A couple of months ago I got an email from a lovely colleague of mine, Alli Wilson, about her new venture Cheeky Vegan Baker. When I asked whether she happened to make gluten-free cakes not only did she say yes, but also offered to bake me something incorporating my current addiction: peanut butter!
Never being one to turn down the offer of cake, these beauties arrived at the office a couple of days later. Don’t they look amazing? I can confirm, after devouring most of them (I gave one to my boyfriend because I’m nice like that), that they tasted absolutely fantastic too.
I asked Alli more about the inspiration behind Cheeky Vegan Baker, and here’s what she said…
What motivated you to set up the business?
I set up Cheeky Vegan Baker as an online vegan baking business, offering bespoke cakes, cupcakes and doughnuts, as I have recently gone vegan after being vegetarian for 13 years. For the past year I have been training in vegan and raw cuisine as this is the career path I am looking to take in the future. As I feel so passionate about veganism, I wanted to share with the world how tasty (and fun!) vegan food can be, and what better way than to do that than through cake – everyone loves cake, right!? I feel that by making it accessible, and interesting, people who wouldn’t normally even think about veganism might become interested. There is also a real growth in veganism at the moment, and not that many options for people looking for vegan cakes so it is still a bit of a niche market.
Where does your love of baking come from?
My love of baking comes from my Nan who was hands-down the best home baker in Australia! And my love of decorating comes from Mum who is an amazing cake decorator. I spent my childhood watching her make sugar paste flowers so I guess it’s in my blood! I’m excited about developing my own skills as well as spreading the vegan word.
What makes your business different?
My USP is that I make cakes bespoke to order, so am really flexible and want to work with clients to ensure they get the cake they want. All cakes are egg and dairy-free, and I also do gluten and soya-free, and do other items such as nut-based ‘cheesecakes’. I also deliver in South London and Surrey.
Where did the name come from?
Cheeky Vegan Baker is based on the nickname my English friends call me – Cheeky Koala – as I’m Australian and have been living in London for 11 years.
What made you decide to offer gluten-free options on your menu?
The biggest deciding factor to offer gluten-free was that my best friend is gluten-free and she couldn’t my eat my cakes! So I started experimenting with gluten-free options, and this has enabled me to reach a new market. Invariably I find that more people are interested in the gluten/egg/dairy free cakes because of dietary requirements than people interested in them because they are vegan.
How do you safeguard against cross-contamination when preparing gluten-free food?
When I’m baking I’m only ever doing one cake or batch of cupcakes at at time, so will only be using gluten-free ingredients. I also store my gluten-free ingredients separately to my regular baking ingredients.
If you live in London or Surrey, check out Alli’s Instargam account at instagram.com/cheekyveganbaker
Words by Alice Reeves. Instagram pictures by @gfdining and @cheekyveganbaker. A sample of gluten-free cakes were given to The Gluten-Free Dining Guide free of charge for the purposes of review but all opinions are honest and the authors’s own.