How much trial and error when perfecting recipes? Depending on the complexity, sometimes it's quick, sometimes it's not. I generally find a recipe online or in a book and adapt it to a certain criteria I have (like it shouldn't be too complicated, it shouldn't take too long, it shouldn't use too many ingredients). I don't even necessarily find vegan recipes. Sometimes I find non-vegan ones and see how I can adapt it to become vegan. I will find multiple recipes and combine them together to get the result in the texture or outcome I am looking for. I will test it out a few times and see the results and tweek it ever so slightly or completely scrap it. The cream puffs use the traditional pate a choux technique, but we use all plant-based ingredients. It was failure after failure everytime I tried it. It took me at least a year of failed attempts, but I finally successfully made vegan cream puffs! They are not perfect, but they are tasty which is good enough for me! I mean... where else can you get vegan cream puffs?!
What makes the chocolate chip cookies so dang tasty? I honestly think that cookies are the hardest thing for me to develop. I mean a good cookie. I think our best-selling smoked salt chocolate chip cookies are tasty because we use 3 diffferent types of sugars in the cookies, which is a mix of white, brown dermera, and coconut sugar. Each of those different types of sugars provide a different property to the cookie (crunchy, chewy, caramel tasty).
How do you tackle vegan baking, like finding the right replacement for eggs, etc, in cakes, cookies, etc. I have 0 secrets. I don't use any fancy egg replacers. The only egg replacer I use is flax egg for our GF cakes and aquafaba in breads and macarons. Depending on the application, I have tested and generally I can do without the egg replacer like apple sauce, and packaged egg replacers like "Bob's Red Mill", etc.
Not a question, but you have the BEST cupcakes ever. Aw thank you. Piping the perfect swirly top is apparently a skill that can be challenging to master (apparently after trying to train a few people...) Here is a tip! Your piping tip needs to be big! Not small (don't be fooled by the marketing gimmicks of the picture of the packaging)! I start from the center and pipe outwards and back in, basically I pipe 2 circles on top of each other. You can watch a video on our YouTube channel here!
Vegan baking! Do you find the ingredients more finicky to work with? I.E. macarons Absolutely not! Vegan baking is actually so simple. We use simple ingredients here, the fanciest thing we have is probably just xanthan gum, agar, and guar gum, but everything else we use is pretty standard. OK, so here is why vegan baking is WAY easier. First of all, we do not use eggs. We we do not need to separate egg whites from egg yolks. Second of all, when a recipe uses butter we don't need to let our butter sit out for hours before it becomes soft. I hated that about non-vegan baking. Plus handling those stuff were pretty nasty in my opinion!
How did it start? I started in my home kitchen. Honestly it's a loong story. Long story short, I made a cake for my bf and bff, and they liked it... I made another and sold it on the vegan FB group. I also wanted to say... it got started because so many people believed in me. Tommy and I would host these vegan high tea parties pre-covid and they would always sell out. Though it was hell of a lot of work it ended up being so much fun because everyone made new connections. I think hosting these also made my parents believe in my business more. You can read more here!
What was the biggest challenge in getting Level V started? I don't think it was too challenging to get the store started since I already had a customer base... despite opening during COVID. I think the main challenge then and still now is keeping up with demand. We only have 2 bakers baking per day in our tiny kitchen. Even though we could produce more cakes to meet the demand, we don't have enough refrigeration space to hold more cakes. So there is that. But honestly, there's so many challenges I face every day. There's the struggle between work-life balance, which I don't have much of. There are struggles of imposter syndrome and how sometimes I think things are not good enough.
What's your favourite thing to make? Smiles. It makes me happy when you are happy. I don't have necessarily a favourite thing to bake.
What's your favourite dessert? It used to be macarons, I was obsessed with macarons. But now I've eaten so much sugar, I don't really crave desserts.
Tips for a beginner baker? Get yourself a scale. For a good solid 2 years when baking in my home kitchem, I would use cups and eyeballing when making cakes. And practice! Just like anything in life... practice makes perfect.
Can you make all those yums gluten-free as well? Did you give it try? I have gluten problem. Funny thing... I used to work at a GF flour manufacturing company. And the answer is no.. The GF substitutes wouldn't be able to make the croissants or buns with the same texture. We do have some GF options though!
Your egg tarts are a game changer... How did you come up with this science? The filling is an adaptation of our cheesecake! The secret ingredient is nooch and black salt
Was it difficult for you to go vegan? Not really. Although it was a slow process for me, Tommy was vegetarian when I met him. SO that helped! Plus I firmly believe that when you are vegan for ethical reasons it makes it so much easier to stay vegan. When you remember it's for a greater good... something bigger than yourself... that is a selfless thing to do. That's when you stick with veganism.