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What do you get when you cross the humble cake with a big dollop of inspired thinking, a passion for quirky creations and several Russian Dolls? Just about the coolest, most delicious take on cakes you’ve ever seen.

POP Bakery is the baby of Clare O'Connell, our first ever guest TasteMaker and we’re thrilled to bits about it.

So, over to you Clare!

 
Close Up With Clare

What are cake POPs?
They’re basically a bite-sized bit of cake coated in icing and stuck on a lollipop stick.

How big a help has your mum and dad been?
I never really appreciate how supportive my parents are. They’ve always been like that so I don’t know any different. They didn’t blink an eyelid when I turned their house into a bakery. Each room is full of boxes but they don’t complain. My mum even left her business as a child-minder which she did in the room where we now decorate POPs. She’s been the cornerstone of POP Bakery ever since!

What's been your biggest inspiration?
The nail artist Sharmadean Reid was a massive inspiration. And I think New York is hugely inspiring - they have all the best ideas when it comes to food!

What’s the trickiest POPs you’ve ever made?
Some life-like images of the Downtown Abbey cast for the Jonathan Ross show. It was very difficult - they didn't even feature them in the end. Though they did show my clip from the Paul Hollywood show which was very funny!

Would you do it all over again if you had the choice?
100%. It's been absolutely amazing, love being my own boss and creating weird and wonderful things each day!

What's the biggest order you've ever taken?
Nearly 3000 POPs for Topshop - phew.

How long do they take to make?
If you include my mum's steps one would take about 2 hours.

You turned the whole idea of POPs on its head. How did that happen?
When POPs started in America, they were very basic, just balls on sticks really. But I realised I could do much more interesting things. The first thing I made was a Russian doll - mum’s got loads in the house. After our first bit of press, it spiralled from there and I got orders for all sorts of whacky things.

Who do you most admire in the food world?
I love the Mast Brothers, they make delicious chocolate. And Claire Ptak is very inspiring. Her café, 'Violet' on Wilton Way in London is lovely. Maltby Street Market also in London, is fab for new foodies. Latest obsession is a lovely French pastry company called Poppy and Sebastien - beautiful cakes! I’m going to Lyon this summer, food capital of France, so hope to see where she got her inspiration!

What time do you start popping?
About 9.30, after I’ve had my NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto® tea latte and answered my emails, then I’ll be in the studio all day. I’ll have my cheeky afternoon cup of NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto® choccoccino then I finish between 5 and 6.

What do you do to relax?
I like cooking and eating mainly and films. Lots of films! Sometimes I go to yoga around the corner from me in Queens Park which is lovely. I'm also new to Pinterest but loving it!

What's next?
We’re launching our own range of edible paints in July. It’ll be the first cake POP decorating kit! We’re designing the packaging now – can’t wait, it’s going to be gorgeous!

 
Has all this got you putting your thinking chefs hats on? Then how about doing some popping of your own? Design a POP that best says summer to you and you could see it bought to life by Clare. You'll also bag yourself 4 boxes of NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto® coffee. So, a strawberry for Wimbledon, an ice cream? Last date for entries is July 17th so get popping!
T's & C's apply.
Enter Now
Recipe
Nescafe Dolce Gusto

We asked Clare to create a special NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto® flavoured POP just for us and guess what? She did. Dig in

MAKING YOUR POP POD

  • STEP 1
    Break the cake into fine crumbs in a bowl. You can use your electric whisk to help.Then add cream cheese icing a bit at a time and mix until dough-like.
  • STEP 2
    Split the mix into 30g pieces and roll into balls.
  • STEP 3
    Re-shape to make the base of your pod.
  • STEP 4
    Melt your Dark Cocoa Candy Melts in a microwave for about 30 seconds or until melted, then mix in a splash of vegetable oil. Now dip the tip of your stick into the mixture and push it into the shaped pop.
  • STEP 5
    Now dip your POP into the Dark Cocoa Candy melts until coated and shake off any excess.
  • STEP 6
    While the base is drying, cut a circle out of your fondant icing to create the lid. Melt the Red Candy Melts, put a spot onto the fondant circle in the centre and gently press it onto the base. Now you can dip the lid into the melts to add the colour. Leave to dry
  • STEP 7
    All that’s left to do is paint on the NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto® logo. You don’t have to use edible paints like Clare, an icing pen or tube should do the job.
  • STEP 8
    Sit back and tuck into your fab cake POP creation, maybe with a cup of your favourite NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto® coffee. Pick up your pods.

YUMM-EEE or what?

NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto® flavoured
Cake POPS!
Makes about 15 POPS

Make a basic chocolate cake adding 2tbsp of your favourite NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto® coffee to the mix. If it’s white coffee, just use the dark half. Once it’s baked and cooled, and your cream cheese icing is mixed, you’re ready to start popping!

CREAM CHEESE ICING

YOU WILL NEED…

100g icing sugar, sifted
17g unsalted butter at room temperature
42g cream cheese, cold
Add your favourite NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto® coffee to taste

OTHER INGREDIENTS FOR DECORATING…

Dark Cocoa Candy Melts
Red Candy Melts
(We like Wilton’s Candy Melts for our Pod POPS)
Vegetable oil
Fondant icing
White icing pen/tube

STEP 1

Beat icing sugar and butter in a mixer, or use a hand held electric whisk and beat on a medium-slow speed until everything is well mixed.

STEP 2

Add cream cheese in one go and beat until completely incorporated.

STEP 3

Beat on a medium to high speed until icing is light and fluffy. Then add your favourite NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto® flavour a bit at a time to your taste.