Thursday, January 2, 2014

Lily Vanilli - London Bakeries - Field Trip!

series of posts from visiting interesting little (and large) cafes, food-related establishments and other places of inspiration.

I first heard about Lily Jones and the Lily Vanilli bakery a year or so ago through a friend who was telling me about the zombie-themed cakes Vanilli had become famous for. What got me really interested was the quirky style of many recipes in the more recent Sweet Tooth recipe book.

Not much in the way of horror-cakes (though there is one for a glistening cake shaped like a human heart), the recipes are quite fun and punchy with chilli powder in the ginger biscuits, crushed and crystalised edible flowers as decoration, and strong alcohol in the caramel popcorn. I also liked the chapters on cool techniques that are then used in various recipes, like making sugar glass, honeycomb and candied fruit.

Having enjoyed making a few of these desserts, and just quite liking the Vanilli style I wanted to see if I could visit the bakery while in London, which is only open on Sundays.

Needless to say, it's *very busy* when it's open. Crammed with curious people like me who like the book, people who've heard of the commissions they have made for celebrities, and others wandering in off the equally busy Columbia Road flower market.

It must be lovely quietly working in the kitchens here when the bakery and market is closed, it's a beautiful area.

I gather that catering, wholesale orders and other commissions must form the backbone of the Lily Vanilli business model, with the one day a week walk-in bakery perhaps running as a fun exercise or PR channel.

Inside the bakery there were sausage rolls, cheese on toast and tarts available as well as the cakes. I got myself some of the thickly sliced courgette and onion cheese on toast, the taste of which reminded me of the fried onions you get with hotdogs at the fairground, and a red velvet cupcake, yum! In one of these pics you can spy a bag of flour from Shipton Mill - they seem to get everywhere :)

The bakery is definitely worth a visit if you're a Vanilli fan and want to try the real thing, or like a bit of an arty retro aesthetic, but do be prepared for the queues and busy staff, the elbow-to-elbow eating while standing and for making new friends at the tables and counter seats if you're lucky to grab a spot. Perhaps early is better than later in the day, and it does open from 8:30am.

Food served on cute porcelain saucers

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