Henrietta Inman is a Professional Patisserie graduate who perfected the art of classic patisserie in a number of award winning kitchens, including the Michelin-starred Lanesborough Hotel in London. A desire to open her own business, and a move to rural Suffolk, sparked an interest in local, organic and seasonal produce. Her baking philosophy simultaneously evolved away from the use of traditional baking ingredients to embracing those that are less refined and more nourishing. And so her brand Henrietta’s Clean Cakes was born.
All of her cakes and bakes are made free from wheat, dairy and refined sugar, and adorned with her home-grown edible flowers and seasonal berries, they look as pretty as they sound delicious. With bespoke healthier patisserie to order, cooking classes, market stalls and a successful blog, her business has since grown from strength to strength.
Her first book ‘Clean Cakes’ was released earlier this year. I have to admit that the title of the book initially held me back from purchasing. While I love to cook and bake for my family with natural and nourishing ingredients I personally don’t believe in classifying food as ‘clean’ or otherwise. The use of good quality gluten, sugar or dairy in home cooked food or occasional treats shouldn’t leave it to be classified as ‘dirty’. I much prefer to describe food as ‘healthier’ or ‘better for you’. Preconceptions aside, a quick glance through the pages of ‘Clean Cakes reveals a beautifully photographed book filled with a wealth of interesting recipes. Temptation won and I bought it!
The book begins with an introduction to Henrietta’s baking philosophy followed by comprehensive information on alternative ingredients to make your bakes ‘free-from’. Subsequent recipe chapters are divided into cakes; muffins, loaves and breads; biscuits, brownies and bars; tarts and pies; raw desserts; and finally, chocolates and little treats.
I was most tempted by the Courgette, Basil, Lime and Pistachio Cake with Avocado Lime Cream and Raspberry Jam. It was an unusual combination which I tested on some dinner party guests. Although the recipe denotes making layers I made a single larger cake for simplicity. Made with coconut flour and sugar, the cake was deliciously moist and incredibly nutty from the ground pistachio. The icing was a combination of avocado, lime juice, coconut yogurt and coconut sugar. Underneath the icing was a layer of raspberry jam. This was an unusual addition I thought, but actually added an amazing dimension to the final flavour. To say the cake tasted divine was an understatement…it got a resounding thumbs up from my dinner party guests and the flavours and ingredients became a lovely talking point too!
The second recipe I tested was the Coconut and Carrot Muffins which I thought looked good as a healthy treat for the children’s lunchboxes. As with all the recipes in the book, it was clear and easy to follow and my two-year old was delighted to help out. The recipe included an accompaniment of cacao-maca-lucuma ‘yogurt’ which required a cashew cream base and some expensive ingredients, which due to the twin constraints of lack of time and a family shopping budget to stick to, we omitted. Even without this the muffins were delicious and well received by my three children. Made with coconut flour, oil and sugar they were incredibly moist with a delightful flavour of coconut….and of course as always it was great to sneak some vegetables into the children.
Other recipes in the book which caught my eye were the savoury Roasted Root Vegetable Tarts with Spiced Sesame Crust, Purple Haze Loaf with Super-Berry Cashew Yogurt, and the Chocolate Hazelnut Torte with Honey Praline Ganache. I did find that many recipes in the book had ingredients that were not readily available (despite me living in a capital city well-served by delis and speciality shops) and were also quite expensive. Items such as palmyra nectar and teff flour were not available in two of my local well-stocked health food shops. However I did substitute honey for the coconut nectar in the Coconut and Carrot Muffins and I imagine that other simple substitutions are also possible.
The book is hence not perhaps for everyday baking unless you can easily buy and afford to regularly use these ingredients. However the recipes are undoubtedly different and delicious and well worth the effort to challenge yourself to…be it for a weekend treat or a special family gathering!
Cove Cake Design was founded in 2013 by Suzanne Brady. A former scientist, with a PhD in Biochemistry followed by a career working for Cancer Research UK, Suzanne discovered a natural love of baking after becoming a full-time mother in 2008. A keen student, she completed a Professional Masters Certificate in Cake Decorating, Royal Icing and Sugar Flower Techniques at Squires International School and a PME Knightsbridge Diploma in Sugar Flowers. With an eye for perfection Suzanne subsequently honed her skills with online and self-taught techniques. And so in 2013 Cove Cake Design, a nod to the stunning Sandycove area of Dublin where Suzanne and her family call home, began its baking journey.
From the outset Suzanne’s ethos has been to work closely with each client, drawing on a wide source of inspiration to create a bespoke cake unique to each occasion. With a delectable menu reflecting the quality of ingredients sourced and the design precision with which Suzanne decorates each cake it is unsurprising that Cove Cake Design has flourished into a thriving home business whose cakes have been recognised and featured in numerous magazines and blogs from around the world.