My family have never bought a Christmas cake from a supermarket, and here's why.
The downsides to store-bought cake are many; I avoid the standard cakes bought from a supermarket when they appear at work, preferring a home baked delight. They just don't taste like real food to me; sugary chemically mess. Yuck. Call me a cake snob, but there are reasons I feel this way...
The problems with store-bought cakes are even more numerous when it's Christmas cake we're talking about.
Growing up, my mum always, without fail, made a Christmas cake for us from scratch. We were very lucky kids, and I've carried on the tradition with my little family. I know my sister does the same, and my brother will probably have one from his baking-crazy girlfriend. What lucky tummies and tummies of significant others!
Here are just a few reasons why I prefer home baked Christmas cake and would NEVER buy one from a store. Obviously I want to encourage you to buy home baked - from me! - but not just for Christmas, for all occasions in the year.
WHY I NEVER BUY A STORE'S CHRISTMAS CAKE
1. One of my closest friends is vegan and vegan Christmas cakes are nigh on impossible to find in a supermarket, even though general vegan food ranges are expanding. The star cake above is actually vegan, and you'd never know...
2. Supermarket cakes often contain white sugar. Christmas cake should always be made with soft, brown sugar! The flavour and texture is totally different, and shouldn't be compromised!
3. You never know what's gone into a cake which has been mass produced; E numbers (colours and flavours), preservatives, dates (ick!), whole nuts (choking hazard for my baby)… At least with mine I know exactly what ingredients were used - including a good splosh of booze! - and that it's been made hygienically!
4. When it's home made, a Christmas (or any other) cake can be tailored to your preferences or needs. You know now I hate dates, but you could say to me, for example, you'd like a holly design, or a star featuring on your festive bake. Don't like marzipan? I can leave out the marzipan, no problem. Perhaps you'd like it gluten free? I'd be only too happy to help.
5. A home baked cake is a much better gift than something you just grabbed off the shelves. It's made with love, with a specific person in mind, and if you buy from 280 Bakes, you're supporting a small business.
What could be better???
Order your Christmas cake today - orders close in a week (20th December)!
It's my favourite time of year - time to get my Christmas bake on!
Here are some of the Christmas bakes from Christmas past - candy cane cake, Ho Ho Ho cupcakes, starry and snowy Christmas cakes, and a Yule Log. I love Christmas baking, and can't wait to get started!
Vegan and gluten free options are available for cupcakes and Christmas cakes, but not for Yule Logs, sorry. Prices start at £15, and delivery is always included (BS9, 10, 11 only, but collection is available too, if it suits you better). Orders close on 20th December, so don't miss out!
This is a little selection of the cakes I baked for people like you this month!
Chocolate cake for Henry... Double raspberry tequila cake for my husband's birthday... Mickey Mouse (actually, 3!) for Leo... Chocolate Vanilla for a lady in Henbury... A watermelon cake and matching cupcakes for Matilda... Penguin cupcakes for a Penguin (bar!) lover... Vegan chocolate cake for the Pipal Tree restaurant... A vegan birthday cake for Anna...
... and I've already got some booked in for October!
See you next month,
Food is very evocative - a simple taste or scent of a certain type of food can bring back very specific memories; Cake is no different.
For me, the first cake that springs to memory's mind is lemon drizzle. Those two words will forever be associated with my Grandma Pat, who passed away over ten years ago now.
My memories of her are laden with baking - cherry buns, runny water icing, fruit cake, apple pie - but mainly lemon drizzle. It was never fancy, just a sponge, but she had a name for making a brilliant bake of it. Sure, it's a relatively simple bake, but none can compare to my grandma's! I like to think she'd be very proud of me and my lil' cake business.
The second memory blast I have when thinking about cake is a very festive one. Every year since I've been on this planet my mum has made a showstopping Christmas cake. Sometimes more than one, if a school raffle or church fete needed one. She's even been known to make it for someone's birthday, as it's their favourite. It's all about the cake here, even though the decoration is always perfect; the dark sponge is always absolutely packed with dried fruit and booze. Mum is a complete foodie, and loves a decent fruit cake, and Christmas wouldn't be the same without a big slice of her boozy Christmas cake.
Christmas is one thing, but birthdays are even more about cake in my memory. Christmas dominates with so many other foods, activities, traditions over a longer period of time, whereas a birthday is just one day (or two, if you;'re the Queen and you're reading this). So, in terms of percentage of importance, I would argue birthday cakes are even more important that Christmas cakes, being a central feature to one's big day. After all, 'a party without a cake is just a meeting', or so the famous saying goes. I've been lucky enough to have many cakes baked for me on past birthdays - here was this years! Thank you Max, very much!
And while we're talking birthdays, banana cake may always remind me of my little one's first birthday. Cake was an important part to the celebrations as a nationwide lockdown hugely restricted what we could do. I made Rox two vegan - she had an egg allergy at the time - banana cakes, one for a cake smash (see here) and one for a sandwich tea in the garden with a handful of family members. Even though I say so myself, it was a bit of a corker - fabulous memories.
What kind of cakes bring memories to your mind?
Our re-opening has seen some changes, but great traditional style cake remains on the menu for all!
Old favourites are still available, like Victoria Sponge, Lemon Drizzle and Chocolate Peanut Butter cake, but check out my new recipes too - Tequila Rose cake, for starters, oh my!
I'll never charge more for gluten free or vegan, like some of our competitors do, and each cake can be tailored, so please ask if you want something a little personalised.
- Perhaps you don't want sultanas in your carrot cake?
- Maybe popcorn is your favourite snack and want it to decorate your chocolate cake?
- Coffee and walnut without the walnuts? No problem!
Just drop me an email here or via the website, and you can also find 280 Bakes on social media.
we were SUPER excited to be asked along to speak at the Bristol Foodies Festival this month!
The Foodies Festival is an annual event in Bristol (and around the UK), bringing chefs and foodies together over a fantastic weekend of talks, music, demonstrations, classes and food stalls.
Our Louise went along to speak at the cake and dessert stage in Bristol on the Friday afternoon (21st May 2018). She demonstrated how to make a vegan chocolate Guinness cake and shared samples to a willing and hungry crowd.
"It was so much fun, a totally different thing for us to be doing," said Louise. "And I felt kind of 'Madonna' walking around with a head mic set on!"
Well done Louise, maybe this is a start of something HUGE! More demos please....
Missed out on trying a sample from the Foodies Festival? We've posted the recipe for the vegan chocolate Guinness cake on our blog so you can try it yourself. And if you don't fancy baking, just contact us to order one!
Big thanks to Charlotte White at Restoration Cake and the Foodies Festival team for inviting us along. See you again, we hope!
The Team @ 280 Bakes
It's a chocolate fudge cake with a difference or two: it's both vegan and made using Guinness! Here's very our recipe - enjoy!
This is one of the easiest cakes to make, and it has never failed.
We've developed the recipe so you can always get a good rise. The sponge is likely to crack a little on the top, but that's part of it's character - the baking soda is quite high in this recipe. The sponge is light and moist, and a deep rich chocolate colour.
What's missing from this cake is eggs and butter - it is a vegan cake, after all. The oil replaces the butter and it binds together just fine without eggs.
Have a go, and see what you think!
Top tip: Make sure the water gets to the flour before the oil, or the cake may not hold together very well (lack of eggs here doesn't help!). To combat this, just follow the recipe in order and you should be fine.
Vegan Chocolate Guinness Cake
***Serves 8 large slices or a dozen cupcakes**
190g self raising flour
130g caster sugar
7 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
240ml strong coffee
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
120ml vegetable oil
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees and make sure the baking rack is on the centre shelf. Grease and line an 8 inch round tin.
2. Mixing is very simple: Mix the dry ingredient together. Then add the Guinness, coffee, water (before the oil, remember) and the rest of the wet ingredients.
3. Pour into your tin and bake for 35 minutes. Remove when baked (test with a skewer in the centre - if it comes out clean, you're good) and leave to cool for around 10 minutes. This will make it easier to get out of the tin onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
Decorating this cake couldn't be simpler - just dust with sieved icing sugar for a great effect with few extra calories. Failing that, we'll never turn away a cake with chocolate frosting.
** AS FEATURED AT FOODIES FESTIVAL - BRISTOL (2018) **
The Team @ 280 Bakes
So, you're throwing a party for New Year? Awesome! Here are our top tips on how to have THE BEST New Year party your friends have ever been to!
1. Avoid the anti-climatic moment at 12.01 am with a banging playlist - make sure the first few tunes of 2018 are party starters, even if you've been going for several hours already! We suggest...
- Shawn Mendes - There's Nothing Holdin' Me Back
- Calvin Harris - Feels
- Pharrell Williams - Happy
2. Make sure there's a cake - everyone loves cake! Our boozy New Year cakes are perfect for the occasion. Gluten free, standard or vegan... and we deliver! Orders close on 29th December.
Our Destiny and Louise went to the Bristol Viva Vegan Christmas Market this weekend, and did they nail it? Yes they did!
Take a look at the amazing cakes the ladies took with them... and consequently sold to many, many hungry vegans! Everything from stewed plum cupcakes to gluten free gin and lemon cake, mince pie shortbread to a boozy Christmas cake - we had it all.
If you see anything you like here, we'd be happy to bake anything for you again if you couldn't make the event - just contact us!
That was our final event for 2018, but we are starting to book on events for next year, so stay tuned for more information!
The Team @ 280 Bakes
Christmas has begun here at 280 Bakes: Halloween is over, the clocks have gone back, and it's November! Let's see what's in store this season at your local home bakery...
As usual, Christmas cake will be available to order. Vegan and gluten free varieties are available, and our Early Bird Discount runs throughout November. Save by being organised, that's what we say! We'll deliver any date up until 23rd December - our bakers have Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day off - so let us take the strain off you preparing your family do.
Some folks prefer their Christmas bakes with no fondant, a smaller bite - our Christmas cupcakes are perfect for this ask! Ideal for Christmas office parties, a gift for your host, or for the kids' lunchboxes on the last day of term... Order now to get in on the Early Bird Discount!
Yule log is also available, and mince pies will be at all our Christmas events.
Later this month we'll be announcing our Christmas market schedule - stay tuned!
The Team @ 280 Bakes
Welcome to the 280 Bakes blog! Most posts are by myself, Louise, but if you fancy guest blogging, give me a shout!