A DARE TO BAKE A CHEESECAKE better than the one her friend was eating one day is what started Lisa Wall on the road to creating unusual, mouth-watering sweet treats.
That was back in 2009 and the beginning of Lisa’s Sweet Treats.
For the baker, she was not satisfied with just creating the usual cheesecakes, chocolate and vanilla baked goods, she dared herself to try different and unusual flavours and today she serves her repeat customers and new ones with flavours that include tamarind, soursop, hibiscus, sorrel, pumpkin on a ginger crust, breadfruit and coconut, golden apple and even cassava.
“The ideas come from among work colleagues and friends who come up with what I have tried and not tried and how they think it would work. They are my taste testers, they’re always pushing me to think outside the box and be different and come up with unusual flavours, and that’s how I first entered NIFCA,” she said.
“My first year in 2010, I won four medals. I entered my cheesecakes – guava on a chocolate wafer crust which earned me silver, guava passion fruit which also got silver, a vanilla sponge cake with a passion fruit cheesecake which won bronze, and a passion fruit cake which won gold. I was so pleased that I had entered four cakes in a national culinary competition, in the year after I started baking seriously, and won medals.
Caramel brownie cheesecake
“It wasn’t that I doubted my ability but to be judged against so many others, with unusual flavours, made me realise that I had lots of talent,” she said.
But before being awarded those medals came some disappointment and Wall recalled that two of her friends came up with a concept for the display which was to be a tree stump made from wood, but what she got instead was tree branches, she recalled with laughter.
“I sat on the floor of the Hilton and cried. My idea was to have the cakes branching out of the tree but what I got was a display with tree limbs. I cried and cried but my friends Sharon and Marcelle said ‘don’t worry, we’ve got your back’. I didn’t have a plan B and by the morning the leaves were brown, but that didn’t deter me, it motivated me and the next year I made sure I had a plan B in place,” she recalled with peals of laughter.
The display did not take away from the flavours and she won the medals. She told BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY she was also touched by the number of patrons lining up to taste the cakes and that too served as her motivation to return the following year.
“I have medalled every year since then and I do produce new flavours each year, flavours that are Bajan. I have done sweet potato, mango, soursop and gooseberry cheesecakes. I have also entered the Best Bajan Cook competition and won a bronze medal for a scalloped sweet potato and baked coconut fish dish. This year, I did a cassava cheesecake specifically for Agrofest with chef Peter Edey and it was a hit,” she said.
Noting that baking was an expensive venture because the cost of inputs continues to increase, the baker says she continues because she loves the satisfaction her customers get with every bite.
“Everything I bake doesn’t come out the way I want it the first time but I don’t give up. If a customer calls and ask if I have a particular flavour and I have never done it, I try and if I like it, I go ahead and make it. Right now, the Baileys and mudslide cheesecakes are my best sellers and I have seen red velvet become a popular flavour. I don’t only do cheesecakes though, I also make cakes for birthdays and other special occasions, as well as cupcakes, which are still very popular,” she said.
“I really, really enjoy what I do. Apart from the traditional flavours, when I encourage someone to try something new and they like it, I know I’m on to something good. Baking is a passion. One thing I can say is that my cakes don’t contain a lot of sugar because I am mindful that some customers might be diabetic and on special diets,” Wall said.
What are her plans? She said she would love to go to culinary school and has explored the possibility of going to Le Cordon Bleu in Canada to hone her skills. She is also preparing for NIFCA 2015. (Green Bananas Media)