When it comes to baked goods, most of us imagine a elements of butter, cream, and all sorts of dairy elementsHowever this is the last thing that enters Clara Polito's mind, who at the age of 20 has already started her own successful vegan baking company. And what's more, last month, she released her first cookbook, called Clara Cakes. The book features seven years of Clara’s work in the kitchen — her tried, tested, and true recipes with neither egg nor a stick of butter in sight! Clara started baking at age 12, the same age when she decided to change her diet to a vegan one. "I had been vegetarian since I was five years old, but once I learned about the dairy and egg industries, eating any animal products didn’t sit well with me," Clara tells Teen Vogue. "So, ultimately, I became vegan because of ethics." This meant she had to completely change her habit of eating sweet dairy based treats — which wasn't exactly smooth sailing.
"I think cooking was a bit easier to adapt to because you can perfect a meal through playing around with spices and citruses until it’s complete," she says. "Baking was more difficult because each recipe you make is one experiment, there’s no no going back into the baked good and adjusting the ingredients used. Once I figured out the right vegan substitutes to use, it became easier." From there, she brought her vegan baking from her own kitchen, to the rest of her community, first starting with nonprofit bake sales, and then eventually expanding to the music and art shows where she built up her customer base. Her love of music comes through in her cookbook which supplies perfectly curated baking playlists alongside recipes. And though she got her start at punk shows, she promises there's something for everyone. "I’m a big sucker for pop music, Clara says." I think people assume I only like punk music, but that’s not true. I love everyone from Rihanna to Buck Owens."
“Ever since I can remember there’s always been music in the background. I love how music and baking can be really immersive,” she says. “For some reason, hearing music and baking is so calming to me. It allows me to loosen up in the kitchen and relax, rather than focus on a recipe intensely and crack under pressure.” We discovered that her baking life has definitely not been without pressure — one time she baked 2,500 cookies in two days for a last-minute order. But just because she's a certified cookbook author, doesn't mean that she doesn't experience her fair share of baking fails when testing out new recipes. "Pretty recently, I attempted to bake a healthy batch of banana muffins," Clara, who cites her banana cream pie as her favourite recipe in the cookbook, says. "They used avocado as the “oil” and maple syrup as the sweetener. A great sentiment, but they were just awful." Now that she's got a successful business and her own cookbook — all by the age of 20 — the sky is really the limit for the baker, who lists a cooking/baking show and a brick-and-mortar shop among her goals for the next couple years. But even more than that, she wants to use her platform for making a change in the issue closest to her heart. "I’d like to be known for changing the way people eat through creating delicious and approachable recipes that don’t harm the environment, animals, and people." This story first appeared on Teen Vogue
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