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Cake pops by Clare O'Connell

We quiz cake connoisseur Clare O'Connell on the inspiration behind her cutesy creations

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Where were you born and brought up? Born and bred in West Hampstead, I've lived in the same house my whole life. It's now the home of POP Bakery.

How did you discover your love of baking? We've always been passionate about food in this house. My mother is Swiss and I've learnt a lot of yummy recipes from her and her mother too - there was one particularly amazing very moist chocolate almond birthday cake my mother would make.

What's it like working in your childhood home? Our house is very homely, I work in our previous dining room, though we are about to expand into the front room which used to be my mother's playroom when she was a childminder. We're used to having businesses in the house!

Where did you work before the Pop bakery? After university, I spent a year working in catering kitchens and various bakeries. The one that sticks out as the most inspiring was Cocomaya in Connaught village.

How do you get your inspiration for designs? I like looking at the toys and books from my mother's playroom. Her collection of Russian dolls inspired our Russian doll pop, and the tiger pop was based on the book The Tiger Who Came To Tea. Although we have given away a lot of the toys from the room, we keep the most interesting ones. I plan to decorate the new, improved bakery with these vintage toys.

What are your most popular designs? The Russian dolls, the pandas and the teddies.

Why do you think cake pops are a such a hit? They are practical for a start, this entices mothers of small children. They are gender-neutral, whereas a cupcake might seem to girly for a bloke to pick up at a party. They are fashionable and new, people are tired of seeing the same old cupcake display at a wedding. They are flexible in decoration – we can really use our imaginations when coming up with designs. I also think the fun factor of the pop makes adults feel nostalgia for their childhood. People get so excited when receiving their pops – it's like Christmas day as a child!

Your new Pop Bakery book features a cake pop design in the shape of milky white teeth, pictured with toothbrushes? Is there something ironic about that?  Ha, hadn't thought of that, yeah maybe!

Do you have any celebrity fans? All the celeb clients I keep close to my chest!

If you were a cake pop, which would you be and why? I would be a marble pop, I have always loved the look of marbles.

How many can you eat in one sitting? At the beginning I could eat about three in a sitting – making 200 of these a day for the last nine months has decreased this number! Customers have told me they can scoff 5 in one go, which is pretty admirable.

Who are your favourite chefs? I am an enormous fan of Nigella - How To Be A Domestic Goddess really got me into baking. I saw her once when I was working at Cocomaya and got totally starstruck!

Where do you like eating out? Ottolenghi is divine!

For recipes from Clare O'Connell's brilliant new book Pop Bakery (Cico Books, £9.99), be sure to pick up the April issue of Junior, on sale March 4.

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One word.......yum!

Posted: 05/03/2011 at 15:57

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