She's the Californian whose super-cool bakery has captured London's heart. She lets us into the secret behind her sweet success

Hands up: who wants to own a dreamy bakery in London's creative Hackney heartland? 


Yep, that's most of us. The super-talented American, Claire Ptak, has done just that with her Violet Bakery in north London. 


Her flower and fig strewn cakes (plus a side order of food styling and cookbook writing, natch) sit alongside her transatlantic sweet treats – everything from whoopie pies and peanut butter cupcakes to classic Victoria sponges – she's charmed the people of our capital. 


She chats us through her life in sugar, spice and all things nice …


1. I want my cakes to look natural …

"But in a polished way. Professional, but not stereotypical. For me, it's all about having a natural looseness while keeping everything neat." 


2. I love to add seasonal fruit into my baking

"As we head into winter, it's all about citrus and well-stored apples and pears. Now is also the time for having fun with coconut, nuts and chocolate." 


3. And flowers

"I don't like to go crazy with them – but one or two blooms with petals to stretch them out a bit can look great. I like the idea of flowers so open they are starting to drop petals, so it's that idea that I use on my cakes." 


4. It's good to play with unusual ingredients

"It's all about flavour for me. I love the taste of rye, for example, so I like to pair it with chocolate. I experiment all the time so as not to get bored. I'm also impatient, so I love to just see what happens."


5. I grew up in a picturesque Californian town

"So I was outdoors a lot. I miss that. But I prefer the pace of life of London – you can get a lot more done here. And the brutality of the city, as it's such a stark contrast to the pretty place I'm from." 



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