Passionate about delicious baked goods, Wiida Foster believes that no-one should be denied the pleasure they bring. Spurred on by this belief she developed Cupcake Richard. Available in a seasonly updated array of flavours including lemon, chocolate, chocolate and mint, and coconut, Cupcake Richard’s signature range of Love & Spoon Me cupcakes and layered cakes – which come with funky recyclable spoons – are made to order. They’re also on sale at the Lock Stock Design Market at the Woodstock Exchange in Woodstock and at The Book Lounge in Roeland Street, Cape Town every Saturday morning. Foster chats to us about her love of cake, her business journey and how to create delicious, but healthy baked goods.

How did you become a baking entrepreneur?
My first job in the food industry was as a consumer service consultant at a very large  fast-moving consumer goods company. I spent the next ten years learning as much as possible in this environment and moved to business planning and finally to a nutrition advisor position. It was an incredibly valuable experience, but I believe that it was the right time for me to pursue personal and career growth outside of a corporate environment. In just over a year, since starting Cupcake Richard, I have learnt so much and have been privileged enough to meet some amazingly talented people. We can so easily become stuck somewhere without realising that there might just be a whole other world of opportunity out there.

Why did you decide to make your baked goods vegan- and allergy-friendly? How instrumental were your own experiences in this decision?
As someone who has had to go through the tedious process of an elimination diet to identify an allergy, I realised there weren’t many options for cake lovers. I also believe that it might be easier to stick to an allergen-free or vegan diet if the food selection is still exciting, even if certain ingredients are restricted. I found it difficult to persevere because so many of my favourite treats were no longer an option. So I developed recipes for products that would be suitable and still satisfy my craving for delicious baked goods. I really, really like cake!

It’s important that we’re kind to ourselves by making more-informed diet choices and eating food that makes us feel good, physically, but we also should be able to enjoy food that makes us happy.

What are your healthy baking tips for those looking to make tasty treats whilst still maintaining special diets?
Reduce the sugar. You often don’t need large amounts of added sugar, and cake tastes just as good when it’s not overly sweet. Also try experimenting with fruit purees like apple or date. Then use dark chocolate. Try substituting all chocolate called for in recipes, with dark chocolate. It still delivers awesome chocolate flavour, but without the added fat and sugar found in milk chocolate.

As a businesswoman how have you overcome the stigma that surrounds vegan- and allergy-friendly baked goods?
This is an ongoing battle! We’ve quickly realised that there is definitely an overall feeling of weariness when it comes to vegan or gluten-free products. I think it’s just because we haven’t had enough delicious options to prove that vegan and gluten-free doesn’t necessarily mean unpalatable. We try to do as much sampling as possible, especially when we trade at markets. We find that it really helps to overcome the negative connotation when people realise that it actually tastes like cake.

What are your plans for your business?
I am expanding our range of baked goods and would also like to be able to create baking kits in the near future. We are also working on improving our Cake Bomb Friday project, where people nominate worthy candidates to receive free cakes on Fridays. Of course having a little shop space, somewhere in Cape Town, is the dream.

For more info and to order cakes from Cupcake Richard, visit: www.cupcakerichard.com