TEN THOUSAND CAKES

TEN THOUSAND CAKES

Imagine that you’re really great at making cakes.  You love the experience of mixing the ingredients, the act of cooking, and of course sampling and sharing the cake!  Now imagine somebody asked you to make 10,000 cakes in one baking.  How would you go about doing this? 

MAKING 10,000 CAKES

INGREDIENTS

Perhaps you would think first about the ingredients.  How many eggs you would need, 2 eggs per cake equals 20K eggs!  Where would you get them from?  How would you crack them open?  How would you mix them with the flour, in fact where would you get 2 tonnes of flour from and move it around the kitchen?  You’d need a shovel at the very least!!! 

PROCESS

Now think about the process.  How do you ensure consistency of the mix throughout the 10,000 cakes?  What about all the pans holding the mix (how many would you need and where do you get them from)? 

How do you cook 10,000 cakes in one go?  Would the oven evenly cook all the cakes?  How would you get them all out before the last ones burnt?  How would you get them out?

PACKAGING

Somehow the cakes have cooled, and you haven’t quite worked that bit out yet, and they need packaging.  What kind of packaging is suitable for cakes?  In fact what kind of branding would go onto the box?

DISTRIBUTION

So you’ve got 10,000 cakes in branded packaging.  How would you move all the cake boxes, and store them, without crushing something?  How would you transport them intact to your customer?  What if there was a heat wave, seems unlikely in England I know, but what if?

ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH & OTHER STUFF!

We’ve forgot than trading standards expects all the cakes to be the weight we claim, and food to be correctly labelled with allergens.  Environmental Health also expect full traceability on all ingredients (thankfully not to the exact chickens that laid the eggs, but the producer).

What about any waste?  Where does that go (again traceability is here too)?

AND REPEAT

That was day one.  Now time to repeat that again tomorrow.  Would the cakes taste the same?  Repeatable process is key here.  The same quantities of ingredients, mixed the same way, and produced using the same equipment and processes.

FROM BAKING TO BREWING

These are exactly the kinds of things I’ve had to consider when setting up the microbrewery.  As you scale up, and produce food for others, planning, traceability, cleanliness and repeatable process is essential.

Really walking through the process of how something happens, allows you to spot gaps.  Even now I’m continually refining things to improve quality, volume, reduce time and/or cost.

Sterilising bottles
Sterilising bottles

 Although the core concept of brewing is the same, the suppliers, processes, equipment, logistics, marketing, and sales are 100% different.  Home brewing and commercial brewing are therefore not the same thing.  Approaches to brewing that I could do with low/little risk at home are no-no’s in the microbrewery.  Likewise challenges I have in the microbrewery don’t translate to home brewing (I have to show traceability on “spent” (used) grain and yeast for example).

THE PLEASURE OF THE TAX RETURN

This has been quite a journey and one I’ve enjoyed working my way through.  I particularly liked, and I think this says a lot about my weird mind, doing some of the planning for Environmental Health (something called a HACCP).  I’m one of those weird people that get pleasure from doing a tax return, and the HACCP is definitely a similar sort of beast!  Most people will not want to hear about this so I will not bore you with it J.

Brew day #1

BAKE A CAKE OR 10,000?

So would you still want to bake 10,000 cakes?  After reading the above perhaps not.  But based on my experience I would say give it some thought, pause a moment, and go for it!  As someone said to me once, “what’s stopping you?”

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