This month, April 2015, marks my sixth veganniversary – six years of being vegan (not counting the comparatively brief stint when I was a teenager).
In that time I have evolved a bit as a vegan; while avoiding animal food products never gave me any headaches, I was a little slower to catch on to vegan cosmetics. Thankfully, now almost every non-vegan product in my bathroom has been phased out, with the exception of some eyeliner that I have had since before I was vegan (I know!), and a couple of perfumes that was given to me as a gifts before I became discerning enough to re-gift them before opening.
The vegan lifestyle having now become second-nature to me, I now focus on prioritising more ethical products too, wherever possible. And if I can pick a local and/or independent business over a chain or mass-produced product, I’ll happily spend a little more if required. Knowing that spending money will have a tangible, positive effect on someone, it just makes parting with the cash even sweeter. When you hand money over to an independent business owner, you might just be that exchange that turns their day from average into successful – be it from the financial reward or just from the personal exchange. And well, if you get cake out of it…
So when I saw on Instagram that Vegan Sweet Tooth were making their debut at an artisan start-up food market in Sloane Square, I instinctively shared and promoted the announcement. Sloane Square is on a pretty direct line from work and Ben and I found that we had a cake-sized gap in our schedules, so it had to be a sign that cake was in our immediate destiny. Who am I to fight destiny?
The market itself wasn’t immediately easy to find, hidden in plain view in a little glass hut in the middle of sunny Duke of York Square. Vegan Sweet Tooth, run by professional chef Giancarlo Roncato shared the small space with perhaps three or four other businesses, but their stall was as beautiful as I had hoped from their social media photos, and pleasingly expansive.
While there are a number of well-known and widely-beloved vegan cake businesses now in London, I find many of them overly decadent for an everyday treat. Perhaps it’s my French side coming out, but I feel more comfortable sitting down to a tartlet, or even a piece of carrot cake or banana bread, for an afternoon snack. I like an indulgent treat as much as the next person, but I don’t want to forfeit my appetite at dinner for it.
The first thing we knew was going in our cake box (we rapidly established that a large cake box would be needed) was a slab of the dark and moist chocolate brownie. It turned out to be incredible – fudgy but not cloying, rich but not sickly.
I also had to have a little tartlet – hesitating between the adorable little fruit-and-chocolate hearts and the frangipane, Ben fulfilled his role as cake buddy by insisting I get both. As beautiful as the fruity tarts were, it was actually the frangipane that stole my heart.
I was intrigued by the carrot and date mini cakes, and this one didn’t even make it out of Sloane Square. This would have been perfect with a latté, but on its own it was just a touch dry. To be fair, we had gotten to the market towards the end of the day, which was probably not optimal for such a small cake.
Ben picked out the lavender and blueberry cake for himself which he ate that evening (and which I sampled for review purposes); we could tell it was a light and fragrant cake but, again, having travelled around London all day it had become a little dry around the edges.
Not pictured above are the selection of super-cute little cookies. Unfortunately there were only two of us and plenty of cake to be eaten in its prime, so they didn’t make it to our cake box, but Ben did buy a selection for his client who happens to be vegan. I’m sure they went to a good home.
Giancarlo kindly slipped in a pan dei morti (a chewy, spiced cake-like cookie studded with nuts and dried fruit) and a couple of the oaty chocolatey cookies as a treat for us. They waited until the next day to be eaten as I assumed they would keep better than the cakes – which they did -and I don’t regret saving them! They were all delicious – the pan dei morti was rich and bold, the cookies chewy and toothsome with just the right amount of chocolate topping. I’m so grateful for Giancarlo’s generosity as I never would have tried them, but I won’t leave his stall without them on my next visit!
Next time, I also hope to be hungry enough to devour one of his savoury offerings, though I’m not sure how I would choose between pizza, or the aubergine or spinach slices. One thing is for sure, I’m getting more of that brownie and multiple frangipane tarts!
Giancarlo brings his sweet treats to various other markets around London: your best bet is probably to follow him on Twitter or like his Facebook Page, or even Instagram. And remember: you’re doing a good thing. #caketivism
Full disclosure: we purchased the products ourselves and I received no incentive or compensation for this post. I just like to promote vegan businesses when I can!