Cake, Coffee and a Calorific time at Waddesdon

I don’t enjoy coffee. And I try not to eat too much cake.  So it seemed obvious that I should spend the day with my Mum at Waddesdon learning about coffee and cake!  Off we trotted – to one of Waddesdon’s excellent foodie events.  More here for those who enjoy such things. They tend only to run the cooking demonstrations when the house is not open to the public – we went in February (if memory serves me, which it doesn’t always.)

First to the coffee – regular readers of my blog will know I am passionate about sustainability (by which I don’t just mean environmental – social and financial impact is equally as important as environmental – and I speak as an ex-environmental lawyer with a tendency to focus on the ‘green’!).  Paddy & Scott’s are the name.  Find them here.  For many businesses, Corporate Responsibility means £50 to 50 different charities (and I know as I work as a management consultant with charities as well as with law firms – second career… gave up law).  Not so for these guys.  Check out their site and you will see what I mean.  Corporate Responsibility was a big part of the talk given about how they source, make and distribute their coffee.

Anyway.  Lecture over.  On to the coffee.  I didn’t realise that the bitter taste of coffee can be minimised. Let’s face it – it can taste like cigarette ash. Not that I know what that tastes like but it does always spring to mind when I taste another massive cup of some godawful coffee.  We were told to try scooping the coffee grind ‘frothy bit’ that sits on top of the cafetiere mix before you plunge the plunger.

And you know what – it works.  A lot less bitter.

I do now occasionally make myself the occasional cup – usually on a Friday when I just need that little bit of something to get me to the end of the week and when it is just that bit too early for the wine…  It really was very interesting to hear more about where it comes from, how it is made etc.

Now. On to the cakes.  A very talented young man – looked about 20 – maybe he was – demonstrated how they make their cakes at Waddesdon.  (The older I get, the harder I find it to gauge ages!)


And interestingly talked about how to size and price for the purposes of selling them.  I have many friends who pride themselves on their baking skills – quite justifiably – but the additional requirements of making a profit on what they have made would stop them in their tracks.

Here are some photographs, interspersed with tips:


1. When spinning sugar, put paper everywhere as it gets everywhere.


2. Try not to substitute olive oil for vegetable oil in a recipe – it is too strong.


3. When a recipe asks for full fat cream cheese, don’t substitute half fat – it’ll be too runny.


4. Always sieve flour and icing sugar.


We had a wonderful lunch of Duck confit with cassoulet of beans, tomato, home cured bacon and homemade sausage, followed by chocolate fondant with blackcurrant ice cream.  Really very tasty.

So – coffee (I am liking it a tad more) and cake – I remain as devoted to liking cake as ever!



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