Behind the scenes in Violet Cakes with Claire Ptak
Claire Ptak, a pastry chef, food writer, stylist, recipe developer, and consultant... Originally from California, she has been living in London since 2005, where she runs her bakery, Violet, for 12 years. She strives to use organic and low intervention ingredients in her bakery. From limited editioned cupcake icings to local and organic seasonal fruits, Claire offers pastries with broad-spectrum ingredients at Violet Cakes.
This must have caught the attention of the British Royal that the wedding cake of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry was made by Claire back in 2018!
Apart from her baking profession, she is also hosting podcasts where she converses with inspiring and amazing women walking through the door at Violet.
From behind the scenes of Violet Cakes to Claire’s personal tips for a successful bakery, she opened up to Nakano Knives. We had the great pleasure of interviewing Claire to have a raw conversation. And we can say that she is definitely someone you can learn from!
How was your experience adapting to life in London, UK?
It was fun and exciting. Especially because there was a new food scene here so I felt like I was in the right places at the right time. It felt like it was meant to be. I look back on my first years in London very fondly.
What makes Violet Bakery unique in comparison to other bakeries in London?
Our California approach to baking, focus on seasonality and our open kitchen.
Does the “California girl” in you influence your baking style?
100%. I grew up baking with the seasons, foraging wild blackberries, and getting apples from our yard (and others). Getting excited to make things as the fruit became its best. I wanted to bring that to England. There is of course a tradition of that here already, but when I opened Violet you didn’t see that so much in bakeries. I am glad to see people are moving more in this direction now. It tasted better, it’s better for the earth. It’s special. It’s good for us to not have everything we want all the time. The waiting makes it special.
Would you say that you have a signature style when baking?
It’s simplicity. It’s ingredient-driven and forward.
On a rainy & sunny day, I would bake…?
On a rainy day, I would bake ginger molasses cake. On a sunny day, I would grill peached on the BBQ.
Finally, what tips do you have to share for people wanting to open their successful bakery?
Have your concept down. Know who you are as a bakery. You can’t be everything for everyone. What style of cakes do you do? What sort of customer are you trying to appeal to? Most importantly, you should really love your product. Don’t spend too much money in fitting it out at the start, a little paint goes a long way. Spend the money on quality ingredients. Lastly, don’t be afraid to work long hours!