Sweet Bea's Bakery is renown for creating exquisite works of art that look far too beautiful to consider eating!
From Wedding cakes to their signature rose cupcakes, the style is both elegant and luxurious.
As their popularity soars on Instagram and having secured Harrods as a stockist we hear, what’s next from the owner, Lucia. She’s also shared an exclusive recipe, perfect for festive entertaining!
Darling: Qualified architect to baker, what a career change, how did this happen?
I have always had a real passion for baking and since I can remember I've been making cakes and treats for family and friends.
I was working as an architect during the credit crunch and suddenly plans and building work halted on most of our projects so I had a bit of spare time. I started watching videos of cakes and cupcakes and became fascinated with it all.
When my niece, Bella-Bea, was born I decide to make my sister a box of rose cupcakes as something a bit different. Everyone loved them and I started getting orders and actually got quite busy. One thing lead to another and after a while I quit my job, rented a commercial kitchen and Sweet Bea's Bakery was born.
Darling: What’s been your most exciting venture? And most challenging?
It would have to be starting my own company. While it's been so exciting, it's also been quite challenging too. Moving from my kitchen at home to my commercial one, employing staff and building my brand have given me an invaluable experience that I really appreciate. However, the day to day running of the business, ensuring I can pay rent and staff, while also looking after orders makes me realise how easy I had it before when I was just an employee. I still would never go back and I feel lucky that I am doing what I love.
Darling: You dreamt of being stocked in Harrods food hall and you’ve now accomplished that, so what’s the next milestone?
I felt so proud after Harrods invited me to stock my cupcakes. It was definitely a goal of mine and now I am working on some new product ideas that I hope to launch next year. I would also love to write a book, not only with recipes, but teaching and explaining all the special techniques that I developed along the way. Possibly one day even having my own classes.
Darling: Christmas is coming, what recipes would you recommend for those who are bored of mince pies and Christmas pudding?
Christmas is my favourite time of year and I love coming up with fun cupcakes to make the season that little bit more festive. A few of my favourites include pumpkin spice cupcakes, cranberry and white chocolate cupcakes, peppermint candy cane cupcakes but my favourite one has to be mini Christmas pudding cupcakes with brandy buttercream frosting.
Darling: You’ve had an extremely busy year, what do you do to relax?
It's really hard to find spare time at this stage of the business, working 7 days a week. However, I try to take time out and go on mini trips with family or friends. I also make sure that I pick my nieces up from school every Monday otherwise time can just slip away. And obviously I try to keep a couple of nights free to spend with my boyfriend and close friends as I really believe you need to maintain some sense of balance between work and everything else.
Darling: Finally, if you had to describe yourself as a cake or pastry, what would it be?
Apple cake - classic and warm in the middle with a little sugar on top
Mini Christmas Pudding
- 140g currants
- 140g raisins
- 140g sultanas
- 60g glace cherries
- 100ml brandy
- 100ml ruby port
- 100g unsalted butter
- 100g golden caster sugar
- 2 medium eggs
- 120g plain flour
- Pinch of salt
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- 1 tsp baking powder
- Zest and juice of half a lemon
Brandy Buttercream Frosting
- 150g butter, softened
- 300g Icing Sugar
- 1-2 tbsp brandy
The night before, soak the dried fruit (apart from the cherries) in the brandy and port.
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6 and line a 12-hole muffin tray with paper cases.
To make the batter, cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Sift the flour with the baking powder and add half to the creamed butter and sugar along with 1 egg and beat with the electric mixer.
Add the remainder of the flour and the other egg and beat again.
Add the salt, spices, lemon juice/zest and the browning and beat again with the electric mixer.
Half the cherries and add to the dried fruit. Gently fold into the cake batter with a large metal spoon and then spoon into the paper cases.
Bake for 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 150°C/300°F/Gas Mark 2 and bake for another 15 minutes. When the cakes are springy to the touch, remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.
In a large mixing bowl cream the butter and icing sugar together until smooth, add 1-2 tbsp brandy and mix well to combine.
Pipe the brandy buttercream onto the mini puddings and you have the perfect festive treat!