Q&A with Elle Townsend- Baker and Cake Designer

Tell us a little about yourself?

I'm a Pastry Chef, Baker and Bespoke celebration cake Designer. I live in the East Midlands with my Partner Carlton and a naughty little cat named Truffle.

I'm also to be found at The Weekend Collective and am a member of The Wedding Collective, a creative collaboration between wedding suppliers in the East Midlands.

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How long have you been baking?

My Passion for baking began whilst studying Applied arts at University where I would regularly bake and cook for friends. A career in food struck me as a great way to combine my love of baking with my passion for design.

I spent many years working as a pastry Chef in hotels, restaurants and working with Artisan Patissiers. Eventually I moved into bakery product development and have been lucky enough to work with some high end retail clients before deciding to branch out on my own in January of 2016.  

What’s your proudest baking moment?

Working as part of the wedding collective, one of the most exciting projects we work on is creative styled shoots to provide visual inspiration for newly engaged couples. Last summer one of our shoots was featured in Save the Date magazine, most excitingly my desert tower cake, photographed by Matt Horan, featured on the front cover! 

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What is your favourite cake recipe?

To choose just one is a tough call! My childhood favorite was my Grandmothers lemon drizzle cake. I also  love a good chocolate cake, which seems so simple but it's often very hard to achieve a balance between rich, moist and chocolatey, i've been working on my recipe for years!

If i'm ever asked to create a cake and I don't have a recipe to hand my go to is a variation on pound cake my mother taught me, take three eggs and weigh them with the shell on. Weigh the exact same quantity of butter, sugar and self raising flour. Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, crack in the eggs one at a time then fold in the flour. Bake at 160°C/145°C fan/Gas mark 3.

You can add any flavours you like to this recipe, the zest of a lemon or a dash of vanilla extract.

Tell us your top baking tip?

One of my golden rules when baking is to have everything prepared before I start. Weigh up all the ingredients, line the cake tin and make sure the oven is at the correct temperature before starting to mix. This way I can give my full attention tot the cake as I mix it, preparation is everything.

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What was your biggest baking fail?

I'm very often asked this question and i'm certainly not immune to baking disasters! Most recently, the thermostat in my oven broke just before Christmas which made an already busy stretch of festive baking all the more challenging. However it's a huge part of my job to understand how and why things go wrong so these disasters can be averted, so i'm quite good at turning disasters around and pre-empting them too!

Do you have a new recipe you’re itching to try out?

I'm currently working on a popcorn cake recipe which i'm still not 100% happy with, i'm looking forward to nailing that one. I'm very much inspired by seasonality so i'm and very glad that spring is just around the corner. At this time of year my absolute favourite ingredient is Forced rhubarb, I can't wait to get my hands on some of this!

What baking trends are you enjoying at the moment?

2017 will be an interesting year for food given current events and climate. Across the board there's a definite push towards tradition and familiarity and a focus on promoting wellness too. However the food trend I most admire has to be hybrid baking, smashing two recipes together to create a playful new product. A New York Pastry chef named Dominique Ansel started this trend by creating the Cronut and a whole host of other creative bakes have followed suit including the cruffin. (Croissant meets muffin.) wounut, (waffle meets doughnut.) and cherpumple pie. (Cherry, pumpkin and apple!) 

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Do you like to craft?

I love craft, it was in fact my first love before I discovered baking. I don't make as much time for it these day's as I would like, which is one of the reasons i'm so looking forward to collaborating with Trimcraft. 

What 3 words would best describe you?

crafty, creative, chocoholic.

What yummy treats can we expect to see from you in your monthly feature?

From macarons to gingerbread garlands i've a whole host of recipes i'm really excited to share with you! I'll also be including top tips and tricks to help you nail those home bakes and of course there'll be a healthy helping of craft thrown into the mix too! 

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We can’t wait to see Elle’s new backing recipe that she will sharing with us later this month! If you haven’t read her Meringues recipe, definitely give it a look, it is seriously mouth watering!

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