Lily Vanilli’s Sweet Guide to London

Lily Vanilli’s Sweet Guide to London

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of anything sweet, aptly named Lily
(real name Lily Jones) owns a bakery on
East London
‘s Columbia Road. Her creative and original cake
designs, which include a cake shaped like a brain and edible
glitter galore, garnered her much attention. This became full-blown
fame when Lily Vanilli was featured in Times magazine.

With two best-selling baker books, A Zombie Ate My Cupcake and
Sweet Tooth, we followed Lily around the capital, seeking out
melt-in-the-mouth macaroons and calorific custard doughnuts to
satisfy our sugar cravings. For those of you who want to have your
cake and eat it, look to Lily’s sweet guide to London for the
tastiest treats.

What sweet treats did you love as a child?

I grew up in Saudi Arabia and baking wasn’t really a part of my
life, except once a year when I visited my Irish grandmother. She
grew gooseberries and black and red currants in her garden to make
jam, and baked really classic English Victoria sponges and scones
and Irish soda bread. I was obsessed.

What fulfills your sweet tooth now?

Custard tarts from Taberna do Mercado, caneles from Babelle, caramels from
Fatties, and of course I cash my own stash at the

Where would you go for tea and cake in London (if you weren’t
making your own)?

I would go to my friend Claire’s place Violets on Wilton
Way, she makes these incredible macaroons that I love, and there’s
a really nice chill room upstairs as well a a lovely little outdoor
space. It’s really close to my house too.

What about the best fresh bread?

I’m quite loyal to the Hackney Wild from E5 Bakehouse, it was
one of the first great sourdoughs I tasted in London and they are
still doing great things over there. I also use it in the café for
our loaded toasts. Its an iconic loaf.


Got to be the king: custard doughnuts by Justin Gellatly of
. Calmly showing us all how it’s done. The custard
doughnuts are the best around. The rhubarb doughnut at St John is a thing of beauty too.

Who are the London-based bakers we should know about?

Fergus and Wing Mon at Brickhouse Bread are doing incredible things,
if you haven’t been there it’s well worth the trip – whether you’re
interested in bread or have a sweet tooth. Also Poppy & Sebastian make the most divine patisserie,
if you can find them – keep an eye on Instagram for when they pop
up. Henrietta Inman makes delicious and clever free-from cakes and
pastries if that’s your thing (or even if it isn’t) and Dominique
is also in London now and he’s way more than just the man
behind the cronut, his bakery makes the most inspired and creative

Can you remember the best pudding you’ve ever had in the

I do love the eccles cake and Lancashire cheese at St John.

What’s the best thing about being based on Columbia road?

Its so quiet and secret during the week. Monday to Saturday you
can hear a pin drop, it’s very peaceful and a wonderful place to
work, then the crowds come through on Sunday and it’s a totally
different energy – I really love having both. Also we’re close to
three amazing florists: Grace & Thorn, Palais Flowers
and Rebel
(the latter two being studios) which is really handy for
fresh flowers.

If London was a cake then what would it look/taste like?

I think it would have to be multi-tiered with layers and layers
of different complementary flavours and traditions, representing
the rich history and multiculturalism of the city. It’s definitely
the best thing about this city for me. We recently threw a
fundraising bake sale #BakeForSyria on Columbia Road, which brought together
the city’s best bakeries and invited them to put a Syrian twist on
their signature bake to help raise funds for charity, it was a
wonderful reminder of how different cultures in this city are
brought together through food.

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