Some people avoid gluten and dairy products in their diets, but that doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy sweet treats. Put that assumption aside and enter the world of mouth-watering, gluten-free, vegan cakes that are not just healthy, but delicious, too!
We visited Sweet Secrets, a small bakery and cake shop hidden along Graham Street in Central, to try our hand at decorating Easter-themed cupcakes. Not only did we learn how to frost and work with fondant (all the while getting icing all over our clothes, hair and faces), we also learned how to make healthier versions of everyone’s favourite guilty pleasures. Junimay Cortes, a baker at Sweet Secrets, taught us the secrets.
Firstly, we learned about the two types of icing: regular butter cream icing and gluten-free icing.
Gluten is like the protein of wheat; it’s what makes foods have an almost elastic texture. After six years of experimenting, Sweet Secrets has created a gluten- and dairy-free icing mixture with the texture of regular icing. It tastes just as chocolate-y but has a coconut-y aftertaste, because shredded coconut was used in place of the dairy product.
We moved on to working with fondant, an edible clay-like substance made of sugar, egg whites, and corn syrup. Fondant is rolled out into thin sheets and is used to cover cakes. It’s incredibly sweet but, unfortunately, not vegan; they make cupcakes look cute and pretty though!
Working with fondant can be difficult – it depends how warm your hands are. The warmer your hands, the easier it is to soften and mould the fondant.
Also, always remember to have vegetable shortening and corn starch on hand! They make fondant easier to roll out and cut into shapes.
Cortes then showed us how to make special marble fondants by combining two or more different coloured fondants!
To keep with the Easter theme, we made decorative cake-toppers with our fondant – bunny rabbits, bows, hearts – and used other decorations for our cupcakes.
Our icing skills may not have been professional, but our cupcakes turned out great! The best part about the workshop? We got to take our cupcakes home and eat them!
By Christy Cheung, Charlotte Choi and Jisoo Myung
I really enjoyed my time at the workshop, and was able to learn a lot about vegan and gluten-free desserts – I even got to try a few! I’m not completely new to baking and decorating, but I enjoyed working with really lovely people in a professional environment.
I was able to meet other amazing reporters, too. Our (far too short) time together at Sweet Secrets was filled with happy chatter, lots of laughing, and impromptu Korean lessons!
I wish I was good at baking. It seems so easy at first glance. The icing behaved well under Junimay’s expert hands, but seemed to have a mind of its own when it was my turn. After this experience, I decided baking and decorating wasn’t for me – I would much rather be tasting the cake! Nonetheless, the workshop was a fun way to get my hands dirty just in time for Easter. It’s also a great way to gain weight in the yummiest way possible!
I’m a beginner when it comes to cooking and baking – I don’t even have an oven at home! So I can’t choose one favourite part of the workshop because everything was a memorable experience. We all left with grins on our faces, and I really enjoyed chatting with my new friends!