In this edition of Meet The Maker I chat to Lauren whose treats I look forward to eating every single week – if you haven’t tried Buttercream Dream’s cake creations you’re missing out. And if you have you know what I’m talking about! Read on and prepare to salivate.
I first heard of Buttercream Dream in vegan groups on facebook before rumour spilled over to the non-vegan groups. Rumour had it that Buttercream Dream made the best birthday cakes to order…and then the cupcake posts start rolling in. Non-vegans going crazy for vegan cupcakes, what sort of sorcery was this? I soon discovered for myself; Lauren’s sweet creations are wickedly but thoughtfully indulgent, using the best of ingredients, natural food colourings, and zero preservatives. Buttercream Dream has gone from success to success, from pop-ups to many varied stockists, and she’s just gotten the keys to her own professional production facility. Lauren has built her brand off the back of her own creativity and hard work and the icing on the cake is she’s such a genuine and lovely person.
First off, Lauren, we LOVE your cakes! It’s so difficult to find vegan cakes that taste SO good regardless of dietary requirements! When did you decide to go vegan and did you bake much before that?
Thank you! I turned vegetarian myself when I was about 6, and vegan then at 16. I always had a huge interest in animals, so turning vegan was inevitable for me. I actually became vegan the same day I attended my very first animal rights protest, back in May 2012. My only regret since was not doing it sooner. Before that, I can honestly say that other than the odd Home Ec class, the most I’d delved into baking or cooking was making Rice Krispie buns at Halloween. I wasn’t hugely interested in food, and was a fussy eater growing up.
Can you tell us where you studied and got your experience?
Unfortunately, we don’t have a vegan culinary school here (yet!) so I had to take a bit of a different route. I left my university course at the time to go on to do some Level 5 training in Culinary Arts, and then went on to DIT in Cathal Brugha Street, which is a fantastic place. I couldn’t take my studies with that nearly as far as I would have loved to, because being vegan, I chose to not handle anything non-vegan, which made things impossible. During that time, I completed lots of work experience with different eateries, worked in a vegetarian restaurant and took any opportunity I could to learn, whether that was spending my spare time in the kitchens or having great chefs take me under their wing. Afterwards, I moved to London to work in the UK’s leading vegan bakery.
Any tips for budding vegan bakers?
Practice, practice, practice! Some things you’ll pick up quickly, other will take years to perfect, and hey – you’ll never stop learning new tips, tricks, recipes and ways to improve. To replace dairy milk in bakes, I always recommend soy or oat. Their creamy texture is great for baking. Another really important thing is a good quality vanilla. Find a nice extract and make it your go-to. A good extract will give an almost vanilla ice-cream taste to your bakes.
We stock your delicious Buttercream Dream cupcakes and muffins in Small Changes, with some different flavours each week. You come up with so many new flavours, where do you get your inspiration? (And your energy!)
I love changing the menu so much! There’s always an element of surprise with each delivery, like a special treat for anyone lovely enough to try my bakes. I take inspiration for everywhere and anywhere. The recent Jersey Cream biscuit muffins were a creation I came up with for my dad. He was never a lover of cake, nor is he vegan, but I wanted to bake something for him. He’s a sucker for a packet of biscuits and loves vanilla glaze, so I’d thought they’d suit him down to a tee. Let’s just say he gobbled his up while it was still warm!
You do most of the work yourself (with a little help from loved ones). You’re stocked in so many places now and setting up in your own production facility soon, that’s a lot of work! If a fairy Godmother could make your work just a little easier with one wish what would you wish for?
I do a huge proportion of the work myself, and when I’m not in the kitchen, I’m at markets, writing emails, doing in-store tastings, you name it! You’re right, I do have great people helping me. My partner Jude helps at my pop-up in Eatyard, and is chief icing-maker in the kitchen. He’s known for dropping off deliveries too, and into Small Changes too. Both of our dads are brilliant and deliver cakes or help transport our huge amount of produce and materials to markets and the likes. It takes a small army to run a business.
Hhm…. What would I wish for? I think I’d clone myself and whip up a storm in the kitchen!
Current personal fave of your own creations?
You know, I ask myself this a lot, and my answer always changes. It usually comes down to two bakes though. My newest creation: Peanut Butter & Cookie brownies, or my Lavender Earl Grey cupcake. The brownies are big, decadent, fudgey yet dense – the stuff of dreams, with creamy peanut butter swirled on top! I love my Lavender Earl Grey cupcake too. Such an unusual flavour, I actually came up with it as a flavour for a wedding I catered to last year. The sponge is infused with a beautiful Earl Grey tea, and the icing is dyed purple using a completely natural dye from plants and berries.
Favourite savoury meal to make at home?
With unbelievably busy weeks like we have now, we don’t get the opportunity to cook new and exciting meals much, but a favourite has always been my butternut squash linguine with crispy sage, chestnut mushrooms and Moodley Manor’s vegan bacon pieces.
Oh, there’s so many. We’re a talented bunch, and I love to buy from local Irish producers as much as possible.
I really love Chocolately Clare – Clare makes the most beautiful, creamy vegan chocolate with great quality ingredients.
Ko Kombucha are a new kombucha company and I can’t get enough of their product!
Sceal Bakery are an artisan bakery that bake the most delicious bread you could imagine.
Besides Small Changes where can we find you?
I have a pop-up unit in Eatyard, 9-10 South Richmond St that’s opened every Thursday – Sunday. I’m very often at markets, with the next being A Fabulous Market this Saturday 4th August in The George Bar on George’s Street from 12-6pm.
– Aperitivo, Parliament St – find my cake slices here, along with a great vegan menu
– Butler & Barry, Bray Seafront – find my rocky road dessert here, served with strawberries, raspberry sorbet and chocolate sauce. They have a vegan menu too, featuring Moodley Manor’s delicious vegan ‘wings’
We’ve just heard the GREAT NEWS that today Lauren has officially got the keys to her own professional production facility, a private space to make her special creations and a huge step towards building a team and opening a retail space. In order to get things up and running she’s going to need a little help to kit out her new kitchen, so she’s set up a GoFundMe page. If you’d like to help Lauren’s (buttercream) dreams come true (and help her bake lots more cakes) you can either donate or share…or do both! Click here to help