MasterChef fan favourite Reece Hignell is opening a cake shop at Hamilton in January inspired by his passion for classic, old-school baking - and his beloved Nan.
The bakery will be called Cakeboi and is an expansion of Hignell's successful online cake-making business of the same name. It will be located on Lindsay Street, close to bustling Beaumont Street but far enough away that parking isn't a problem.
Hignell, who lives in Mayfield and finished fifth in MasterChef Australia: Back to Win this year, has spent the past three years looking for the right location to house his old-school bakery dream.
"There are a few bakeries that hero the traditional style of cake making, like Beatrix in Melbourne and Flour and Stone in Sydney and, for me, they are by far at the top of the game," he told Food & Wine.
"I think we need to appreciate these older baking traditions before they are lost. A personal motivation for me is the Country Women's Association."
His definition of classic baking is "something I know my Nan has made before, whether it be a walnut and ginger cake with cream cheese icing, or her classic carrot cake, or her sponge which I made on MasterChef".
"These are all going to be heavily featured in the cake shop, as well as my passion for making tarts," he continued.
"I'll have a few little French classics too but the heart and soul of my business is classic Australian baking with maybe a little southern US thrown in, like hummingbird and Alabama cakes."
A common theme will be substance over style, and a focus on flavour and texture rather than appearance alone.
"I love a mudcake or a cheesecake but they're all the same - there's no textural surprise or appreciation of the denseness or lightness of the cake, or the pops of citrus or nuts," he said.
"This is what I appreciate most about baking - the little things that mean so much and add excitement to what you're eating.
"A lot of cakes might look amazing but are basically just sugar and flour."
Cakeboi will feature a large cake display and a non-set menu. Brunch? Think coffee or tea and a slice of cake.
"There will be a bunch of cakes that we will make quite frequently, cakes to pre-order and a savoury selection, too," Hignell said.
"My Nan was big on quiche so I can't open a cake shop all about her and not have a quiche there.
"All my tart shells, all my cakes, all my icings, fillings and so on will be made on site."
Hignell still gets emotional when talking about his Nan, who passed away in May. Her name was Heather Bates and she called Warners Bay home.
"Nan had a market stall at Warners Bay every Sunday and that is what I used as a vision for my shop," he said.
"We're going to do a bake sale on Sunday mornings. We will bake as much as we can on Saturday night and then on Sunday morning, whatever is there will be for sale and we will be open until we sell out. That's what my Nan used to do.
"Now, I'm not trying to steal all my Nan's business ideas [laughs] but I do want to keep this as authentic as possible."
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