Fancy recreating the Sweet Things magic at home?
Here, the founder of the much-loved Primrose Hill bakery shares a recipe for an indulgent chocolate cake
“I’m addicted to cakes – I’m proud to say it,” Natalie Allen tells us, recalling how Sweet Things Café and Bakery came about. “Whilst working as a project manager in the city, I was always on the hunt for something sweet. I’d dash to chain coffee shops to get my sugar fi x between meetings, but they just didn’t cut it! I longed for cakes with that ‘home baked’ taste.” Unable to fi nd what she was looking for and inspired by childhood memories of her grandmother’s baking, she decided to leave the corporate world behind and set up her own business producing delicious, home baked treats.
In 2005 Natalie began baking in her kitchen at home, braving all weathers to sell her sweet treats at local farmers’ markets. She quickly built up a loyal customer base and was soon supplying the likes of Fortnum & Mason and Selfridges alongside the regulars at her stall. Realising that the business had outgrown her kitchen, she opened her bakery a year later; Primrose Hill dwellers will no doubt be familiar with the wonderful Sweet Things on Regent’s Park Road. As well as making cakes to order for all occasions, Natalie initially served a menu of coffee, tea and sweet treats. As her regular customer base grew, she expanded the range to include sourdough toasties, East End style bagels, brunch dishes including Shakshuka, as well as healthy salads and freshly made juices. All made with love. Customers can also book a table for afternoon tea for an extra special treat. And Natalie even provides a catering service for business meetings, corporate events and parties, making her the perfect little black book contact as the festive party season approaches. Don’t take our word for it, though, give this recipe a try for a taste of what’s on offer at Sweet Things – and then get yourself down to the shop to discover the full range of tasty treats. Natalie says: “Make sure you use really goodquality dark chocolate for this recipe, as you need that lovely rich, slightly bitter flavour to counteract the sweetness.”
200g good quality dark chocolate, minimum | 55 per cent cocoa solids, broken into pieces | 200g salted butter or dairy free alternative,
plus extra for greasing (or use vegetable oil) | 160g caster sugar | 5 eggs |
1 tbs plain or gluten free plain flour
To serve: Vanilla ice cream | Raspberries
Preheat the oven to 190C/170C fan/ gas mark 5.
Grease a 20cm springform cake tin with butter or oil.
Put the chocolate and butter in a glass bowl and set over a saucepan of simmering water (ensuring that the bowl doesn’t touch the water), or heat in 30-second bursts in the microwave, until melted.
Stir in the sugar, then add the eggs, one at a time, beating in each one with a wooden spoon before adding the next. Add the flour and mix well, then transfer to the prepared tin.
Bake for 20-25 minutes – the cake should still wobble in the middle. Leave to cool completely in the tin, then serve at room temperature, or chilled with vanilla ice cream and raspberries.
138 Regent’s Park Road, NW1 (020 7722 2107; sweetthings.biz)