Mad Hatter Cupcakery & my 15th Veganniversary!
There must be something rather particular about being a Sydney vegan woman called Jess… namely, a compulsion to run a fantastic vegan business. I’m basing that statement on a sample size of two, so it’s not the most scientifically valid theorem around, but it’s certainly accurate when applied to the two observed specimens!
Jess Bailey has been running The Cruelty Free Shop online for over 11 years – and, coincidentally, this weekend celebrated the first anniversary of the physical store front opening in Glebe by sponsoring a “Vegan Day Out” mega-event along Glebe Point Road. Recently, though, Jess van der Walt and the Mad Hatter Cupcakery has also joined the Sydney vegan scene. (nb: for the rest of this article, “Jess” will refer to Jess van der Walt.)Firstly, of course,
A little over six months ago, Jess left the corporate world behind to throw herself fully into building up her new vegan business, firstly through selling at local markets and by special order, but with the ultimate dream of setting up a vegan patisserie. (I’m sure you’re with me in hoping this development happens sooner rather than later!) In Jess’s own words, “I love to challenge conventional egg and dairy baking with plant based treats that are full of flavour and lots of love!”
Now, I need to go off on a little tangent here… which they say never to do in a blog post because it ends up being waaaay too long and no one will read it all! But still, here goes…
I don’t remember the actual date, but one Sunday in June 1998 I had my first day being vegan. So this month marks my 15th Veganniversary… which, besides getting me back into blogging again at long long last, naturally meant it was time for a party! I planned a Sunday afternoon High Tea, complete with cucumber sandwiches, scones with jam & cream, mini brownie bites, savoury muffins, raspberry-walnut-crumble slice, and more (much, much more… anyone who knows me knows my tendency to over-cater!). Just a few days before the celebration, I discovered that Jess was experimenting with a vegan croissant recipe, including making adorable mini croissants. (What is it about making something ‘mini’ that almost automatically makes it ‘adorable’ too??) I wasn’t sure that there would be enough notice, but I asked about ordering some, and to my absolute delight she was able to take it on (on top of her usual baking for the Saturday markets!). So I scored a couple of dozen mini croissants, collected from the Newtown market stall… where of course I couldn’t help but add two cupcakes to the order, both scoffed down before I even got home from the rest of my grocery shopping (which means I didn’t get a pic of them… sorry!).
So my 15th Veganniversary High Tea was rounded out with mini croissants – which, after a quick blast in a hot oven, were gobbled up either plain, or with jam and/or cream for those after a little extra decadence.
Ok… back to the original point of this post… well, last night I had the lovely experience of going to the launch party for the new Mad Hatter Cupcakery website and online store. Not even the downpour that Sydney is experiencing this weekend could hold me back… and boy, am I glad it didn’t!
It was a glorious couple of hours spent tasting a variety of cupcakes, supplemented by mini choc-mint-strawberry tarts, fresh berries and nuts. Beverages included vegan wine & beer, and also blackcurrant juice (which I guzzled down).
When it comes to flavours, Jess does make many of the traditional favourites like triple chocolate, carrot & walnut, red velvet, and jaffa, but some of the combinations she has developed are unusual yet inspired. Such as: infusing a chocolate cupcake with Earl Grey tea for “Chocolate Earl Grey”; the trio of “Strawberry Rosewater Pistachio”; and the complicated-sounding “Chocolate Caramel Macchiato”. There were too many flavours to taste them all in a single evening, but that just gives me an excuse to go back to her stall over the weeks ahead and try the rest out! The only one I’ve had so far that didn’t appeal to me was the Salted Caramel Popcorn – although I know a lot of people love salted caramel, when it comes to dessert my own preference is to just stick with sweetness all the way! Happily, though, TGO was on hand to polish off the remains of that one.
To top off her incredible baking skills, Jess is also just a really warm, friendly, welcoming person. I highly recommend making a special order online or seeking out her stalls – you can currently find Mad Hatter Cupcakery delicacies at the Saturday markets in Glebe, Newtown and Taylor Square.
To wrap things up in Jess’s words… “A cheerful heart is good medicine – so why not enjoy a cupcake with someone you love!”
And obviously, even if you’re relishing that cupcake on your own, that should still be doing so with someone you love!
PS – well, this blog post is already too long, so who’s going to care that I’m adding yet another paragraph, with a special announcement! As part of my 15th Veganniversary month, next Sunday, 30th June, I’m going to be posting up the third recipe video featuring Leigh Drew – this time around she’s presenting a delicious dessert from her second cookbook Wrapped In Pastry. In the meantime, you can catch up on the first two episodes here and here. You’re welcome! 🙂
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