The Organic Cakery
Posted by on 19th September 2018
Joanna Owens is a professionally trained pastry chef, with a prestigious level 4 Grande Diploma in patisserie, confectionery and chocolate work, having trained in London under Master of the Culinary Arts Chef Yolande Stanley. Joanna has over eight years of experience running pastry kitchens in award-winning country house hotels and restaurants and now spends her time running The Organic Cakery creating bespoke, beautifully designed wedding cakes for discerning clients using organic produce, here at Bore Place.
When Joanna isn't making cakes she shares her knowledge through teaching in the Bore Place kitchen. Upcoming courses include Artisan Breadmaking and Artisan Chocolate Making. Find out more here.
What made you choose Bore Place to be the home of The Organic Cakery?
In the summer of 2017, my family moved to Bore Place. Living on site at Bore Place changed my entire outlook on environmental issues. Watching the organic dairy farm and the market garden change through the seasons, as well as learning about sustainability in action and the use of fairtrade and organic ingredients reshaped my thinking. Moving my business here gave me the chance to restructure my practices. It gave me the opportunity to learn about using locally sourced and farmed ingredients, concentrating on food miles and farm to table. It has also encouraged and enabled me to use 100% organic and fairtrade ingredients, something I will champion moving forwards within my patisserie and cake making. I really believe this is becoming the most popular movement within the gastronomic world and this represents an awareness of the need for sustainable changes in the way we live our lives and prepare our foods.
Why is using organic ingredients important to you?
For several reasons. Organic ingredients are important for ensuring our wellbeing by avoiding health-damaging harsh chemicals. I am also a big believer in treating animals humanely and obviously, a free-range lifestyle ensures a better quality of life. And lastly, organic farming is better for the planet and I think it's really important that we all look at ways to reduce our carbon footprint.
What made you become vegan and how has that affected your business?
I am a whole food plant based vegan, which means that I don't eat any refined foods/sugars or processed foods, preferring to stick to plants and fruits and whole foods as well as avoiding all animal products. Having spent many years previously as a vegetarian, this was a very easy transition for me. For my business, I have a vegan wedding cake menu and encourage all of my couples to look at it. I don't only specialise in vegan weddings, but this may be a step I consider in the future. My background training and experience is in patisserie and so I do still offer desserts and cakes with butter, cream and eggs. I believe it is important to encourage people to look to eat a more environmentally sustainable diet, and I firmly believe veganism offers this. I encourage my family and my customers to eat this way but I do also believe that every individual has to make the choice for themselves. Offering alternatives is a step towards creating change.
What is your foolproof cake recipe?
This is the perfect time to pick fresh apples. I try and steer away from using products like vanilla to flavour my cakes and instead use lovely local fruits.
For a lovely Kentish apple cake:
250g soft butter
225g caster sugar
25g local honey (or maple syrup if you are vegan)
250g sifted self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
Cream the butter and the sugar together until whitish and fluffy. Gently beat the room-temperature eggs together and beat into the creamed butter and sugar a little at a time. Fold the flour gently through the mix, add one finely diced apple. Bake at 160 degrees until cooked.
What are the trends to watch out for in cake design and ingredients/flavours?
There is a movement towards using more sustainable products, foraged local foods, experimenting with local herbs to flavour foods instead of products like vanilla, which then reduces food miles. The gastronomic world has always focused on using the best possible ingredients, so for me, using 100% organic ingredients gives my clients the best possible standard for each and every ingredient.
Current food trends reflect these types of ingredients and flavours reflect this. You can look at all the different flavour cakes I offer here.
Cake designs vary from year to year, the naked wedding cake is still a firm favourite with couples. Naked cakes are sponge cakes which aren't iced traditionally but are decorated with fresh fruit and flowers. I also have couples who like something totally different - combining modern cakes with classic patisserie to create totally unique showpieces.
I also see lots of couples who want natural feeling, elegant wedding cakes using modern floral decorating techniques to create beautiful and natural showpieces. These are my very favourite cakes to do!
You are teaching a lot of courses over the coming months at Bore Place. Is there a particular skill that you like teaching the most?
My favourite skill as a cake decorator is royal icing piping. I touch on the basics of this technique in my 'Introduction to Professional Cake Decorating' courses. As a Pastry Chef, my favourite skill is bread making. I make all of my own bread, rolls, flatbreads, pizzas etc at home, it's such a natural organic food to make, I love the feel of it and I love teaching my young son how to work with it. It's a beautiful thing to eat and so a lot of fun to teach... It's also a lot easier than most people think to make! We should all be having a go!
You can find out more about Joanna and The Organic Cakery here.