National Cupcake Week Champion Dave Bennett Gives Secret to Sweet Success
National Cupcake Week champion David Bennett, from Sunshine Bakery in Chapel Allerton, Leeds, tells us the secret to sweet success.
The former Marco-Pierre-White chef set up the Sunshine Bakery patisserie in December 2009 and after winning several local cupcake competitions he decided to give the National Cupcake Championships, organised by British Baker, a whirl. His Banana & Mango cupcake stole the show and recieved the prestigous National Cupcake Week Champion title.
DB: I only found out about the National Cupcake Championships on the day the competition was closing and as part of the entry you had to submit a photo of the cupcake being entered. The only photo I had of any of my creations was the Banana & Mango cupcake, so I didn’t really have much choice but to enter this one. The combination first came about when I was putting together the winter menu for the shop; alongside the winter fruits and flavours I wanted to give people something that would remind them of sunshine, so I added the banana & mango cupcake to conjur images of sun, sea, sand and holidays. It’s a classic combination for a summer dessert and with the flavours present in both the sponge base and the toppping it makes a very delicious cupcake.
CC: How long had you been selling cupcakes for before entering the competition?
DB: I’ve made all kinds of patisserie items since I became a pastry chef at the age of 17 and have sold cupcakes at Sunshine Bakery since I opened it in December 2009. Cupcakes were always part of my strategy and were the key product to enable me to expand the business. Many patisserie items are skill intensive and so require more than one person to produce enough items to sell, but with cupcakes I knew that I could make, bake and decorate them on my own and produce enough to keep up with demand. Being successful at this meant I could expand the business, employ staff and widen my product range.
CC: What has winning the National Cupcake Champions meant for Sunshine Bakery?
DB: Winning last year definitely improved the profile and quodos of the business. We have people from all over the UK coming to visit us, including London, Essex and Edinburgh, so we’ve become a destination to a lot of people, as well as keeping our local custom too.
CC: What is the secret to cupcake success?
DB: The market is saturated with ordinary cupcakes served with a dollop of buttercream and so to succeed you need to stand out from the crowd, think outside the box and deliver something different. Cupcakes have come over to the UK from the states and the American tastebuds are very different to the British. They like very sweet flavours and rich buttercream whereas us Brits have a more delicate palate and that should be addressed rather than ignored. I use many different toppings on my cupcakes to account for British tastebuds including ingredients such as mascarpone, cream cheese and chocolate ganache…the list of alternative toppings is endless.
CC: What is your secret weapon?
DB: My only weapon is my palate. If I couldn’t taste what I was making I wouldn’t be able to make award-winning products. I need to be able to manipulate ingredients to create the taste I want – whether it should be saltier, sweeter, bitter…whatever it needs I can taste and can adjust accordingly.
National Cupcake Championships 2011 finalists have been selected and the winner will be announced on August 15th.