Daisy Payne and Leah Garwood-Gowers are the founders of London-based confectionery The Hardihood. In their test kitchen in Shoreditch, they develop delicious dairy-, gluten-, soy- and refined sugar-free cakes, brownies, flapjacks and energy bites.
The all-raw recipes are modern takes on beloved classics – think peanut butter and jelly squares, ganache-topped chocolate brownies, lemon cheezecake, salted caramel cake – each handmade using the finest organic ingredients and decorated with nuts, seeds, berries and edible flower petals.
I spoke to Daisy and Leah about inspiration, ambition and altering people's perceptions...
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START THE HARDIHOOD?
We gave up refined sugar together in 2014 and soon realised that the alternatives available weren't particularly exciting. We vowed to make a brand of cakes that were innovative, tasty, beautiful and nutritionally beneficial.
WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION FOR YOUR CREATIONS?
We are inspired by travel a lot. We came back from Japan in love with their minimal take on branding that popped – we try to make sure everything is a visual feast. We aspire to create eye-catching, minimal works of art. We take our favourite flavours and create healthy alternatives without sacrificing any of the abundance. Our banoffee pie is based on Leah's grandmother's recipe and it's every bit as delicious minus the butter.
THE BIGGEST MISCONCEPTION ABOUT VEGAN BAKING:
That all healthy cake is miserable and unsexy. It's true that there are a lot of sad cakes out there giving the rest of us a bad name, but little by little I think people's perceptions are starting to change. We've catered fashion shows, weddings, birthday parties and more; people are always surprised to hear that our cakes are healthy.
Cashews, coconut oil, almonds, dates, raw cacao, maca, lacuma.
A KITCHEN SECRET:
Activate your ingredients. You'll get so much more out of nuts and seeds if you soak them; it removes the protective enzymes around them and your body will be able to digest them far more effectively.
WHAT'S NEXT FOR THE HARDIHOOD?
We're very ambitious with The Hardihood and we'd love to introduce raw confectionery to the mainstream market eventually. We're ramping up production on a pretty big scale at the moment, moving to a bigger kitchen and taking on bigger stockists; it's a full-time job just keeping up with it all.
YOUR FOOD PHILOSOPHY:
Everything in moderation; listen to your body; don't eat anything you can't pronounce; know where your food comes from.
FAVOURITE PLACES TO EAT IN LONDON:
FAVOURITE PLACES TO BUY GROCERIES AND INGREDIENTS:
Our local greengrocer in Newington Green has awesome stocks of fresh fruit and veg; it's always best to stay local. Our local organic shop, Green Ln Larder, is amazing. It's tiny but they manage to stock a really good range of products – the owners have become our friends...they let us run a tab. It's great.
WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY?
We're very happy to be working on a concept we believe in so entirely, it makes it easier to get out of bed in the morning for sure. Aside from that, we love discovering new places, good homeware and nights in.