Welcome to our blog....here we will share all our afternoon tea adventures with you...the good, the bad and the wonderful!

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Meet the Pastry Chef.....Zoe Berkeley

Hello there,

Welcome back to another "meet the chef" article from Tea With Me and Friends, today we are meeting Zoe Berkeley the founder and owner of bake-a-book bake shop and tea room bake-a-boo in London. Bake-a-boo is opened on the weekends only, offering special treats for everyone, including a selection of sweet treats which are free from wheat, gluten and dairy.

Zoe Berkeley - bake-a-boo

We recently featured the sensitive teas created by Zoe, there are so many varieties that we decided to ask Zoe some questions about her creations....

Q. You offer a great selection of "sensitive teas" on your menu at bake-a-boo, was it more difficult to create your these afternoon teas?
We recently introduced vegan and sugar free teas to our menu and it took me a few weeks playing with ideas to get these tea menus right. I had to do lots of experimenting with the vegan scones, to me scones are the most important part of afternoon tea and we get so many compliments for our ‘normal’ scones. I wanted the vegan scones to be really yummy!

Creating a gluten free afternoon tea was slightly easier as we already bake so many gluten free cakes, getting that right took less time, so it really depends how much you are challenging yourself and how many things you have to bake without!

Q. Where did your inspiration for your sensitive afternoon tea recipes come from?
I am gluten and dairy free myself, and have been for 11 years for many health reasons. Back then it was so hard to find cakes and treats, and you were very isolated if you went out to eat. Now it’s much easier to have food allergies as people are more aware and there are so many products available now.

When I first opened bake-a-boo the idea would be that there was something for everyone – we catered for most of the common food allergies so no one would feel isolated and everyone could treat themselves. This is why we now offer full afternoon teas that are vegan, sugar free, dairy free and gluten free, as well as the standard afternoon tea which is ‘full of everything!’

Sweet treats at bake-a-boo
Photo from website

Q. Do you enjoy a spot of afternoon tea yourself, have you tried tea anywhere else?
I LOVE afternoon tea – especially scones, but unfortunately due to my dietary requirements it’s quite hard for me to have afternoon tea anywhere else! But my good friend who runs Little Lady Blog took me for afternoon tea at One Aldwych last year and they were brilliant at catering for my needs, I really appreciated that.

Q. The all important question - do you put cream or jam on your scone first?
Jam first – cream on top! I don’t understand the other way round!!! Why???

Apparently jam on top is the Devonshire way and cream on top is the Cornish way, so I’m rooting for the Cornish way  – the Cornish say it’s done this way because apparently this is because the Devonshire lot are ‘ashamed’ of their cream – which I always find funny!

Q. If you could invite any guest to enjoy afternoon tea with you, who would it be and why?
Oh wow that’s a difficult one!! I would love to have tea with Erin McKenna who runs babycakes in the US, I read an article about babycakes in New York soon after I opened bake-a-boo in 2006 and I couldn’t believe how similar our stories were. She opened babycakes (a gluten free and vegan bakery) in New York about a year before I did, she has the same food allergies as me and had the same struggles in starting her business. Erin also used to work in fashion, which I also did previously to starting bake-a-boo. Our stories were almost identical. I would love to have tea with her as I think we would really get on and we have so much in common, and cake is our lives!

If I could cheekily chose 1 more person it would be Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. Despite the fact that I have wanted to marry him since I was 16, I actually say him because he is a really fabulous, humble, and inspiring person, and he really is one of my heroes! I met him last year and made him a cake, he was so excited by it! He’s renowned for eating huge stacks of pancakes on ‘cheat days’ so I know if I got him on a cheat day he would love afternoon tea! Just don’t tell my boyfriend!

We'd like to say a big thank you to Zoe and her team for this article, and we hope to be popping by bake-a-boo really soon!

Thank you for popping by today,
Rachel & Lorna

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