Three years ago, award-winning baker Mehvish Khan, founder of Heron's Nest Cakes in South Woodford, went from baking cakes at her home to unexpectedly creating a successful cake business. Her overnight venture started from offering her baking services to a local coffee shop that urgently needed sugary treats but she has become a baking mastermind, creating bespoke, homemade and vegan cakes for all occasions.
Do you bake at Christmas? If so, what do you make?
I hope so, but I am currently so busy with customer orders for occasion cakes, I am not sure what I am doing at the moment. It is a crazy, but exciting time! I have friends and family who visit my house and they expect there to be cakes, but there never is!
Why do you think there has been such a high demand for vegan recipes?
Eating plant-based foods is becoming increasingly popular for many reasons including nutritional value, protecting the environment, no processed ingredients, great health benefits and much more. I am making more vegan cakes than anything else at the moment and the demand is high, so I think I have found my niche! Even if my customers aren’t vegan, they want it because it tastes extremely good.
How would you encourage our readers to try vegan baking this Christmas?
Vegan baking does frighten a lot of people. I think it is because people aren’t familiar with all the substitute ingredients, but this shouldn’t be the case as it can be very simple.
Vegan baking is great because it is quicker to make vegan cakes compared to non-vegan cakes and they are really tasty. Try my simple chocolate Christmas cake recipe, it is easy to make and there is nothing scary about it!
Why do people believe vegan cakes have no taste?
People just presume before they have tried. They believe the flavour is going to be boring and tasteless, but they couldn’t be more wrong! I have a vegan pop up stall at the beautiful Makers Market in Wanstead (next one Saturday, December 1) and I do get visitors who are negative before they have even tried the cakes, but they always leave convinced! Each cake of mine has its own personalised touch and I decorate them with buttercream or vegan frosting and not fondant, which people seem to like too.
What is so special about Essex at Christmas?
I am really looking forward to the festive season. I absolutely love this county at Christmas because there is a real sense of community with so much going on. It is that one time of year where everyone is very happy, it is really special.
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