This bright yellow corner shop, possibly London’s first vegan bakery, rubs shoulders with ‘Blacker Dread Music Store’, a Japanese curry shop and a Ghanaian restaurant. Could this be anywhere but Brixton?
The ebullient Mellissa Morgan, aka Ms Cupcake, ditched her day job 18 months ago to ply vegan cakes at a stall in Greenwich market. Just when you’d think that the last thing London would want was yet another cupcake seller, the stall was a success, and Mellissa decided to open a temple to all things sweet and animal-free.
The cakes are, of course, made without eggs, milk, butter, cream cheese or honey, so they naturally tread more lightly on the earth. But it seems Mellissa’s clientele are interested more in the eating than the ethics: “Sixty per cent of our customers are people who just like cake,” she says. Confounding the assumption of a dry and dull cake, Mellissa has perfected freshness and moistness, and upped the ante with a slightly obsessive number of flavours – around 100.
While fresh fruits, natural preserves and real extracts such as almond are used to achieve the rainbow of flavours like pink champagne, guava or mojito, Mellissa’s flavouring and colouring mantra is: “the sky’s the limit as long as it’s vegan.”
Mellissa says there’s big demand from parents whose children’s egg or dairy allergies mean missing out on friends’ birthday cakes. “I’m reminded why I do this job when I receive an email or a visit, almost once a week, from a customer saying ‘thank you – I’ve now been able to give my three-year-old their first cake’.” Mellissa and her team of seven bakers even do cakes without gluten, soya or sugar on request.
While pondering what would be left of a cake without those ingredients, I’m handed a Ms Cupcake invention to sample: a ‘cuppa cake’. “Usually once you’ve bitten into a cupcake, you have to commit to eating the rest of it there and then,” says Mellissa. She has solved that, erm, problem by piling layers of cake and icing into a biodegradable plastic cup, voila – a portable cupcake eaten with a spoon. Just as well, as the Ferrero Rocher-themed cake is richly chocolatey but also super-sweet, so I tackle it in stages.
Cupcakes are £2.20 each, £8.50 for six and so on, eat-in or takeaway. The shop also sells an interesting range of other vegan sweet stuff such as marshmallows, donuts, lemon curd and specially-imported chocolate bars.
Ms Cupcake is open from 11–6 Wednesdays and Saturdays, 11–7pm Thursdays and Fridays, and 11–5 Sundays.
408 Coldharbour Lane SW9 8LF www.mscupcake.co.uk
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