Food & Drink

Daisy Payne, Co-founder of The Hardihood

We catch up with ex-model, Daisy Payne, who swapped the catwalk for cakes and hasn’t looked back.

Cake and pudding lovers in search of a healthy sweet fix are in for a treat with The Hardihood, a brand new business offering beautifully crafted, raw cakes and desserts completely free from refined sugar, gluten and any chemical nasties. Set up by Daisy Payne, an ex-model, and Leah Garwood-Gowers, The Hardihood is paving the way for a new era of raw superfood confectionery that looks and tastes as good as the real thing.

We caught up with Daisy to find out more about the business, its goals and how cakes compare to the catwalk.

We started the Hardihood after we both gave up sugar last January... We realised that there was nowhere to go for a healthy dessert that was free from refined sugar, especially not in East London, where we both live, and we talked about opening up a shop, something that is still on our agenda!

I started the Hardihood with a friend, Leah Garwood-Gowers... Before the Hardihood, she worked in the hospitality industry, working in bars and hotels and also writing about them as a reviewer. I’ve also contributed to magazines such as i-D, Vice and Glamour.

The idea came about after we started trialing healthy desserts at home... We adapted ingredients that we’d seen online to include those we were more comfortable with (ie no Agave). Some of our friends tried these early experiments and encouraged us to stick with it.

I've always been into baking... Making desserts comes far more easily to me than cooking savoury dishes. This probably has something to do with my immensely sweet tooth.

Modelling was an incredible experience, and a whirlwind at the time... It's a privilege getting your hair and makeup done most days and getting to play a character or feel empowered walking down a catwalk. I did feel it was quite a lonely profession though; you spend a lot of time going to castings alone, or travelling alone and this was probably the main reason why it was easy for me to give it up.

Making cakes can't quite compare to the glamour of modeling... but it’s definitely a lot more creative. Having spent the previous four years working at fashion magazines and styling, I find that making cakes is the biggest creative outlet I've had in a long time. It is rewarding working to our vision instead of someone else's.

We wanted to make healthy cakes after reading about the damaging ingredients that are put into everyday foods... Our cakes and desserts are as natural as possible, so you can enjoy your treat without any guilt. They taste as good, if not better than those with refined sugar and gluten and we love it how surprised people are when they realise this.

Our biggest challenge so far has been... time, or lack of it! We've both been working part-time while setting up The Hardihood in order to let the business grow organically and not put too much pressure on ourselves, but this leaves us very time poor. If only there were a few more hours in the day!

A lot of our clients are in the fashion industry As an industry, it is very switched on to healthy eating so we have been a natural fit. We also have a lot of customers with food intolerances, who are thrilled to find cake or dessert that they can finally eat. We had one client who hadn't eaten a cake in fifteen years! We were so happy to give her something she'd missed out on for so long.

The Hardihood kitchen in five words is... Fun, chaotic, loud (Vitamixes aren't quiet), experimental, imaginative.

Our recipes are really trial and error... We build on one of the recipes we already have and get inventive. It's hard to choose a favourite as different cakes suit different moods, but, at the moment, I'm in love with our chocolate mint - it'll stop you in your tracks, its so tasty.

Despite what you may think, it’s easy to resist eating cakes all day (even if they are healthy)... Once you've made and taste tested ten cakes in a day, you’re over sweet things. We tend to have 'savoury breaks' eating boiled eggs or homemade humous to keep us going!

At the moment, we are working on getting the right stockists... We've had many offers but are conscious that we want to make the right choices and build the brand with our identity and ethos firmly in mind.

You'd be surprised how many everyday products have hidden nasties... Did you know that dried apricots should be brown? Any orange ones have been treated with sulfur preservatives, so we stick to the all-natural kind. We source our ingredients from an incredible wholesaler that sources fairtrade ethical, organic ingredients and who, most importantly, keeps a close eye on its carbon footprint. Choosing the right ingredients is so vital to our cakes – poor quality versions just don’t shape up.

One of our proudest moments was... our first person-to-person event, when we served our cakes at a show during Paris Fashion Week in February. It was great to see people's reactions to the cakes and hear how much they enjoyed them - the feedback blew us away.

None of our cakes are baked, only raw... In the early, experimental stages we tried out a few baked breads, cakes and doughnuts but quickly realised that the oven was not where our strengths were! Our kitchen doesn't have an oven at all in fact.

My favourite website is... Pinterest. I spend so much time on there, getting inspiration from all different areas, from food to architecture, fashion and interiors. It's also a great place to store all things that catch your eye online. Before using it, I would save hundreds of pictures to my desktop - it was chaos.

1 May 2015

Emily Jenkinson