I thought I’d better take a minute to introduce myself and tell you a little bit about NeedCake. I’m Helen, married mum of three gorgeous girls and owner/head baker at NeedCake. I am also the owner of the massive face towering above you – I promise I’m not that big in real life.
I’ve always enjoyed baking and have many fond memories of helping my Granny Wilson as a young child. Or, to be more specific, of eating bits of raw dough and helping with the all important task of licking the bowl. My granny made a mean dumpling and could knock out a pretty decent batch of scones.
Over the years, baking became something I would do to relax, unwind or just fill some time. I also always enjoyed watching people’s reactions as they tasted what I made. It’s a lovely feeling to know you are bringing enjoyment to other people.
As my children grew, I loved to bake their birthday cakes – although as they grow older and have more strong opinions of how their cakes should look, I do find myself questioning my skill level and cursing YouTube videos simultaneously!
When my husband discovered he had an intolerance to gluten, the challenge was set to bake cakes that not only looked good but actually tasted nice as well. We also noticed the challenge in trying to find a nice treat to go with your coffee when out and about that wasn’t a chocolate brownie or a polenta cake. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with a squishy, oozy brownie or a crumbly orange polenta cake, but if that’s the only choices you have time and again, you can start to get a little fed up.
As the years have passed and knowledge of allergies and intolerances become more widespread, there has definitely been an increase in the variety available to someone following a gluten free diet. If you live in a thriving metropolis like Edinburgh or Glasgow, you are tripping over bakeries catering for allergy friendly recipes. However, when you live in the sticks like we do, there isn’t quite so much availability on your doorstep.
I had been toying with the idea of starting to sell cakes to give me something to do with my time as the children grew and didn’t rely on me so much. With a husband that worked offshore and having been a stay-at-home-mum since the birth of my eldest daughter some seven years ago, this felt like the ideal opportunity to utilise my skills and perhaps earn some money in the process. Ideally, I saw the business grow and develop slowly and gradually over the course of three to four years, allowing me plenty of time to procrastinate, um and ah and generally footer about, as I am prone to do.
Isn’t it funny how life has a habit of shaking up your plans? 2017 saw the bottom fall out of our world to a certain extent My husband was involved in a serious cycling accident that saw him unable to work for an extended period of time. The icing on the cake (excuse the terrible pun, I am a lover of them) was him being made redundant during this period of sick leave. So we were left with no income and no knowing how or when my husband would be in a position to return to employment.
Nothing helps you stop procrastinating like a bit of a crisis. NeedCake went from a pipe dream to an actual thing that could actually actually happen! Remembering how difficult we often found it to get our hands on some allergy friendly goodies to go with our coffee, I started adapting recipes to cater for as many allergies and intolerances as I could. I also reckoned that if I was going to all the bother of cutting dairy products and eggs from my recipes, I might as well go the whole hog and avoid animal products all together (I just realised there is another terrible pun there, sorry, sometimes I just can’t help myself).
And so NeedCake as it exists today was born. All of our products are always gluten free and always vegan. They do not contain milk, butter, eggs or honey. Even our sprinkles are vegan. My main aim is to make delicious cakes that just happen to be allergy friendly and vegan. Who knows, in a few years I could be updating this blog from the NeedCake cafe. There might even be a polenta cake on the menu.