 Bunkers, mess rooms, even the control tower still stands...
 ghosts everywhere! Recently, a memorial was unveiled to commemorate a US bomber crew who crashed on this site...the pilot bravely diverted to avoid coming down onto a nearby town, and therefore saved many lives. Stories all around me as I work. It makes it even better, I think.
 Plenty of space to fill the trays...(they are made in batches of 4)..
 And a brilliant oven that can hold 16 of them at a time. However, once I have made the 16th I usually find that the first 4 are ready to come out...
 The oven is a Unox BakerLux amazing piece of equipment that injects steam or dry heat...whichever is appropriate for the recipe...
 brownies need dry heat. Then they are cooled, before the worst part of my job....
 putting the lids on the trays! Tedious & wrecks the finger pads. But my hands are terrible looking anyway after 20 years of professional cooking...and the radio eases the boredom!
Then they are labelled with flavour & baking date and stacked for (brief) storage.

So, a glimpse at where it happens!

And now, those giveaway results - apologies that they are a little late due to the market preparations. My approach is very unscientific...I write out all the names on strips of paper, put them in a large mug & pick one out! For the brownie pack, there were only 3 eligible entries....& the winner is ANNE HAMILTON! Anne, if you email your address (or the name & address of your recipient if you would like them sent as a gift, together with any message you would like to include) to me at hello (@) sugarmoonbrownies (dot) co (dot) uk ...(obviously I have doctored the address to prevent spammers!) then I will send out a box of 12 brownies in 3 assorted flavours asap!
The winner of the 2 beautiful books (lots of entries for these...I'm so sorry there's only 1 winner, I will hold another International giveaway soon!) was SYLVIE who is in France! Sylvie, please email me at the same address & let me know yours!

Thanks so much to all who entered and to all who read and enjoyed the posts and left such great comments. They are all very much appreciated!

Until next time.....x


  1. Rachel, I am impressed by your baking space and the historical site in which it is located. If walls could talk. And to see the quantity of goods you produce all by yourself: doubly impressive!

    Congratulations to your lucky winners; I'm eagerly awaiting the arrival of my own special parcel (and wishfully hoping a few brownie crumbs accidentally found their way inside before posting)!

    Hugs from Alabama

  2. Sharon, I thought about it! But I didn't want those pesky customs officers to hold it up! Posted last Thursday, so it hopefully won't be long now. Glad you liked the post, too xx

  3. Well done to Anne and Sylvie! I know they will both love their prizes!
    Such a welcome insight to the world of brownie baking! You have an idyllic setting, I think.
    I managed to secure my own copy of the Susan Hill "Through The Kitchen Window" and have made the Lemon Cake recipe from it, several times and changing it each time by adding fresh fruit from the garden, which I then had to write about. I am now awaiting the arrival of another one of her books "The Magic Apple Tree~A Country Year" ~~ See what you have started! Big Smile ~ Waving from Warm West Wales ~ Debs :)

  4. What a wonderful post. So interesting to see the behind the scene and the history lesson just added to the interest.

  5. Oh I need to buy more! And I'd love to try a few more of your cakes.

  6. You are amazing Rachel! Great to see "your" kitchen, & what an oven (& view) you have! Beautiful food, would love to pop over to England to enjoy all your treats! Best to you! xo

  7. Just lovely, Rachel. You write such an interesting post. I adore the peaceful countryside you work in. You know Gene was in England 3 years at the end of WW 2 during the cold war at Lakenheath, so this is very interesting to me! I will show him the photos! The brownies and cakes are wonderful!! xo

  8. Oh, I LOVED this post!!! To see more of a glimpse of your magic kitchen, that is a gift! Thank you for sharing it with us and congratulations to the lovely gals who won!!! I would love to know what kind of flour you use and you have a favorite? Are you able to find a local farm for eggs or is their a place especially for commercial bakers? AND, another question....would you recommend any cooking schools in England that may offer 1 day classes? I know that Vanessa does...any others? I do hope you'll continue this post with how you cut your brownies, etc. AND, how long, if at all, you are able to store them. xx Joann

  9. Congratulations to the lucky winners! I would be unable to resist your toasted pecan brownie, especially with the addition of clotted cream ice cream and homemade caramel sauce. It looks sinfully good and oh-so-tempting! Loved seeing pics of where you bake and learning more about the process you use to make and bake the brownies. I am thrilled that your new business has taken off so well. I knew it would. Congratulations, sweetie. You deserve it! xx

  10. Dear Rachel,
    I'm Sylvie from France, the happy girl who has just won the 2 cooking books that you kindly offered. Thanks SO much. You made my day !. May I ask you to sign them for me ?. I dont know Susan Hill and Laurie Colwin but I'm eager to discover their books.
    Rachel, never stop to delight us with your lovely posts and I hope that someday you'll be able to send your wonderful brownies accross the Channel !. France isn't so far from England, is it ?.
    All the best.

  11. Dear Rachel, I am Anne, the very excited girl (well I think I am a girl even though I am the wrong side of 50) who has won the brownie give away. I have emailed you my address. I will have a great day at work now with this good news. I think I will celebrate by making your apricot and hazelnut cake at the weekend. It looks very delicious and my husband and son are arriving home from holiday on Saturday and will be ready for a slice with large mugs of tea. Thank you so much for your very interesting blog. You obviously are hugely enthusiastic about what you do and I love that you share that with us all on your blog. Warmest wishes, Anne


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