The Art of Food: Ellesbelles Bakehouse
One woman with a passion for baking and one ethos in her heart – divine cake that doesn’t cost the earth.
‘All chefs are artists – you just get to eat the artwork.’ – Eloise Hale, founder of Ellesbelles
Set up by Eloise Hale, a professionally trained pastry chef, Ellesbelles Bakehouse has not only been a hit business when it comes to all things baking and cakes, but has also become a social media sensation amassing almost 13,000 baked-goods-loving followers on Instagram. Famous for her signature cruffins – a muffin-croissant hybrid – surreal drip cakes, Biscoff rocky roads and more, her global fanbase has accumulated on the channel, showing their love and appreciation for the dreamy aesthetics of Ellesbelle’s treats. However, despite having fans the world over, it is the people of Kent who are lucky enough to go one step further and sample these delectable goods. Based at the Coachworks, Ashford, customers can order an array of cakes, cookies, brownies and more. insideKENT caught up with Eloise and got to know the woman behind the baking.
What were the deciding factors when it came to choosing Kent for Ellesbelles?
I grew up in Sevenoaks and now live in Tenterden. While I was training as a chef, I spent a year living in London. I loved the wide variety of bakeries and patisseries available to visit and being able to try the latest trends, but since moving back to the area I was very aware that unique and modern bakeries were few and far between. Don’t get me wrong, we’re not short of bakeries in this county and there’s always a time and place for a cheese straw from the local old school bakers, but I wanted somewhere with more flavour and flair, where I could showcase a mix of traditional and modern techniques taking inspiration from current trends.
Describe a typical day for you at Ellesbelles.
Every day is different at the bakehouse! At the start of the week we prep our online pre-orders, this can be whole slabs of traybakes, signature celebration cakes or our diddy-cakes. We have to get an early start on our cruffins as these take three days to prepare. Towards the end of the week, we are getting ready for our pop-up counter at Coachworks, where our kitchen is based. This includes baking brownies topped with all sorts of deliciousness, torched Italian meringue, salted vanilla bean caramel and cornflakes, dark chocolate ganache with lime curd and sea salt and more. We also make the fluffiest handmade marshmallows, make all our own jams, curds and caramels. These fill, top and flavour our bakes – we never use anything artificial or bought in, only the real deal!
What makes Ellesbelles unique?
We specialise in flavour-focused, fondant-free baking, creating cakes, treats and pastries that look great and taste amazing with natural flavours. We care about our impact on the environment and support other local and independent businesses.
How has Kent inspired you within work, business or even your personal life?
While working in a Kentish pub I met my now fiancé who is a graphic designer and is able to make sense of my constant late night ramblings and turn it into all of our design and photography work for the bakehouse. We love going for days out around Kent and visiting other independent businesses. We take inspiration from them, see what atmosphere they are able to create in their spaces, learn how they involve their local community and discover what they do to embrace, enhance and support their towns. We always come away buzzing with ideas and one of us carries a notebook around at all times so we can jot down any ideas that come to mind.
If there was one thing you would like our readers to know about Ellesbelles, what would it be?
We are a bakehouse that cares about quality and creativity, whether you’re buying a cake for a special occasion, visiting us at an event or popping in to see us and try some bakes at Coachworks, you can always guarantee we have used the best ingredients, everything has been made from scratch in house and that we want to make products that taste as great as they look.
Tell us a little bit about your style of baking and how you found yourself in this career.
My family are all very creative. I started baking as a hobby from a very young age; I would regularly bake for friends and family and realised it was something I wanted to pursue as a career after a friend asked if they could pay me to bake for them. I went to culinary school in London for three years, learning all aspects of the industry, specialising in pastry, bakery and confectionery. I continued to perfect my skills over the years and found I loved the precision and details of baking and decorating cakes, experimenting with flavour and trying new techniques taking inspiration primarily from British, French, Swedish and American bakeries.
Do you think ‘art’ features in your craft?
Definitely! One of the first things we understand in the food industry is that we eat with our eyes. We may create the most delicious dessert or cake, but if we don’t put thought and creativity into how we present it, then it’s unlikely anyone will want to try it. Art features in the design process of every cake. After creating a new flavour or having a consultation for a bespoke cake, I understand where a client’s inspiration has come from and draw illustrations to work with. All chefs are artists – you just get to eat the artwork.
What does the future hold for you and Ellesbelles?
We have so many ideas for the future of Ellesbelles, which include a general store at Coachworks. We want to include some pre-packaged items made by us, including our fluffy marshmallows and some other treats we’ve got up our sleeves, as well as a curated selection of snacks, drinks and ingredients from independent, ethical brands to go alongside our range of greetings cards and some other kitchen and home essentials. Our more long term plans include converting a food truck to take our bakes and some other goodies to markets, festivals and private events. The potential is endless, as are the ways to embrace the amazing creativity this county has to offer.
Facebook: Ellesbelles Bakehouse