Before I turned vegan I had no idea there was such a hub of vegetarian and vegan places and people in Southend. I have met so many great and enthusiastic people locally who make, cook, create and bake ethical and vegan things its wonderful. The most recent discovery is Dahlia Cake Studio, This cake studio is headed up by Helen, a lovely lady with some serious culinary skills going on. Helen bakes LOTS of cakes, cupcakes, brownies, loafs and cookie treat creations, she does bespoke cake orders and selection boxes as well as selling her baked goods at markets and fayre's. I had seen Helen post a lot in a few local vegan groups so I decided to get in touch to see if we could collaborate/me get fat and buy lots of cake and she very kindly offered to bake me some goodies for free to blog about. Was I going to say no - ABSOLUTELY NOT!
This weekend Helen turned up with the above left picture of goodies, a truly wonderful selection of a lemon drizzle loaf*, 2 vanilla cookies*, a gingerbread cookie tree decoration*, chocolate sponge with chocolate frosting*, chocolate and walnut brownie bites*, Christmas cake* and a red velvet cupcake with white chocolate frosting*.
You may want to wipe your face because I think you'e drooling!
While I was taking the picture of all the cakes laid out on the plate I 'had' to have one or two (or three) of the brownie bites - they looked so good I literally couldn't wait to try a bite. I've had a few vegan brownies in the past and these have all been different and all not quite as I remember - delicious but still slightly different. However, these chocolate & walnut brownie bites hit the spot! They were fairly solid on the outside like a brownie should be and the inside was cake like but not overly squishy - they were just like I remember them to be. There were chunks of walnuts and chocolate throughout and in all honestly, I persisted to finish all these bites in about 3 minutes and I'm not even sorry! These brownie bags are sold by the bag for £2, my advice - you may want to buy two or three bags because they are so darn tasty! STOCK UP!
I thought I should space the cake eating out (slightly) so in the afternoon I decided to try one of the vanilla cookies, Helen very kindly put two of these in the box but that did mean that I had to let Dan try one......through gritted teeth I obliged. These cookies as you can see, were in a lovely big leaf shape with orange icing on. I could smell the vanilla of the cookie straight away and broke a section off. Well, what can I say - the biscuit was lovely. Not too dry (didn't taste like cardboard!) at all and the icing complimented it perfectly. I remember I used to love the icing on cakes and there aren't many vegan supermarket brought cakes that contain it so I LOVED that this cookie had some on, reliving the child within I guess. The only thing I can say after trying this cookie is that I wish I hadn't given Dan the other one! Helen's cookies are priced at 40p per cookie, she does themed ones for Christmas/Halloween etc as well as chunky cookies with chocolate chips in-YUM! I will certainly be getting some for the festive season.
Saturday night chilling in front of the TV with a cup of tea called for one thing, a test of the lemon drizzle loaf (because I hadn't eaten enough cake in the day right?). I could smell the lemon as soon as I opened the bag, the sponge itself looked incredibly appetising (I feel some Mary Berry jargon should go here but I'm no expert) and shiny with all the drizzle. Dan didn't want to miss out on this one either so I soon had to cut into it. It was lovely and spongy - the perfect consistency. You could also see that the lemon drizzle had actually gone down through the whole cake so I was hoping for a really lemony taste. This lemon drizzle loaf did not disappoint, the lemon flavour as suspected had gone through the whole cake but it wasn't too over powering. This reminded me of a Mr Kipling style cake but better, it was really as good as any possible shop brought cake, I loved it. A proper homemade delicious cake that I could enjoy with the full knowledge no animals had been harmed for its ingredient - perfect. This loaf comes in two sizes, small - which is the one I received (£2.50) and large (£4.75). This small one is ample enough to 3/4 people I would say, depending on how big you cut the slices (if you're like me though maybe only 2/3 people - hahah).
I am SO glad that Helen decided to start her cake business, not only is it great to see such skills being used but it's so good to see all the local support Helen has already received. I am only too happy to support her and her business in any way I can and this will certainly involve future purchases from myself. Anyone in the area who is looking to get a cake for an occasion or just some yummy treats for yourself - why not get in touch with Helen to see what she can conjure up? Helen delivers the cakes to your door so there really is no excuse not to eat cake! If you wanted to get in touch with Helen with any questions or you just want to find out a little bit more about Dahlia Cake Studio they have a Facebook page and an Instagram account. Alternatively you can get in touch via the Dahlia Cake Studio website.
As the title of this post suggests, this is only part 1 - I still have a few other cakes to try so stay tuned for me next blog post about Dahlia Cake Studio!
*PR sample, please see my disclaimer here.