We were delighted to be invited down to the Honeybuns Bakery in Dorset to meet Emma Goss-Custard and the Honeybuns Team, for a weekend of 'glamping' in the newly-restored Ark; a cedar covered vintage caravan that Emma, Matt and The Team have lovingly repaired.
Coupled with the opportunity to try the delicious menu on offer at The Bee Shack and to be able to get a first-hand look at the production line that produces the most amazing gluten-free cakes, we could hardly wait to begin our journey down to Dorset.
We arrived at Honeybuns a little before 10.30am on the 3rd August 2013 to find The Team in full swing, getting The Bee Shack ready for its monthly open day. Once a month (usually the first Saturday) from March until December, Honeybuns open The Bee Shack to the public for lunches, cream teas and a chance to sit and relax in the idyllic surroundings of Naish Farm.
Offering a completely gluten-free, vegetarian menu the Bee Shack serves the local community, as well as travellers from far and wide. Many visitors had travelled for hours for the chance to savour the delicious produce on offer - and they were not disappointed, although we would recommend arriving early on Bee Shack days to make sure you don't miss out. All the food is served with a smile and a warm welcome, even when the Team are rushed completely off their feet, with standing room as scarce as seating due to such a high demand. Yet we also observed a calm patience from all who waited to be served, happily resigned to knowing it would be worth the wait.
In any other shop or cafe we would not have believed the quiet understanding from the customers but it seems that the Honeybuns 'effect' is not contained to the warm satisfaction encountered on simply eating one of their gluten-free cakes and ripples out to encompass anyone who happens to be on the farm. We saw children playing, people relaxing and were entertained by The Quangle Wangle Choir, who serenaded us into the late afternoon.
The Bee Shack follows a "make do and mend philosophy" with lots of the furniture being recycled. It is very homely and down to earth, without any matching furniture nor cups and saucers and although it offers limited indoor seating, it is the place to kick back and relax on a warm summer's day. On colder days simply bring along your woolly jumpers.
The farm and bakery creates efficiency without fuss, production without pain and standards that do not slip, even under pressure. We were given a personal tour around the bakery by Emma, who was happy to answer any questions we had and open to showing us the entire production line. Nothing was hidden and no area excluded, in fact, quite the opposite, with Emma readily sharing her secrets for success regarding the perfect baking times needed for producing such moist cakes and the methods implemented to ensure they stay fresh until they reach their destination. The staff circulate throughout the day, sharing the tasks and production to ensure that no one repeats the same exercise for any extended period, thus alleviating the risk of RSI.
Meticulous checking of the stock at ever stage means that every Honeybun cake can not only be identified to its batch but every single ingredient used can be traced back to the date it was delivered and supplied. Step by step checking, re-checking and triple checking ensures that you can confidently consume their produce without fear of cross-contamination or sub-standard ingredients.
With all profits from the Bee Shack being ploughed back into Honeybuns' BeeGreen Projects, it is no wonder that these 'open days' are such a success.
We spent a delightfully relaxing weekend getting to know a little bit more about The Team behind Honeybuns and we are certainly looking forward to dropping in again in October for Apple Day and to sample some more from the menu on offer in the Bee Shack. For more information and to read about the conservation work being undertaken by Honeybuns at Naish Farm, and shop for some of the great cakes they produce visit www.honeybuns.co.uk
Check back soon for our review of the Honeybuns Gluten-free Home Baking Mix and the Honeybuns Gluten-free Baking recipe book written by Emma Goss-Custard.
Take a tour for yourself and visit our YST Flickr page for photographs from our visit.