2 years ago my nana passed away, she had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in October 2011 and was told it was too severe to operate or treat. This turned my world upside down. I signed up for the Race for Life, having never run before and to help raise money for sponsorship I began baking and selling cupcakes. I was so successful I doubled my target and was given overwhelming amounts of praise and positive feedback. That’s when the National Cupcake Competition came along.
I entered the competition and decided I quite liked baking so got myself a job in a bakery. I now work for Lathams of Broughton! When I discovered I was a finalist I had almost completely forgotten about the whole thing! Sick with nerves on the day I ended up winning the best cupcake made with alcohol in the home bakers’ category.
I ran the race for life again this year, set up a Facebook page (www.facebook.com/FightCancerWithCakes) selling cupcakes and I entered as a professional into the National Cupcake competition once again, so this year I am competing against other bakers with no doubt years of experience. I was surprised I made it to finals this year but I’m hoping to seduce the judges with my Gluten and Dairy free Brandy Chocolate Truffle (with dairy free cream and passion fruit curd) cupcakes.
I still see myself as a home baker because it is at home I do all my experiments and developments, I’m just happy to have made it to the finals again this year and to be competing amongst professionals with their own businesses is amazing!
The idea of setting up a baking workshop with the homeless came about when we started getting ready for the charismas stock at work, for a few years I’ve thought about volunteering over Christmas in a soup kitchen but I struggled to find any information and I decided it wasn’t enough. That’s when I approached Mustard Tree about setting up a baking workshop.
The mustard tree foundation is different to other homeless charities because they’re not just helping those living on the street they appeal to sofa surfers, those in social housing or struggling financially to feed their families and keep their homes. The people they are reaching out to join the foundation and work, their ethos is simple; helping to help themselves. This is why I chose mustard tree.
I want to teach the people of Mustard Tree skills that will help them. Skills for life. I hope many of them fall in love with baking and I hope to see the joy and passion that comes when they realise what they can turn a little bit of flour, butter and sugar into.
I’m appealing for donations of any piece of unwanted kitchen equipment, cake tins, baking trays, biscuit cutters, bowls, spoons, whisks, electric mixers, storage containers, aprons, spatulas, muffin trays, cooling racks and even ingredients with at least 1 months shelf life! You can send them direct to the attention of Jessica Stewart at the Mustard Tree foundation, 110 Oldham Rd, Ancoats, Manchester, M4 6AG. Or if you’re around Preston you can contact myself Lauren Jenkinson on LaurenMustardTree@Hotmail.com, (please leave me messages and I will get back to you to arrange drop off or collection)