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SWEET THINGS BAKERY LANDS IN NOTTING HILL

Ten years since opening her first shop, Sweet Things in Primrose Hill, Natalie Allen has opened a second bakery in Notting Hill. Get those red velvet cupcakes before everybody else does…

Natalie Allen can lay claim to being the queen of multi-tasking. Ten years ago she got married, starred on MasterChef, left a successful career in the City and decided to launch her own business. ‘My husband told me to go and live the dream,’ she recalls. ‘So I did.’

That dream has come quite far in a decade, which all started with a dinner party. ‘I worked in recruitment for a long time, but I wasn’t passionate about that industry at all,’ Allen looks back. ‘I have always cooked at home and there came a point when a friend asked if I would cater for a party of 60 people. I made lots of different things, both savoury and sweet, but it was the latter that people were raving about. They were discerning foodies, so I thought that maybe I should focus on the sweet side of things.’

Ten years since opening her first shop, Natalie Allen has brought her baked goods to Notting Hill

Ten years since opening her first shop, Natalie Allen has brought her baked goods to Notting Hill

From humble beginnings – ‘I was up icing cakes at 3am. As much as I thrived under pressure, I accepted it was too much to do from home’ – Allen opened Sweet Things in Primrose Hill, swiftly becoming a firm favourite with locals and those who came from much further afield. ‘It’s a brilliant feeling,’ she remarks on becoming something of an institution in NW1. ‘My customers were a little concerned with a second site, worrying that we would get too big. For me, though, number two is it. I have two children and now two shops, so I will be complete and happy.’

That second site is now proudly open on Blenheim Crescent and already appears to be charming visitors. It’s a world of colour and wonderful smells, with brownies, cupcakes and all manner of cakes on offer. It’s already becoming something of a community hub too, serving up spot on breakfasts and lunch options. ‘I want people to leave with a smile on their face,’ Allen says on the experience she wants to offer. ‘The big USP for us is that everything is made with love. People don’t work for Sweet Things just to have a job, they are really passionate about it themselves too.’

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Despite the rumbling in my stomach, I have to ask what’s been flying out of the door recently. ‘The red velvet cupcake has taken off, and the Oreo cupcake is the second biggest seller. We have also created something called the S’mores Bar and it’s really addictive. There’s a middle layer of Belgian milk chocolate and condensed milk, and a top layer of Italian meringue, very soft and fluffy – when I run out of that, people are literally in tears! We have also started to produce ice-cream this year for the first time, a whole range of gelatos and sorbets – the Oreo ice-cream is a real winner at the moment.’

The red velvet cupcake has taken off, and the Oreo cupcake is the second biggest seller.

The red velvet cupcake has taken off, and the Oreo cupcake is the second biggest seller

Notting Hill will also offer Allen more space to work with, and baking classes will become part and parcel of the Sweet Things experience. ‘I am keen to pass knowledge on to people,’ she says on the thinking behind the classes. ‘I can host classes for children from five all the way up to adults 60+ years. It’s great that people can always learn and the Notting Hill site will have a party room where these events can take place.’

Maybe Allen is keen on uncovering a protégé to take on some of the workload, but perhaps that side of things has already been covered. ‘It’s good to have a second site as my daughter Olivia, who is seven, has always said the Primrose Hill shop is hers and she genuinely believes it is,’ Allen laughs. ‘But because we have opened in Notting Hill, she has said she will give up the other site to her younger brother, who is three, as there is a creperie in the new site and she wants that!’

8 Blenheim Crescent W11 1NN; sweetthings.biz

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