Baking wizard Sara Kidd can help anyone whip up kitchen magic with The Vegan Cake Bible

Sara Kidd's simple sponge cake, from her new cookbook "The Vegan Cake Bible". Photo: supplied.

The new cookbook offering from this vegan baking pioneer will let your plant-based cake dreams come to life! By vegan editor Elizabeth Usher.

The Sydney vegan scene lost filmmaker-turned-cakemaker Sara Kidd around four years ago, when she and her husband Peter Chen moved ‘across the ditch’ to live with his parents on the edge of Auckland, nestled between the botanic gardens and a rainforest. However, thanks to her blog, Facebook group, YouTube channel, and Patreon following, Kidd’s specialist vegan baking expertise is still accessible – both to us and to vegans worldwide. 

You might remember her impressive Halloween cake tutorials featured in The Sentinel back in October. Now, with her second cookbook The Vegan Cake Bible: Bake, Build and Decorate Spectacular Vegan Cakes available for pre-order, you can almost feel like you have this creative maestro in your own kitchen for a private consultation on the best approach to whipping up an impressive sweet treat.

Sara Kidd with an advance copy of her new cookbook The Vegan Cake Bible: Bake, Build and Decorate Spectacular Vegan Cakes. Photo: Sara Kidd/Facebook.

Kidd’s enthusiasm when speaking about her new tome displays both her clear love of vegan baking itself and the satisfaction she feels when educating others about the ins and outs of this activity and seeing their resulting concoctions. In addition, she’s rightfully proud of having checked off two of her major professional goals, in terms of getting backing from a publisher and signing with an agent.  

However, Kidd is also upfront and very open about the fact that, despite having the backing of Smith Street Books and receiving a ‘fairly standard’ first author’s advance of around AUD$7,000, “You don’t make any money from it unless you’re like Nigella or Jamie Oliver!”  In fact, she confesses, “If you want to know how to do stuff on a budget, ask me, because I’ve always got no money!”

Who needs money when you’ve got the rich decadence of Sara Kidd’s Vegan Chocolate Mud Cake with Butter Ganache?! Photo: Sara Kidd/supplied.

Without monetary wealth to lean on, Kidd has instead relied on a recipe of hard work and determination, mixed with a solid foundation of professional knowledge and experience as a pastry chef, to carve out her business success and build her virtual following, with her Facebook group Vegan Cake Decorating, All Types of Baking & Resources amassing a whopping 22.8K members! 

Although she freely admits it wasn’t easy to build the group to that level, she explains, “The Facebook group is just my baby, it’s absolutely incredible and anyone that I ever talk to starting a business, I always say ‘start a Facebook group, it will be the most beautiful thing in your business’ and you get to directly be with your people all the time.”

Sara Kidd’s Facebook group is a hugely popular resource for vegan bakers worldwide. Photo: Sara Kidd/Facebook.

Part of the success of the group is that Kidd is vigilant about deliberately keeping it laser-focussed on the baking: “I really worked hard at keeping the baking group a safe haven away from politics, where people could just come and safely talk about their passion … Everyone knows when they get in there, you can’t be an arsehole! You have to be respectful! Otherwise I’ll just kick you out … You are accepting of everyone no matter what your political beliefs are, your orientation is, what you do … Everyone is 100 per cent accepting, loving and caring, and the amount of information and knowledge that’s shared in there is incredible. I have so many professional chefs and bloggers that are in there all the time, just sharing their expertise, which is unheard of in the food community because chefs keep their secrets very close, but it’s the opposite in this community.”

Interestingly, the sole political post that I personally remember in the group is from late 2020, when Kidd posted about body shape-related comments she’d been receiving on videos, leading into a discussion about body shaming especially in the context of the overlapping worlds of veganism and baking. This issue strikes particularly close to home for Kidd. Her initial reason for getting into raw foods and becoming vegan literally overnight, while living in Brisbane around 17 years ago, was image related. However, after moving to Sydney, Kidd developed into an animal activist and her philosophy evolved considerably.

Sara Kidd with Rocky, one of her beloved dogs. Photo: Sara Kidd/Facebook.

“I think I grew up always feeling that being thin was the most important thing in the world, if I wasn’t thin as a woman I wasn’t worthy of having a wonderful life, and that as soon as I was thin, all my problems would go away.” However, she came to realise “throughout my life, it didn’t really matter if I was thinner or heavier, any of those issues were always still present. It was more like I just needed to do work on myself, not lose weight, that was never going to solve the issue.”

Her post included the phrase, “No matter who you are, if your heart is beautiful, that’s what shows.” When I ask her to elaborate, Kidd expounds that, “People whose heart is full and full of caring and sharing, especially in the vegan world, you feel that, and that’s what I’m attracted to more than anything … I just want people to be happy within themselves and happy within the industry that they work in because when you’re working with food, you’re creating something from your soul, you’re sharing love with everyone else, so if you are harbouring those thoughts of ‘I can’t make this food any longer because it’s causing me to not love myself because the world won’t accept me for my weight’, something is seriously wrong there.  And I think just shining the light and having the opportunity to just have a conversation about it just starts to shift those mindsets.”

A sample page from Sara Kidd’s cookbook shows the level of detail provided in the step-by-step photo tutorials. Photo: supplied.

Kidd is, however, hyper-aware of the importance of visual aesthetics when it comes to food presentation, and the magnificent photo spreads in The Vegan Cake Bible are sure to leave any sweet tooth drooling. The cookbook includes multiple step-by-step photo tutorials so that even novice bakers can turn out similarly impressive results. 

By making vegan baking more accessible to everyone, Kidd is achieving her underlying dream “to pursue my love for spreading veganism into the world and build the movement”.

The Vegan Cake Bible is now available to pre-order. Photo: supplied.

Kidd’s cookbook includes many recipes that are also gluten free, and officially launches on 5 April, 2022 – just ahead of Mother’s Day! – but it is already available for pre-order from her website, where she has tried to absorb as much of the postage costs as possible, to the point where she only makes about $5 profit per purchase. It’s also available on sites such as Amazon, where she makes around $1 or even less. She says that even though “to be really honest, you don’t make any money out of books. I wanted to make a recipe book, I wanted to share, I wanted to create my love into a physical form that people could touch … this is something I can share with them that is a piece of myself that they can hold and have in their kitchen and that’s always with them. So it’s totally worth it!”

Elizabeth Usher is the vegan editor of the Sydney Sentinel.

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