The quality of ingredients is vital to us and we are fortunate that the county of East Lothian, widely called "Scotland's Larder", offers a huge range of good-quality, locally-grown seasonal produce.
Our free-range eggs come from Cyrenians Farm and Gosford Poultry, only three miles from our bakery in Gullane. Dairy products come from Yester Farm Dairies, our local East Lothian dairy about thirteen miles away. During the Summer, East Lothian fruit can be found in and adorning our cakes, tarts & gâteaux; we even use rhubarb from the local window cleaner's garden and excess fruit from the gardens of our Edinburgh Farmers' Market customers.
Sourcing ingredients of the required quality is a frequent challenge. Many ingredients commonly used in continental recipes are often not available in the UK, or have an unacceptably low grade to be of any use to us. For us it's not about whether an ingredient is labelled as organic, fairtrade or sourced locally (although many that we use are); it's about natural balanced flavours, gorgeous textures and how the end product is during and after baking.
A classic example of something challenging to source is marzipan. Most marzipan available (which incidentally should never be bright yellow) is only really suitable for modelling. Even some 'raw marzipan' that is available is not bake-stable because of added filler ingredients, as anyone who has tried to make Mandelhörnchen will appreciate. For this reason, we import our marzipan from Germany, usually Lübeck as we consider it to be the best.
If we can't source ingredients that meet our specifications then we won't make that product. We would rather disappoint our customers by not having their favourite product than making it with ingredients with which we're not fully happy.