There’s what seems to be a mass migration away from meat-eating these days. The World Health Organization’s recent cancer warning about red and processed meats will likely contribute en masse to the ever-growing number of vegans and vegetarians. But when it comes to our Achilles heel—those sugar- and fat-filled sweets—the line blurs. It’s easy, or rather, convenient, to forget there are eggs, butter, and milk in most desserts. Out of sight, out of mind. But one Los Angeles vegan bakery aims to change that.
I stumbled onto Bramble Bakeshop in the search for a vegan birthday cake for my daughter who turned two last month. Last year I baked her a sorry-looking vegan carrot cake, and with so many major milestones to celebrate this year, she—and the rest of us (we partnered up on the party with her four-days-younger BFF) —deserved something a lot more appetizing than last year’s offering (which she completely rebuffed, by the way).
What I discovered was two-fold: Despite Los Angeles being one of the most vegan-friendly cities in the world, it lacks in quality vegan bakery options (especially in a sprawling city where the closest fully-vegan bakery is a 40 minute drive from our house, despite there being more than 5 vegan restaurants within walking distance). The other discovery was that, literally, right around the corner from my house, Miel Bredouw, founder of Bramble Bakeshop, is crafting some of the most decadent and delicious vegan baked goods right out of her apartment.
Bredouw represents the growing cottage food trend—baking out of her home with no storefront—but with the quality and attention to detail you’d expect at an upscale trendy bakery with a line of drooling customers snaking out the door.
I caught up with Bredouw shortly after we devoured our daughter’s scrumptious "Sprinkled Pink" cake. I wanted to know more about Bramble Bakeshop and the fine art of vegan baking.
Jill Ettinger: How/when did you decide to start a bakery out of your house—and a vegan one at that?
Miel Bredouw: I opened Bramble January 2014, after working in restaurants and seeing the lack of vegan centerpieces. I personally have been vegan since 2007 so, of course anything I create is going to fall within those guidelines as well.
JE: Tell me about the name “bramble” - how did that come about?
MB: I'm from a tiny island where I was homeschooled in a yurt in the woods. My sister and I spent our days foraging around the mountain, collecting wild blackberries to smash on our graham crackers for lunch (if we didn't eat them all on the way home). In the American definition, "bramble" refers to the thorny brush, while by British standards, it means blackberry. I found it fitting to apply the organic, homegrown, personal nature of those memories of brambles to my company.
JE: You’re in Silver Lake, arguably one of the biggest vegan-friendly areas of Los Angeles, if not the world. But is there enough interest in vegan baked goods to keep you busy? And how do you find customers with no storefront?
MB: There are, surprisingly, very few places to get high end vegan desserts or wedding cakes in Los Angeles. Luckily, my customers have all found me, through my Instagram or Yelp!, or by word of mouth. That's the thing about vegans - when we find something we like, we want to share it with the world.
JE: Are there any challenges to baking without eggs or dairy? And what are your favorite replacements for eggs, butter, milk, cream, etc?
MB: You'd be surprised how easy it is to 'veganize' most items. You first have to evaluate what the purpose the ingredient is serving in your recipe. Are the eggs here to leaven or to bind? Baking soda/powder are great to leaven and flax gel or starch blends are great with binding. Is this butter for fat or flavor? Oil and additional salt. You start to get into food chemistry when you try to veganize items like macarons, eclairs, or other egg dependent recipes.
JE: What’s your bestselling item(s)?
MB: We primarily do birthday & wedding cakes - people love our Earl Grey cake with Lavender Buttercream, what we call the London Fog.
JE: Any tips for the vegan home baker?
MB: Salt. Don't overmix. Taste. When in doubt - chocolate.
You can learn more about the delicious vegan desserts at Bramble Bakeshop here.
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Images courtesy of Bramble Bakeshop