BAKED is one of the newest additions to the ever-growing vegan scene within the central belt of Scotland, priding itself on being an allergen-free bakery, café and deli. The BAKED team not only run their own establishment within Ayr at the weekends, but they also welcome orders for catering private events, in addition to baking their delicious cakes and treats for other cafés during the week. You may well have already tried their products at Picnic in Glasgow, or indeed have paid them a visit at the Glasgow Vegan Festival earlier this year! Their talents definitely don’t end at sweet treats either; the BAKED deli has a changing menu every weekend which includes brunch options, sandwich options, and hot plates. These have so far included full vegan cooked breakfasts, vegan halloumi sandwiches, and a selection of delicious pizzas such as Spanish chorizo, Italian sausage, and American three-cheese. All gluten free, too! We had the opportunity to speak to owner of the business, Rachel, who gave us some behind-the-scenes details on the past, present, and future of BAKED. Be sure to check them out and try some of their amazing treats for yourself!
We want to know when and how it all began! Was the business idea always to focus on allergen-free bakery products, or is this something which developed over time?
It all began in February 2015 out of a tiny little kitchen space that I rented in a shopping centre in Ayr. I started the business after finding out about multiple food intolerances that I had. I noticed there was a serious lack of options for people like me and so I decided to dive into the realm of free-from baking. I have always made my cakes gluten and dairy free, or gluten free vegan, although for the most part I mainly only make gluten free vegan cakes, unless a customer asks for something specific.
You must work unbelievable hours to juggle all that you do! What are some of the main challenges you’ve faced so far, and how do you keep yourself motivated?
I work Thursday to Sunday doing 12-15 hours shifts each day, but it’s worth it as it allows me three days off to spend with my 15-month-old daughter, Lucy. I’d say she is the main motivation for me in business and life in general. If it wasn’t for her, I may not have felt the need to step up my game and open the coffeeshop. I might have just plodded along doing wholesaling forever, or maybe I would have moved onto something else.
It’s hard to say what the main challenges are that I have faced, as each week presents itself with a whole bunch of tasks – some really enjoyable and others not so much. I think the biggest obstacle for me was getting the coffeeshop kitted out and ready for opening; it took me 4 months, with the help of a couple of friends, to turn the place around. I had just had a baby and was constantly knackered, but somehow I managed it and I couldn’t be happier with how it looks. The place has exceeded my expectations and then some!
The demand for vegan and gluten free products is immense, and it’s predicted to increase further over the coming years. What do you envision the future of BAKED to be?
I believe the future of BAKED is in retail products with the coffeeshop on the side. I want to get my cakes into stores across the country. Currently, I am working on cake recipes to have tested at a lab to have them certified as vegan and gluten free, after that I intend to approach retailers and see where we go from there. If the opportunity ever presented itself, I would love to work on a cookbook…. but I’m a while away from anything that cool yet!
We are always incredibly excited to hear of the opening of a new vegan establishment – I’m already considering a trip over to Ayr myself! How have you found the reception to your store from the locals?
The cafe is going from strength to strength, every week gets better and we see new customers and returning ones. The shop was previously a gluten free vegan cafe as well, so we feel that we have fitted in nicely and people are enjoying what we do. We are literally the only vegan place in the whole of Ayrshire, so there was a definite need for something like BAKED locally.
I know it must be difficult to choose from all the delicious bakery and deli products you prepare, but do you have any personal favourites that you just can’t get enough of?
I have a few personal favourites from the menu, one of which is the waffles and ice cream, another is the vegan breakfast, and a favourite cake of mine is banana caramel. I pretty much each all of these each weekend – one of the main perks of owning your own bakery!