This month, we’re shining the spotlight on one of PURE’s chosen suppliers, Caroline’s Cakes. Based in Chapel Allerton, she delivers show-stopping creations across the city for events, private parties and cafes.
Caroline’s passion for cake making started during idyllic childhood summers spent in her gran’s kitchen in West Wales. After a year living in baking mecca Vienna, and over two decades working in sales and project management (including a 12 year stint here at the University of Leeds), Caroline’s Cakes was born in February 2014.
Ahead of our Meet the Baker event with Caroline on the 21st October, we caught up with her to talk all things cake…
Hello Caroline. PURE prides itself on offering customers unusual and interesting flavour combinations, do you enjoy experimenting with different ingredients in your cakes?
I’ve always been interested in different flavour combinations and I’m sure this has been influenced by my love of travel. When I go to different countries, I’m always on the lookout for unusual ingredients and how they might be used in my baking. I first discovered polenta-based cakes after a trip to Marrakech and loved the texture and the way polenta absorbs intense flavours. That’s how my orange and cardamom polenta cake evolved. After my recent trip to Abu Dhabi, I’m going to be experimenting with a pistachio and rose cake for PURE as I absolutely love that flavour combination, so watch this space!
Are there any new cakes you’ve created especially for PURE?
My team of bakers and I are continuously experimenting with new recipes. With PURE, we’ve aimed to create a mix of healthy and indulgent cakes. You might be interested to know that the gluten free date and ginger loaf, created especially for PURE, contains no refined sugar. Instead, we use maple syrup and dates to give it a more natural sweetness. And our courgette, coconut and lime cake which is another new bake for the café, contains no dairy, so perfect for those following a lactose-free diet.
PURE always stocks a vegan and gluten free cake every week from Caroline’s Cakes, are you noticing a growing demand for your ‘free from’ range?
Without a doubt. I think we live in a world where people are increasingly aware of their diet and conscious of what they’re putting into their bodies. All the cafes I supply in Leeds, as well as my personal customers, are increasingly interested in my ‘free from’ range, either from a dietary or health-conscious perspective. And I’m a firm believer that just because you’re eating a ‘free-from’ cake, you shouldn’t have to compromise on the flavour and texture. I’m actually finding that my vegan and gluten-free cakes are just as popular with customers following a regular diet.
Making cakes to order for lots of people must require you to work well under pressure – would you ever consider entering Bake Off?
If I had a pound for every time someone asked me that! As much as I’m a Bake Off addict and am in awe of what they produce on the show, I’ve never been tempted to go under the spotlight myself. The project manager in me helps me to work in an organised and methodical way, but the added pressure of TV cameras and Paul Hollywood’s steely glare really don’t appeal! If I had been tempted to apply, the rules don’t allow for anyone baking professionally to enter.
What is your showstopper?
It would be interesting to hear what the PURE café customers would say to that, but in my opinion my showstopper cake would have to be my gluten free carrot cake. It’s been a best seller from day one and there’s something about a lightly spiced carrot cake, filled with juicy raisins and decorated with a velvety cream cheese frosting that’s always a winning combination.
And what’s the most popular cake we sell at PURE?
I’ve heard that the courgette and lime and chocolate beetroot cakes are going down well with customers, as well as the blueberry and lime loaf. There must be something about the fruit and vegetable components that makes people feel that they can indulge without feeling guilty!
Cranberry & Orange Cake
You’re going to be baking some special seasonal cakes for Halloween and Christmas, what flavours can we look forward to?
I won’t give too much away, but if you come to our ‘Meet the Baker’ event on 21st October, you can look forward to tasting some seasonal flavours. We’ll have ginger, toffee apple, chocolate orange and Baileys among others.
Caroline’s Cakes are available each day at PURE on Level 9 of the Worsley Building. Come to PURE’s special Meet the Baker event with Caroline on Friday 21st October from 2.30pm – 4.00pm in the cafe.