My Life In Food: Lily Vanilli, baker

'I've got a bit of a savoury tooth – I snack on anything from crisps to calamari'

After periods spent working as a graphic designer and in photography production, Lily turned her sharp eye to her first love: baking. Returning from Australia in the early days of the recession, cakes became her way to make ends meet. She is now one of the premier cake designers in London with a bakery on Columbia Road and a second book, Sweet Tooth, out now.

What are your most and least used pieces of kitchen kit?

My most used would be my plastic scraper – it's like a baking app for your hand. I use it for everything: portioning, scooping, cleaning up, you name it. My least used is my mandolin, especially since I managed to use it to slice off the end of my finger. It's now sitting in the naughty corner.

If you had only £10 to spend on food, where would you spend it and on what?

I'd probably go down to Maltby Street and get a coffee from Coleman Coffee and a St John's doughnut.

What do you eat for comfort?

I've got a bit of a savoury tooth so I'd get myself hot salty snacks, which offset all the sweet stuff that I eat. Anything from crisps to calamari.

If you could only eat bread or potatoes for the rest of your life, which would you choose?

Bread. You'd definitely get bored with potatoes more quickly – and bread isn't without nutrition. I love potatoes (chips would be top of my list of desert island food), but I would get bored with them far sooner. Plus you can have loads of different kinds of breads.

What's your desert island recipe?

Absinthe hot chocolate. It's like a thin ganache you can drink, made of double cream, dark chocolate, sea salt and absinthe. You just heat the cream, pour in chocolate and salt, leave to melt and then add the absinthe over a low heat.

What's your favourite restaurant?

I really love St John in London. It's a fabulous restaurant. If I have a friend visiting from out of town I would take them there, as there's a great atmosphere and they are that rare thing: consistent. They were one of the first to really celebrate British cooking and I feel quite strongly about that, too.

What's your favourite cookbook?

Probably The Tartine Bakery Cookbook. I only discovered it a few months ago as I was finishing my own book. I think it's the first bakery book I've seen that I really use recipes from and learn something along the way. The tone of it is really nice.

Who taught you to cook?

The simple baking stuff was from my grandmother when I was a kid. But when I was in Australia with a friend, who is now a very successful chef in New York (Carlo Mirarchi), we were in a really bad accident together in which he was injured. While he was getting better he wasn't allowed alcohol or sunlight, so to pass the days he would give me lists of ingredients and I'd go out and get them on my bike. He'd lie on the sofa in his bandages and shout directions and I'd put together these crazy meals that had no place by the beach or at that time of year. That was the first time I was really inspired to experiment with cooking – and it just went from there.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
filmIdris Elba responds to James Bond rumours on Twitter
Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
booksNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones
film
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Accounts Administrator

    £16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Trainer / PT - OTE £30,000 Uncapped

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Day In a Page

    War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

    The West needs more than a White Knight

    Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
    Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

    'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

    Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
    The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

    The stories that defined 2014

    From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
    Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

    Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

    Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
    Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

    Finally, a diet that works

    Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
    Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

    Say it with... lyrics

    The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
    Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

    The joys of 'thinkering'

    Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
    Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

    Monique Roffey interview

    The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
    Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

    Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

    Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
    DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

    Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

    It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
    Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

    How we met

    Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

    Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

    Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
    Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

    Who does your club need in the transfer window?

    Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
    The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015