Regular readers will be all too aware of my of food philosophy. It is not only a wonderfully expressive and creative medium, but an achievable and affordable way of bringing a little magic into everyday life. One only needs to look at some of the brilliant, beautiful and even bizarre treats that are being created by the country’s culinary alchemists to see just what is possible with even humble ingredients. Such virtuoso’s are not content to just satisfy and sustain, they want to titillate, provoke and challenge. They want to give every single customer a moment to savour and an experience to remember. They are an inspiration to so many, myself included and none moreso than Lily Jones of Lily Vanilli.
Lily is uninterested in the tired and tedious. Her business is the delectable, the fantastical and the tantalising, from beautiful bespoke cakes to cheeky little tarts, pastries, cupcakes and confections. Her clientele is rightly celebrated, but the real star of the show is her baking, which is as enticing as it is inspired. I have been a massive fan for a long time, so I was delighted to have the opportunity to recently ask her a few quick questions…
It's a long term hobby, I find it relaxes and inspires me.
How did you become a baker?
Just by doing it! Reading & practice.
Lily Vanilli is well known for its outlandish and fantastical cakes. What has been the most unusual cake you have created?
I once made a cake replica of a lady's boyfriend's head - it was her Valentine's gift to him. They just asked me to make their engagement cake so I think it went down well!
What inspires you?
Old cook books, ingredients, the changing of the seasons, colours, flowers, buildings, jewellery. East London, Kerala.
What is the most popular type of cake you sell? Why do you think that is?
It changes all the time - I never make the same cake twice for an order and we make new things for the bakery each week that generally all sell out. Its hard to beat a chocolate brownie and a sausage roll though.
What is you favourite cake to make and to eat?
It changes all the time!
Have you had any baking disasters?
Yeah, but it's generally a structural issue.
What's next for you and your business?
I'm currently working on a bakery project in Kerala, South India.
What cake should everyone learn to bake?
Start basic and then make it your own - everyone should learn to bake their own, personal dream cake.
What single piece of advice would you give to aspiring bakers?
Learn in the style of Karate Kid - cover the basics over and over until you are a master - then you can develop your own style.
For more information please visit http://www.lilyvanilli.com/. Lily Vanilli's beautiful baking book Sweet Tooth is published by Canongate books http://www.canongate.tv/lily-vanilli-s-sweet-tooth.html