Raelene Bates of Delicious Little Things is the baking phenomenon that makes the little in the name paradoxical. There is nothing little (apart from size) about the delicacies that beckons one to seek out her teal coloured van at the Harvest Launceston Community Farmers’ Market each Saturday.
Baking to Raelene Bates is about making sense of life. She learned her delicious skills at her grandmothers elbow where she spent her childhood on the family sheep farm near Bracknell. Her Nan had cows and she remembers her grandmother churning her own butter. “Everything was there on the farm, fruit trees and garden produce.” Sweet treats were never bought in but were always homemade. “I was always at her elbow with a mixing bowl,” remembers Rae with a smile.
After finishing school Rae went out into the big wide world. Joining Ansett Airlines she moved to Melbourne until the company folded. She then travelled and worked managing tenders in the construction industry before Tasmania called her home and she moved to Hobart. When her sisters were having babies, she realised she was missing her family and left Hobart for Launceston. After a few years, a highly stressful working life sent her back to the mixing bowl. “I was baking to relieve stress but realised as orders from friends and family started piling up that I could do this for a living.”
She made the decision to move her office out of the corporate world and into her kitchen and oven.
Rae speaks of her family traditions centred around baking that continue today. Left over egg whites would be transformed into delicate meringues that would be topped with berries straight from the garden. At Christmas time her mum would make kiss biscuits for the children to decorate with jam and icing. As she talks you notice the bag of kiss biscuits propped up alongside the cabinet of mouth-watering treats just waiting for the kids of the Harvest Launceston community to find and take home to add their own touches of garnish.
Today, Rae continues to bake for therapy and the mixing bowl is still her happy place. She loves taking traditional recipes and adding a twist to create taste sensations that speak of the old and familiar but at the same time are new. Her take on sponge includes apples from Lees Orchards that as soon as you bite into you know instantly exactly what she means.
As to the “little” in Delicious Little Things, Rae explains that she loves decorating and making her treats pretty. “I realised I liked making single portions.” The smaller treats meant that Rae could add her touch of creative magic. Little equals opportunities to individually embellish her little things which are not only delicious to taste but are a delicious treat for the eyes.
Spend some time at her brightly painted little van and feast your eyes on delicate and delicious little things, from cupcakes, sponges, lemon and chocolate tarts, to vanilla slices and for that early morning pick-me-up, delicious little sausage rolls.Then treat your tastebuds to an explosion of taste that is most definitely not little!
Delicious Little Things is a regular Saturday stallholder at the Harvest Launceston Community Farmers’ Market which is on at the Cameron and Cimitiere streets car park from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm.