How did I get from a busy Mum who liked to make novelty cakes to running my own business supplying local farm shops with my products? Sometimes I ask myself that!
I am a qualified Occupational Therapist and worked in many different hospitals doing this job up until about 2008. At this point in my career I had 2 boys under the age of 5 both with dietary needs as well as some evolving intolerances to food myself. I’d baked cakes for other people throughout my life, cooking has always been very important to me and cooking for people is often the way I show them love.
I struggled to work within the NHS and be a Mum. Cancelling appointments for patients because one of my children was poorly just felt wrong. So, I stopped working as an Occupational Therapist and after trying various other jobs I started to make cakes and biscuits from home for a local market. It was run from a large warehouse with many different stall holders such as butchers, cheese makers and many other bakers.
My bakes were slightly different though. It was really important to me to make food packed with flavour but I looked at ways of making them healthy. Taking sugar out, replacing wheat with other grains and inventing new ways to flavour the food. I was successful at the market and from this I started to make cakes for local deli’s.
I made large cakes and slices. There was one cake that stood out on my stalls and became some thing akin to a signature piece for me. Chocolate aubergine torte, this is a moist, rich dark chocolate gluten free cake that has very little fat and sugar. This sold so well that I started to see what else I could create with vegetables.
My intolerance to wheat meant that I could not eat some of my favourite foods; tarte au citron, deep filled pastry topped pies and croissants for breakfast. This matched with many of my customers’ needs who also wanted to eat gluten free cakes and pastries. Each week I would tinker, like a scientist, with various different flours. These were new grains, old grains and grains from other cultures which I blended to see how I could recreate the properties of good tasting, gluten containing flour.
Gluten has some great properties. It holds moisture and enables flexibility in the pastry. Most mass-produced gluten free pastry’s are bland and uninteresting to eat. I did not want to repeat that.
Eventually, after much experimentation on my family, I succeeded in getting the blend right great taste and flexibility. Next I needed to work out how it could work in other forms particularly a pizza base and wraps, two food types I really missed eating. Now I have the recipes to enable the pastry mix to hold a pasty mixture, a pizza base and any tart or torte you care to create. It even won a Great Taste award in 2017, for the pastry alone without the support of flavour laden fillings!
I am really keen to ensure that its healthy food, tasty food and interesting food that leaves my kitchen. I still create these from my home kitchen. Although I have expanded my kitchen to accommodate more baking, personally I don’t want to expand.
What I mean by that is that I want to be successful, I want as many people as possible to taste my food but when products shift from artisan creations to mass produced something is lost. A lot of my food is seasonal and therefore is affected by the flavour that is held within the fruit and vegetables I use. This is important to me, hence my hashtag of flavouradventures.
Where can you find me?
I continue to experiment as this process is an enjoyable one for the creative in me. If you wish to have a flavour adventure you will find me at Westbourne and Wimborne Farmers markets each month where you can try some of my creations.