Northern Mummy

General thoughts and wittering about all sorts of things

Fruity Little Numbers

on April 9, 2012

I just wanted to write a little mention for a company called Fruity Little Numbers (this is just a home page with no links and I really, really hope they haven’t ceased production already).  They make baking kits – think along the lines of those boxes Delia has started doing for Waitrose customers to make her Christmas cake.  I don’t know if you can get them anywhere else at the moment but they are selling them at Lakeland and I first noticed them in the Christmas catalogue when their Christmas pudding and cake kits were available.  Recently they have started selling the Fruit and Nut Flapjack mix and over Easter they also had in stock the Simnel Cake mix.

Each box contains a selection of bags and pots labelled with numbers, plus a clearly-worded recipe leaflet telling you which numbers to mix together at each point.  You will also need to add one or two shorter shelf-life ingredients, such as eggs and butter (and any decorations e.g. marzipan, icing), to complete the recipe.

I bought the Simnel Cake box on Saturday as I’d thought we might be away over Easter and hadn’t planned to make anything, then changed my mind at the last minute and thought this might be quicker than starting a proper cake recipe at the 11th hour.  By then they had been reduced from £9.99 to £4.99 which was another factor in my decision.  Personally I think £9.99 is a bit expensive for what you get, as I know I could source the ingredients cheaper (for the quantity), but if you’re the sort of person who only bakes on high days and holidays and you don’t keep ingredients in the house for regular use, it could still work out cheaper for you than ending up with lots of half-packs of stuff you’ll never use again.

Compared to using cupboard ingredients, it took me a very short time to follow all the steps to mix everything together, as I generally weigh and measure as I go along rather than prepping everything in advance (my kitchen is largish but I don’t have that much counter space available!).  The only extra thing I did was to chop up the cherries, which came whole in a tub rather than in pieces.  I’m sure leaving them whole would be fine but I’m really not a fan of glacé cherries so I wanted them in small pieces.   The recipe called for a 6″ cake tin, which surprised me as I tend to think of 7″ and 8″ as the more common sizes people are likely to have lying around.  I did go to assess the price of 6″ tins in Lakeland but I suspect a lot of people had decided to do these boxes as there were none left on the shelf! (The yellow marzipan was also conspicuous by its absence).  Anyway, I decided to risk it with a 7″ tin and keep an eye on the progress.  As it turned out it was fine for the full baking time (although the Over-Zealous Oven was set to 20 degrees below the recommended temperature!)

The resultant cake was nice and moist and tasted very fresh (as you’d expect, for something which has just been baked, although that hasn’t always been my experience with packet-mix cakes).  The fruit was evenly dispersed and the spice content was spot on for me, so all in all I was very pleased.

I really like the idea of using these, especially for people who don’t bake regularly.  There are pros and cons – obviously they’re a packaging nightmare with all their little bags but weighed up against the waste generated by someone who buys everything they need just for one cake and ends up throwing the rest away, it doesn’t seem so bad!  On the plus side, it’s so much better to make your own cake with basic ingredients than to buy something which has been filled with various preservatives etc to give it a longer shelf-life.  I’d like to see the packets labelled with a list of what’s inside them though, as I think everyone should know what they’re using as they go along (you can guess but without looking at the ingredients on the outside of the box you don’t really know)!

I’d definitely recommend this idea.  Even if you’re a regular baker there might be times when you’re away from home or just short of time, as I was, and these really come into their own.  I hope to see the range extended in future.

 

UPDATE (26.5.12) : I notice today that Lakeland are discontinuing the Flapjack mix, which is the only FLN product currently on sale there.  As this isn’t a seasonal product (and therefore has no reason not to be sold year-round) I’m not sure what this implies generally about the availability and future of the products but it would be very sad if that was the end of Fruity Little Numbers.  I shall continue to post anything new that I hear.

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2 responses to “Fruity Little Numbers

  1. fionamerrick says:

    Isn’t that a great idea? As you say, it’s fantastic for those who don’t bake often – dusty half-bags of flour or dried fruit that have been sitting around for months or possibly longer are not appetising, are they! And I love their website – gorgeous and colourful. Thank you for the tip! And that’s a very lovely sunshine at the bottom of the comments section 😀 xxx

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