I'm a pastry chef, author, cookery teacher, gardener and edible flower grower, celebrating baking with natural, seasonal and local ingredients.
I follow a simple philosophy when it comes to my natural baking, believing all products should have great flavour, great texture and be beautiful to look at too. I love to celebrate the goodness of natural wholefood ingredients, so my base ingredients comprise of wholegrain organic flours milled in the UK, whilst using some interesting grains from abroad too, unrefined sweeteners like raw Suffolk honey, coconut sugar and brown sugar, cold-pressed extra virgin British rapeseed oil, organic dairy products and free-range eggs. Then come the magic ingredients like seasonal fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, dried fruits, dark chocolate, spices, citrus and many more. I want to create delicious food and recipes that satisfy all our senses and bring people joy!
and a little bit more about how I bake...
I have always loved to cook and bake and a year spent in Italy and France as part of my modern languages degree, tasting the world's finest patisserie, inspired me to enrol at Westminster Kingsway College, London, on the Professional Patisserie Scholarship. I trained as an apprentice at The Lanesborough Hotel, and then went onto working in award-winning kitchens for five years.
With my newly gained knowledge and skills, I moved back to Suffolk, the county where I grew up, to start my own business, selling at farmers' markets, making bespoke celebration cakes, catering for events and teaching.
Having grown up in the country and from cooking a lot with my parents with fruits and vegetables from our own garden, I have always understood the importance of using local and seasonal ingredients whenever possible in my cooking. Surrounded once more by some of the best produce in the UK, my passion for natural ingredients was reignited. At the same time, many of my customers were asking for allergy-friendly cakes, biscuits and tarts, complaining that many on offer were not tasty enough. I decided to see what the alternatives were; an exploration of the most interesting and delicious, exciting and new, natural ingredients followed, which led to my first book, Clean Cakes, published in February 2016. It is all about baking with alternative, gluten, dairy and refined sugar-free, wholefood ingredients, onto which I apply my skills as a pastry chef in the most delicious ways.
I have since returned to London, teaching baking classes, making natural cakes, catering for special occasions and cooking for supper clubs and pop-up afternoon teas. I have also been working on my second book, The Natural Baker, which focuses on all of the wonderful wholefood ingredients I have discovered since I started baking, with recipes packed with flavour and texture for making delicious dishes, cakes, tarts and much more to eat throughout the day. It's a big mixture of recipes for anyone and everyone and I cannot wait to share it with you all!
Clean Cakes, Delicious patisserie made with whole, natural and nourishing ingredients and free from gluten, dairy and refined sugar, published in February 2016 by Jacqui Small, has a wealth of original recipes with distinctive flavour combinations and intriguing twists on established classics that will help you satisfy your sweet tooth in a natural way. This is a must-have cookbook if you have cut out gluten, dairy and refined sugar yet still want to bake stunning, inspiring and nourishing treats. From those wanting to make changes to their diet or lifestyle to those who love to bake and just want to try out new things, it's a book for everyone and I hope you enjoy it.
My second book, The Natural Baker: A new way to bake using the best natural ingredients, which will be published on 22nd March 2018, is a continuation of my discovery of the great flavours and textures of natural ingredients. Inspired both by my childhood in Suffolk and my years as a pastry chef, the recipes in it embrace the full range of amazing ingredients I’ve discovered since I started baking and focus on the wonderful tastes and textures offered by whole, nutritious flours, natural sweeteners, good fats and oils, nuts and grains, seasonal fruits and vegetables and many more wonderful, natural ingredients.
I love teaching people about my new way to bake using the best natural ingredients. I teach three hour private classes for up to five people in my kitchen in north London. They are bespoke, designed especially for you and I can work around any intolerances and allergies. Prices vary according to needs, so get in touch to find out more.
I also teach larger groups in various locations in London. Please see below for my next classes in London and around the UK.
Being in the kitchen with Henrietta is just a delight. Her passion for food and knowledge of ingredients is so inspiring. This hands on baking experience was just so much fun, I left with the most delicious cakes and tarts and the know-how to make them myself at home! Laura Holland, Founder of BeU, www.laura-holland.com (private class).
My daughter and I had a fantastic, fun filled and informative day with Henrietta who is a joy to learn from and be with in the kitchen. Henrietta's passion for quality ingredients and creative genius made it easy for us to make and continue to enjoy delicious food which supports our health and well being. Julie Smith (private class).
I can say that my time with Henrietta was just amazing. I enjoy cooking and baking but she gave me all the elements I need to be independent and take decisions . She gave me the insurance I was looking for... she puts the most important element in any recipe, "LOVE". Thanks Henrietta. Maria Eugenia (private class).
A lovely class, Henrietta was great, the recipes were clear and easy to follow, the class was not over ambitious but we made a great variety of bakes. Bravo. (Botanical Baking Masterclass at The Garden Museum in November 2017, details below).
Next classes -
Natural Baking with Henrietta Inman at Divertimenti, Sunday 25th March 2018, 12pm - 3.30pm.
The Natural Baker book launch masterclass at High Mood Food, Wednesday 4th April 2018, 6.30pm - 9pm.
Springtime Baking with Henrietta Inman at The Garden Museum, Sunday 8th April 2018, 10.45am - 2pm.
Vegan Baking with Henrietta Inman at the School of Artisan Food, Sunday 28th April 2018, 9.30am - 5pm
Past classes -
Natural Baking with Henrietta Inman at High Mood Food, Tuesday 30th January 2018, 6.30pm - 9pm. Click the link for more information and to book your spot. SOLD OUT.
Vegan Christmas Baking with The Natural Baker at Luminary Bakery, Tuesday 12th December 2017, 6pm - 9pm. Do come and join me for my first class as ambassador of Luminary Bakery. After prosecco and some delicious bites on arrival, we'll move into the kitchen to bake some of my favourite seasonal dishes. From quince mince pies and pear, chocolate and hazelnut tartlets to chocolate velvet pots and chocolate chestnut cakes, as well as savoury carrot and coriander crackers and roast root vegetable tartlets. We'll also make some homemade chocolate which is great for edible Christmas presents. With all the proceeds from ticket sales going to the growth of Luminary Bakery, I do hope you can join us there. SOLD OUT.
Botanical Baking Masterclass at The Garden Museum, Sunday 5th November 2017, 12.45pm - 4pm. I'm so looking forward to this class, bringing the scents and flavours of our gardens into your bakes. I'll teach you how to weave herbs and flowers into your bakes to create sensational cakes, tarts and breads, such as raspberry, rose and pistachio tartlets, orange blossom and polenta cakes, carrot, coriander, mustard seed and anise crackers and rosemary, feta and olive soda bread rolls. This class is open to all levels of skills and interests and I do hope to see you there. Click here for more information and to buy tickets. SOLD OUT.
Cakes for you
I just wanted to say a huge thank you for your absolutely wonderful cake. It was completely delicious and beautiful and everyone at the party said so. To be honest, I was a bit sad to have a birthday with no dairy or wheat (after four months I'm getting a bit sick of this enforced diet). Your cake was a game changer and I ate the remaining slice for breakfast before anyone else could get their mitts on it.You are a star and thank you! Leonora Gummer (private cake order).
I make bespoke celebration cakes, tarts, biscuits, bars, brownies and lots more to order. I also cater for events such as openings, launches, afternoon teas and parties. Please contact me for more details.
Below is a list of some of the cakes, tarts, bars, brownies and savoury products I make. Most can also be made into canapés. All can be decorated with edible flowers. Please ask for more information in terms of dietary requirements when you contact me to order. I cater for vegetarians and vegans and gluten, dairy and refined sugar free diets and will try to cater for any other needs if can.
Chocolate and hazelnut torte with honey praline ganache
Pumpkin, carrot, walnut and sultana cake with cashew orange frosting or labneh and cream cheese frosting
Chocolate truffle brownie cake
Fig, banana and dark chocolate cake with whipped cocoa cream
Chocolate chestnut cake
Blueberry and lemon mousse cake
Courgette, basil, lime and pistachio cake with lime cream and raspberry jam
Seasonal fruit tarts with nut frangipane of your choice and buckwheat and almond pastry
Chocolate truffle brownies
Rye, peanut butter and raisin brownies
Caramelised red onion and parsley Cheddar scones
Tomato and pepper tart with olives (and anchovies) and buckwheat and hazelnut pastry
Carrot and coriander crackers with seasonal vegetable crudites and dips
Roast root vegetable pots with pecan and sesame crumble and cashew bechamel
Tomato and aubergine tarte Tatin
Pumpkin, spinach, sage and Parmesan filo pie
A selection of seasonal vegetable quiches with walnut and wholegrain spelt pastry; regular short pastry; gluten free vegan pastry
Next events -
Henrietta Inman x 26 Grains. 26 Grains and all the incredibly delicious, colourful and nourishing dishes that Alex Hely-Hutchinson and her team create at her beautiful cafe in Neal's Yard, has been such a huge inspiration for me for a long time. So I feel incredibly lucky and I'm so delighted to be collaborating with them during March 2018 on a delicious porridge inspired by recipes from my new book, The Natural Baker. Make sure to get there before the end of March to try out three-grain oat, rye and spelt porridge, topped with rhubarb, rose yogurt and triple nut and buckwheat brittle; the recipe for the latter is in my book; the rhubarb and rose combination inspired by a rhubarb and strawberry galette with rose pastry cream, also in the book; finally, we went for a three-grain porridge as The Natural Baker really celebrates the diversity and variety of all the wonderful grains we have to use today, rye, spelt and oats being three of our favourites... and with the 26 Grains magic wand, it's all become the most wonderful bowl of warmth and fantastic colours, flavours and textures!
INFUSED Afternoon Tea with Kylee Newton, Henrietta Inman and Good & Proper Tea, Sunday 15th April 2018, 3pm - 6pm. I'm over the moon to be working with my dear friend, Kylee Newton, founder of Newton & Pott, and Good & Proper Tea on this wonderful event, creating the most delicious, seasonal and colourful menu, infused and matched with teas from Good & Proper. There will be welcome drinks on arrival, followed by eight savoury and sweet bites, with freshly baked scones in between, all with a little tea-twist. We look forward to welcoming you at Good & Proper on Sunday 15th April, an afternoon tea not to be missed! Click the link about for the full menu. Tickets are limited so book soon!
Yoga Brunch Club x Henrietta Inman at Benk + Bo, Saturday 21st April 2018, 10.15am - 1.15pm. SOLD OUT.
St Ives Food Festival, Friday 11th - Sunday 13th May 2018. I'll be demonstrating a summer recipe from The Natural Baker on Saturday 12th May at St Ives Food Festival. It's my first time at this wonderful festival so I'm really looking forward to it and hope to see you there.
Past events -
KinoVino for #CookForSYRIA: A charity evening in memory of Mehmet Aksoy, Thursday 15th March 2018, 6pm - 10pm, The Institute of Light, London Fields. It's an honour to be part of the next KinoVino, in memory of Kurdish-British filmmaker and human rights activist, Mehmet Aksoy, who was killed in Syria in 2017 whilst filming a series of documentary shorts. With this event, we’d like to give you a more intimate glimpse into the lives of ordinary people in Syria with a screening of ‘I Want to Live’, a beautiful and moving documentary, and offer you a chance to savour the flavours of the region, to celebrate the vibrant and resilient food culture, where the act of sharing food and communal eating is the act of living! Melissa Hemsley, Zoe Adjonyah, Melek Erdal, Imad Alarnab, Lily Vanilli and Safia Sharkarchi and I will each be creating a dish for the feast, marrying Kurdish, Syrian and Middle Eastern cuisines. All the money raised from ticket sales will go towards #CookForSyria and REBUILD. SOLD OUT.
The Wonder of Wellness with Happy & Wild Yoga in collaboration with HeForShe Arts Week, Saturday 10th March, 2018. Hosted by Happy & Wild Yoga, this will be a day full to the brim of activity to nurture your mental and physical well-being as part of HeForShe Arts Week London 2018 with UN Women. HeForShe Arts Week London is a global festival for gender equality launching on 8th March, International Women’s Day in London. Throughout the week, artists and their audiences will challenge the old stories, create a new narrative, change mind-sets and raise funds to change the reality for millions of women and girls. www.londonartsweek.org. I'll be there with my cakes and my preview copied of my new book, along with Pip & Nut, Raw Press and more! All the money raised will go towards UN Women.
International Women's Day Supper at Luminary Bakery, Thursday 8th March, 2018, 7.30pm - 10pm. Come for an evening to celebrate girl power hosted by my fellow Luminary ambassador, Benjamina Ebuehi and I, with a menu inspired by women who have inspired us, as well as some of Luminary's most delicious baked goods too. The evening will start with a welcome drink and abundant, colourful and seasonal savoury bites, followed by vegetarian sharing platters for the main course. There will also be a small talk from Luminary founder, Alice Williams, about their work; an auction of the beautiful Luminary X Meringue Girls International Women’s Day celebration cake collaboration; flowers by Pom Pom Factory and of course, pudding! Tickets are £38 with 25% of all ticket sales going to Luminary Bakery. SOLD OUT.
The Natural Baker: A new way to bake using the best natural ingredients. Book launch at The Aldeburgh Bookshop, Suffolk, as part of the Aldeburgh Literary Festival, Saturday 3rd March 2018. Details to come.
An Afternoon Tea for the Start of Spring and the First of the Pink Rhubarb, Sunday 18th February 2018, 3pm - 6pm, Walthamstow, London. After the sell-out success of my first afternoon tea in January, I'm bringing you another one to welcome the almost start of spring, not forgetting the last fruits of this winter. It's going to be the most wonderful afternoon, showcasing many recipes from my upcoming book, The Natural Baker, as well as the best seasonal produce like Yorkshire rhubarb, blood oranges and the last of the apples and pears plus some great ingredients from all over the UK from my favourite companies like Hodmedod's, Sharpham Park and Newton & Pott. An opportunity to celebrate a belated Valentine's Day too perhaps... come with a loved one, a friend, your mother, father, grandparents or come alone and meet new people. I look forward to seeing you there. Please email me email@example.com to book your place, letting me know if you have any allergies. Tickets are £28 and include sparkling English wine on arrival. This event has now SOLD OUT but please email me if you would like to be added to the waiting list.
KinoVino x Henrietta Inman Valentine's Day with Breakfast at Tiffany's, Wednesday 14th February 2018, 6pm - 10.00pm, The Institute of Light. This event has now SOLD OUT, but you can sign up to the waiting list.
Menu, inspired by this wonderfully romantic classic, with a seasonal-British-and-Suffolk-pastry-cheftwist -
On arrival... Espresso martinis and Rhubarb and rose pink fizz (non-alcoholic). Honey mustard Suffolk sausages, caramelised onions and Newton & Pott ketchup; Parmesan and poppy seed diamond sablés and Paul’s cheese puffs with cheddar and caraway; Doc's Cracker Jacks
To start... Sally Tomato's green gazpacho, St. Jude raw milk soft cheese, Suffolk spelt and barley crackers and Dusty Knuckle potato sourdough ‘enforcements’
Main course... Golden honey and hazelnut roast chicken; v - butternut squash and black bean mole and lime pickled onions; both to be served with bejewelled saffron rice, crispy onions and a big green salad
To finish... Holly's pink dress blood orange custard tart with baked rhubarb, rhubarb and rose syrup, La Grotta Ices’ blood orange sorbet and whipped vanilla rose cream
Valentine’s gifts to take home… Fred’s peanut butter biscuits with raspberry jam and chocolate
The Natural Baker pop-up afternoon tea, Sunday 28th January 2018, 3pm - 6pm, Walthamstow, London. I'm so delighted to start a series of pop-up afternoon teas hosted at my house and kitchen, featuring recipes from my new book, The Natural Baker: A new way to bake using the best natural ingredients, published on 22nd March 2018. Special January offer of £25 per ticket with scones, savoury and sweet tarts, cakes, sandwiches and much more. I'm collaborating with some wonderful companies I love on some super goody bags also. I do hope you can make it. Please email me firstname.lastname@example.org to book your spot. SOLD OUT.
Karuna Social Programme Winter Sale, Saturday 9th December 2017, 11am - 5pm, Rendham Barnes Farm, Rendham, Suffolk, IP17 2AB. I feel very honoured to co-host this sale with my friends, Alvaro and Fred, in aid of Karuna Social Programme, one of the charities I support. The Spanish registered charity, Karuna, meaning 'Hope' in Sanskrit, helps women with families to support and limited resources find training and employment in a dedicated craft centre, built from the funds raised through the charity. These gifted women make wonderful clothing, accessories and jewellery in the best silks, cashmeres and cottons which will available at the sale. 100% of the proceeds will go back to Karuna and the well being of the families it supports. We look forward to seeing you there.
Young British Brands to Watch, Christmas Pop Up at Kreativ House, Saturday 2nd December 2017, 1pm - 6pm (arrive at midday for yoga with Wild Thing Yoga). A great chance to get some Christmas shopping in with some of London's most exciting and inspiring brands - Laurie Nouchka, Polka Pants, Kitty Joseph, OMNIUM, Cassiopeia, STUDY 34, Inger Studio, Humphreys and Begg and SYNDICUT London... and I'll be there with my cakes to sell and doing a little demo, so lots of coffee and cake to keep you going whilst you shop.
Bake For Syria 2, November 18th 2017, 12pm -5pm, Old Spitalfields Market. After the huge success of the first Bake for Syria, I'm so excited to be taking part in NUMBER TWO! It's going to be the most wonderful day with so many scrumptious things from some of the UK's best bakers, pastry chefs, preservers and so much more. There's also going to be an amazing raffle with prizes that will knock ya socks off, all in aid of Cook For Syria. Entrance is free and I do hope to see you there. Find me sharing a stall with my awesome friend, Kylee, found of Newton & Pott, we'll be making some jam-licious things together!
The Suffolk Suppers with Joey O'Hare and Henrietta Inman, Friday 29th and Saturday 30th September, 2017 from 7pm. I am so happy to be working with my incredibly talented friend, Joey O'Hare, and the award-winning and one of my favourite places in Suffolk, Pump Street Bakery, on two pop-up suppers during the Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival fringe events, 2017. As two Suffolk girls, we want to celebrate the county’s best seasonal ingredients and spectacular local food. Our five-course, vegcentric feasts will open with a welcome drink of Adnams sparkling wine with blackcurrant and lavender shrub. The meals will start with smoked haddock and Shipcord soufflé and culminate in a molten dark chocolate tart. We are proud to be working with some of Suffolk’s best food producers throughout the menu, including Pinney's of Orford, Marybelle Dairy, Fen Farm Dairy, Hodmedods, Maple Farm Kelsale, and of course Pump Street Bakery’s sourdough bread and chocolate. Click here for the full menu and to book tickets. We look forward to seeing you there and if you cannot make our Suffolk events, soon after we will be bringing everything back to London to cook up another storm so do join us there; more information to follow soon.
Summer Feast with Mira Manek and Henrietta Inman, Wednesday 2nd August 2017, Neal's Yard, from 8pm. An Indian-inspired, colourful and beautiul meal made using seasonal, British produce. Mira will be creating dishes from Saffron Soul as well as new recipes from masala grilled aubergine to a vibrant summer chaat. To finish, I'll serve a raspberry and mint lassi to cleanse your palette, followed by blueberry and pistachio tart with shrikhand, served with chai tea and Mira's cardamom and date mohanthal. A wonderful summer's evening with food and friends.
Bake for Syria, Saturday 29th July 2017, Columbia Road Flower Market, 10am - 5pm. Come to eat cake, drink marvelous mocktails and dance the day away. Hosted by Lily Vanilli in collaboration with Cook for Syria, this event brings together some of London's best bakers, pastry chefs, preservers, pizzaioli and many more, all bringing their delicious food together for one day only to raise money for the vulnerable children of Syria. I do hope to see you there, it's going to be a great day!
Click the link to make my Coconut-cacao-quinoa bars with Katie Quinn.
More cooking videos coming soon!
I love to use edible flowers, adding colour, flavour and texture to so many things in the kitchen. Whether finishing off a cake or tart with rose petals, scented geraniums or pansies or summer salads and other savoury dishes with chive or rocket flowers or nasturtiums, they’re such fun to use. Here's a full list of what I grow.
To finish sweet things I use roses, scented geraniums, pansies, primroses, lavender and rosemary flowers, tagetes, marigolds, dianthus, cornflowers, borage, bellis daisies, elderflowers and violas. Blossom is lovely too but I don’t like to pick too much of it. Some blossoms contain cyanide precursors and should be eaten in moderation also. To be honest, edible flowers, especially on sweet things, really are just pretty, delicate and colourful finishing touches. Personally, you won’t find me eating handfuls of pansies or daisies!
But, when it comes to those that I use for savoury dishes, with their peppery, distinct and fragrant flavours, I might be eating a few more! To finish savoury things I use chive, pea and courgette flowers, garlic chive flowers and nasturtiums. When herbs like dill and coriander and leaves like rocket and radicchio go to seed, the two former have beautiful little white flowers, whilst rocket flowers are white and yellow and radicchio flowers are pastel blue.
The RHS has a very useful page with lots more information about collecting edible flowers for eating, some more types that I do not grow and some good book recommendations.
In larger gardens with grass and flower beds, once planted, the flowers will self-seed and you’ll have lots around in no time. In London, my garden is paved over so I grow all my flowers in pots which needs a bit more work but it's very manageable. They can be bought in garden centres and just potted out into beds or pots, using a mixture of soil and manure. Water regularly, depending on the climate, and don’t forget to deadhead! Don’t be scared. Gardening can be such a wonderful and calming thing and an important connection to nature when many of us live in towns and cities. Embrace it and look forward to becoming green-figured!
I wanted to share these pulse-inspired recipes to coincide with The British Dal Festival, which took place this year for the first time in Bristol from 19th to 25th March 2018. Though I was sadly unable to get to the festival, it sounded like a really exciting and diverse event. You're probably thinking, 'but neither of these are dal recipes, Henrietta!'. Yes, I know! That's why the idea of the festival is so wonderful. Not only celebrating the magic of traditional dals of the Indian subcontinent but also other pulse dishes from around the world, from the refried beans of Mexico and fava dips of Greece to Britain’s pease pudding and mushy peas. As well as promoting the cultural richness, flavour, and affordability of dal (any split pulse (lentil, bean or pea) or pulse stew or soup) as well as its contribution to health, nutrition and environmental sustainability, the festival in particular, will highlighted pulses grown in the UK such as fava beans and split yellow and green peas, all perfect ingredients for dal and many other dishes, like the bread and chickpea cake below. When companies like Hodmedod's are paving the way for British-grown beans and pulses, this festival could not have chosen a more timely moment to begin; let's all save the date for next year's British Dal Festival.
Yellow pea flour, quinoa, nut and seed loaf
Close to where I grew up in Suffolk, there are inspiring producers creating the most flavoursome and exciting foods. Not only are wheat, spelt and rye being milled and kombucha being brewed, but also quinoa, barley and pulses are being grown by an incredible company called Hodmedod’s. It seemed only fitting to use some of their yellow pea flour and quinoa flakes in this loaf. Combined, they create a soft bread with a gorgeous distinct, savoury and earthy flavour, lifted up with that all-important salt and a little honey, all interspersed with crunchy nuts and seeds with their diverse tastes and textures. I love dense loaves like this with a simple salad at lunch. The bread is also great thinly sliced, toasted and served with cheese, dipped into hummus and guacamole, or used as a base for canapés.
Chickpea (garbanzo bean) flour also works in place of the yellow pea flour, while psyllium husk powder can be found in most health food shops and online.
a little extra virgin cold-pressed rapeseed (canola) oil
100g (3½oz / scant 1 cup) yellow split
pea flour (or see recipe introduction) 100g (3½oz / generous 1 cup) quinoa flakes
1 tbsp psyllium husk powder
2 tsp sea salt flakes
2 tbsp chia seeds
70g (2½oz / ½ cup) sunflower seeds 70g (2½oz / ½ cup) pumpkin seeds 70g (2½oz/generous ½ cup) walnut
pieces or whole walnuts, roughly crumbled
70g (2½oz / ½ cup) whole almonds 70g (2½oz / ½ cup) whole pistachio nuts 200g (7oz / generous ¾ cup) cool water
1 tbsp runny honey
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Oil the base and sides of
an 18 x 11 x 8cm (7 x 4½ x 3in) loaf tin (pan) with the rapeseed (canola) oil. Line the base with baking parchment.
In a bowl, combine the flour, flakes, psyllium husk, salt and all the seeds and nuts and mix well. Add the water and honey and mix until well combined.
Spoon the mix into the prepared tin (pan). Dip your fingers in cool water and smooth over the top, pressing the bread mix well into the tin (pan) to ensure no air gaps, especially in the corners. With a flexible spatula or cranked or step palette knife, smooth out the top.
Bake for 25 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 160°C/325°F/ gas mark 3 and bake for a further 20 minutes. The top should be a dark golden brown and firm to touch and the sides will just be coming away from the edges of the tin (pan). Leave to cool in the tin (pan) for 20 minutes, then tip it out to cool completely on a wire rack. Serve slices fresh or toasted and store the loaf (in the fridge, as it’s quite a moist bread) for about 1 week.
You can freeze the loaf whole, or in slices by putting the slices on a tray lined with baking parchment and freeze. Once frozen solid, place in an airtight container or freezer bag. This way, slices are frozen individually and can be removed easily.
Cauliflower chickpea curry cakes with lime and mint raita
These spicy savoury cakes with the fresh-flavoured raita make a very satisfying midweek supper. I like to serve them with a colourful salad made from red cabbage, radish, pomegranate seeds, coriander, grated carrot, coconut flakes, pumpkin and sesame seeds. Leftovers can be enjoyed for breakfast with poached eggs.
Makes 18 cakes
Cauliflower chickpea cakes
1 small red chilli
8 spring onions (scallions)
2 large tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
20 g (¾ oz/3 tbsp) fresh turmeric,
20 g (¾ oz/3 tbsp) fresh ginger, roughly
½ large cauliflower, florets only
1 tbsp coconut oil or EVCP rapeseed oil
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
300 g (10½ oz/2 cups) cooked chickpeas
150 ml (5 fl oz/scant ⅔ cup) coconut
milk, plus more if necessary
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime
20 g (¾ oz/scant ½ cup) coriander
(cilantro), roughly chopped
75 g (2¾ oz/⅔ cup) gram flour
25 g (¾ oz/scant ¼ cup) milled flaxseeds
Salt and black pepper
Lime and mint raita
250 g (8¾ oz/1 cup) natural yogurt, coconut yogurt works well too for a dairy free option
200 g (7 oz) cucumber
Generous handful finely chopped mint
1 tsp ground cumin
4 tsp lime juice
Pinch cayenne pepper, optional
Himalayan pink salt or coarse sea salt
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6 and line a large baking tray with baking parchment.
Finely chop the chilli and spring onions (scallions) and cube the tomatoes. Using a pestle and mortar, grind the garlic, turmeric and ginger to form a rough paste. Pulse the cauliflower in a food processor until small pieces form resembling breadcrumbs. You need 350 g (12¼ oz) in total. In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the oil then add the ground turmeric, mustard and fenugreek seeds. After a few minutes, add the chopped chilli, onion and tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes or until beginning to colour. Add the garlic paste and continue to cook. When everything has softened and is coloured, add the cauliflower and chickpeas, stirring to coat. Add the coconut milk, lime zest and juice. Heat until the coconut milk just begins to boil and then lower the heat and add the coriander (cilantro), gram flour, milled flax seeds and seasoning.
Stir everything to combine on a low heat for a further 5 minutes. If it looks a bit dry, add a little more coconut milk. Remove from the heat, leave to cool slightly and check for seasoning.
To make the raita, put the yogurt into a medium-size bowl. Peel and grate the cucumber, you should get about 160 g (5½ oz) grated weight, and add to the yogurt. Add all the other ingredients, stir and season to taste, adding extra chopped mint and lime if you want.
Make the cauliflower chickpea mix into 18 small cakes in your hands. The mix will feel a little wet but that’s normal. Put the cakes onto the lined baking tray and bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove the tray from the oven, turn each cake over and bake for a further 10 minutes or until golden brown. The outer chickpeas become slightly crunchy while the inside stays perfectly soft.
Serve warm with the raita. The cakes and the raita will keep for five days in a sealed container in the fridge.
Vegetable, almond, quinoa and seed loaf, Monday 29th January 2018
This is a wonderful loaf, great for using up any floppy vegetables in your fridge. It's quick and easy and packed full of nourishing and delicious ingredients. I love to use Hodmedod's quinoa flour, a company based in Suffolk where I grew up, who are the pioneers of British pulses and grains. This loaf is at the top right of the photo to the left. Also pictured is my wholegrain gluten-free loaf, a little like Irish brown bread, made with brown rice, teff and buckwheat flours, you can get the recipe for it in my first book, Clean Cakes. The other nutty loaf and the crackers are in my next book, The Natural Baker, and I'm really looking forward to sharing all the recipes from it with you when it comes out on March 22nd, pre-order it here! In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this wonderful #VegPower bread!
2 tbsp chia seeds
6 tbsp water
150g ground almonds
100g quinoa flour
1 tsp sea salt flakes, crumbled between your fingers
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp psyllium husk powder
80g pumpkin seeds
80g sunflower seeds
250g grated mixed vegetables and fruit - at this time of year I like to use a mixture of root vegetables and apples so I do about 100g grated carrot and 50g each grated parsnip, beetroot and apple
Preheat the oven to 170oC and grease and line a 21 x 11 x 56cm deep loaf tin with baking baking parchment.
Combine the chia seeds with the water to form a gel. Mix the dry ingredients from the ground almonds to the sunflower seeds in a bowl. Add the vegetables, water and chia seeds gel and mix to combine well. Put the dough into the prepared tin, pressing it down well into the corners. Dip your fingers in water then smooth out the top of the loaf with your fingertips.
Bake for about 40 minutes, until a crust has formed and the top is golden brown. Remove the loaf from the oven, slide and knife around the edge and using oven gloves, remove it carefully from the tin. Reduce the oven to 160oC and bake it upside down on a piece of parchment paper for a further 10 minutes. When it is ready, a skewer inserted into the centre should come out clean and the bottom should sound hollow when tapped. Leave to cool completely.
As this loaf is a moist one, it keeps best in the fridge and it is best to thinly slice it and toast it. Keep in the fridge for about four days or freeze it in slices and toast from the freezer.
Five Ways With... Date and banana cake, Monday 1st January 2018
Hello and happy new year to you all! I'm starting of 2018 setting some goals and intentions, and of course, with some resolutions. A goal for my website is to create more recipes for you all and also to show the adaptability of recipes and this is what my new series, 'Five Ways With...' is all about. The more I bake and cook, the more I come across recipes that I use again and again, making small changes to them each time depending on what's in season, what's in my cupboards or what the occasion is. There are so many base recipes for cakes, pastry, biscuits and so on that, just by making little tweaks, your final dish can become something completely different from the way you used the base recipe before, as you'll see with this week's recipes below. Made using a wholesome and nutty wholegrain spelt flour, sweetened only with dates and bananas, vegan (and great if you've decided to take part in Veganuary) and very quick and easy to make, these cakes, muffins, loaf, cookies and puddings are delicious and nourishing treats; less heavy than all those pies and puddings around at Christmas, but certainly just as tasty, fulfilling any cravings if you're trying to slightly curb your cake-enthusiasm a little after the festive-excess! I hope you enjoy them. Everything can be made in one pot too so you won't be spending too much time at your kitchen sink!
Date and banana cake mix
1/2 tbsp milled flax seeds mixed with 1 1/2 tbsp water
100g dates, pitted, boiled with 100g water
50g milk (use a plant-based milk if preferred) mixed with 1/2 tsp lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
75g wholegrain spelt flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
Pinch sea salt flakes
1/4-1/2 tsp cinnamon depending on how strong you want it, or use other spices like cardamom or mixed spice
30g cold-pressed extra virgin rapeseed oil
150g banana, mashed very well with a fork, or blend it quickly in a food processor or blender
Combine the flax seeds with water and leave to form a gel. Boil the dates with the water until all of the water is absorbed and a paste is formed. Remove from the heat, add 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda, mix it in whilst it fizzes and set aside. Mix the milk with your chosen acidic liquid. Set aside. Combine all the dry ingredients from the rest of the bicarbonate of soda to the spice. Add the milled flax seed gel to the dates, the milk, the oil and the bashed banana and mix then see below for the variations.
Mini date and banana cakes
Preheat the oven to 180oC. Grease 16 mini cakes moulds with a little oil, spoon in the mix to divide it into 16 and top each cake with a slice of banana. Bake for 15 minutes. Enjoy whilst warm from the oven and keep in the fridge for about five days or freeze for at least one month.
Walnut, raisin and banana loaf
Makes 1 loaf
Preheat the oven to 180oC and grease a loaf tin with oil, lining the base with parchment paper. Add 60g roughly chopped and toasted walnuts and 40g raisins to the cake mix and bake the loaf for about 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out just clean. Keep and store as above.
Chocolate chip and oat cookie-cakes
Makes 12 cookies, about 8cm in diameter
Preheat the oven to 180oC and line a tray with baking parchment. Mix in 150g jumbo oats and 100g 70% - 85% dark chocolate chunks to the cake mix. Spoon out onto your prepared tray, dividing the mix into 12, smooth over the top with the back of a spoon until about 8cm in diameter and bake for 10 minutes, turn the tray and bake for a further five. Keep and store as above or make into little pancakes-Welsh cakes - heat a frying pan with a little oil and spoon out the mix as for the cookies. Bake for about 4 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Enjoy whilst warm with yogurt, nut butter, maple syrup...
Super multi-grain and seed breakfast muffin
Preheat the oven to 180oC and line a muffin tin with six cases. Mix 50g mixed grains and flakes (such as oats, buckwheat groats or flakes, rye or spelt flakes...), 50 mixed seeds and 50g chopped dates into the cake mix. Divide the mix between the cases, top with extra grains, seeds and half a date and bake for 20 minutes, turning the tray halfway through baking. Keep and store as above.
Sticky toffee puddings with date caramel and coconut whipped cream
Preheat the oven to 180oC and grease six muffin cases. You will need two tins of full fat coconut milk. Put a little square of paper on the bottom of each case and a tsp of date syrup (use maple syrup if you do not have date syrup). Boil a can of coconut milk with 75 maple syrup and 25g date syrups and reduce for about 10-15 minutes whilst the cakes bake. Divide the cake mix between the six moulds and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the thick top part from the other tin of coconut milk and whip until smooth (you could also use coconut cream). Serve warm from the oven with the sauce and spoonfuls of cream. Ice cream, yogurt, creme fraiche and any other creamy things are also lovely.
Edible gift and petits fours ideas and recipes, Saturday 22nd December 2017
I love to make my friends and family edible gifts for Christmas, whether bags of granola full of nuts, seeds, spices and dried fruits and homemade chocolate bars. Bags of truffles, mint thins and tahini honey bites can also double up at delicious petits fours to end your meals. Here are some recipes ideas and links for you, shared on some of my friends' websites. Hope you and your family and friends enjoy them and that you have the happiest Christmas.
Fresh mint thins
... or 'After Eights' but much better! Simply dip fresh mint leaves in dark chocolate, 70% - 85% cocoa solids, melted very slowly over a bain-marie, or using my homemade chocolate recipe below. Place the dipped leaves on a tray lined with parchment paper and place in freezer to set for about 10 minutes. Transfer to the fridge and serve from the fridge when needed, with coffee of fresh mint tea.
Rum plumped raisin truffles
Makes about 20 truffles
Soak 30g raisins in 20g rum for about 30 minutes. Semi-melt 50g dark chocolate, 70% cocoa solids, and pour over 50g boiling double cream. Stir to emulsify, mix in the raisins and all their soaking juices and leave to set in a cool place or in the fridge. Scoop with a teaspoon, roll into balls in the palms of your hands and then dust with cocoa powder. Store in the fridge.
Tahini honey halva on www.aduna.com ...the extra chocolate layer, on top of the date and sesame layer, can be used with so many things. Once made, I often love to mix in things like nuts, puffed rice and buckwheat groats for lots of texture, dried fruits are great too. Pour into a tray, swirl in tahini or your favourite nut butter and set in the freezer. Break off chunks and enjoy. One of my favourite combinations is puffed rice, buckwheat groats, toasted peanuts and swirls of peanut butter, a great little snack or lovely after supper too.
I hope that you all enjoy these and have the most wonderful and happy Christmas. I look forward to 2018 and sharing lots more delicious recipes with you.
Extra fruity fruit cake, Tuesday 28th November 2017
After a long day in the office, a Winter's walk in the cold, decorating the Christmas, an eventful day of present shopping and the many other things we are busying ourselves with over the festive period, I do believe there is nothing quite better than sitting down with a mug of tea and a piece of fruit cake. This one if full of so many good things, from the dried fruits soaked in chai tea and citrus juices to the wonderful chestnut and buckwheat flour blend and then the crunchy almonds. It does take a little time but once of the fruits are soaking overnight, you'll be a hop and skip away from getting it in the oven the next day and slicing it up warm for friends. It makes a great Chrsitmas cake too, just make it in an 18cm or 20cm round loose-bottomed cake tin. Cover it in marzipan and icing if you like, or I sometimes just like a layer of marzipan on top, a bit like a Simnel Cake. I hope you enjoy it and it warms you up this Winter.
60 g (2 oz/⅓ cup plus 1 tbsp) currants
60 g (2 oz/generous ⅓ cup) sultanas
60 g (2 oz/⅓ cup) raisins
90 g (3 oz/scant ⅔ cup) dried figs, stalks removed
90 g (3 oz/scant ⅔ cup) unsulphured dried apricots
90 g (3 oz/scant ⅔ cup) dates
Zest and 60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) juice of 1 lemon
Zest and 60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) juice of 1 orange
1 vanilla pod (bean), cut in half lengthways, seeds scraped out, pod (bean) kept
60 g (2 oz/3 tbsp) maple syrup
300 ml (10½ fl oz/1¼ cups) tea, made using 1 loose-leaf Darjeeling tea pyramid and 1 chai tea pyramid (see note)
125 g (4½ oz/¾ cup plus scant 2 tbsp) whole almonds
135 g (4¾ oz/1 cup less 2 tbsp) buckwheat flour
135 g (4¾ oz/1 cup) chestnut flour
5 tsp arrowroot
20 g (¾ oz/3 tbsp) gram flour
60 g (2 oz/½ cup) light brown muscovado sugar or coconut sugar
1½ tsp mixed spice
1½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
¼ tsp sea salt flakes or Himalayan pink salt
75 g (2¾ oz/⅓ cup) virgin coconut oil
3 plums, destoned (100 g/3½ oz without stones), fresh or frozen
5 tbsp unsweetened apple juice
20 g (¾ oz/1 tbsp) raw honey or coconut nectar
Or about 30 g (1 oz/2 tbsp) no added sugar high fruit content apricot jam. I like to use St Dalfour, available in most health food shops and supermarkets, or my friend Kylee's apricot and amaretto jam or her vanilla marmalade from Newton & Pott.
Place the currants, sultanas, raisins, figs, apricots and dates in a large glass or ceramic bowl with the citrus zests and juice, vanilla seeds and pod, maple syrup and tea. Submerge the tea pyramids in the fruit for maximum flavour. Leave to soak overnight, but not for more than 12 hours otherwise there will be no liquid left to bind the cake mix. In a separate glass or ceramic bowl, soak the almonds in 250 ml (8½ fl oz/1 cup) of filtered water with ½ tsp of Himalayan pink salt for 8–12 hours (or overnight). Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3. Line the bottom and sides of an 18 x 11 x 8 cm deep (7 x 4¼ x 3 inch) loaf tin with baking parchment.
In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients from the buckwheat flour to the salt. Drain, rinse thoroughly and set aside 50 g (1¾ oz/⅓ cup) of the almonds for the top. In a food processor, roughly process the rest of the almonds, keeping some larger pieces for texture. Add to the dry ingredients. Place the soaked figs, apricots and dates in a food processor and process until half pulp, half still whole. Add to the dry ingredients. Remove the vanilla pod and tea pyramids from the soaking liquids, squeezing them out over the bowl for extra flavour, then discard. Add the rest of the soaked fruit and liquid to the dry ingredients and processed fruit. Finally melt the coconut oil and stir it in, mixing until everything is well combined.
Pour into the tin and spread into the corners with a knife. Bang the tin lightly a few times on your work surface. Place the reserved almonds around the edge of the cake, gently pressing them into the mix. Bake for 20 minutes. Turn down the heat to 160°C/310°F/Gas Mark 2½, rotate and bake for a further 40 minutes, turning again halfway, until the top is golden-brown and slightly bounces back if touched; a skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean. Leave to cool completely in the tin.
To make the glaze, bring the plums, apple juice and honey or coconut nectar to the boil and boil for about 5 minutes, breaking up the plums with a spoon. Turn down to a simmer for 5 more minutes until thick and glossy. Remove from the heat. Turn out the cake when completely cool and use a pastry brush to brush the glaze (or apricot jam, if using) over the cake. Stored in a sealed container, this will keep well for at least five days. I store it in the fridge as it keeps better and becomes even softer. It also freezes well.
NOTE For a warming, spicy, festive flavour, use 1 bag of black tea, such as Darjeeling, brewed with 1 bag of chai tea, which contains a delicious mix of black tea, cardamom, cinnamon and ginger. Teapigs or Pukka make a great chai tea blends with no additives or sweeteners. You can use regular tea bags, but I use pyramid bags as they contain loose leaves, so have great flavour, and are less likely to rip or break than regular tea bags.
Salted tahini shortbread biscuit bars with yogurt-coated walnuts and figs, Friday 27th October 2017
These bars are crazy-good! Crunchy toasted walnuts and sweet, juicy dried figs coated in homemade yogurt-like ‘white chocolate’ on a slightly salty buttery biscuit base… they're quite hard to put down and devilishly moreish and probably won’t be around for long.
Makes 24 square bars
‘White chocolate yogurt’
120 g (4¼ oz/scant ½ cup) cashew butter
180 g (6¼ oz/¾ cup plus 1 tbsp) cacao butter, melted
½ vanilla pod (bean), split lengthways and seeds scraped out
Finely grated zest of ½ lemon
65 g (2¼ oz/generous 3 tbsp) raw honey
Pinch sea salt flakes or Himalyan pink salt
360 g (12¾ oz/3½ cups) walnuts
80 g (2¾ oz/⅓ cup plus 1 tbsp) virgin coconut oil, softened but not melted
120 g (4¼ oz/scant 1 cup) light brown muscovado sugar or coconut sugar
180 g (6¼ oz/¾ cup) light tahini
2 tsp vanilla extract
200 g (7 oz/1⅔ cups) oat flour (or blend oats in a blender till as fine as possible; use gluten-free oats/ oat flour if necessary)
20 g (¾ oz/2½ tbsp) arrowroot
2 tsp coarse sea salt, finely ground
1 tsp baking powder
200 g (7 oz/1¼ cups) dried figs, small stalks removed
To make the ‘white chocolate yogurt’ place everything in a blender and blend until completely smooth. Pour into a bowl and set aside, leaving it in a warm place so it does not set.
Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3. Line a 30 x 20 x 3 cm deep (12 x 8 x 1¼ inch) tin with baking parchment. Line another tray with baking parchment and toast 160 g (5½ oz/1½ cups) of the walnuts on it for 7 minutes or until just beginning to colour. Set aside to cool.
Beat together the coconut oil, coconut or light brown muscovado sugar, tahini and vanilla extract until smooth.
Blitz the remaining 200 g (7 oz/2 cups) of walnuts in a food processor with the oat flour and arrowroot until as fine as possible. Add the salt and baking powder and blitz once more. Combine the dry ingredients with the tahini, sugar and oil mixture. Finish by bringing the mix together with your hands. Press the biscuit mix into the prepared tin, smoothing it out to make an even base with a step palette knife. Bake for 30–35 minutes, turning halfway, until light brown. Leave to cool.
Roughly chop the figs into about 4–6 pieces each. Roughly chop the toasted walnuts into pieces a bit larger than peas. Mix thoroughly into the ‘white chocolate yogurt’ and then immediately pour over the cooled tahini shortbread base. Leave to set in the freezer for 30 minutes, then remove from the tin and cut with a large serrated knife into 5 cm (2 inch) squares and serve.
Keeps well for five days in a sealed container.
For a vegan ‘white chocolate yogurt’, blonde coconut nectar works well in the place of the raw honey. You can also use regular white chocolate if you like, I like Green and Blacks organic white chocolate.
Recipe from Clean Cakes. Photo by Lisa Linder.
Rosemary, orange, dark chocolate and hazelnut sablés, Friday 6th October 2017
Literally meaning ‘sandy’ in French, sablé biscuits are delectably buttery, crumbly and just melt in the mouth. While a basic recipe would constitute flour, butter and sugar, here I have added chopped hazelnuts to contrast with the crumbly buckwheat dough, and a marriage of beautiful flavours – rosemary, dark chocolate and orange.
Makes about 14 sablés
95 g (3¼ oz/⅓ cup plus 1 tbsp) unsalted butter
30 g (1 oz/¼ cup) light brown muscovado sugar or coconut sugar
Finely grated zest of ½ orange
2 tsp finely chopped rosemary needles
¼ tsp coarse sea salt, finely ground
1 egg yolk
85 g (3 oz/⅔ cup) hazelnuts
65 g (2¼ oz/⅓ cup plus 2 tbsp) buckwheat flour
50 g (1¾ oz) dark chocolate, 85% cocoa solids
Cream the butter and sugar with the orange zest, chopped rosemary and salt until pale white. Add the egg yolk and carry on mixing. In a food processor, chop the hazelnuts up until quite small but not ground. We want to keep some texture. Combine the nuts with the flour, and add them both to the mix. Finally chop the chocolate into rough pea-sized pieces and add.
The mix will look wet and sticky but this is normal. Scrape the mix out from the mixing bowl onto a 30 cm (12 inch) square piece of baking parchment. Roll out to a log about 4 cm (1½ inches) in diameter, by folding the excess baking parchment over the raw mix and then shaping the mix. Freeze for 2–3 hours (or overnight) until firm enough to cut into discs. You can always re-shape the raw biscuits with your hands if necessary.
Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3. Line a baking tray with baking parchment.
Cut the dough into 1 cm (⅓ inch) slices, place on the lined tray and bake for 10–15 minutes, rotating the tray halfway, until the edges are dark golden and the centre is coloured too. Baking them properly really brings out the flavour of the nuts and rosemary. Leave to cool completely on the tray and serve. Keeps in a sealed container for up to five days.
You could also use dark chocolate with 70 per cent cocoa solids in this recipe if you find 85 per cent too bitter.
This recipe is from the biscuits, brownies and bars chapter of Clean Cakes. Photo by Lisa Linder. I prefer to use organic unsalted cow's butter, but dairy-free butter, goat's or sheep's butter will also work if you have any allergies or intolerances.
Guest recipe from Tess Lister's A Handful of Flour, Baked apricot, almond and honey porridge, Friday 1st September 2017
I love this recipe from my friend Tess, daughter of John Lister, the founder of Shipton Mill. Her book is written with so much compassion and love for the Mill and everything they do there. I thoroughly recommend you get your hands on a copy if you love baking and finding out about new grains to use in your cooking. Tess' extra anecdotes about life at the Mill make you feel like you're a part of the family and draw you into making her wonderful recipes, like this one here about their bees. I must ask her how they're keeping (no pun intended!). Take it away, Tess...
This is a perfect weekend breakfast for when you have a bit more time, but want to expend very little effort. It takes about three minutes to throw all the ingredients into a dish to bake, and then you can pretty much ignore it and leave it in the oven until it's ready. You can adapt the fruit to what is in season or what you have in the house. In the winter months, dried fruit such as figs, prunes or dates also work well, as soaking the dried fruit in the cream and milk softens it while cooking.
150 g jumbo rolled oats
30g whole blanched almonds, coarsely chopped
200g apricots, stoned and sliced
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp dark muscovado sugar
150ml whipping cream
Clear honey, to drizzle
Preheat your oven to 170C/ gas 4.
Place all the dry ingredients, including the fruit, in an ovenproof dish, approximately 15 x 24-cm. Pour the liquid ingredients on top and stir to combine. Bake for 45-50 minutes until the liquid has been absorbed. Remove from the oven and drizzle with honey before serving.
Enjoy with a glass of milk or with your morning coffee on the side. If you want to loosen the porridge, add an extra dash of milk just before serving.
We've had a slightly tempestuous relationship with our bees at the Mill. After living happily in their old hives among the orchards for years, one day they decamped and went to live in the hill. Some bees do remain in one of the old hives-you can take a stethoscope to the side and hear the buzzing of activity - but I've got no idea what's actually going on in there. I won't go into the relationship breakdown, but we're in the process of winning the bees back. We've built them a shiny new housing development of beautiful hives to tempt them, scented with lemongrass oil, which they are meant to love. Perhaps we went wrong by ignoring old folklore, according to which bees are both intelligent and potentially spiteful. If you don't keep them in the loop, they will withhold their honey. For example, you are supposed to tell them when somebody dies, and if you're going to give bees a new home, you need to signal this by knocking three times on the roof of their existing hive. I would laugh, but unfortunately given that we're currently in the 'withholding of honey' phase I may have to start chatting to them more if they don't take to the lemongrass oil. Prior to their move, every year we would harvest the honey to have our own. I remember nervously getting kitted up in my bee-keeping gear as a child to help.
Honey offers a whole spectrum of flavours but note that a good-quality honey will taste very different to the squeezy-bottle variety. The latter is great for adding extra sweetness, but if the real focus is going to be on the honey it's worth sourcing something amazing.
Producers I work with
Cooking delicious food is all about using the best ingredients, not forgetting sourcing locally whenever we can. I wanted to tell you more about my favourite producers and why I use their products in a series of interviews and visits. My first interview was with Steenbergs, whose spices, dried herbs and flower waters I have been using for years. I thoroughly recommend Axel and Sophie's little pots of magic and I hope that you enjoy finding out more about them here. Thank you so much, Sophie, for taking the time to answer my questions.
Tell us about your brand? What are your products and how did it all begin?
Steenbergs is at heart an organic brand that specialises in spices, spice blends, loose leaf teas and baking ingredients. Axel and I (husband and wife) started Steenbergs in 2003 as we felt that we could offer something different in the spice market and we concentrated on creating organic spice blends that didn’t compromise on flavour, were without artificial colours and fillers. We were also the first company in the UK licensed to sell spices carrying the Fairtrade Mark. We launched our baking range off the back of this when we started selling organic Fairtrade Vanilla Extract. All our baking extracts and flower waters, the majority of which are organic are also sugar free, without colourings and preservatives. We also offer a wide range of loose leaf teas and herbal infusions many of which are organic. If we don’t sell them as organic it’s because we can’t get them organically or there is a key ingredient which we think essential to the blend that we can’t get organically.
Compared to other similar products we might see on the market, why do you think your products are of the highest quality? Not only in terms of flavour but health too?
We won’t compromise on quality for price. All our Fairtrade products are bought direct from producers. Feedback we have is that the blends are full of flavour, so food manufacturers use less of them to achieve similar end flavours.
What are your brand beliefs?
Organic, definitely Fairtrade – the first company in the UK licensed to sell Fairtrade spices, ethical and environmentally friendly. We started our spices in the now distinctive size pot because it’s practical for cooks to get a pinch or a teaspoon in and it can either be reused or recycled. Our baking range is also in glass so it can be refilled or recycled easily. All our products are vegan with the baking range registered with the vegan society, we have over 200 products also certified as kosher, including the whole baking range. We have made a commitment as a business to use as little plastic as possible – all our protective packaging is compostable and is a mixture of different papers, we even use paper tape. Our refill range and the bags for loose leaf tea are currently plastic but we will pack into paper if you ask us to, but currently it’s not something that has enough shelf life so we pack to order in paper. We will continue to work with this as it’s always been something at the heart of Steenbergs.
What do you enjoy most about working at Steenbergs?
I’m very proud of what we have achieved with Steenbergs – not just with the range but also how our customers see us and value our brand values. We love that the range constantly evolves and we work with our customers to provide the range they want.
Where are your products available to buy?
We are stocked in a variety of food halls, farm shops and delis, in all the Wholefoods, Bayley & Sage, on Amazon and our own website – www.steenbergs.co.uk.
Have you received any unforgettable customer feedback that has made you think, ‘it really is all worth it’?
We are always amazed and touched when people take the time and trouble to thank us. As a company we try to go the extra mile for people, to get things to them by a certain date if they tell us it’s for something etc. People also really seem to appreciate the way we pack the orders with the plastic free protective wrapping. What’s also lovely is seeing and hearing how our customers have cooked and created with our products – social media has been a real boon for that.
I LOVE your rose water, it’s probably my favourite product of yours. A lot on the market can be quite pungent, how do you achieve that incredibly delicate and pure rose flavour?
Many of those on the market are rose oil diluted, ours is a true organic rose water made the traditional way, without sugar, preservatives, colours or any other nasties.
How do you like to use your extracts and flowers waters? And what are your favourite spices and why? Any tips on how best to use them?
Rose water is probably one of our favourites, just a little in an icing brings it to a new level. Our organic Fairtrade vanilla extract is also one of the favourites when we bake at home as well as the organic lemon extract – it’s amazing in biscuits as because it’s on an oil base it makes them slightly chewier. To be fair we use them all – the almond extract is just amazing even when you walk into the factory when it’s being packed – always make me think of macaroons from my childhood.
What do you see for the future of Steenbergs? Any exciting new products we can look forward to?
We continue to innovate and bought a cocktail spice business last year which we are currently rebranding and adding additional products to. We are still adding to the main Steenbergs range and have just added two more blends that we roast in small batches for added flavour – Ttoasted organic garam masala and toasted organic curry powder. These join our organic dukkah and za'atar where the spices have always been toasted in small batches. We’ve also launched a whole range of different mixed spices for various baking such as organic hot cross bun mix. We’re also awaiting our first delivery of Para’s Pepper, as we are now the distributor of Parashawaram pepper – which is an amazing single estate red pepper.
Charities I work with
I love to use my baking in as many positive ways as I can. Whether it is sharing my skills or selling my patisserie to raise money for enterprises close to my heart. At the moment I am working with Cook For Syria, Luminary Bakery and Karuna Social Programme.
#CookForSYRIA is a global fundraising initiative curated by Clerkenwell Boy and SUITCASE Magazine in partnership with Unicef NEXTGeneration London. #CookForSYRIA first started as a simple supper club, where a group of foodie friends came together to celebrate Syrian cuisine and raise money to help Unicef protect Syrian children. Now it’s a global movement, and everybody is invited to the table. From cookbooks to supper clubs, #CookForSYRIA is raising vital funds for Unicef with support from the world’s top chefs, restaurants and volunteers. It's been such a privelege to contribute to #CookForSyria. I created an orange, almond and pistachio cake with pomegranate rose jewel syrup for the cookbook and I've had a cake stall at the past two #BakeForSyria sales. I look forward to working with this inspiring and award-winning charity a lot more in the future. Find out how you can help to here.
Luminary Bakery is an amazing social enterprise that is very close to my heart and I am very proud to be one of their ambassadors. Working with this incredible social enterprise, sharing my skills as a pastry chef, teaching and helping them empower women who have had a social and economic disadvantage build a future for themselves and their families, is very important to me. I've known the team at Luminary and been working with them for about a year now, a period in which they've been growing from strength to strength. From their bakery and wholesale business to their beautiful new café space in Stoke Newington, to collaborations with Ben and Jerrys and most recently, starting to sell their delights at Borough Market. They never cease to amaze me with their endless enthusiasm and energy and most importantly, with the support, safe and professional environment that they give to the women on their employability programmes. I'm so excited to be a part of this growth, encouraging ambition, restoration and second chances. Read more about Luminary, what they do and how you can be involved here.
Karuna was the first woman to be employed ten years ago in the ground-breaking women's craft centre, Karuna Social Programme, created by Eduardo Bores in Nepal. Originally from Gorkha, the Gaikhur district in the mountains, Karuna left her two children with their grandparents in order to take the job at the craft centre. Thanks to the project, Karuna now lives with her family again. Her children now attend the local school in Patan and with her work at the centre, she is able to support her family. Eduardo Bores founded the Spanish registered charity, naming it after her, Karuna (in Sanskrit 'Hope'), that helps women with limited resources and uncertain family environments to have a stable job at the craft centre in Bhaktapur and to enable them to lead a basic but dignified life. The clothes, bags, tablecloths, jewellery and so many unique and beautiful pieces that they make are sold in Barcelona and London every year by volunteers like my friends Alvaro and Fred. I'll be helping to co-host sales in Suffolk and hopefully be doing some baking for the sales too. Please all join me in supporting the programme and follow @karuna_social_programme to find out more about their work.