April Ouellette, the cupcake queen behind the Los Angeles-based Eat Pretty Cake, is driven by her passion for making cupcakes that look as good as they taste. These precious delights—perfect for Valentine's Day—are almost too pretty to eat! “I have never thought of myself as a perfectionist until I started Eat Pretty Cake,” says Ouellette. “I lose a lot of sleep, but it’s always worth it."
Attention to detail aside, what really makes Eat Pretty Cake stand out from other bakeries is that every cupcake flavor can be made either vegan or non-vegan. Plus, no matter how large the order, each and every cupcake is baked and decorated by Ouellette, who operates the bakery from her apartment kitchen as her husband helps with deliveries. Now that's as close to homemade as bakery goods can be! Below, Ouelette takes a break from the kitchen to share some sweet tips on vegan baking
Q How familiar were you with vegan baking when you started?
A I knew NOTHING! My husband and I both decided one summer that we wanted to change our diet for the better. We went totally vegan for about nine months, and now we're vegetarian. My favorite part about eating vegan was the baking. I thought it was amazing that you can make something taste just as good, if not better, without using animal products.
Q What are some common misconceptions about vegan baking or “veganizing” a non-vegan recipe?
A I think the biggest misconception is that it just won’t taste good. It is such a fun challenge to make something taste absolutely scrumptious when so many people are expecting it to be gross! I love to watch a friend or customer take a bite out of a vegan cupcake that they expect to be absolutely disgusting but instead find undeniably amazing!
Q What are your best tips for a novice vegan baker?
A My biggest and best secret is mixing apple cider vinegar with either soy, almond, or rice milk. One tsp. of apple cider vinegar mixed with 1 cup of non-dairy milk of your choice is the perfect egg substitution. I also find it best to use top-shelf products, like unprocessed sugar, flour that has not been bleached, and high-quality extracts.
My frostings taste best when I use simple yet top-notch ingredients. I like to use chocolate that is at least 70% cocoa, and I always make sure to use pure vanilla extract. Any non-dairy butter works fine, although I like Earth Balance best. For the lightest, fluffiest frosting, the secret is in the mixing time. The longer you mix, the fluffier your frosting will be. Eight minutes is a good starting point.
Q Do you plan on offering gluten-free options?
I do. I am in the process of finding the right ingredients to create a yummy gluten-free cupcake. It is such a science experiment, and even trickier than making a good vegan cupcake.