Baker to the stars Lily Vanilli rolls out treats at Harvest at Jimmy’s

Hungry for something a little different? Then get ready to bake, rattle and roll with Lily Vanilli as she gives entertainment writer WAYNE SAVAGE a taste of what visitors to her Harvest at Jimmy’s tent can expect.

She’s been dubbed the queen of baked goods and her layer cakes, pies, tarts and cupcakes have been scoffed by everyone from Nigella Lawson to guests at 10 Downing Street and Elton John’s white tie and tiara ball to name just a few.

Right now, author, cult baker and entrepreneur Lily is pre-occupied with the origins of the ploughman’s lunch; one of the treats on the menu at her Peace of Cake Diner at next week’s Harvest at Jimmy’s.

They have adapted a 19th century spiced fruit loaf recipe called Suffolk Beaver - discovered by Peter Wright of The Cake Shop, Woodbridge - which suggests the traditional lunch originated right here.

“We’ve got this recipe book, although we haven’t found any evidence of that claim anywhere else. I think the most we can say for definite is that it was the standard, regional ploughman’s lunch,” she says.


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It’ll be served with Suffolk sourced cheese, apples, chutneys and other ingredients; with everything baked at The Cake Shop, owned by her boyfriend’s family.

Sadly, Lily won’t be showcasing the hand-made cake sculpting skills she’s become famous for at Harvest.

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I’m thinking specifically her large edible garden made of chocolate and lavender cake full of edible flowers for Cake Britain or her Bleeding Heart cake which featured in Ash’s music video Carnal Love, where singer Tim Wheeler gorged on a lifelike human heart complete with fake edible blood.

But visitors can look forward to some equally unconventional recipes created especially for the festival.

There will also be a live fortune cookie teller, the chance for people to make their own candyfloss, a guess the weight of the cake competiton and funfair games including a food-themed skittle alley and coconut shy free to play anytime.

“We’re doing very seasonal, locally sourced - as much as possible - versions of the kind of things we sell in our bakery in London. We’re making bunting and fairy lights that will be food-themed and building the funfair games ourselves, everything will have a food theme of some kind,” she says.

If the food isn’t enough to make your eyes pop out of your head there’s also the Yum Cha-Cha collective’s comestible cabaret.

“Marawa the Amazing’s going to climb a ladder of swords barefoot and make a fruit salad on a blade while she does it; her assistant cuts a watermelon with a sword on her stomach. Stephen Williams is going to be doing one-handed handstands and icing Bakewell tarts which will then be served to people,” laughs Lily, whose sequel to her smash hit recipe book A Zombie Ate My Cupcake, should be out next May.

“It’s a very different style, it’s going to be much more grown up and will be more the kind of recipes we’ll be seeing at Harvest; more for people who are interested in learning a little bit more about baking.”

Harvest festival organisers approached her some while ago, blown away by the exciting food projects and events Lily’s been devising in London.

They weren’t sure what they wanted, they just knew they wanted her there to add her trademark creative twist to the event.

“I think it’s nice because it’s a collaboration between lots of people who we work with but also it’s a unique event that we’re putting together just for Harvest.

“The food speaks for itself and we’ll be doing great snacks throughout the day; but more than that we’ll be creating an atmosphere which is comfortable but also entertaining and interesting that will just be a nice place to spend time.”

Harvest at Jimmy’s runs from September 9-12.

Check out www.lilyvanilli.com for more about Lily.

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