At home with @VbytheSea, the lady behind our delicious vegan cakes!

Prepping the sponges for the lemon and blueberry cake

Recently it was National Cake Day and we are celebrating the talented baker behind our delicious vegan cakes, Vanessa Bradford (@vbythesea). Tea breaks at Create98 draw a lot of excitement, you never know what piece of lovely cake will be accompanying your tea or coffee…Coconut & Raspberry Jam Squares, Coffee & Walnut, Pistachio & Lemon, Apricot & Camomile loaf, Rocky Road and more. We popped by Vanessa’s house for a chat, and to see her in action. Here is what she had to say –

I have always enjoyed cooking and baking and can remember hanging around the kitchen as a small child watching my mum and constantly asking to stir cakes and add ingredients to her cooking.  I started being more creative with my baking when I turned to a plant based diet along with my family.  Having to replace dairy and eggs in cakes initially seemed like a daunting task, but there are alternatives to animal products for every aspect in baking now; from putting air into a sponge to binding a fruit cake.

I have been vegan for about 2 years.  My daughters had been vegan for a few years before because of their views on animal cruelty and so gradually our family meals were centred around a delicious array of vegetables, pulses, spices and sauces rather than a piece of meat or fish.  I can honestly say I don’t even miss or  think about meat or dairy as part of my diet anymore, I feel more healthy and enjoy food even more.

Every week I bake for Create 98 which can range from between 10-15 cakes as well as their client lunches at the weekends. 

I also bake for a local coffee shop which includes baking over 50 Bakewell’s, 36 rocky road slices, 30 cookies, 36 Muffins plus extras when needed.   A lot of cakes infact!

Quite often, I have private catering to do as well which this week is for a 90th birthday party! Just proves you are never too old to try something new.

An average day for me starts at 6.30am.  I like to get up early to finish deliveries for that day before I walk our very old reluctant dog Charlie and then I feel less guilty playing tennis for a couple of hours.  Back to the kitchen to start baking for the following day and prepping anything I can freeze.  I always keep an eye on the tide times so I can go for a swim.  Cold water swimming keeps the mind calm and the body rejuvenated and I LOVE it!  So privileged we live very close to sea front.  I would say I spend, on average 5-6 hours a day baking and preparing food for my clients and often includes evenings and early Saturday mornings too – unless of course I am out for an early row.

It’s difficult to say who i am inspired by, as I tend to take ideas from books, the internet, old recipes and adapt them.  However, I do like Anna Jones who writes for the Guardian at the weekend in Feast magazine.  Although she is vegetarian, she has vegan children and she often writes vegan recipes or if not, always gives the plant based way of adapting her cakes and dishes.  Her baking and cooking recipes are colourful and easy to follow; two very important factors when choosing what to cook. Regardless of whether it’s plant based or not, If it doesn’t look and taste good, no one is going to enjoy it. 

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