“My first product was a personalisable Jammy dodger, sometimes with lovey dovey messages on top, sometimes with swear words.”
One of our priorities with our vegan wedding was of course the food! We have non-vegan friends and family coming so it was our time to shine and provide all our guests with the most mouth watering treats and to show them how vegan food is really done!
Part of this priority was finding someone who could create a bold, beautiful and delicious vegan wedding cake that would show our guests what you can do with plant-based baking. So we were delighted to meet superstar baker Bee, we knew her amazing cakes from her @beesbakery Instagram.
We were over the moon when we met Bee in person as we both connected with her instantly. She is not only a super talented baker she is also hysterical and such a pleasure to be around. It was amazing to find out that Bee is a fan of Vevolution and wanted to collaborate on a vegan, carbon neutral and sustainable wedding cake.
It has been exciting and such a memorable experience to collaborate with Bee on a unique one-off cake. With one week to go until our wedding we are celebrating by hearing from Bee herself in the interview below to discuss her amazing culinary creations, motivations and inspirations for creating plant-based delights.
Tell us a bit about your story and how you came to create Bee’s Bakery.
Hi, my name is Bee, and I swapped a career in bacteria, for one in baking, about six years ago! I am a trained medical microbiologist and I’d worked in medical communications for about five years before that, working in clinical trials results.
I started my baking business during a sabbatical from work, and I sold them from my Italian three-wheeled van just at the start of the boom in food trucks in the UK. My first product was a personalisable Jammy dodger, sometimes with lovey dovey messages on top, sometimes with swear words. Harrods stocked the former and Selfridges the latter ;)
Since then, I’ve published two recipe books, appeared on telly with my cakes, won a couple of industry and publishing awards and I seem to be becoming more of an expert plant-based baker. I teach plant-based baking for Jamie Oliver and at cookery schools across the UK. I also love sharing easy vegan baking recipes online on my Instagram (@beesbakery) and on my YouTube Channel (Bee Berrie).
“About three years in, I was writing recipes for Jamie Oliver”
When and why did you start creating plant-based cakes?
I set the business up alone, and have never taken external investment, so I’ve been able to pivot the business in new directions when I saw an unfulfilled need / fancied a change.
About three years in, I was writing recipes for Jamie Oliver, and created a fantastic chocolate and avocado gooey cookie recipe (https://www.jamieoliver.com/features/dairy-gluten-free-chocolate-avocado-cookies/ that happened to be gluten and dairy free. This turned out to be one of the most popular recipes on the JO website…and I thought hang on a minute…if I can bake this well, without using animals, why am I continuing to do so?!
Where do you get your inspiration for making your baked goods from?
So many places…I love seeing what bakers on the other side of the world create, I go to graphic design / illustration trade fairs for colour inspiration, and I love travelling and picking up new ingredients and ideas when I’m away. I also take inspiration from friends – I have a coeliac friend so was inspired to come up with some ace new GF flours for her…pea flour and banana flour, who knew?!
One thing we have noticed when collaborating with you is your passion for seasonal and locally sourced items. Why is it important to you to incorporate this into your creations?
I have a 2yo daughter, and I’m horrified that there are only 12 years before climate change will irreversibly change the makeup of our planet (reference below) unless the human race drastically changes their lifestyle.
I want to contribute to this change, by showing people, via my recipes, that beautiful, delicious bakes are easy to make, without using bits of animals, and without damaging the environment. Most ingredients needed in baking, are readily available nearby – Tate and Lyle Sugar is grown in the UK, Wheat and oat flours are easy to source from UK farms, and fresh herbs and edible flowers can easily be grown at home.
“Since then, the plant-based business I take on has boomed, my instagram has blown up, and I’ve been asked to write recipes by some amazing companies.”
With the rise in veganism going mainstream have you noticed a shift of more people requesting vegan baked goods?
Absolutely yes. About three years ago, I noticed (before I became plant-based), that most cake orders I took, included a vegan tier of cake, and perhaps one that was dairy free or eggless too.
Since then, the plant-based business I take on has boomed, my instagram has blown up, and I’ve been asked to write recipes by some amazing companies. I’m loving the challenge of creating vegan adaptations to “normal” baking recipes, and working with large corporates who have new vegan products, such as Clarins and Bare Minerals.
You are not only a business owner you are also a mum to the lovely Josephine - mumpreneur definitely is a good word to describe you! How do you balance work life and family life?
The answer that I’d love to give is by strictly compartmentalising my life – on my days with Joey, I switch my emails off, and during my time in the office, I load up on coffee and try my best to power through. That’s on a good day of course…other times it’s a total chaotic juggle!
I am a 100% owner of my business, so when I had Joey, I decided to scale back, as I wanted to be a present parent. Practically speaking, I have a child-minder 3 days a week, and I’m with Joey on the other days, except when I’m delivering wedding cakes, when my partner Dan is with her.
For me as an entrepreneur, having a child has made it easier for me to filter out work that either doesn’t pay enough, or that isn’t the best use of my time. Before Joey came along, and as a new business owner, I took every opportunity I could grab, and committed lots of my time for free / as an “investment”. My rule is, if I cannot clearly see the benefit (whether its financial or personal) of doing a project that takes me away from raising my daughter, (which is ultimately my most important job in the world right now), it’s not worth it for me.
What are you most excited by at the moment in the plant-based world?
Delicious new food products and recipes that happen to be vegan! I love cooking for (non vegan) mates, who get to the end of the meal and haven’t noticed there are no bits of animals on the table.
I am also equally thrilled to share the things I know about baking without animals online – I regularly post recipes on my instagram and YouTube – I LOVE seeing what I call “vegan baking virgins” try a vegan recipe and love it, and share it with all their friends…that gives me a buzz.
“I see your organisation Vevolution as being such an amazing conduit to encouraging plant-based eaters, sustainable consumers and game changing small businesses in their endeavours.”
What are you reading, listening to or watching that is inspiring you right now?
I have been trying to read Sapiens (Yuval Harari) for ages…its fascinating. I am also into podcasts, and love Dax Shepard’s Armchair Expert. Earthling Ed is incredible, but such uncomfortable watching as it just reminds me with every second, how much I was duped by the animal agriculture industries into consuming parts of animals for so long. I listen to music whilst I work, and I love Huey Morgan on BBC Six music.
Describe your baked creations in three words:
Fun, delicious and achievable!
We are so excited to be collaborating with you on our wedding cake! What made you want to partner with us?
I love that you are having such a conscious wedding celebration – all vegan, including your clothes and shoes, it is so inspirational!
I see your organisation Vevolution as being such an amazing conduit to encouraging plant-based eaters, sustainable consumers and game changing small businesses in their endeavours. I think that you have really captured and fuelled the UK-based vegan / conscious-living zeitgeist and its incredible!
I also quite like you both because you shared your kimchi fries with me last time we met up… ;)
“I stopped drinking breast milk stolen from another animal right then and there.”
What can we expect from you this year and beyond?
Beautiful cakes and bakes, fantastic fail-safe recipes and delicious tips for plant-based baking.
When and why did you become vegan?
I have breastfed Joey since she was born (2y4m and counting!) and as I was pouring cows breast milk into a smoothie I was making one day, I suddenly thought, what IS this? Why am I drinking someone else’s breast milk here, how do we get this product? I googled cows milk production and came across the YouTube video Dairy is Scary – I stopped drinking breast milk stolen from another animal right then and there.
What are your favourite vegan baking ingredients?
I have some fantastic ones to recommend.
Naturli vegan butter is by far the best one on the market, there is a solid block (for icing) and a spreadable butter (for cakes). Incredible products.
Chocolate & Love vegan chocolate is my go-to.
Hodmedods do unbelievable UK-grown (not flown) baking flours.
Maddocks Farm produce the most incredible organic, edible flowers and herbs.
Are there any fail-safe vegan baking recipes you’d care to share?