We were of course in the presence of the fabulous Ms Cupcake, and her general manager, and, while we could be forgiven for thinking we were to be extras on the remake of Grease III The Old Street Years, were in fact in the hallowed halls of the Central London Cookery School, about to start Ms Cupcake’s day-long vegan baking class.
Of course, you exclaim. That’s why we left the house so early. Very few things get between a sweet-toothed vegan and her treats.
Let’s face it: it is not beyond the realms of possibility for 6 chocolate and vanilla-iced cupcakes, 4 giant caramel sugar biscuits and an entire 9" double layer Victoria sponge cake to be devoured in under 24 hours by a cake-starved vegan.
As beginners to the vegan baking scene, we were slightly nervous about attending Ms Cupcake's full-day vegan baking class. Followers of our twitter feed (@ukextraveganza) may recall the coconut scone disaster, and previous attempts at vegan baking have often involved recipes that required a minimum of 25 exotic ingredients, half of which we could not pronounce and half of which were not available in Waitrose or Planet Organic!
We kicked off our day meeting the other vegan baking enthusiasts. A full array including a Slovenian vegan (a Slovegan!?), a vegetarian from Manchester (a Manchetarian?!), an owner of a London vegan restaurant, and a bakery-owning mother with a son with an egg allergy!
Melissa and Phoebe demonstrated, step-by-step, each of three recipes (cupcakes, sponge and cookies) that we were to learn on the day, and also threw in some top tips on perfecting vegan baking, and some product substitutes that we could use to adapt the recipes to fit our free-from diet.
Our favourites tips of the day: (a) when you need tea and biscuits, go for Jammie Dodgers and Bourbon Creams (both APF)! (b) as an egg substitute, you can use apple cider vinegar to curdle soy milk (eww!) as well as mashed banana and fruit juice (c) when you’ve messed up on your icing creation (pretty likely, we think), take a handful of chopped nuts and roll your creation in those: voila, a nutty surprise that looks like you planned it that way!
What really surprised our cold London hearts was how willing Melissa was, and is, to offer business advice and support to blossoming bakers and entrepreneurs. Ms Cupcake's mission is to spread veganism, and so for her, the more the merrier.
And being schooled by such cool-looking chicks who looked more like they belonged to a rock or punk band than arguably the most successful vegan bakery in London confirmed what we knew: sexy, cool veganism is on the rise. And it’s much easier than it looks. Like we say: free from, it’s simple!"