If you follow wellbeing expert Calgary Avansino you might already be familiar with Henrietta Inman — the Lanesborough Hotel pastry-chef-turned-food-blogger, who creates healthy (but-oh-so-yummy) baked treats.
Her versions of your favourite indulgences are free from gluten, dairy and refined sugar, and come with added super-supplements to boot (think Raw Malty Caramel Biscuit Brownies with Maca Powder – a ground root used for hormonal balance, strength, energy and endurance).
Browse her blog, Hen’s Clean Cakes, for mouth-watering, tummy-rumbling recipes guaranteed to impress even the most virtuous guests at your next dinner party.
Here, we talk to Henrietta herself to find out why she stared making healthy alternatives to sweet treats and steal some expert tips on how you can make them at home for yourself.
Why did you decide to start Clean Cakes?
Having trained and worked in London as a successful pastry chef for six years, I moved back home to Suffolk to start my own business. For the first year of being self-employed, I was still using the same old plain white refined wheat flour, caster sugar and lots of butter – all the usual base ingredients associated with patisserie and baking. But to be honest, I was getting a bit bored of them. I eat very healthily myself, and being aware that whole, unrefined and natural ingredients are what our bodies thrive on, I wanted to get these ingredients into my patisserie.
Did you find there was a demand to start making healthier alternatives?
Absolutely. Many of my customers were also asking for gluten and dairy-free options, and a lot would ask about less sweet-tasting cakes. I didn't want to turn customers away due to allergies or intolerance, so my Clean Cakes are for everyone, whether you have an allergy, are consciously trying to be healthy or just want a really pretty cake!
Can raw / gluten-free / dairy-free cakes really taste as good as the 'real thing'?
Yes! I don't think it should be about comparison; how can something not taste wonderful when it’s made with caramel-flavoured coconut sugar, sticky sweet Medjool dates or fragrant raw local honey? How can a cake not taste divine when it is make with nutty buckwheat flour, sweet chestnut flour or molasses-like rich teff flour, combined with rich virgin coconut oil or local cold-pressed extra virgin rapeseed oil with its distinct earthy flavour that so many British chefs are using today?
We know Vogue's Calgary Avansino is a fan, who else have you created cakes for?
Amelia Freer has said of my cakes, 'If I were to eat cake, it would certainly be these'. I also made Natasha Corrett, founder and author of Honestly Healthy, her birthday cake last week and went on Gaby Roslin's (whose birthday cake I also made) Radio London Show on Sunday to talk about my work.
What's your favourite sweet treat?
I really love energising bars and bites like my Raw Activated Super Seed Energy Boosters or my Raw Malty Caramel Biscuit Brownies made with amazingly nourishing and delicious superfoods cacao, carob, maca and lacuma.
What are your tips for making healthy cakes at home?
Don't be scared! And don't go into thinking they won't taste good because they're 'healthy'. If you use the best, raw ingredients, that are also extremely good for you, you can’t go wrong. Use local, fresh and seasonal produce, which is packed full of flavour and nutrients, and remember that you can't just replace plain white flour with the same amount of a gluten-free flour — try combining flours like buckwheat, chestnut and brown rice flours, instead. It's also good to add a little starch such as arrowroot to help with lightness and binding.
What ingredients should you always have in your pantry or fridge for whipping up healthy cakes?
Source wholegrain gluten-free flours – like buckwheat, brown rice, teff and nut flours like coconut, chestnut and ground almonds. I buy mine from Shipton Mill in Gloucesteshire, an organic gluten-free mill.
Natural Sweeteners and Oils
Natural sweeteners like local raw honey, coconut sugar (I use Coconom), Palmyra Jaggery and maple syrup are a must, as are virgin coconut oil and cold-pressed extra virgin rapeseed oil for using in both cooked and raw cakes.
Raw cacao is a great ingredient, Medjool dates (sourced cheaply from Asian supermarkets) and other dried fruits, nuts and seeds are great for adding natural sweetness and deep flavours.
I always have a batch of lemons in the kitchen as their zest adds so much freshness.
Salt and Spice
Himalayan pink salt or sea salt actually helps to enliven flavours; cinnamon is a wonderful natural sweetener and helps regulate blood sugar; and vanilla pods are always a staple.
Finally, which of your cakes is currently proving most popular with your clients?
As it's summer, everyone is loving my Courgette, Basil, Lime and Pistachio Cake filled with Avocado Lime Cream and Homemade Sugar-Free Raspberry Jam. It's a wonderfully fresh, fragrant and light recipe. It’s also so pretty as I always decorate it with edible flowers from my garden.