Sweet treats minus the guilt. Now this is exactly what I need on a cold and blustery afternoon. And today, I felt no regret for our Friday treats office tradition.
The mastermind behind this latest culinary discovery is my colleague who’s embraced a vegan diet for lent. After a fairly good run of lentil curries and veggie pastas for lunch, her vegan repertoire ran dry. So she decided to turn to the professionals and scour Soho for vegan-friendly lunches—and there’s apparently plenty to chose from. I probably shouldn’t be surprised as Veganism is no longer just a lifestyle choice for the animal friendly, but also a sweeping health fad, as more and more foods are added to the ‘bad’ list.
I’m ashamed to admit that, despite the plentitude of stalls, I’ve never ventured beyond the Savage Salad queue to see what else Berwick Street Market has to offer. Had I done so, I would have found Elizabeth D Bakes many months ago.
Behind a table towering with fruitcakes, muffins, pies and tray bakes, you’ll find the lovely Elizabeth herself. Bringing her Alabama charm to the streets of Soho, she’s happy to chat all day about her recipes, the weather, weekend plans, what you had for breakfast.. anything you like really!
After grilling her on ingredients, I was on my way, arms laden with brown paper bags filled with goodies.
First up was a banana and walnut gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free muffin. Would it also be fun-free? Absolutely not. Admittedly, it did look a little insipid, but the flavour was there. Unlike most gluten bakes, which use xantham gum to replicated the elasticity of regular flour – an ingredient which never fails to give me stomach ache – these muffins use koniac. It’s a ground root that has been used for centuries is Asian cooking. Refined sugar is replaced with pure maple syrup, and a little cold-pressed rapeseed oil and mashed banana is used to bring everything together. Fruity slices of banana and chunky walnuts give a wonderful mix of textures.
The vegan brownie is a popular choice among Elizabeth’s regulars. When she first started baking vegan cakes, it was actually by mistake that the vegan version flew off the stand – a friend helping out on the stall one day had been accidentally selling it to customers asking for a piece of her legendary regular caramel brownie. But after three years of perfecting the vegan recipe, customers now favour this bake. It’s fudge-like in texture, due to the softer rice flour and gooey chia seeds, and complimented with crunchy pistachios and a crisp top.
The pear and almond cake was possibly my favourite. A light sponge, full of flavour, with juicy ribbons of pear hidden beneath. Need I say more?
And you’d never believe the carrot cake was gluten free. Boldly spiced, crammed with crunchy nuts and dried fruit, and topped with a bright lemon glaze. It’s not only delicious, but also provides a real healthy kick. Elizabeth developed this recipe during her time as ‘The Cake Lady’ for her local AA. Determined to give her new vitamin deficient friends a little nourishment, she replaced flour with spelt, tripled the amount of fresh carrot, spiked the sponge with coconut milk and bumped up the spice. And the Recovery Cake was born.
Elizabeth D Bakes
9:00am-18:00pm (Tues-Fri), closed Sat-Mon
Prices range from £2-£3.50