“Clean treats” are definitely skyrocketing in popularity at the moment, and it can be super fun to make healthier versions of our favourite cakes and other sweets - what could be better than a nourishing treat? But...baking sans gluten, dairy and refined white sugar can be pretty darn tricky!
Where to get help? Meet Henrietta Inman, a professional pastry chef who has applied her expertise to create her own unique healthy patisserie, Hen’s Clean Cakes - and which has done so well it’s now also blossomed into a beautiful new cookbook, Clean Cakes.
Henrietta grew up in rural Suffolk, a region well known for its buzzing food scene and array of talented local producers. Inspired by her surroundings, after studying languages at university she enrolled in the Professional Pâtisserie Scholarship at Westminster Kingsway College, graduated with distinction, and went on to work as a pastry chef in a range of award-winning kitchens including the 5-star Lanesborough Hotel, London.
Then, the beginning of Hen’s Clean Cakes. After almost five years of working in professional kitchens, Henrietta moved home and started her own business in December 2013.
“I realised that I wanted to be my own boss and create my own food... I love eating healthy real food myself and knowing what I’m putting into my body. I realised that finding healthy alternatives for pudding and sweet treats that deliver on flavour, texture and look great too were often difficult to find. So I decided to spread my love for healthy wholefood eating to the sweeter things in life: to pudding, to tea time, to the cake!” says Henrietta.
Henrietta began working on bespoke orders for private commissions and selling her beautiful treats at pop-up pâtisseries, farmers’ markets and food festivals. Since then, demand and appreciation for Hen’s Clean Cakes has only grown, which has now - excitedly for all of us who cannot order directly from her - turned into a cookbook as well.
I spoke to Henrietta about what motivated her to move into a clean treats business. While she doesn’t have specific food intolerances, Henrietta was mindful of the fact that personally, her skin, energy levels and general well being were improved when she cut out processed foods and stuck to more natural options, and she also noticed a demand for more free-from options from her customers.
“I want my Clean Cakes to be for everyone and I don’t want to turn away those with allergies and intolerances.”
And she’s conscious of the amount of sweetener used, too.
“The balance of sweetness is so important and I never over-sweeten my Clean Cakes (it’s not good for us, it’s not natural and it’s not necessary) but instead I add just enough sweetness to lift up and compliment all the other wonderful flavours I create. Over-sweetened things only taste of sugar, where are all the other flavours?!”
Do you think this demand for a healthier type of treat reflects a change in consumer habits?
For sure. I think that more and more people are getting into their kitchens and cooking from scratch, which always leads to experimenting with new ingredients. We don’t see the traditional ‘meat and two veg’ so much anymore...As an ever-increasing amount of people are getting into their kitchens, we are becoming more aware of the ingredients we are using and in turn, the food that is going into our bodies and how it makes us feel - whether it fills us up and energizes us or if it does the opposite, bloats us and drains our energy. This leads to making wiser choices about the foods we buy and eat. Plus, when people become more willing to experiment with new ingredients, they are often willing to seek out healthier alternatives too - vegetable spaghetti instead of reaching for white pasta; unrefined sweeteners like fruit purées, maple syrup or local raw honey…things are just getting better!
With such a positive, energetic mindset toward a healthy diet, and incredible skills as a professional pastry chef, it’s no wonder that Henrietta has been able to create an amazing new cookbook to help us all enjoy an array of healthier cakes and bakes.
Clean Cakes is built upon a foundation of nutritious, whole foods with an emphasis on using unprocessed, unrefined, natural, seasonal and local ingredients. The first section of the book gives you a pantry overview and base recipes for things like frosting, nut butters and jams. This is followed by over 75 beautifully photographed recipes, from decadent chocolate truffle brownies and multi-layered raw cakes to omega mix granola bars, fruit pies and some savoury recipes for tarts, pies and special nibbles like chickpea curry cakes. It’s not just your bog standard gluten-free sponge either; with Hen’s professional training she’s got the ability to make some absolutely phenomenal combinations work. Did you just say courgette, basil, lime and pistachio cake with avocado lime cream and raspberry jam?! Yes please.
Clean Cakes is the ultimate cookbook for anyone who enjoys baking as well as experimenting with new and alternative ingredients. You’ll be able to produce the most spectacular cakes but with a hidden healthy twist; winning over the health-conscious and those ready to indulge. The book is perfect for those who for health or lifestyle reasons want to eliminate gluten, dairy or refined sugar from their diet but who still want to satisfy their sweet tooth and create their own nutritious masterpieces. The book includes many egg-free and vegan recipes too, as well as nut-free and grain-free options.
To connect with Henrietta, visit her website, Instagram or Facebook. If you’re keen to grab a copy of Clean Cakes, the book will be distributed in Australia by Allen and Unwin and will be available to buy in all good bookstores and online from 18th February. For readers outside of Australia, click here for more information and to order.