Baking: It's a family affair at One Part Love
In the second part of our baking special, we meet Jessica Baines, creator of One Part Love, the Cambridge business known for its flower-topped celebration cakes and irresistible letterbox brownies
"You can never replace your favourite scruffy cookbook, filled with pencil annotations and sticky marks. Mine is a hand-me-down Delia Smith with our own family recipes slotted in, full of nostalgia and memories of baking at home every weekend with my mum. She is the true inspiration behind One Part Love as she taught me all the basics that got me started.
I’ve always been the creative type. At school art was my favourite subject and looking back I probably should have done art at university, but I lacked confidence and didn’t believe I could make a career of it. So instead I studied law. After graduating, I fully believed I had left all form of imagination behind and the only thing I felt like I gained was a pair of glasses and some good friends.
I think every law student has a moment where they think they can change the world or make a difference, and this desire seemed to stick. To me, it translated into a need to do more than a 9-to-5, to grow, create and be passionate about something again. It was in this place I re-found my creativity and stepped out into the business world, armed with my mum’s Kitchen Aid and that Delia Smith cookbook.
I have quite a few good basic recipes under my belt and usually, when developing something new, I start with one of these and tweak it to create something completely different. My favourite bake recently was taking my Nana’s gingerbread recipe and changing it slightly to fit in a Nordic bundt tin, then drizzling with a simple lemon icing. Simple but perfect.
My brownies are a family recipe which was created through a lot of trial and error. We are very picky in our family and very critical of our own baking! We wanted a dark fudgy chocolate middle and a flaky glossy top. Nothing too cakey and full of chocolate chips. As soon as we found the perfect balance and method, we then started experimenting with different flavour combinations, selling them at food markets and festivals and now we post them all over the UK.
Since starting One Part Love I have put myself through a couple of professional courses to refine my skills, but when I set out on this journey I just experimented with recipes and techniques, practiced on family and friends and worked hard building my business into something I am really proud of. With both my brownies and cakes, it is a magical process of taking a few humble ingredients and transforming them into something great; something that satisfies the soul.
I have lived in Cambridge since I was 10; before that we lived in the Lake District where all our family is from. I launched my business here because I knew the area well and I am very proud of Cambridge and it’s growing food scene. It’s packed full of fantastic small independent businesses who are, in my experience, very good at supporting each other.
The pandemic has definitely shown how Cambridge food businesses can adapt, adjust and thrive in difficult circumstances. It has definitely been a challenge. Until lockdown I had a fully-booked year of wedding cakes and I was very excited about all the fantastic designs on the horizon. However, it quickly became clear that this was not going to be the year for weddings.
Of course this had a major financial impact, so I had to quickly focus on how I could create new revenue streams. My postal brownies have been a huge success and in the first week of lockdown we sold 100 boxes. . . I was shocked! In totalI baked, packed and posted 1,000 boxes of brownies during the lockdown period. I’ve been blown away by everyone’s beautiful gift notes to their loved ones and feel honoured that I could provide a little bit of chocolate joy to so many families.
Even though it sounds cheesy, it’s honestly the smile that a beautiful floral cake or a tasty box of chocolate brownies puts on people’s faces. Positive feedback from people makes the long hours and endless cleaning all worth it."
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More by this authorAlice Ryan