Cuckoo! It's the most won-der-ful time of the year! We've decked the haberdasheries with festive bakes to get your tastebuds jingling. If you're looking for a unique gift or a treat between Christmas films and full-bellied naps, you've still time to pick up one of our limited edition boxes of Christmas cupcakes. As ever, our Cuckoo elves are busy behind the scenes and we thought you'd like to take a peek. This month, we're behind the cuckoo clock with Henry, who talks dream dinner parties, Ebay and the South Pacific. He also has some last-minute gift recommendations for foodies...
Hello! Tell us a little about yourself and your role at Cuckoo's Bakery.
My name is Henner, Henry, H or Hen. I work between the Dundas kitchen and the bakery. I am 36 (a young 36)... rarely sit still for a minute, always thinking about stuff to draw make, cook and bake. I love to get my hands dirty and use my creativity wherever possible.
Talk us through a typical shift.
The bakery shift begins at 3 or 4am. You learn to deal with early starts and by the time you finish at 12 or 1pm you have the rest of day to yourself. It's my job to core the cupcakes with various yummy fillings! Next, frosting. I am still working on my palleting but am much faster at piping! We prepare all the cupcakes and cakes ready for 8.30am collection by Neil the delivery driver (such a nice guy!). Then, breakfast and a well deserved break - amazing fluffy white rolls from the French bakery opposite, fresh that morning. Next, we get cracking with the prep for the days ahead. Sugar craft is my nemesis! I love getting stuck in, multitasking through the prep - a real sense of achievement when it's all ticked off! Then clean down and a walk home to reflect on the day's work.
Everyone loves a good cookbook at Christmas. What do you recommend?
I am a trained pastry chef so my must-have book would be 'The Professional Pastry Chef: Fundamentals of Baking and Pastry' by Bo Friberg. For savouries, I love French cooking. The book 'Ripailles' by Stephane Reynaud is amazing, the photos are exceptional!
Will you be donning the apron for Christmas dinner?
Yes, of course. I don't trust my veggie girlfriend to cook the Christmas joint! We have different roles and mine is cooking. Jo's is making the place look pretty. I call it Joey-fying.
What's your favourite Cuckoo's treat?
I'll let you into a little secret - I don't have a sweet tooth! I treat myself to savoury. So my treat would be a velvety latte, the blend of coffee is amazing! Mind you, I am quite partial to one of the amazing new chewy cookies (cuckies!).
What would be your three desert island ingredients?
Prawns, oysters and rum. I loves shellfish!
Imagine your dream December dinner party. Who's on the guest list, what would you cook and what's on the stereo?
Ooh, tough one! My partner Jo would be numero uno! Stephen Fry for dry comedy and interesting facts, wish he was my teacher at school. My godmother Rosemary because she would get on with Stephen! Pat, my partner's Mum - such a laugh and always smiling. Oh, Sandie my chocolate miniature/toy poodle, love her! Freud so Jo can ask chat to him about psychology - she's a doctor don't you know! (No, seriously, really proud of her). I would cook simple Italian food. Starters: cured meats, olives, cheese and loads of griddled artichoke, zucchini, peppers. Fresh anchovies, not the salted ones but the pickled ones! Loads of fresh bread. Mains would be spaghetti with foraged seasonal mushrooms, tartufo oil, loads of garlic, shavings of white truffle, tartufo di bianco! Heaps of parmigiano reggiano! And a side of rocket tossed in olive oil and lemon juice. Dessert: sticky toffee pud with honeycomb clotted cream ice cream and toffee sauce.
Who will feature on your New Year's Eve soundtrack?
Sia. Can't get enough of her and some cheesy pop classics from the 80s to present day!
A little bird told us you're a keen Ebayer. Any tips for the uninitiated? And where are your go-tos for thrifty finds in Edinburgh?
Do all your bidding in the last 5 seconds. I have an excellent success rate but set the max you are willing to pay. I trawl all the charity and furniture shops and up-cycle with Annie Sloane paint - amazing chalk paint, no sanding, just slap it on!
If you could work in a Cuckoo's Bakery anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
A small island in the South Pacific just for the weather and fruit and shellfish!
We hope you enjoyed learning more from behind the scenes at Cuckoo's! Our next Blog will follow soon. In the meantime, pop in to one of our shops over the festive season, but remember that we are closed 25th to 28th December and 1st to 4th January! We all deserve a rest after all x