An interview with Honeybuns' Emma Goss-Custard

15th Oct 2012

Emma Goss-Custard founded Honeybuns Bakery in 1998, inspired by her grandmother's recipe book that had been handed down to her. Now Honeybuns has become one of the most popular gluten-free bakeries in Britain. Food Heaven caught up with Emma to find out more... How did you first become interested in baking? I first became interested in baking when I was very little, around four years old. Mum was extremely keen on baking – it was her hobby and also a necessity. Both my Grandmas were also very influential on me. They too loved to bake. What was the first thing you ever baked? Baking solo, I think I must have been seven or eight years old. It went horribly wrong. I was baking a chocolate sponge – two sandwich tins went into the old Aga mum had. I brought them out too early and then tried to 'fix' things by filling the sunken, raw centres with a foul mix of bread and margarine. It was my attempt at a birthday cake for my mum. Why and how did you first decide to set up Honeybuns? I decided to set up Honeybuns in 1998. It had always been a pipedream, but it became a necessity as it dawned on me that I was not great employee material. I needed an income and it was something that I could crack on with on my own. Why did you go for the gluten-free approach in particular? The gluten-free approach was a happy coincidence rather than a business strategy. The core recipes we'd had in the family were light on wheat flour. When coeliac friends and customers quizzed me to see if I could tweak the recipes to make them totally gluten-free, I then decided that they tasted far nicer than flour-based treats (in my opinion) and that going gluten-free was a positive thing. How do you develop your new products and flavours? New products and flavours come very easily to us all at Honeybuns. We're guilty of having too many new ideas I think! Ideas come from all over the place – we have a great range of dried fruits, spices, nuts, gluten-free cereals, seeds etc stocked in our test kitchen. We're also inspired by what's growing around us and in season at that time. We love classic Italian flavour combinations in particular. We also love deconstructing old favourites and rebuilding them with a twist. For example , our Almond Moon is a reconstructed Bakewell, using cranberries and cranberry curd instead of raspberry jam. We favour a polenta and almond shortbread base over pastry too. You have a new book just out – Honeybuns Gluten-free Baking – what was your main aim when putting the recipes together? With the book we wanted to celebrate all the beautiful, great tasting baking ingredients available to us, all of which happen to be gluten-free. We also wanted to make gluten-free baking easily achievable at home. You must have hundreds of ideas, how did you decide what to include? Deciding what to include was really hard. We were advised to keep back the savoury ideas for book two otherwise we were going to end up with a bit of a War And Peace-sized effort! What’s your favourite recipe in the book? My favourite recipe is the lemon cake. So basic, easy and utterly moreish. Which of your ready-baked products has proved to be the most popular? Milk chocolate brownies. Do you have any top tips for adapting standard recipes to make them gluten-free? Try a blend of different gluten-free cereals to add up to the same weight of the flour you are replacing. Sorghum is great – nutritious and it has 'body' – it works very well with ground almonds, which add a little sweetness and lots of moisture. If you add a bit of polenta too you can get really interesting textural results. Which is your favourite season for providing you with baking inspiration? Autumn because the hedgerows and orchards are fit to bursting with offerings. What do you have planned for the future? We're ready to start on book two – this will be savoury. We're also on the cusp of launching beautiful gluten-free mixes, plus we're on the road promoting book one up until Christmas. We are also renovating a lush 1930s caravan and will then be able to offer guests gluten-free glamping B&B with breakfast in our beloved gluten-free Bee Shack Cafe. For more information about Honeybuns, click here  

Honeybuns Gluten-Free Baking by Emma Goss-Custard is published by Pavilion, rrp £14.99. We have two lovely recipes from the book in Baking Heaven's Winter issue, on sale now.

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