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Reece Hignell finds inspiration in the old-school for new Cake Boi store

When it comes to classic, old school-inspired baking, you’re unlikely to find anyone as passionate as Mayfield’s Reece Hignell.

Reece, who sprung to national attention in the 2018 and 2020 iterations of Network Ten reality cooking juggernaut MasterChef Australia, will, this week, realise his dream of opening his first bricks and mortar bakery Cake Boi.

Located in the heart of Hamilton, in the former Pina Deli space, Reece said he couldn’t wait for the bakery’s official grand opening on Saturday 6 February.

“It’s been a dream I’ve had for a long time so, I’m just so stoked,” Reece told Newcastle Live.

“We did a lot of the building ourselves so it’s definitely been a learning curve, but to see it aesthetically looking how I wanted it to look, I’m just so excited.”

“Cake Boi is definitely inspired by my Nan. My Nan had a market stall when we grew up and it was a bakeshop. A lot of her old recipes are being used.”

Reece added that Cake Boi was all about marrying the old school with the modern, revealing that the biggest inspiration behind the venture was his Nan.

“Cake Boi is definitely inspired by my Nan. My Nan had a market stall when we grew up and it was a bakeshop. A lot of her old recipes are being used,” he said.

“There are all these beautiful cakes that are potentially going to be lost because they’re not really popular anymore. So the idea is sponges, carrot cakes, basically all those wonderful cakes I had as a kid, just to grasp onto them so they don’t get completely replaced by mud cakes.”

One of the centrepieces of the Cake Boi menu is sure to be the classic sponge which is based off Reece’s Nan’s original recipe.

“100 per cent my Nan’s sponge will be one of the favourites,” Reece said.

“It was a cake that we had all my childhood. For my 30th birthday, just before my Nan passed away she made her sponge – it’s my favourite cake. Hers is purely a cloud – it’s so light.”

The menu will also feature an array of tarts (including Reece’s signature lemon variety) and a slew of classic cakes including the aforementioned sponge, carrot, Hummingbird and red velvet.

But that’s not all!

“We’ll do a few baked savory items,” Reece said.

“There will also be a little brunch menu and baguettes every day. There is definitely a cafe vibe and while I definitely encourage everyone to come in and try some cake, you can also grab some breakfast or even an easy lunch.”

Reece has secured the talents of Newcastle roasters Floozy Coffee who have even created a collaboration blend that will only be available on Cake Boi’s grand opening day.

It would almost be sacrilegious (or is that sacrilicious) to serve up such a tempting bill of cake fare without equally mind-blowing coffee. To that end Reece has secured the talents of Newcastle roasters Floozy Coffee who have even created a collaboration blend that will only be available on Cake Boi’s grand opening day.

“We have Floozy coffee, which is so exciting,” Reece said. “We wanted premium coffee but one that aligned with our cakes really well. So the blends that we have, they sit by the cake and collaborate together rather than one dominating the other.

“On our opening day, we will have a collaboration blend as well that people can buy the actual beans just for the opening.”

So just what is it about cakes that has captured Reece’s imagination and ignited his passions?

“They’re just fun,” he said.

“Also with the cakes that we’re doing here, people will be really excited by the textures of them.

“Some cakes are moist, some are dense, and some are lighter and drier and crunchier because of nuts, and then you’ve got your fruit and vegetables to give all different types of texture which is something that isn’t as popular anymore.”

Cake Boi is located at 48 Lindsay Street, Hamilton and will be open Monday to Sunday from 7am to 1.30pm. The official grand opening kicks off at 7am on Saturday 6 February. Head here for more information.

Written by Stephen Bisset