Gluten Free Cakes & Bakes

Gluten Free Cakes & Bakes
A selection from our range

Friday, 15 June 2012

Launching Glorious Gluten Free Foods

It's June 2012, three months after I retired from full-time employment to set up Glorious Gluten Free Foods. It's been an interesting and exhausting 12 weeks with the Derbyshire Food Festival being a key event for me. I have had stalls before at small local events and always done well, sold out of baked goods and come away feeling good about my products. The Derbyshire Food Festival was in a different league and I take my hat off to all those people who use such events as their main market place. It was hot, very hot; the only spell of summer we've had so far. Ice-cream and cold drink sellers did extremely well; those of us inside the marquee less so; experienced stall holders said sales were very slow which was strangely reassuring. I was lucky enough to be right beside an entrance from the grassy area outside where there were cookery demonstrations and lots of family friendly activities happening. As a showplace for my gluten-free cakes it was very successful; I gave out hundreds of leaflets and while most of them may be binned, some will get through to a new or potential customer. I baked far too much - the first time this has happened to me. I managed to sell some of it locally in the following few days but inevitably some had to be thrown away which I found difficult. On the upside I covered my costs and more importantly have had two orders since and several enquiries which I am waiting to turn into firm orders. One order was from a local hotel which is a very good contact to have made. A few more like that and all the work that went into preparing for the Festival will definitely have been worth it. Would I do it again? Yes, probably, but I would concentrate on it being a marketing opportunity rather than trying to make a profit from selling.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Setting up Glorious Gluten Free Foods.

I gave in my notice at work last month. It felt very much like holding my nose and jumping into an icy sea. It was very scary for a moment until I remembered that one of my favourite activities is jumping into cold water. Once I'm in and have started swimming I get that nice warm glow.
There's a few weeks to go yet; I officially finish work on my birthday, 12th March, but my last day in the office is Friday 9th March, so that's 9 more Monday mornings and then I'm free to start turning my business dreams into reality.
I aim to spend the next 9 weeks doing lots of planning; I've just been listening to yesterday's Woman's Hour programme on women entrepreneurs and the message has been plan, plan, plan. I particularly need to do more financial planning so I know what sales I am aiming for each month, and set up some spreadsheets to keep track of everything. I also need to plan some activity for the first few weeks after I finish at the university so I don't spend too much time drifting. Although working full time, carrying on all the other activities I do and setting up a new business has been stressful there has been a certain momentum which I don't want to lose. I need to have the time to concentrate on getting the business up and viable without slowing down.
So it's 2012 and I've made that leap. It feels very good and now Christmas is out of the way I can focus on finishing off things at work so all is left in good order for my successor, and starting my new venture.
Watch this space!

Monday, 31 October 2011

Thinking about the photo shoot...

Glorious Gluten Free Foods is a troublesome, but very rewarding, child; I am making progress in launching this new business but get held up by everything else I have on the go. Things happen in fits and starts and I have to look back to remind myself how much I have actually done.
The big thing I need to organise now is a photoshoot for the website. I have spoken to a food photographer who lives locally and does a lot of work for top London restaurants. His questions have sent me back to do some more thinking - 'How many photos are you after?' and 'What style do you want?'. My journalist and copywriting daughter reminded me how to do a brief so he knew the key concepts of the business, and Karen, the web designer I am using, suggested I did a mood board to help identify a style. I have lots of accessories - plates, tea cups, cake stands, tablecloths - and will go through them to pick out the ones which best represent my concept for this business.
Karen also helpfully pointed out that I will be paying the photographer by the hour so the more work I can do beforehand to make the shoot go smoothly the better. She also suggested I did lots of baking, more than I think I'll need, as he will want to do different shots, cut cakes etc and it would be good to have spare.
Other photos I might want would be 'happy chickens' as I'm using free-range eggs, headshots of me for future publicity, and other food related items that add to my story.
So lots to think about and things to do - phone photographer and arrange a briefing meeting, book some time off work for the shoot and pre-shoot baking, develop a brief, develop and mood board and BAKE!
In the meantime I am continuing to develop my range of GF foods; I had a go at some gram flour flatbreads which worked really well, plain and some with turmeric and cumin seeds. I have borrowed a vacuum pack sealing machine so vacuum packed the flatbreads to see how that worked. They taste delicious fresh so I am hoping vacuum packing them keeps that fresh taste. I am currently awaiting feedback on those. I have also been making variations on Johnny Cake which is an American recipe for a cake/bread made with cornmeal; I'm making it with gram flour which works well sometimes, not so well other times. I need to do more to find a reliable recipe and method.
The business bank account has now come through and my first payment into that should be made this week. That is a good step forward.
So progress on some fronts but still lots to do.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Successful gluten testing.

Have just carried out test on chocolate brownie muffins to see if they conform to new Codex standard. Food needs to have less than 20ppm of gluten to be labelled gluten free. Laboratory testing is necessary to obtain certificate and use of Coeliac Society's crossed grain logo. Lab testing is expensive so I went for home test first which doesn't give you certificate but at least tells you if you are anywhere near meeting the standard. I was very pleased with the result which indicated that this particular product can be legally labelled GF. Next step is to get a batch made up and tested in a certified lab.

The test was fiddly but the instructions are clear and I feel very relieved that all my precautions for avoiding cross contamination paid off. I feel confident now in carrying on with the launch of my Gluten Free business. A positive result would have been a set back as I would then have had to test the individual ingredients to see which contained traces of gluten. Each test can only be used once and costs about £11. This is a small price to pay for people with Coeliac Disease to be assured of the safety of the products they purchase but still adds to the costs.

My market testing shows that people on GF diets feel that GF foods are too high in price. While the new Codex is an important safeguard it will I think reduce the number of outlets prepared to offer GF food because of the cost of testing. While home testing is relatively cheap, the lab tests cost a lot more and have to be repeated annually to retain use of crossed grain logo.

However I have now got assurance that I can produce GF foods and can press on with launching Glorious Gluten Free Foods.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Making progress

Slow but steady progress setting up GloriousGlutenFreeFoods. Multiple strands of work going on, collecting recipes, baking and tasting, compiling lists of contacts, sampling packaging material. Lots of to-do lists appearing and items being regularly ticked off as completed.
Main issue now is waiting for web designer to work on website; she has end of August deadlines for lots of her work so once next week is over will be able to get on with mine. I also need to source some good labels to go on the cake and muffin boxes.
This all feels very exciting but at the moment it's all outlay so I must increase my sales soon to start getting some income.
Once website up and running and I have labels for the boxes I'm going to plan a launch. Target is early December so I can catch the Xmas market.

Friday, 19 August 2011

A new venture!

Very exciting times. I am about to launch a gluten free baking business. I already bake non-gluten free cakes and biscuits for a local teashop/cafe and for friends and family. I also had a wonderful baking weekend for my granddaughter's first birthday. My day job lacks creativity and baking taps into that side of me. There is something so delightful about a couple of hours work leading to a kitchen full of baked goodies that people love to eat and are even prepared to pay me for.
I have stopped denying that I'm good at baking and am even tempted to put my name forward for next year's Great British Bake Off; that may wear off once I see what else they have to bake over the coming weeks.
So why gluten free baking? I have a close friend who was diagnosed with coeliac disease a few years ago. The diagnosis has been so helpful to her in finding out why she has been so ill. The downside is the lack of availability of gluten free foods. I know supermarkets are beginning to stock a bigger range but there is still a gap in the market for delicious home baked goodies. Too often gluten free foods seem to be a poor substitute for the real thing and something to be tolerated rather than enjoyed.
I know there are some good companies out there supplying GF versions of cupcakes, muffins etc and I am not claiming to be providing a unique product but from the market research I have done I am sure there is an opening for a new venture.
So here goes, Glorious Gluten Free Foods is just about up and running. Watch this space.