A TASTE OF AFRICA: The Delights by Cynthia African-inspired cupcakes feature edible beading, sculptures and iconic shapes and symbols [Photo credit: Victor Sylvester]
WHEN AWARD-winning baker Cynthia Akinsanya wanted to create a new line of cupcakes, she took to her own kitchen cupboards for inspiration.
She recently cooked up a collection of African-themed cupcakes which she’ll be launching next month at her Delights by Cynthia bakery. Theses incredible cupcakes celebrate African arts and crafts and feature edible beading, sculptures and iconic African shapes and symbols.
“The cupcake has been done to death, and it’s just about trying to find a fresh way of presenting them,” Akinsanya explains. “It’s nice that it celebrates culture and tradition.”
From plantain to groundnuts, the baker realised that she could tap into her West African roots to create something not only beautiful, but also culturally accentuated.
“Today, we are fortunate that a number of foodstuffs and ingredients from different parts of Africa are readily available in supermarkets; I’m old enough to remember having to wait for family members to bring simple ingredients like coconuts or plantains over in their luggage,” recalls Akinsanya. “Now I just walk up the road. African food is resourceful and exciting.”
SWEET TREAT: Cynthia Akinsanya with some of cupcakes [Photo credit: Anne Leinonen]
Akinsanya started Delights by Cynthia back in 2005, creating bespoke and scrumptious cakes and cupcakes for weddings, celebrations and corporate events.
Her first, and most beloved baking memory was at the age of eight when she created a red post box in celebration of the Queen’s Jubilee.
“I’ve always loved baking and always had a passion for it and lots of people would tell me to start my own cake business.”
It’s something she contemplated for a while, but it wasn’t until a particular train trip that she really considered starting up her own company.
“I was on the train coming back from a work event,” she remembers. “I went to the food carriage to get a cup of tea and a slice of cake. When I bit in to it, it was just average. It made me think, ‘well, I could do this and do it much better’.”
The mother-of-two created her A Taste of Africa cupcakes to celebrate Black History Month (October) and as a nod to her Sierra Leonean heritage.
“These cupcakes are definitely pleasing to the eye and will delight your taste buds too. I have such a rich and delicious heritage that continues to inspire my creations,” she says.
“Africa as a continent is colourful and vibrant and exciting. We need to stop seeing it as ‘the dark continent’ and start embracing the exciting things about Africa.
“For example, a lot of people use Africa as a pinpoint for design inspiration. If you think about textiles and beading – you’ve got lots of inspiration from Africa.”
CAKES GALORE: Akinsanya has been baking since she was a child
As part of the A Taste of Africa line, Akinsanya will run a half-day cake decorating class, during Black History Month. The class will look at tastes and flavours of Africa.
“As a continent, Africa is rich in resources in terms of delicious ingredients: coconuts, citrus fruits, bananas and a variety of nuts. Some of the best coffee comes from Ethiopia; let’s not forget that chocolate is made from cocoa, usually from Ghana or Ivory Coast.”
The Taste of Africa decorating class takes place on October 29 in north London. Classes are limited and must be booked in advance. For more information, visit: www.delightsbycynthia.co.uk and follow @DelightsbyC on Twitter.