Pearl & Groove is a wonderful gluten-free cake company set up by London baker Serena Whitefield, which is currently taking the capital’s food scene by storm. And it’s easy to see why. We at The Resident can’t get enough of the exciting flavours, healthy edge and funky packaging. Here Serena talks to Jemima Boost about where she’s come from and where she’s going – we predict world cake domination…
Tell me a bit about Pearl and Groove?
So, Pearl & Groove makes flourless cakes out of seasonal ingredients, the cakes also just so happen to be gluten free, but the concept behind the company it is that the cakes, biscuits, etc are all completely flourless. I use ground almonds instead of flour, which works really well with lots of different flavours, and complements them. As a result, you can have really seasonal hearty wintery cakes and lovely fresh summer ones.
I have two ranges, the Pearl and the Groove. The names come from what my siblings and I call my parents. Pearl is my mum, that range is gluten free, dairy free and sugar free, as my mum is. Groove is my dad who we call Groover. Groove is a little more greedy, so has sugar and dairy!
Did you choose to make gluten free cakes because there’s a trend for them or was it just a coincidence?
It was totally natural really. I developed a few recipes and realised that they were gluten free, it meant I was able to build the brand around that and have a ‘free from’ product, but also appeal to everyone.
How do you come up with your flavours?
I think of puddings quite often, so say for example for blackberry and apple crumble I’d use blackberries and apples and make a crumble topping, or fig and Amaretto, the Amaretto and the almonds work well together. So really they’re traditional flavours but with a bit of a twist.
Watch Serena in action, making a lime coconut and rum cake
Where did it all begin?
I’ve always been a baker and loved cooking. After school, I did a cooking course at The Grange in Somerset and worked as a private chef for lots of different people, cooking in chalets in the winter and villas in the summer.
What was the eureka moment that made you set up Pearl & Groove?
Because I am from a family of entrepreneurs, [Serena’s brother is co-founder of children’s parties company Sharky and George, while her sister set up Wedding Presents Direct] it wasn’t a scary thing to do. I had developed a few recipes, done a few friends’ wedding cakes and had a small cake business when I lived in Australia, so when it came to it, I just thought, why not?
Where do you sell your cakes?
My cakes are stocked in Harvey Nichols, Daylesford Organic and a really lovely deli near Angel called De Beauvoir Deli. I also provide sugar-free, dairy-free and gluten-free cakes to 108 Marylebone Lane Hotel and Hunter Gather, both in Marylebone. And have recently started selling my cakes at Kerb, I do markets every Friday at King’s Cross. On top of that, I deliver bespoke orders to offices and companies and do a lot of private events making pudding bars or wedding cakes.
There’s also the option for personal deliveries to homes. Customers can choose their favourite flavours or order a selection box. One of the great things about the cakes is that they have a two to three week shelf life. Because there’s no flour, they last longer and the almonds act as a preservative.
What’s next for Pearl & Groove?
I’m about to start working with Selfridges and am in the process of developing lots of Christmas flavours. A few testers have already gone out to Harvey Nichols and they love them! I’m also about to move kitchens to a new shop in Chiswick, called Angie’s Little Food Shop, which will be an Ottolenghi-style café, deli and cookery school (opening mid-November). All the sweet things sold there will be provided by Pearl & Groove.
And lastly, what’s your favourite flavour?
My favourite flavour is the Irish cream at the moment. I don’t normally like Baileys but it just works really well together with the coffee and almond flavours.
To order your own box of delicious gluten-free cakes for events, birthdays or just your daily tea, visit Pearl & Groove