Henrietta Inman is a trained pastry chef based in Suffolk, England.
Having worked in the kitchens of some of London's most renowned restaurants, Henrietta set out on her own, launching a pâtisserie business in 2013, teaching workshops nationwide and curating a popular baking website. Her first book of recipes, Clean Cakes, was recently released to rave reviews.
I caught up with Henrietta to talk food philosophies, favourite ingredients
and how she stays happy and healthy.
WHO OR WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO TRAIN AS A PASTRY CHEF?
My parents are both great cooks and growing up in the Suffolk countryside we all understood the importance of eating local and seasonal food from a young age. I have always been a very precise person but also artistic, too, and I love all the wonderful forms of presentation involved in patisserie; making my cakes look as good as they taste is so important to me. I read French and Italian at university and during my year abroad I lived for five months in both Avignon and Bologna, surrounded by incredible food and the most beautiful pastry shops, into which I would gaze endlessly.
HOW HAS WORKING IN RESTAURANT KITCHENS INFLUENCED THE WAY YOU COOK AT HOME?
Working as a pastry chef involves long days and a lot of precise and intricate methods and techniques so when I cook at home all I want to do is cook something simple and delicious. I know the importance of seasoning, creating amazing flavours and textures and making food colourful, so even if I'm in a rush I'll make sure I make something that's going to satisfy my senses. It also taught me the importance of using the best possible raw ingredients.
WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION FOR YOUR RECIPES?
Everywhere! The seasons, what is available locally, what I'm craving, different countries, cuisines, food blogs, cookery books, magazines, social media ... but I'll always add my own personal twist.
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST MISCONCEPTION ABOUT VEGAN BAKING?
That it is bland, brown, heavy and dense. There are loads of vegan recipes in my book, Clean Cakes, such as Baked Banana, Date and Pecan Loaf with Spiced Caramel Sauce, Tomato and Pepper Pissaladière or my Raspberry, Rose and Pistachio Tartlets with buckwheat and almond pastry.
TEN MUST-HAVE LARDER/FRIDGE ITEMS:
Wholegrain flours – spelt, buckwheat, brown rice, oat, teff
Local raw honey
Local free-range eggs
Organic full-fat milk (or plant-based milks like almond or cashew)
Organic full-fat butter
Virgin coconut oil
Extra virgin cold-pressed rapeseed oil
Coarse sea salt (I love Maldon).
THREE ESSENTIAL PIECES OF KITCHEN EQUIPMENT:
A palette knife or frosting spatula for filling and icing cakes, spreading out cake mixes or smoothing out doughs
A microplane grater for testing citrus fruits.
WHAT IS YOUR FOOD PHILOSOPHY?
Eat real food! I eat a varied diet rich in lots of fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains and pulses, good quality dairy, fish and meat every now and again ... and a clean cake when I want one. I love very dark chocolate too.
THE BEST MEAL YOU EVER HAD:
For my twenty-first birthday my parents took me for a walking holiday in the Apennines whilst I was living in Bologna. After a long day walking, we ate the most incredible bowl of fresh pasta filled with ricotta and parmesan and served with sage butter and more parmesan. Those little tortelli parcels of joy just melted in the mouth and we were all totally silent as we ate them.
HOW DO YOU MAINTAIN YOUR HEALTH AND WELL-BEING?
I try to stay calm and relaxed always. I work as hard as I can and try not get too anxious if things don't get done. I get to bed at a good time – I feel great when I've had my eight hours of sleep – and I exercise every day, even if it's just a brisk walk in the fresh air and sunshine. I also love pilates, yoga and swimming. I try to remain positive, happy, smiling, relaxed, kind, grateful, mindful and generous.
WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY?
Being at home where I grew up in Suffolk with my family and friends; going for long walks in the fresh air, eating good food and taking some time out. Swimming in the sea. Going to the cinema. Reading a good book. I also love cooking for people and seeing their faces light up when they eat my food – bringing joy to people through real food is the best feeling and passing my knowledge on in my cookery classes also makes me so happy.