TWO Ukrainian refugees have opened a new bakery in Wantage specialising in popular cakes from their country.

Alyona Tarasova, 42, and Lara Tysiachna, 47, moved to the UK from Kyiv last year with their young children due the Russian invasion which started in February 2022.

The two women, who have been friends for about 17 years, decided to move to Wantage together so they could help each with the children.

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After a couple months, the women decided to start a business as they were not sure how long the war would last and wanted to keep busy.

As Ms Tysiachna likes cooking, the pair decided to open a bakery business called ‘The Cake Bar’ in Grove Street, specialising in mousse cakes which are popular in Ukraine.

Ms Tarasova, who has a nine-year-old daughter, said: “We’re really enjoying it so far. It’s our business so it’s like our child.

“We have plans to make different types of cakes but we’re very new and we need some time to decide what works best for Wantage and our customers. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like it so far.”

Before moving to Wantage, the pair lived separately in Kyiv when the war started but had kept in touch over the years.

They first moved to the western part of Ukraine for about three weeks when the war began but soon moved to Poland for two to three months where they met up.

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After speaking to a British family on WhatsApp, the women decided to move with their children to be safer.

Ms Tarasova said: “There were no opportunities in Poland. We were living in a shelter and there were around two and a half million families there at the beginning of the war.

“As I speak English, we decided Wantage would be best. When we arrived we didn’t have any jobs or plans or ideas so we thought, ‘What should we do?’ We were just glad we were safe.”

Ms Tarasova’s daughter and Ms Tysiachna’s 11-year-old son went to Charlton Primary School which the women said the children ‘love’.

“Our British family are amazing as well,” said Ms Tarasova. “They help us with everything. When we decided to open a café they helped us find somewhere to rent and we use their friends kitchen to cook everything.”

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Ms Tarasova added that when deciding to open the café they wanted to do something ‘different’.

“The mousse cakes are popular in Ukraine,” she said. “But they aren’t traditional. We have plans to make other kinds of delicious and fancy treats.”


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This story was written by Gee Harland. She joined the team in 2022 as a senior multimedia reporter.

Gee covers Abingdon, Didcot, Wallingford and Wantage.

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