Thursday 16 April 2015

One big catch-up!

 I haven't posted in way too apologies for has been very hectic in all sorts of ways ...mostly work but others which I won't go into here (there's more personal stuff on my other blog should you so wish!) Anyway, back to the cake!
As you know, Sugar Moon has a stall on our monthly Farmer's Market and I thought you might like an updated look at that? I posted about it a few years ago but due a fresh look I think!
 The market takes place on the last Tuesday of the month, between 9-2...although in practise we all get there much earlier to arrange our wares and we often have customers from at least 8.30am, on their way to work. the actual stalls are supplied and put up by the council...we just have to bring tables and produce!
 I have been on the market for almost 9 years now and have built up a lovely group of regulars. It takes time and patience to do this. And much standing about in the freezing cold of winter. But it reaps rewards and friends. I have a core of cakes that I MUST bring to avoid disappointment - these always include 3 types of brownie (Double Chocolate, Walnut Fudge & Salted Caramel), Dark Sticky Gingerbread and Almond Bakewell Slice as well as a mountain of Cheddar Scones...

 But it's also a great opportunity to try out new recipes and ideas. The feedback is immediate (I provide generous bowls of samples!) and I love this aspect of it. I also have a Brownie of the Month...below you will see the divine Hazelnutella!
 Preparing for the market is hard, hard work. Of course, there is other baking to fit in too. And due to the nature of the beast (cake) it's impossible to make too much in advance. I like everything to be fresh so that the customer can freeze if they wish...which means a couple of 18 hour days in the kitchen to fit everything in. Presentation is also really important I find....I try and make my stall pretty and seasonal...daffodils and easter chicks in April, carved pumpkins in October, bunches of garden flowers in the summer months and oh-my-goodness lights and tinsel trees at Christmas!! But it's all worth it in the end. And I've made many good friends in my years here (mostly I know only their first names!)
This is Chris from New Creation Farm...who brings beautiful home-made apple juice and gorgeous English apples in season....
 And my favourite of all stallholders is one of the newest! One of my very best friends...Charlie Massey...the Coffee Man but also one half of the fab Grumpy Bakers who bake probably the best sourdough loaves I have ever tasted... well as stunning viennoiserie...french baguettes...rye bread...

 ...and focaccias topped with seasalt & rosemary or caramelised red onion...
 He is a breath of cheerful fresh air and we've known each other and our products for so long that we can look after each other's stalls with no problem at all (important if you want a loo break!) I'm lucky to have a similar relationship with the lovely Barry...
 King of Honey from Parslow Apiaries . He is a second generation honey man (his  Dad, John, mans the stall in the busy summer months while Barry tends the hives) and keeps 6 hives on my parents farm, so it's personal too!
 His beeswax polish and hand cream are brilliant, as well as the home-made candles and the honey, of course...
My friend Debbie Grant makes wonderful ready-meals which are particularly popular with older customers... well as cracking sausage rolls, scotch eggs, savoury mini quiches and bread puddings!
 My brother-in-law David has just stopped coming to Aylesbury market, sadly...but here he is on his last one!
 He and my youngest sister, Lucy, raise home-bred rose veal calves (do think about buying rose veal if you don't already...very different from the continental milk-fed crated calves which have rightly attracted so much protest. These are free to roam the fields and have lovely lives full of sunshine and grass!) as well as beef and lamb...
 They live at my Mum and Dad's can read about them here and see where to buy their amazing meat...and Lucy also makes a range of ready meals and gorgeous pasties too!
 Caroline sells vegetables, eggs and fruit from her family's farm...
 ...and beautiful jams and preserves that she makes herself...
 ...there are other stalls too...some of them come and go quite quickly. It's proved important - certainly for me - to plug away and stick it out, through cold, rain, wind and - sometimes - snow! It can be difficult to stand there, watching people stream past with not even a glance at us and our hard's easy to be cheerful on the ancient cobbles when the sun shines and the breezes gently ruffle your apron! But the tenacity builds loyalty and it's the only way I've found to guarantee that the takings increase each time. And that, in the end, is why we're all there!
 These Valentine brownies were bestsellers in February....
...and Sugar Moon bakes and sends five delicious flavours all week to your door with free first-class UK postage! But you are also more than welcome to come and see the other delights on offer on the market on April 28th.....!

Keep watching the blog because the next post will contain a brilliant giveaway as well as a recipe to try...until then, have a wonderful weekend!


  1. You tempt us and tease us with your Hazelnutella! A combination very near and dear to my heart, and in a brownie ~ well, I can hardly think of anything more perfect. What a truly lovely wandering around the market and such a variety of quality wares purveyed. Truly delightful.
    Fascinating how you only know some by their first names, yet in days gone by I guess this would be the thing, until greater identification became necessary as the population increased.
    Loved this entry and definitely worth the wait
    ~~~Deb xoxo

  2. Wonderfully interesting, and colorful and creative stalls! Such good food! Your dedication and hard work are inspiring, Rachel. The Hazelnutella brownies sound fabulous! Thank you for the stroll around your market! It was fun to see! Jane xo

  3. I need to buy more of your brownies, but I have been trying to not eat too many sweet things. Then again, it has been far too long.

  4. OK.....I tried to post from my phone but after writing all of this beautiful gushy stuff about how beautiful your photography is and how inspired I am by you, it disappeared when I hit send. So, let's start again, but know the first version was better!! ha-ha-ha (seriously) I love the introduction to the other people who stand along with you. Having been to the market square and seeing where you spend those Tuesdays, I have a true appreciation for all of it....You are so creative and so industrious and so giving are such a beautiful soul!! You have inspired me to dig deep, try something new, keep trying, and not give up. You have inspired me to stay true, stay connected, and believe. I which so much that we were closer---I'd stand beside you or have a stand with you....but from way far away, I can just be a loving fan, a not-so-secret admirer, and a willing test market if I am lucky enough to come to England again!! I love that you have customers that expect certain things and I know you keep them in your thoughts as you bake. I know your presentations are joyful and that everything you do comes from the heart!! Brilliant! Beautiful! Bountiful! xx

  5. Ooh everything looks gorgeous Rachel! Your sweet treats and brownies look sublime of course :) and the market is lovely too! Thank you for taking us on a tour, it was great to "meet" the producers and drool over their goodies.
    Morwenna xx

  6. I have been enjoying your blog this morning the photos and recipes are beautiful, I will enjoy following along!


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