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TGtS Meets...Ms Cupcake (Melissa Morgan)
Ms Cupcake, aka Melissa Morgan, author of The Naughtiest Vegan Cakes in Town, sat down to talk all things sweet with TGtS.
You opened London's first vegan bakery. Where did the idea come from?
After moving from Canda to the UK in the late 90s, it wasn't long before I made the transition from vegetarian to vegan. I looked around and just couldn't find a vegan bakery anywhere. I don't know about anyone else but cake is my main food group - so I started to teach myself how to bake with vegan alternatives, one thing led to another and we opened the bakery in April 2011.
Generally speaking, what are people’s reactions when they first sample your cakes?
People always make comments about how beautiful they are, they're like "oh my God they're gorgeous" and they smell them and say "oh wow they're incredible" - but as soon as they hear they're vegan they're like "oh I don't know if I'll like that" and then they taste them and love them to bits, half of our client base aren't actually vegan, they just love them because they're fresh, indulgent and decadent cakes.
Which cakes are your store’s top sellers?
Naturally our cupcakes are our best sellers, people absolutely adore them. Alongside cupcakes we also sell a full bakery line, so treats like cookies, brownies and savoury pastries. One of our customer's favourites would have to be our chocolate hazelnut cupcake - we call it the ambassador, it's quite similar to a Ferrero Rocher, it replicates the flavour combination and is totally irresistible.
That sounds delicious, what's your personal favourite?
I can't pick a favourite, all my cakes are my babies. That's like asking a Mummy, who's her favourite kid! I'm quite partial to fruity flavours though, so I do enjoy our pina colada cupcake, which is pineapple and coconut and our take on the Jaffa Cake which is chocolate and orange - all those kind of flavours are what get my wheels turning.
Why did you decide to write a cookbook?
Right from the very beginning customers would say to me "how can I make these at home" or "I don't live in London and I've got severe allergies, I'm in desperate need of a really good recipe". So I was thinking about it right from the very start, so when I was approached by my publisher it seemed like the obvious thing to do, I'm actually about to get to work on my second book at the moment.
What’s been the biggest challenge that you’ve faced providing vegan alternatives?
It's never about can't, it's about not just yet. There are things that are slightly trickier to make, for example it's hard to make a laminated pastry for croissants and panne au chocolats, but they're still manageable. Things like macaroons that rely heavily on egg white are always a challenge but in my second book I hope to shed some light on easy ways to do these at home.
We love your style, does your quirky fashion sense influence your baking?
I think it does a little bit, all my life I've wanted a job that I can just be who I am, so I had to go and create that job for myself. The Ms Cupcake look is very much an extension of my personality, if you go to my home it looks exactly the same of my shop, it's the same colours, with a kitsch retro feel. Wearing a crazy cake hat every single day is what makes me happy. I think that irreverence is a part of my personality and it certainly comes through in my baking.
Do you have any plans to open more bakeries?
Absolutely, we're making sure that we get everything right at our branch here in London and then we're planning on rolling out the concept across the UK.
What do you love most about doing live cooking demonstrations?
Before I was a baker, I was a teacher so getting out there and showing people how easy it is to bake these treats at home feels like my duty and something that I'm supposed to be doing. It really is easy to make indulgent decadent vegan cakes and I just feel like I need to go out and show people. For me, travelling around the country is my absolute favourite thing to do, so I'm really excited to come down to Swindon and show people how simple it is.
Head over to www.mscupcake.co.uk for more information about The Naughtiest Vegan Cakes in Town.
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