Cake Kitchen (aka confessions of a hoarder)


We’re building a cake kitchen / micro-dairy – somewhere where I can make cakes, pastries and cheese.

Why, you might ask, don’t you just use your normal house kitchen?

For one very good reason.

Our house kitchen is more of a farmhouse kitchen – that is, we see it as part of our efforts to develop strong, complex immune systems. It is a place where all sorts of animals pass through including lambs, cats, dogs and various poultry chicks; you can find all sorts of bits and bobs – sheep hammocks, pig and sheep medicine, mucky boots, eggs for hatching, half a mouse, etc etc.

half a mouse

Of course we don’t get ill, we just keep building up our immunity. But not an ideal environment for commercial cooking – hence the cake kitchen /micro-dairy which will be perfectly and utterly clean.The journey to make the cake kitchen /micro-dairy started way back before Christmas when we cleared out all of the ‘very, very useful stuff’ we were storing in it.

You know those tv programs where a camera crew visit the houses of hoarders and every room in their house is full of rubbish or ‘really important’ stuff and there are only tiny little pathways between towering boxes of things? No-body starts out thinking I will become a hoarder, it just creeps up on you – I know.

The micro-dairy/cake-kitchen was used as our storage room. We put up shelves and everything. We kept useful things in there. Then, when the shelves filled up we started to stack things on the floor, more and more and more. By the end you could only just get in there. We had a number of other large walk-in cupboards and rooms that we similarly stacked high – one was stuffed full of bedding. My office, in contrast, was full of books (and very important pieces of paper I hadn’t looked at for 20 years); books that were precariously stacked on a long pew, shoved under the pew, in piles on the window sill, on and under various desks as well as spilling out of book cases. The kitchen may also have had a corner that included my rather defunct kombucha factory (sorry Mary) and 20 odd jars of medlar jelly that hadn’t set properly but which I really couldn’t let go of because I was sure I could do something with them  – both of these may have been there for a couple of years!

Do you want to know an interesting, but faintly disgusting fact? We have cats, they bring birds and mice in. They don’t always finish eating them and they hide them behind, or under, piles of stuff. In the summer flies lay their eggs in these decomposing little bodies. You can smell maggot-infested dead mouse, but it can be hard to locate if your house is full of ‘really important’ stuff that is piled up everywhere. However, the smell only lasts a couple of days and then it mysteriously goes away. I now know what is happening here – the maggots eat all the little animal, then they in turn die or turn into flies and the bare bones of the creature are left perfectly preserved. I may have found this desiccated bird behind a pile of books.

dessicated bird

It was time for a clear out. So I went through everything, recycling, giving away, cleaning and letting go. It really was quite cathartic and now there are no piles of boxes, books, and stuff for dead animals to rot behind.

More importantly, clearing out the ‘store room’ meant we could start on the micro-dairy/cake-kitchen. First I tiled and grouted the floors.

tiling the floor

Then James started to build the kitchen.

buildig the kitchen

The plumber and electrician came and did their stuff. We bought a cooker, dishwasher and three small fridges – separate fridges for dairy, meat and vegetables to minimise cross-contamination. Now all I have to do is tile/grout the walls and it will be nearly ready.


N.B. the kitchen is white, not blue – this is just the protective plastic.

N.B. This room used to be my grandad’s indoor workshop where he made jewellery and stuff. I kind of like the fact that I will now be making cakes and cheese here – things stay the same and they change. Some years ago now, I also wrote Doing History in this room – when it was still sort of a workshop, before it became the store-room.

N.B. I should say that I do take food hygiene very seriously when cooking for others (despite my obviously dubious practices in my own kitchen). I am working through my safer food workbook and I am obsessively committed to doing everything properly (plus I want to get a five in the hygiene rating) – this might be the whole ‘academic attention to detail, wanting to exel’-thing manifesting itself in a different guise!

14 responses to “Cake Kitchen (aka confessions of a hoarder)

  1. I love this. Faintly envious I have always hankered after my own jammery (or rather my partner has when the fragrance of chutney seeps in to every corner of the house).

    • I am actually really looking forward to having a lovely clean kitchen that only I am allowed in. Quite excited about the possibilities for cake and cheese making too – and of course jam. I love the idea of a jammery 🙂

  2. Yeah yeah yeah we believe you (re the last n.b.!). Looks fab though! I quite like the blue for the blue rabbit cafe (not Drift??). Xx

    • The name had already been taken as a company name so I thought I would go with the emergency back-up name …. I quite like it though 🙂 xxx

  3. Clare, looks fantastic. You’ve really been busy. what’s will become of the original kitchen? Ripped out?

  4. I would love to have something similar for all of my cheese making… and what you have done looks fantastic. The white cabinets with the windows will create such a fantastic working space. I am officially jealous…

    I think the bird is awesome I hope you kept it and are going to “articulate” it and mount it! The headless mouse is missing his front paws so probably is fit for the trash. (hmm on the other hand… the mouse maybe could be used as a hacky sack)

    • I kind of think the bird is awesome too and I wished I had kept it, but it has vanished. I had to look up what a hacky sack was – I have to say I googled it with some trepidation – I think with a bit of stitching it could have made a very good tacky sack for the cats, but alas it too went in the bin – it is no fun being clean!

  5. J & D > Yes, we could have written a very similar post, substituting jams chutneys etc for cakes. Ours is smaller and less swanky, but big enough all the same. It has history, too: potting shed plus hen-house. We hope it gives a return on your investment and labour, and still around in years to come to be adopted or adapted by the next generation!!

    • potting shed to hen house to kitchen is fabulous – our kitchen is this size because this is the size of the room!. I do hope it gives a return on our investment and labour, but like so many things I do I tend to leap in and hope – still waiting for the bees to get there, but we should break even soon on that, the sheep don’t really pay their way but they are an attraction for the campsite so maybe they do … the biggest leap faith and investment of time and money was probably learning a long-dead language and doing my PhD – that all worked out in the end so I am hopeful!

  6. J & D > Yes, That’s our style, too! Or sheep do pay : because we sell the meat direct to customers. The chickens : sales of hatching eggs brings in the profits, not eggs for eating (which just help bring tourists in through the gate) ; but the soiled straw from the Henhouse is indispensable to the productivity of the garden!

  7. Bringing people through the gate and good quality fertiliser are pretty useful benefits I think. I hope to one day be able to sell hatching eggs. At the moment I just hatch for myself. We do manage to sell eggs for eating though and I will be selling them in the cafe too 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s