Tucked away in a little brick courtyard on Ezra Street, just off the hustle and bustle of Columbia Road, lies Lily Vanilli, one of the daintiest little bakery gems in town. This captivating little spot could easily go unnoticed if it wasn’t for the hundreds of recommendation lists it keeps on popping up on. This, of course, was more than enough to make me stop by after a busy Sunday morning battling the crowds on Columbia Road Flower Market in search of the perfect pot plant and seasonal blooms. Any excuse for a slice of cake and a cuppa…
I couldn’t help it – can you blame me, though? Known for always using fresh and natural ingredients in the most unusual recipe combinations, self-taught baker and graphic designer Lily Jones (aka Lily Vanilli) certainly follows an experimental approach to the baking scene. Nevertheless, she never fails to deliver the most creative and eye-catching designs in every creation and has even made cakes for Elton John and 10 Downing Street!
Her dreamy bakery at 6 The Courtyard is where, during the week, she creates her floral and tiered bespoke cakes for every occasion. However, on Sundays from 8.30am to 3.30pm, the space doubles up as a café and opens to the public, offering an insanely delicious seasonal selection of sweet and savoury treats, cakes and pastries.
Behind the bakery’s doors lies a charming pastel interior with beautiful design touches that oozes cosiness and, funnily enough, reminds of marshmallows and candy floss. The hanging lights, dozens of cook books (including Lily’s #BakeForSyria and Sweet Tooth, a Zombie ate my Cupcake) and plants dotted along the shelves instantly make you feel as if you were in your own kitchen. Meanwhile, a naked brick wall with a giant lighted Vanilli’s sign and a gift shop (!) gives the bakery its signature character also present on the carefully arranged freshly baked goods on the wooden counters.
With a changing sweet and savoury seasonal menu, Lily Vanilli offers cakes, pastries, brownies, soups, sausage rolls and weekly specials, with both vegan and gluten-free options available every Sunday. On this occasion, and with Valentine’s Day being just a couple of days before we visited, Vanilli’s had prepared a handful of love inspired treats for us to choose from! I opted in for the Stout Bundt with custard and berry coulis while Sam (the chocolate lover he is) couldn’t resist the Miso Butterscotch with roasted peanut and chocolate tart.
On top of the cakes, a selection of juices, teas and locally roasted coffee make Lily Vanilli the perfect place to catch-up with a treat and a hot drink. However, being open only once a week (especially on a Sunday) means it gets really busy throughout the whole day. I’d recommend going early to avoid the multitude of people and guarantee getting your hands on a tasty treat before they sell out!
If one day per week isn’t enough and you’re after a daily cake from Lily Vanilli, you may need to go all the way to Tbilisi in Georgia, where a second bakery recently opened. Continuing with the tradition of serving freshly baked goods and local coffee, Lily Vanilli has indeed carried its success overseas. And there’s no doubt why – everything is absolutely delicious!
Silly question, I know, but – do you like cake as much as we do? Have you been to Lily Vanilli before? What other bakeries in London would you recommend visiting? If you loved our post, please leave us a comment and show us some love on social media using the buttons below
Lily Vanilli | 6 The Courtyard, Ezra Street, London E2 7HR. lilyvanilli.com
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