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Henrietta Inman: Hen's Clean Cakes

Henrietta Inman of Hen's Clean Cakes has taken patisserie to a whole new level. Using wholesome, natural foods and cutting out refined sugar, gluten and dairy, Henrietta creates tasty sweet treats that are both nourishing and exquisitely beautiful! 

We spoke to Henrietta to find out more about her Clean Cakes, her inspiration and her favourite ways to use baobab and moringa:

Tell us about yourself and how Hen's Clean Cakes came about:

I have been a pastry chef for about 6 years now. After graduating from Edinburgh University, I went straight to London and enrolled on the Professional Patisserie Scholarship at Westminster Kingsway College. Whilst studying, I did an apprenticeship in the pastry kitchen at the Lanesborough Hotel, London. I then worked in other award-winning Michelin starred kitchens in London before I decided to move home to Suffolk about two years ago to start my own business.

I decided to start my company, Hen’s Clean Cakes, after becoming bored of baking with the usual ingredients associated with baking and patisserie, namely plain white flour, caster sugar and lots of butter! I wanted to make use of all the wonderful versatile and varied ingredients that are available today and not to limit myself to the typical baking ingredients. As I love to eat healthily myself, I thought, ‘Why not fill my cakes with the foods that I love, and that I know that many other people love to eat?’ Whole, natural, real foods are what our bodies thrive on, so now I have created my new patisserie, Clean Cakes. I just want to show that cooking healthily, even when it comes to sweet things, does NOT have to mean compromising on flavour, texture or appearance.

Your recipes are always so creative and look delicious. Where do you get your inspiration?

Thank you! I get a lot of inspiration from where I live. I live and work in the countryside in Suffolk and having fresh country air all the time keeps my creative juices flowing! We are lucky enough to have our own garden packed with seasonal vegetables, herbs, fruit bushes, trees and flowers so I really cook with the seasons; I reflect upon what’s good in our garden, or what local producers and friends have in their gardens, and then think about how I can put them into a new creation. The art and craftsmanship of traditional patisserie also still inspire me and taught me how important it is for food to appeal to the eyes first. I love to make my food look beautiful so I use fresh flowers from my garden for decoration. I also love to experiment with new ingredients all the time; I love to learn about them, how they taste and what their health benefits are and think about what flavours they could be paired with. It’s a never-ending process of creative FUN!

Henrietta's Raw Summer Fruit Tart

What are the ingredients you can’t live without? 

Himalayan pink salt or good quality sea salt such as Maldon, lemon zest, vanilla pods and ground cinnamon are four ingredients I couldn't be without when making my Clean Cakes. Salt in sweet things might sound odd, but a little just really lifts the flavours up. Sometimes, adding even more is great with certain flavours, like very dark chocolate and caramel, creating that addictive and lip-smacking salty-sweetness. Lemon zest acts similarly, adding a little freshness and lifting flavours up a notch. Vanilla (I use the seeds from the pods or vanilla extract from Steenbergs) acts as a wonderful natural sweetener and creates a soft, sweet and balancing fragrant flavour, whilst cinnamon adds a subtle warm sweetness and regulates blood sugar too. 

What’s your go-to recipe for friends/dinner parties?

It depends on the time of the year. In the winter, I think chocolate goes down well so I love to make my Velvet Chocolate Pots served in pretty teacups with my Chocolate Truffle Teff Flour Brownies. My Bitter Chocolate Orange Ice Cream Cake with Chocolate Silk Glaze is a hit at any time of the year (all three recipes are in my book, Clean Cakes, coming out February 2016) or my Raw Malty Caramel Biscuit Brownies (recipe on my blog). The velvet chocolate pots are made with avocado, raw cacao and chocolate coconut yoghurt which keep the mousse-like pots perfectly light and fresh but wonderfully smooth and rich at the same time. In the summer I love to make my Strawberries and Cream Dream Cake or just serve bowlfuls of local berries with whipped vanilla coconut cream, chopped toasted nuts and a drizzle of local raw honey. 

Where can we get hold of your tasty treats?

I sell my cakes locally in Suffolk, taking private orders via email or telephone, and go to a local farmers’ market, Snape Farmers’ Market, every first Saturday of the month. On September 27th I will be at Fare Healthy in the "Have a Go" area teaching you how to make some of my creations as well as having lots of tasters. I’ll also be at Harbours Bazaar with lots of my creations in November. You can find out all about my upcoming events on the events page on my website. You can also try making many of my Clean Cakes using the recipes on my blog and next year you’ll be able to make over 75 cakes, tarts, biscuits, brownies, raw cakes and other delights using the recipes from my book which I cannot wait to share with you!

Where do you see Hen’s Clean Cakes in 5 years?

For a long time I've dreamt of having a café and that thought is always in the back of my mind, creating my own colourful space for people to come and enjoy my colourful food! Maybe in five years I’ll have that café! I am collaborating with some amazing health and wellness brands this year and I do hope to do more of that too, supplying them with little Clean Cake treats for events. I’d really like to develop some recipes to be packaged too, so that more and more people not only in the UK but around the world can taste my creations. Above all, I want to create a successful business, carry on blogging and perhaps write some more books and generally inspire, show and teach more and more people that baking with nourishing and natural foods is not only possible, but it’s really delicious too!

What are your favourite ways to use baobab & moringa?

I love adding baobab to my fruity raw cakes and desserts and to my raw energy-boosting bites. Its citrussy notes means it really lifts the flavour especially of fresh fruits, such as berries and exotic fruits like mango and pineapple.  Moringa is very slightly bitter so needs a bit of sweetness. Like baobab, I love to add it to my raw bars or to the bases of my raw desserts. If I’m not using them in my Clean Cakes, I’ll be putting them in my morning breakfast smoothies which I love to make most days in the summer. I might add a little moringa to my salads too and if I’m not having a smoothie, I’ll add a sprinkle of them both to my porridge, Bircher muesli or chia puddings. It’s a real treat adding them to any of my food and I can just feel them doing me good. 

To find out more about Henrietta or to try some of her delicious recipes, head over to her blog

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