Cupcake week continues at Cookery Coach! Today we chat to Jemma Wilson, Director & Creative Director of Crumbs and Doilies, about unshakable standards, boob cakes and Harry Potter...
Hello Jemma! So tell us, how did Crumbs and Doilies start?
I set up Crumbs and Doilies 5 and a bit years ago after a year spent baking for Rose Bakery in Dover Street Market. Prior to that, baking had just been a hobby but one which I increasingly felt I needed to spend more time on and eventually decided to make it my work.
I set up a market stall at Brick Lane's Sunday upMarket and took the occasional private order. My business partner Sam came on board when it was clear I was taking far too much on for one human being! He created our beautiful website, exchanged the handwritten doilies I was handing out with my number on for lovely flyers with our logo on, word spread, orders increased and after 3 years we had outgrown the home operation and moved to our lovely kitchen in Wandsworth.
The team grew to 5 (3 in the kitchen and 2 in the office) and here we are now - still growing, still making what we consider to be the best cupcakes in London (possibly the world, but that's just a feeling!). We're still focused on using the best ingredients we can buy and making every cupcake with a borderline obsessive attention to detail.
What sets Crumbs and Doilies apart from other cupcake companies?
Our unshakably high standards! We never cut corners, use cheaper, lower quality ingredients or let anything out of the door unless it is amazing. Plus, everything we do is totally bespoke. We don't have a standard range of cupcakes. We work with each customer to get a feel for what they are after and then we use our creativity to guide us with the decorating.
We are also possibly the only cupcake company who does such intricate piping work. All the hand-piped images and logos we do are painstakingly reproduced free-hand with royal icing, with no stencils or templates. Also, flavour-wise, our cupcakes are hands down the tastiest I have ever come across. Baking all of our cupcakes in small batches using really great ingredients, you can really taste each element of the cupcake, rather than just tasting generic 'cake' flavour.
You mentioned all your cupcakes are bespoke - which has been your favourite request?
I always like it when we get a fun request or a really strong theme. We do a lot of stuff for movie launches and the Harry Potter one was pretty epic. Four giant cupcakes each in the style of the four houses of Hogwarts and with a sugarpaste plaque of each crest, hand painted in food colouring. This was the first time I had painted since art school so it was a challenge for me but it turned out really awesome.
I also loved doing the 80s hip hop themed cupcakes.
And what about strangest cake request you've ever received...?!
A dozen big cupcakes all iced to look like boobs. It was pretty traumatic to look at a dozen boobs in a box and we have since decided never to do any rude or naughty cupcakes EVER AGAIN!
Who would you most like to make up a batch of cupcakes for?
Duff Goldman from Ace of Cakes (tv show about Baltimore bakery Charm City Cakes). We are HUGE fans of that show and think what they do is amazeballs but Duff is reknowned for hating cupcakes. I would like to convert him!
The world's definitely gone a bit cupcake crazy recently- why do you think there's such a renewed excitement for the little spongey wonders?
Because they are absolutely adaptable and perfect for every occasion. Also, I think home baking has really taken off again in the last few years and with it an increased appreciation for all things sugary! Not to sound like a cliche but things have been a bit depressing for lots of people over the last couple of years and food and, in particular sugar, is a comfort.
Cupcakes are particularly popular because they are visually exciting and pleasing on the eye but also because they are one hit! Unless you eat 12.
Tell us about your exciting Create Your Dream Cupcake competition!
We have always run a Name-the-Cake competition where we make a particularly interesting looking cupcake and people have to give it a name (in case you hadn't already guessed the point of the competition by its name!). Every month, we get a handful of entries from people who have misunderstood the competition and suggested flavours! Since we are always coming up with new flavours for our Flavour of the Month, we figured other people might want to get involved! And so the Create your Dream Cupcake competition was born! I'm really excited to start experimenting!
And finally.. Do you have any tips for getting perfect cupcakes every time?
Make sure your oven is doing what it says it is. All ovens lie about their temperature so buy an oven thermometer and experiment until you get it right. Also, never scrimp on quality ingredients. It might cost a bit more to get the good stuff but you will always notice the difference, trust me!
Check out more delicious Crumbs and Doilies goodness on their website, Facebook site and Twitter feed - don't forget to enter the competition!