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Making scrumptious frosted cupcakes without butter, milk or eggs would seem like painting a beautiful sunset without red, orange or yellow pigments—you can create something, but not the real thing.
Well, I bit into a frosted cupcake from Pink Frosting Bakery in Verona, and I thought, "This...is vegan?! You've got to be kidding."
No, Hiral Udawat, 33, owner of Pink Frosting, isn't kidding. And she isn't a magician, either. But she definitely is systematic, thorough, dauntless and patient.
On her way to developing her shop's line of 13 different vegan cupcakes and two types of vegan cookies, Udawat says, “I probably threw out 200 batches of cupcakes. I wanted it perfect.”
PHOTOS: From top, Hiral Udawat, photo by Satish Patel. Vanilla cupcakes, red velvet cupcakes, photos by Hiral Udawat.
An even greater challenge was developing the five types of cupcakes on her menu that are gluten-free. Those have turned out to be among her best sellers.
“I experimented with so many different types of flours," she says. "I would come home every night from work and bake for four hours and get disappointed because it would be a mess. But I kept trying, and finally figured out what works and what doesn’t work.”
Udawat's discipline and strong work ethic predate her move to the U.S. 11 years ago. She earned a master’s degree in finance in her native India. Then, over here, she added a master's in computer science—and an American husband.
Before opening Pink Frosting, Udawat worked in the corporate world. “It really helped,” she says of her background. “You learn to be more organized and use strategies. The experience did not go in vain.”
So how does an IT specialist become a passionate vegan baker?
A few years ago, she saw videos aimed at ending cruelty to animals.
“That made me become a vegetarian,” she says. “Then one day I just decided, ‘I’m going to be a vegan.’ It’s the best decision I’ve ever made. You feel so much better. It’s healthier. You feel so much more energetic—and so much better morally.”
Using substitutes like rice milk, palm oil and soy-based products, Udawat discovered she could create goodies like apple pie-filled vanilla cupcakes with cinnamon cream cheese frosting, drizzled with caramel.
And enjoy them guilt-free.
(All cupcake varieties can be ordered as 6”, 8”, and 10” double layer cakes.)
Pink Frosting Bakery
534 Bloomfield Avenue
Vegan $3/ea, $34/dozen
Gluten-free $3.50/ea, $39/dozen
Vegan $1/ea, $11/dozen
Gluten-free $1.50/ea, $16.50/dozen
SUZANNE ZIMMER LOWERY is a food writer, pastry chef and culinary instructor at a number of New Jersey cooking schools. Find out more about her at suzannelowery.com.