CUPCAKE WEEK: TUESDAY
You might have already read about Little Suzi’s Kitchen in a previous post. Suzanne Carter (aka Little Suzi) was recently shortlisted for this Year’s National Cupcake Awards with her lovely White Chocolate and Raspberry Cupcake. Although Little Suzi didn’t win, being shortlisted is certainly an accolade!
I was lucky enough to taste this special cake and I can confirm that it is in fact delicious! Raspberry and white chocolate are a great flavour combination and the fresh raspberries running through the sponge keep the cake very moist and soft. The icing was lovely. It was clearly made from chocolate rather than just a flavouring.
Now I’m new to this gluten free business and I haven’t tasted that many products yet but an underlining whinge of mine, going by those I have sampled, is that there always seems to be a powdery texture that is only there in gluten free products. However, I was very excited to find, that with this cake I would have no idea that it was gluten free if Suzi hadn’t told me. In fact, I would go as far as to say it is the nicest gluten free product I have had! If you are gluten intolerant, I suggest you give this a try.
Suzi also supplied me with a Banoffee cake and a Sticky Toffee cake which were also nice. Her cakes are simple with no overly fussy decoration and as a result look extremely appetising. I’ve seen some of Suzi’s birthday cake creations so although her cupcakes are simple in design, she is more than capable of making anything you ask for I’m sure. You can sample Suzi’s cakes by ordering online or you can buy them at Waterloo Garden Teahouse.
Now, over to Suzi for her story…
Gone are the days when ‘free from’ foods tasted like cardboard. Bakers are now finally able to convince customers that ‘free from’ products can taste just as delicious as well as accommodating their diet needs. The winner of this year’s National Cupcake Awards was not only gluten free (…and beat me!) but beat the full fat, dairy, wheat and gluten cupcakes to not just for one award but 3!
Step back to 2 years ago, when I was diagnosed with gluten intolerance, I was devastated. Chocolate cake I could live without but my favourite treats used to be Danish Pastries, Custard Slices and even the humble Carrot Cake. I was surprised to find out what products had hidden gluten in. A few years ago there were very few ‘free from’ cakes on the market. I had to give up sandwiches for lunch and look for ‘gluten free’ alternatives – which in Cardiff proved really difficult.
I was fed up of being the fussy friend who couldn’t go out for lunch or ask about the ingredients in the cake without being made feel like an awkward customer at the local coffee shop. I also had food envy. I wanted to enjoy sweet treats too. So Little Suzi’s Kitchen was born…
There were some gluten free cakes on the market but these tended to be the usual alternatives such as flourless hazelnut cake and the free from cakes in the supermarket that tasted like chipboard. I started experimenting using different wheat free flours such as rice and chickpea flour. I also wanted to lose weight and I soon discovered I was decreasing the calorie content by playing around with different recipes.
Now fast forward 2 years and making gluten free cupcakes, cakes and treats is much easier with more good quality gluten free ingredients available and more and more bakers are now making more choice for customers.
It was a real breath of fresh air to see at the National Cupcake Awards in August the amount of entries for the ‘free from’ category and innovative flavours and designs coming through. The overall winner was GF Lime and Coconut Cupcake from Absolute Treats. She won best Free From, Best Taste and Best Cupcake and her recipe contained most store cupboard items. Gluten free doesn’t have to be boring, hard to find expensive ingredients that still lacks flavour. As proved by this year’s winner, who thoroughly deserved to win.
Even though I lost out to a well deserved champion cupcake maker (the free cakes and buffet at the event made up for it!), the remaining 48 independent and national bakers (including chains like Asda and Greggs) were not disheartened either. In fact, the atmosphere was one of real excitement to meet like minded cake bakers from different parts of the country and to see their hard efforts on display. Everyone was really passionate about all the cupcakes entered and openly discussed how they started baking. Interestingly most people in the awards were like me, who had decided to start up their own cake baking business as a hobby while working full time.
If you are interested in setting up your own baking business my advice is to openly ask other bakers. Most won’t be shy in telling you the truth, its hard work but if you’re passionate the rewards are worth it. David and David from Outsider Tart spoke at the awards while the 10 judges casted their votes on the cupcakes. Their words were so inspirational. They didn’t lie about how much they invested, how many hours a day they worked and the pressures and problems they have encountered. It was great to heat such openness in what is now a very competitive market. If you’re passionate about baking give it a go. Or alternatively if you’d rather be the taster rather than the baker, the shortlisted candidate for this year’s National Cupcake Awards (me!) is right on your doorstep and delivers homemade, fresh cakes and bakes for all your catering needs. I even host afternoon tea parties. Visit www.littlesuziskitchen.co.uk to see my selection of cakes and hopefully you can taste why I was shortlisted.
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