There is something beautiful about taking out your favourite porcelain tea set to serve your special guest a cup of tea. Every time should be an occasion, complete with an assortment of savoury bites, dainty cupcakes, and a proper piece of carrot cake – the quintessential English high tea. It is about the only time for me that a bottle of wine takes a back seat to a pot of tea.
If you have had the pleasure of visiting France, the smell of freshly baked patisserie in the morning is enough to succumb to those extra calories. You can always go for a country stroll to make up for giving in to the temptation. Cause that is what they are: devilish trays of the most beautiful sweet and lusciously creamy things that you must have. The book by Mireille Guiliano French Woman Don't Get Fat finally helped me put a halo on these delights: you CAN indulge in smaller portions “and the first three bites are always the best.”
So yes, we will get through the tough times, one brownie at a time.
Meet Nakita Rossouw
and discover her love of baking. From a red velvet cupcake topped with a generous amount of buttercream to a bold wedding cake made in the spirit of two people about to pledge sweetness forever. South African born self-taught baker, Nakita, grew up in England and fell in love with the tradition of high tea. This tradition of making the finest tea and cake a part of your lifestyle became her life and finding the best ingredients to bake her own became her commitment, right here in Elgin.
"Cake should taste as delicious as it looks. I love that it is always about a celebration – whether you are celebrating a momentous occasion or simply celebrating yourself. We need to make time to enjoy these simple pleasures in life. People yearn for something traditional and nostalgic …" she explains, and this is how she puts the cherry on top.
"You have to learn the basics first. I spent a lot of time perfecting a rich and moist chocolate cake, complemented with the best ganache. It must be as enjoyable as a dessert." She then moved on to perfecting a carrot cake, laden with all the delicious goodies like pumpkin seeds, nuts, cranberries, and cream cheese.
Albeit semi-naked wedding cakes are trendy right now, one of her most challenging tasks was to bake three cakes in the shape of suitcases, each engraved with the story about the couples' journey. Getting the cake to the venue was a journey itself, but Nakita giggles at the challenge of baking more interesting and challenging cakes.
"Every baker has her recipe of how to cram a cake with deliciousness. But it is essential to start with good ingredients."
She hardly uttered the words when a little masked boy skipped into her shop and pointed to what he wanted.
"Oh that is a vegan cupcake, you might like this this other one …" She patiently described her offering to her now drooling young customer before he left with a red velvet cake topped with enough ganache to turn him into Super boy!
We had to try the brownies, made with Belgium chocolate and salted caramel. Little heavyweights these, decadent and simply delicious. And the carrot cake, absolute bliss and probably the best I have ever had. And like Nakita said, full of goodness and texture.
To Nakita, running a sustainable business in the Elgin Valley is all about your neighbours and regular clients. She also has ladies baking for her shop that includes the famous milk tarts and spicy chocolate cookies. You are sure to leave with some gifts when your nose starts to peruse this little shop of sweetness with all its seasonal sauces and local, artisanal products.
One of the best layers to this authentic human is her commitment to supporting the community, sourcing her ingredients locally where possible, and bending over backward to satisfy all her customers, including vegetarians and gluten-intolerant sweet tooth’s.
What does Mon Ami mean, I asked?
"In French, it means My Friend's Cake. I love France, and I also want people to feel like it is a friend that baked the cake for their special day. Not just a stranger in a Cake Shop somewhere in Elgin."