Is it possible that anyone can love coffee and cake more than The Clanger’s Coffee and Cake Correspondent? Well, yes! Meet cake-maker extraordinaire, Saffron Denton, owner of Bedford’s newest cafe – Fancy! in Roff Avenue.
‘I love cake and desserts – it’s almost like a fetish. I love reading about them, making them and eating them. As a child, I was nearly always disappointed by the desserts and cakes served in cafes and restaurants as it was so obvious that they had been bought in. For me, dessert should be the loveliest part of the meal. That’s why I decided there was a potential market for home-baked desserts.’
A former food scientist, Saffron knows her stuff when it comes to quality. ‘I used to do all sorts of food testing, like taking ice-creams up mountains in the Alps to see how they would respond to changes in altitude!’ she recalls.
In 2002, following the birth of her first son, Saffron started experimenting with cake making at home and supplied a cafe in St Cuthberts Street. Then in 2004 she opened her own bakery in Stanley Street Street. ‘I needed more space to cook. I never advertised as a shop, but via word of mouth, people started to come and buy slices of cake which I served through a hole in the wall! Mainly I was baking desserts to sell through cafes and to order.’
Over time, I really needed more space, and as a supplier to other cafes, I started wanting to serve people on lovely china and create my own cafe. That’s why I moved to Roff Avenue earlier this year. I now get a real thrill out of that.’
Fancy! is located in the former Arcade Saddlery, which has been lovingly and tastefully refurbished by Saffron’s partner, Lee Hall. ‘He’s done a wonderful job – people compare the atmosphere to a London or Parisien cafe.’
The spacious cafe is certainly proving popular with customers. Business people, mums with children, school children and students provide a steady flow of customers throughout the day from the Prime Ministers neighbourhood, De Parys Avenue and Park Avenue. ‘We have wifi and quality newspapers (that includes The Clanger, but not The Sun!) too, so people come in and read or work on their laptops.’
Saffron bakes up to 60 cakes per day
Saffron’s favourite: Sticky Stem Ginger (described by a Jamaican customer as ‘better than Jamaican – high praise indeed), closely contested by Bakewell Tart.
Her cakes include vegan, gluten free and dairy-free.
Typical selection of cakes from her range of over 40:
Sticky stem ginger cake
Almond and Lemon Polenta Cake
Chocolate Brownies (best-seller)
Saffron has developed her own range of cakes by adapting recipes from her collection of over 300 cookery books ‘until they are perfect’.
Prices: cupcakes from £1.75. Brownies £1.85. Whole cakes – such as party cake – from about £20.
Tea and Coffee
Coffee – superior coffee from freshly ground beans. Teas – including speciality ‘Tea Pigs’ and organic green tea. One serving gives claims to boost the metabolism by 34 to 40% and contains 137 times the antioxidants of regular green tea!
All served in glorious vintage china.
What does Bedford mean to you in three words?
Family and Friends
It is thanks to family and friends that I’ve been able to do this. Mum helps out, especially with the children. Lee has done all the interior work and I have help from several friends in the kitchen.
How can you eat cake every single day and stay so slim?
I never sit down, I’m always running around!
It’s the name for the shop and cafe. Home-baked desserts is the business name. Fancy seemed like a good name, as ‘a little of what you fancy does you good!’