Cupcakes Wars UK: 5 Minutes with Mama Doreen's

We caught up with Jessica Bradley, the woman behind the mixer at Mama Doreen's Cupcakes and one of the British contestants of our Cupcake Wars UK Special, to find out how it all started, her trademark bake and the food that changed her life.

How did you get into baking?

Well, I was a sales manager for a publication company in Leeds and it was smack bang in the recession and I was like, 'I can’t do this job anymore', it was really stressful and really got me down. So I went for a drink with my mother at our local pub because she wasn’t happy with what she was doing either. We had a bottle of wine and thought, yep let’s start a cupcake company. Obviously I was working so I said to her 'you go home and play around'. Anyway, I went round there that night and she’d made those 1980s cakes, with a small bit of icing and a few little Smarties. I said ‘mum, you’ve completely got the wrong gist of what cupcakes are all about’.

We made some together that were absolutely beautiful, so I started selling them to delis, just to put my feelers out. We started to supply local businesses and after 4 months got offered a contract for a concession in Harvey Nichols but I had to turn it down because we’d only just started the business and I was still working and I didn’t want it to go wrong, especially in the recession.

We’ve grown the business slowly. We’ve got an online shop and we ended up getting a contract a year ago with Asda, but our main service is probably weddings. Mama Doreen’s the name is actually a relative of ours and whenever we went round her house it always smelt of baking. She died a few years ago, so we named the business after her and we still use a few of her recipes.

What's your trademark cupcake?

I would say our sticky toffee cupcake is a popular one. A lot of people have that as their top tier cake at weddings.

What's your favourite cupcake flavour?

My personal favourite flavour is our bakewell tart, with the frangipane and almond. I also like apple cinnamon.

If you're not eating cupcakes you're eating...

Chocolate.

Top cupcake tip?

Whip it like you're in Rhianna's S&M video.

Most unusual baking request?

We get a lot of interesting ideas from our clients, but one of the funniest was a hen party who requested a 12 inch, anatomically correct willy. There were lots of giggles in our baking studio that day!

Ingredient you can't live without?

Our trademark glitter.

Kitchen equipment you can't live without?

Our pretty pastel KitchenAid mixers.

What's in your fridge at home right now?

We are so busy, we don't have time to shop! On that basis, I would say there might be a jar of cranberry sauce.

Guilty food secret?

Tomato soup with Sour Cream and Chive Pringles crumbled on top.

Who inspired your baking career?

Mama Doreen – the lady who inspired our company name! Her house always smelt of delicious baking. I think Mr Pinot Grigio definitely had a hand in the initial concept though.

Favourite meal to cook?

Suffolk Smokey – delicious smoked haddock with a creamy sauce topped with grilled cheese. Divine.

Favourite cuisine?

Chinese or Thai.

What food changed your life?

Cakes – sounds very obvious but they really do consume our every waking hour. We wouldn't change it for the world though.

Sweet or savoury?

Savoury – we like the odd change from cakey goodness.


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