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.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
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: Car Sales Executive - OTE £36,000

    £12500 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This established Knaresborough ...

    Beverley James: Accounts Payable

    £23,000: Beverley James: Do you have a background in hospitality and are you l...

    Recruitment Genius: Cleaning Manager - York and Bradford

    £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The post holder is a key member of the V...

    Recruitment Genius: Vehicle Breakdown Recovery Drivers

    £18000 - £28800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Vehicle Breakdown Recovery Driv...

    Day In a Page

    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower