The family-run London bakery making authentic Nigerian treats that could be sold by Aldi

Marianne Olaleye (right) and three of her sisters (L-R Yossie, Lola and Fola) posing outside in a garden
Marianne Olaleye (right) and her sisters (L-R Yossie, Lola and Fola) all run Puff Puff Ministry together from Karma Kitchen in Wood Green -Credit:Marianne Olaleye

A North London bakery is set to appear on a Channel 4 competition to get their authentic Nigerian treats stocked in Aldi supermarkets. Marianne Olaleye and her four sisters run Puff Puff Ministry with the help of their mother and her secret puff puff recipe and will appear on Tuesday's (April 30) showing of Aldi's Next Big Thing.

Puff puffs are a traditional Nigerian fried dough treat, similar to doughnuts. After growing up in Lagos in their mother's bakery, based in the back of their grandfather's home, the sisters knew they had a great puff puff recipe and so brought it over to the UK and started their baking company in 2020 which is now based in Wood Green.

Marianne said: "It's not just about the product itself, it's about sharing a piece of our culture and our heritage and having people experience that in real life."

READ MORE: Peckham father and son duo who 'love what they do' bringing their handmade Jamaican patties to Aldi

Fola making puff puffs in the kitchen
The delicious puff puffs are made by hand with flour, sugar, yeast, cinnamon and nutmeg -Credit:Marianne Olaleye

The Channel 4 show approached the family after finding their company on Instagram. They had not heard of the show before and initially turned the offer down because they have always wanted to open up their own bakery café, Marianne said. But after they had a family meeting they realised being stocked in hundreds of supermarkets would be a great way to introduce their brand to the UK as puff puffs are not such a well-known dessert.

Marianne said: "We saw there was a gap in the market for West African desserts, but more importantly we saw no reason why puff puff couldn't be seen in the same way as brownies, cupcakes and cookies. So our main thing was to change people's perceptions of it and introduce non-West Africans to puff puff."

Marianne's mother
Marianne's mother devised the special recipe for the family's puff puffs -Credit:Marianne Olaleye

On the show, they were given two minutes to pitch to Julie Ashfield, Managing Director of Buying at Aldi UK, at Aldi's HQ after prepping their puff puffs in the on-site kitchen with the other contestants.

"The feedback was incredible," Marianne said, "That was honestly one of the greatest things for us - having the chance to get someone like Julie Ashfield who tries so many products every week and getting her feedback on our product."

You'll have to tune in at 8pm this Tuesday to see how they did but Marianne did say they were presented with challenges of upscaling the business and altering the packaging for supermarket selling.

Fola boxing puff puffs
The family has recently bought a machine from Turkey which will help them three times as many puff puffs as before -Credit:Marianne Olaleye

The family are no stranger to adapting their business, however. In a clever move while the company was starting out during Covid, Marianne and her family set up an efficient postal service across the UK - delivering fresh puff puffs to your door or as gifts within 24 hours of baking in Karma Kitchen in Wood Green, something that "no other competitor has come close to doing," Marianne said.

The puff puffs are all handmade by four of the sisters, sometimes making up to 900 in a single day. "It just grew much quicker than we thought it would honestly," Marianne said. On Saturdays, they also offer collections too from Karma Kitchen - a shared-use commercial kitchen which they rent in shifts to make the puff puffs.

Marianne boxing puff puffs
On the show, they were told their packaging would have to be made smaller for supermarket shelves -Credit:Marianne Olaleye

The family want to move into a private kitchen where they can install new machinery that can quicken the pace of how many puff puffs they make and hire more staff to help expand and hopefully stock Aldi shelves. However, the dream of having their very own bakery café is still very real.

"The vision from day one was always to open up a puff puff dessert café in Central London. That has always been a big goal," Marianne said. However, the advent of the TV show has brought in a new business idea.

She said: "Going on the Aldi show has been really interesting because it's opened us up to another possibility. We're exploring what that could look like - could we be in supermarkets across the country? Could we go to more supermarkets outside of the UK?

"So those two areas really are the key things that we're looking at for now."

You can watch how the Puff Puff Ministry team get on in Aldi's Next Big Thing on Channel 4 at 8pm on Tuesday (April 30).

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