Last week my talented and beautiful friend Henrietta Inman released her debut cookbook, Clean Cakes. Earlier this week, in celebration of the book release, you may have seen my profile piece on Henrietta appear over on The Fit Foodie. Since I’ve also personally had a chance to test out an advance copy of Hen’s cookbook for the past few weeks, I wanted to share with you my own review of Clean Cakes on here, and as an added bonus, a few foodie tips from Hen herself! Read on…
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Henrietta is a professional patisserie chef with several years’ experience working in highly-acclaimed establishments in the UK. Graduating with distinction from the Professional Pâtisserie Scholarship at Westminster Kingsway College, after honing her skills in elite commercial kitchens she returned to her home town of Suffolk in 2013 to start her own personal patisserie business. Soon Hen was taking orders for private commissions such as large events and celebration cakes, as well as selling her artisan goods at pop-up pâtisseries, farmers’ markets and food festivals. As her business grew, Hen realised that she wanted to apply her professional skills to creating her own unique, naturally nourishing and health-ified patisserie, and from then, Hen’s Clean Cakes took shape. And flourished!
Hen’s debut cookbook Clean Cakes is a reflection of her magical abilities as a pastry chef combined with her genuine passion for healthy food; on first having a flick through the pages you are instantly aware of her talent in the kitchen. However, Hen has clearly created this book with the aim of getting even the amateur cook in a position to make some truly incredible treats, as the book helpfully begins with a gentle introduction into the world of free-from, natural baking, giving you an overview of the key ingredients and equipment you’ll be using. This section will prove invaluable if you’re just getting into healthy cooking; it’s so handy to have this little summary in one book. Even better is the second part of the introductory section; ten pages focussed on foundation techniques and recipes for things like soaking + dehydrating, making jam, nut milks + butters and (my favourite) a versatile basic recipe for a perfect sweet pastry based on buckwheat flour. Again; so excellent to have all of this consolidated into one place!
After you’re all set with the basics, Clean Cakes is divided into several inspirational chapters dedicated to different types of treats; cakes, cookies + bars + brownies, muffins + breads + loaves, tarts + pies, raw desserts and chocolates + petit four-style clean treats. There’s quite a variety of options included in terms of both flavours (including some savoury recipes!) and the time/effort required to create things. Some of the cakes and other desserts are a little fiddly, requiring you to whip, cream, chill and/or construct separate layers – but the reward with these is that of course, you end up with an absolute showstopper piece. It’s in these recipes that Hen’s depth of talent shines so bright, and I think you’ll really love these recipes if you want to elevate your own home cooking to a new level. On the flip side, Clean Cakes also includes a number of throw-together, mix-it-all up items that are much less fuss. You’ll really love these recipes if you’re just starting to experiment with healthy cooking or you’re just in the mood for a relaxed bake day one lazy weekend.
Overall, Clean Cakes is an excellent resource for free-from, whole foods cooking; a beautifully-photographed book of inspiration. Within its pages you will find a multitude of recipes that are free from refined sugar, gluten and dairy; many of these recipes cater for vegan, paleo and/or nut free requirements too. But, you might be asking, what’s the taste verdict? Though I’d previously received a sample box of Hen’s signature cakes from the chef herself, all recipes from the book – and which were all really delicious – I didn’t want to post my review until I’d also whipped up a couple of things in my kitchen. So, I attempted the Purple Haze Loaf with Super Berry Cashew ‘Yoghurt’ and the Tutti-frutti Buckwheat Florentines… and both turned out beautifully and tasted actually delicious – not just a sad sorry “healthy version” of something else. I didn’t have any of the purple corn flour listed in the ingredients for the purple haze loaf, but using some blueberry powder mixed with tapioca flour still produced an excellent bread for me. The household favourite was the florentines though. They almost disappeared before I could photograph them! Here are my own snaps so you can see how the recipes turn out at home:
Hen’s Top Healthy Foodie Tips
Henrietta is yet another incredibly talented, beautiful soul that I’ve had the pleasure of meeting since I moved to London; this city really is bursting with so much talent and entrepreneurship. She shared a few quick foodie tips with me during some emails recently and I wanted to end this review by sharing them with you!
Do you have any favourite healthy places that you like to eat and/or shop around London?
I really like The Good Life Eatery on Sloane Avenue. Not only is the food yummy – I love all their salads, their portions are really generous – but there is something for everyone. Whether you’re vegan or if you prefer not to eat gluten or dairy or, you DO want to eat gluten (they have spelt sourdough, croissant and scones) and you do like a bit of dairy, meat or fish; it’s a really fun, friendly and relaxed place, not at all preachy so a great spot to take friends who might be a bit overwhelmed or apprehensive about all this healthy stuff! Their cold-pressed juices (I love Drink Your Salad) are the best, and I love their groovy branding. I also love 26 Grains for their delicious and absolutely beautiful ‘hug in a bowl’ bowls of porridge. The Detox Kitchen on Mortimer Street is also a favourite, I think I go at least once a week, their salads are incredible and their sweet treats like brownies and flapjacks are really good too.
I’m really interested in raw food too, so I love Nama Foods and the Wild Food Café is fun, though I’ve only ever had a take-away as it’s always so busy, which is a good sign! There’s also a sweet little place in London Fields called Tiosk where I love to go after yoga or a swim in the open air Lido. They have almond milks from The Pressery and make delicious chia puddings or Bircher muesli, plus cold-pressed juices and wonderful tisanes. For shopping I try to keep it local and support nearby shops and health-food stores; anywhere that stocks healthy foods and drinks from some of my favourite suppliers like Rude Health, Aduna or CO YO is up my street! At the weekends I love going to farmers’ markets, for which London is spoilt for choice, to stock up on fruit and vegetables for the week ahead.
What are some of your favourite ingredients to use in clean cakes?
- I love Palmyra nectar powder (Organic SugaVida). It’s the most phenomenal superfood sweetener, used in Ayurvedic medicine for over 5000 years. It’s dark in colour with a rich caramel taste and great in recipes with autumn fruits, spices and dark chocolate;
- Some of my favourite whole-grain gluten-free flours are buckwheat, teff and brown rice flours (I combine them all in an amazingly tasty and versatile seeded bread) and for grain-free baking, chestnut and coconut flours are excellent;
- Nuts and seeds, preferably toasted for maximum flavour, are great for providing crunch as texture is so important;
- Himalayan pink salt or Maldon sea salt; salt might sound odd in sweet cakes but just a little really enlivens the flavours;
- Lemons, zest and juice; again, to enliven things when a little extra freshness is needed;
- Coconut Milk for its versatility – either use the liquid milk as a replacement for cream in recipes for sauces or chocolate truffles, or leave the milk to set in the fridge overnight, whipping it up the next day to enjoy with fresh fruit, or incorporate with melted chocolate or puréed fruits to make dreamily light mousses or raw cakes;
- Medjool dates, dried figs and unsulphured apricots which all have lovely soft and chewy textures and they’re great natural sweeteners too. Ground cinnamon and vanilla are great flavour enhancers too; they’re great for adding subtle sweetness when you need just a little bit extra.
Clean Cakes; Delicious pâtisserie made with whole, natural and nourishing ingredients and free from gluten, dairy and refined sugar – published by Jacqui Small, is out now. Grab a copy online right now via this affiliate link: Click to purchase Clean Cakes on Amazon
*Please note: Professional photos appearing in this article are extracted from the book and have been provided courtesy of Henrietta Inman. All professional photographs are by Lisa Linder.*