My Perfect Summer Weekend: Claire Ptak
My Perfect Summer Weekend: Claire Ptak

My Perfect Summer Weekend: Claire Ptak

Lighter evenings, rosé at the pub and trips to the park – we love summer, so we’ve asked a handful of our favourite women to share what they’re most excited about this season. Best known for making the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s wedding cake, Claire Ptak is also the founder of Violet Cakes in east London and is considered one of the coolest women in the food industry. Fresh off the release of her new book, Love Is A Pink Cake, she talks us through what a perfect weekend looks like to her.
By Heather Steele

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@Piariverola; @violetcakeslondon


I live near Columbia Road Market. East London was the first neighbourhood I moved to when I came over from California in 2005 – and now I never want to leave Hackney at the weekends. As soon as I moved over, I got my market stall at Broadway Market. It ended up being a huge success. So, from the beginning, I’ve been involved in the food scene here. A lot of people were really surprised that this was where I'd chosen to set up shop, but now everybody gets it. It's totally been the right place for us and it’s such a nice community – a lot of our customers have been coming to Violet since our market stall days. 

It’s wedding season, so the shop is pretty crazy right now. We’re always trying to figure out how we can squeeze one more cake in. But my weekends are all about spending time with my seven-year-old daughter, Frances, rather than working. Social media and writing the cookbooks have been my two focuses over the last few years – but I'm always developing new recipes and I love to come in and work with the chefs on new menus. After cheffing for many years I now have a lot more creative time to plan and figure out where we want to be.

Friday nights are for chilling out. In the afternoon, I'll pick my daughter up from school. She's really into practising on monkey bars – she's really strong and enjoys gymnastics, so we do the monkey bars together in the park after school. It's funny, because we're the only girls doing it alongside a bunch of super-buff guys!

In the evening, we like to eat our dinner on Hackney Downs, our local park where there's a beautiful wildflower meadow. We started doing that in lockdown because there were so many great restaurants doing amazing takeaways, and it’s a tradition that’s carried on. We’ll grab something to eat – like pizza from Yard Sale – and head to the park with a blanket and a glass of rosé for me and sometimes friends will join us. Then we’ll have an early night.

Yard Sale Pizza
Yard Sale Pizza


We get up really early on Saturday morning. The only reason I have a Shoreditch House membership is to use the rooftop pool. We’ve always gone there for a swim on a Saturday morning, but now you have to sign up and queue to get in and it’s crazy busy, so to beat that, we get there at 7.15am. It's really fun as we have a few friends with kids that all do that too, so we have a little community who arrive, grab a sun lounger and swim until 11:30am when we get kicked out. 

Next, we’ll go somewhere for lunch. Frances was never one of those children who loved pasta when she was younger but now she's in a real pasta phase. Last Saturday, we went to Manteca. The server was so sweet as he was explaining that there was a kids’ menu, not realising Frances had her eye on the homemade wild garlic spaghetti with wild garlic sauce and raw egg yolk. They were really surprised when they saw her mixing the yolk into the dish and enjoying it – I have to say, I felt very proud of her. She's obsessed with that place now and really wants to go back.

Then it's back to the monkey bars before a trip to Spa Terminus. It’s where we do our weekly shop from Natoora, The Ham & Cheese Company, The Butchery and Neal's Yard Dairy. The space is amazing and it’s a great place to stock up. I’ve also been loving Oren Delicatessen on Broadway Market, which is a new spot from the team behind Oren in Dalston – another of my favourite restaurants. They do amazing challah bread, pitta and lovely mezze bits and house pickles and bottles of wine – I've never seen anything like it, and it’s great for a picnic.

Rochelle Canteen
Rochelle Canteen
Oren Deli
Oren Deli

After the madness of my book tour, I’m loving spending Saturday nights in. However, if Frances is with her dad, I love to go out for dinner with friends. Rochelle Canteen is a favourite of mine – it’s where I had my book launch party. I’ve been a big fan since the beginning, as it’s where my original Violet logo was designed – the building next door has a bunch of offices for different creatives, and the canteen was meant to provide the fuel for all those enterprises. I still have meetings there and use it to catch up with friends.

I also love to see live music and have been going to the O2 a lot recently. I’m really excited about seeing SZA later this year and I recently saw Lizzo and Ed Sheeran. I’m also obsessed with going to the theatre. My friends at The Marksman just opened Lasdun on the Southbank. I went there for dinner the other night – which was incredible; they serve the perfect cocktail, the food is so delicious and everything was cooked perfectly – and then went see Sam Mendes’s new play The Motive & The Cue at the National Theatre. I came out thinking, how cool is it that like you can come down, walk along the river, have dinner in the most beautiful dining room and then see the most amazing play? 

The Motive And The Cue
The Motive And The Cue

National Theatre


We usually spend Sunday mornings outside, often on Hackney Marshes, walking around with a friend who has a dog. We always pick up a bag of bagels from Papo’s, which is within walking distance from us.

On Sundays I love to cook, and my plans revolve around the kitchen and having friends over. Right now, I have a little terrace, so we've been eating outside which is lovely – I've got a big table that seats about ten people. I also have a little fire pit grill that I’ve been using lots this year – I love to cook vegetables and a simple steak – but afterwards, I’ll clean up the grill and make this amazing dessert that’s in the new book. I have little fig tree on the porch, and I’ll take some leaves, put some stoned fruit inside the fig leaf – such as peaches, apricots and cherries – and grill them when the fire is cooling down. The fruit infuses with this beautiful fig-leaf flavour and it’s ready in time for dessert. 

When we have people round, it usually starts at 4pm or 5pm. I have a great bar at home, so I really enjoy making individual cocktails depending on what people like. When you go to a bar, they’ve usually had to squeeze the limes hours in advance, but it makes such a difference to squeeze to order. I'm a big fan of making fresh drinks and not rushing, and people love getting their own drink, so we'll always start with that and some olives or almonds. Then, it’s just a case of hanging out, eating, drinking wine with dinner – at the moment I've been really enjoying Domaine Bandol Tempier rosé, as that’s what we served at my book party and there were some cases left over.

To visit Violet Bakery, visit & order a copy of Claire’s new book, Love Is A Pink Cake, here.


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