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 today 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, applying to them my skills as a pastry 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. I am also writing 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, which will be published in April 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.
Natural baking is easy, fun and most importantly, delicious. If you'd like to learn how to bake the way I do then do come to one of my classes. I teach 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. Private classes last for three hours and are a great day out!
I also teach larger groups in various locations in London. Please see below for my next classes.
Vegan Christmas Baking with The Natural Baker at Luminary Bakery, Tuesday 12th December, 6pm - 9pm. Details to be announced soon. SAVE THE DATE.
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 (sample menu). 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.
Cakes for you
I make bespoke celebration cakes, tarts, biscuits, bars, brownies and lots more to order. I also cater for events such as afternoon teas and parties. Please contact me for more details.
A full list of my products will be coming soon.
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!) and Diana Neto, another wonderful pastry chef.
Young British Brands to Watch, Christmas Pop Up at Kreativ House, Saturday 2nd December, 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 - Laurin 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.
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!
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!
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 Himalyan pink salt or sea salt flakes
360 g (12¾ oz/3½ cups) walnuts
80 g (2¾ oz/⅓ cup plus 1 tbsp) coconut oil, softened but not melted
120 g (4¼ oz/scant 1 cup) coconut sugar or light brown muscovado 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) coconut sugar or light brown muscovado 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.
New blog posts coming soon.
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 and I look forward to telling you more about them, our work together and how you can also support them soon.