Restoration Cake Interview – The Vegan / Dairy Challenge!

Boy did I have a great weekend. Thanks to the fabulous founder of Restoration Cake, Charlotte Gamble, myself and my newly appointed food expert Catherine, hopped over to South Kensington’s Millennium Hotel for a luxurious and totally indulgent cupcake tasting. We spent the afternoon at the MU bar upstairs in our own little private cupcake alcove, surrounded by delicious dairy and vegan cakes.

The tasting was set up beautifully, showcasing the cakes on various trays and stands, however there was no suggestion as to which were vegan and which were dairy. The challenge of the afternoon was to see if either of us could figure out the difference. Both Catherine and I tried a Vanilla, Coffee & Baileys and Lemon cupcake from each tray and hedged our bets based on frosting consistency, cake flavour and overall texture. I was so wrong! I won’t give away all the answers, but Charlotte’s cakes are actually all dairy free. The frosting is the only part that contains butter and I had no clue. The cakes were moist and the frosting, very whippy. Both recipes resulted in a light, fluffy and fabulous result.

After the first few bites, Charlotte told us how she got started and how she had been cooking since before she could remember, spending loads of time in the kitchen with her grandmother when she was younger. She even had cake and fudge parties when she was at Uni. She then progressed into giving cakes and cupcakes to friends as gifts for their birthdays, weddings (she made a PRADA purse birthday cake for a friend that is to DIE for) before she was approached to supply cakes for events, weddings and festivals. The first wedding that Charlotte worked on was for a friend of hers where she baked 150 cupcakes with store bought embossed fondant decorations. It was then that she decided she was going to learn how to make her own embellishments and edible decorations. She now makes everything from scratch.

So how did she get into vegan baking? Charlotte is a vegetarian herself, but saw a gap in the market when all the vegan cupcakes she was able to find were “really depressing and dull.” She is a firm believer that cupcakes should never be this way. After visiting a vegan bakery in New York where she tasted an amazing chocolate and peanut butter brownie, she decided to create the ultimate, dairy free cupcake. And she has. Charlotte describes her methods of baking as very scientific and accurate. She says it needs to be this way so that her vegan range tastes as close to the dairy version as possible. There was a lot of experimenting before she found the right mix, but she stands by the process and accuracy of her craft. She says “as soon as you understand the baking process, you can then add and / or take away from the recipe [in a more successful way].” In the same way, “when you do it wrong, you notice it right away.”

Recently, Restoration Cake has supplied goodies for a variety of events including weddings, the Christmas Without Cruelty Vegan Fair and birthday parties. Although she was unable to disclose too much information, I did manage to discover that Charlotte is currently working on a cake for a dog’s birthday party (AWESOME) where her cake will be for the humans and there will be a separate doggie cake too.

For brides (vegan or not) who are thinking about calling Restoration Cake for their wedding day, I would get on the phone quick! Charlotte has a few events this summer already and suggests that brides contact her between 3 – 6 months in advance so they come up with the perfect creation. She does consultations and sketches for each individual bride and has a growing portfolio of different flavours and concepts. She makes traditional cakes (like the red velvet one in the photos) as well as more clever cakes for special events, ie. coffee cakes that look like cups of coffee, as seen here. No job seems too big for her either, as she has baked 500 cupcakes in one day for a single event, no problem.

Deliciousness aside, it is obvious that Charlotte’s business is her passion. She kept saying amazing things likes “everyone should have nice cakes,” which I totally agree with. She is a self proclaimed “cupcake fascist” fascinated by the science and magic behind baking and can make a mean frosting. A question some of you bakers out there might want to know the answer to – does Charlotte sift her flour? Yes, so that the “fairies get into it.” How cute is that? I know my cupcakes tasted like it had fairies in it. I had such a great time speaking with her and am keeping my eyes open for her newest projects as I know they’ll be great (tasting and looking).

Now back to the gym to work off all those amazing cakes I hid from my fiance so I could have them to myself! (only joking, mostly.) Check our the Restoration Cake’s website for more info and for Charlotte’s “Declaration of Indulgence.”

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