A Birthday Morning @ Blanche Bakery

Before Blanche was a bakery, I knew their signature rose-icing cupcakes from blogging events around Cardiff. I was always thrilled to see them catering anywhere, bringing their delicious, 100% vegan and aesthetically delightful treats to the party. I remember being completely floored by their pepperminty, candy cane-flavoured cupcakes at the LUSH Winter event, and slipping one in my bag to take home for my brother, so I wouldn't have to describe how good they were. Come last December, I got a little invite telling me Blanche Bakery was finally going to have a permanent residence! Finally, somewhere I could go and get vegan cupcakes whenever I wanted! I was so excited to try their brand new menu in their brand new digs... and then the worst thing happened. I got a disgusting holiday cold that quickly got to my lungs and set up camp. I was sick all over Christmas and far beyond it, and I missed all the fun.

I was adamant, though, about how much I wanted to go and support this new vegan business - so I decided to spend my birthday morning there. Thinking about immanent birthday cupcakes got me through all those bed-ridden days where I could barely eat solid food. That's the lovely thing about having a January birthday; I have lots to look forward to when I would otherwise be feeling blue and lacking energy, like most of us do at this time of year. Aquarius season is my time to level-up, get inspired, refocus and reboot. It always feels like a brand new start, an early spring. I want to go out and eat cake.

At Blanche, they're normally so busy that they don't book tables, but when I told them it was my birthday they were kind enough to reserve the window booth for me and my family to have a Saturday breakfast bright and early at 10.30am. It was the perfect way to kick off my b-day celebrations and fill everyone up with coffee and sugar before we went vintage clothes hunting. 

The interior design of the bakery is flawless; painted all white, bar one accent wall with green foliage and a pink neon sign declaring "but first, coffee". White tables and Eames-style chairs lend themselves perfectly to the airy and artistic minimalism of the whole. To say it's Instagram-friendly would be doing the place an injustice; it's a gorgeous coffee shop worthy of a world city. Their offerings include fresh toasted sandwiches with seitan or vegan bacon (try their BLT-style sandwich early on in the day, if they have them) as well as freshly-baked cupcakes and decorated doughnuts. One of the best things about going to an all-vegan cafe is that they have all the nut milks you could want, and they know how to work with them. The coffee was superb and dusted with one of my favourite details of the whole visit, a Coraline-esque black cat-shaped layer of chocolate.

If you're in Roath and need to stop for a refuel, Blanche Bakery is at 16 Mackintosh Place. They have free wifi and you can get your order to go, should you need to, but please do stop for a while to take a few pictures and enjoy the ambiance if you can. I think it's going to become my new favourite blogging spot for when I'm down that way with my boyfriend. Be sure to go early if you want to take your pick of all the sweet things - they will sell out.  

Vegan Blueberry Pancakes

Veganuary is everywhere this year, and I'm low-key thrilled about it. So many people on my timeline are making positive big or small changes, rethinking their lifestyle, trying new recipes, getting excited, educating themselves, using their platforms to create awareness and give encouragement. I have a lot of vegans in my life and on my social media feeds, but I also have a lot of omnivores, and people who are somewhere in between. Vegan food and cooking is something I'm really passionate about, and one of my blog goals for 2018 is to write about it more, and share the recipes I like to make for my clan. Regardless of whether you're making changes to your diet or lifestyle this month, these American-style pancakes are fantastic and everyone should try them.

You really don't need cow's milk or eggs to bake incredible treats. Think of this recipe as a blank canvas for whatever you want to throw in, and if you're not in the mood for blueberries, just add whatever you like in their place; mashed up banana or strawberries, chocolate chips, walnuts or macadamias all work great. Here is all you will need for the basic blueberry pancakes. These quantities will give you more than enough for two people to have a generous stack each.

2 cups of plain flour; 2 tablespoons baking powder; 3 tablespoons sugar; 3 tablespoons coconut or vegetable oil; 2 cups soya milk or any nut milk you fancy; teaspoon of cinnamon; teaspoon of salt; a punnet of blueberries; pancake syrup or agave to serve.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and baking powder. Add the nut milk and the oil and stir gently until everything is combined. Tip the blueberries into the batter and mix in softly (save a few for decoration afterwards!). Plop spoonfuls of batter onto a warmed, non-stick pan that has been lightly greased with a bit of the coconut or vegetable oil. Keep the temperature at a medium heat so you don't burn the batter. Cook until bubbles are forming on the pancake and the edges are going brown, then flip and cook the other side. Add a little more oil to the pan as needed. Cover in fresh blueberries and pancake syrup to serve!

If you try these out let me know what you think and what goodies you added to yours. I hope you're all having a wicked Veganuary, whatever changes you're making. Your efforts are important and I love you.