Spades & Spoons Deli
There are few greater pleasures in life than indulging in a mouthful of perfectly baked cheesecake or a bite of good old-fashioned milk tart. If you are one of the many people living with a food allergy however, it is really difficult to indulge in these treats. Even without knowingly having food allergies, the pursuit of a healthier lifestyle, and cutting out refined foods, also makes choices very limited. We are only human and sometimes we just need to be able to indulge in order to keep ourselves ‘on the wagon’. If you feel like you are permanently watching that wagon roll off into the sunset, you need to meet mother and daughter duo, Portia and Lumai de Smidt. These ladies are perfecting the art of guilt free baking… to the collective relief of the rest of us, who are maybe not as creatively inclined.
Portia and Lumai are the ladies behind Spades and Spoons Deli, which if you’ve visited the Oranjezicht City Farm Market, you are more than likely to have seen, or better yet, will have tasted their incredible cakes and tarts.
At first look their baked goods look like any other cheesecake, carrot cake or tart, but on closer inspection, you will note that these cakes are in varying degrees, sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free or vegan. This goes for the rest of the food they serve as well, much of which is completely raw and vegan.
Portia and Lumai are both totally dedicated to their healthy lifestyle. Their move towards living this way was borne out of their own health issues that include sugar, gluten and dairy intolerances. The lifestyle recommended to them was a vegetarian one, but with Lumai’s dairy intolerance, this became vegan, and is now mostly raw. Not content to be relegated to eating boring food, the two have devoted themselves to understanding their intolerances and to learning how to make food that is both tasty, and which suits their bodies. The pair realised that with the incidence of intolerances increasing, as well as the general public being far more conscious of what they eat, the demand for their style of food was on the up.
The demand was also not only for their food, but for the sweet treats that they had developed over the years too. Thus began their stints at markets, a platform where they could share their food ideas with others. Dishes such raw lasagne and pizza made with fresh vegetables and a dehydrated flax seed crust are market favourites!
The two ladies have perfected a number of recipes for sweet treats that truly rival any ‘real’ version. Amongst the treats on offer are a vegan milk tart, vegan carrot cake, a marbled chocolate macadamia tart and a gluten-free cheesecake. These cakes and tarts are truly delicious, with all the creaminess and satisfying lusciousness of their regular counterparts. If you suffer from any of these intolerances, or are conscious of what you eat, it’s a little bit like winning the cake lottery.
The pair have faced their fair share of challenges along the way in their effort to make the food as tasty as it is healthy. Lumai tells us “We are always aiming to make healthy options more accessible to people, especially children, so we have to figure out how to hide the unfamiliar flavours!
At the beginning, it was harder to find healthy sugar and dairy alternatives; but it’s become easier to buy and use xylitol, which replaces sugar, without any effect on the taste of the cake.”
They use crushed nuts for their pastry crust, mostly almonds and pecans, as these are most similar in flavor to a biscuit crumb, and then coconut oil and milk in place of butter or cream. “Coconut oil gives a creamy, vanilla flavour with a light texture, and sometimes works better than dairy products,” says Lumai.
Naturally there have flops along the way but the creative pair push on, searching for ways to improve and expand what they do. The trouble with experimenting though? Sometimes it results in a one-off masterpiece that they can never recreate!
As Lumai told us, one of the biggest challenges in making cakes with special ingredients is the cost. However, the benefits far outweigh those costs. What is created is something that is sweet and satisfying and your health doesn’t take a hit afterwards – it’s a good feeling.
Portia and Lumai run courses from their home in Plumstead where they share the knowledge they have accumulated. They teach others living with the same intolerances, or those just interested in learning more, how to prepare various basics that help replace prohibited items. Everyday items like cashew nut cream cheese, sauces and even ketchup! They also show how to make some of their baked goods, as well as meals such as raw lasagna and nori wraps.
If you can identify with this story, book a course to learn more – you’ll get a warm welcome from this passionate pair. If you simply want to treat yourself to something yummy over a weekend, pop by the Oranjezicht City Farm Market, now held at Leeuwenhof House (Zilla Villa), and have a slice of something yum, you won’t be disappointed!
Sat, 09h00 – 14h30
Cost, R700 pp
Attendees will get hands-on experience making dishes, with take home samples.