Those who have experienced Claire Ptak’s vanilla jam cake—three heaven-sent layers of vanilla sponge, drizzled with vanilla syrup and de-sweetened with tart-cherry jam, and then finished with raspberry dust and crystallized violet petals—will take planes, trains, and automobiles to East London for another taste. Violet Cakes, which Ptak opened in 2010 after working for Alice Waters at Chez Panisse, is inspired by her native California. The ingredients are organic and as minimally processed as possible, and the flavors are all derived from fresh fruit, melted Valrhona chocolate, just-pulled espresso, and flower cordials. As delicious as this all sounds, and is, Ptak’s talents are not strictly confined to the kitchen (even though high-profile clients such as the Sussexes keep her quite busy). She’s also a writer, recipe developer, consultant, and cookbook author whose latest release is Love Is a Pink Cake: Irresistible Bakes for Morning, Noon, and Night. Herewith, she shares her key components to the good life. —Ashley Baker
Airline: British Airways. I fly it home from London all the time, and I’m always trying to get to Gold status and maintain my Silver. It’s like a full-time job.
Airport: I recently flew into Puerto Escondido Airport on a propeller plane, and then we sat outside and had a cold beer in the sun while we waited for our friend to pick up the rental car. It just didn’t really feel like an airport at all.
Alibi: I don’t give alibis. I hate excuses!
Bag: My More Cake bag. It’s a beach bag, carryall, and it’s much cuter than the Ikea bags for moving house.
Bedtime: Nine p.m.
Bike: The Brompton foldable bike. It’s the only one you can take on the tube!
Birthday: A breakfast in bed with my daughter, of birthday cake—and espresso—and dinner with friends, which I make.
Breakfast: Two eggs, two slices of bacon.
Car: One of these days I’ll get a Porsche.
Cocktail appetizerS: Spanish ham, almonds, and olives.
Date: I’m hoping my next date shows me!
Diet: Eat what you want, but eat less of it.
Dinner, weekday: Grazing on the good things I’ve bought while shopping at my favorite deli, Oren Delicatessen.
Dinner, weekend: Roast.
Disguise: My Aries balaclava.
Drive: From the San Francisco airport to my family home, in Inverness.
First Lady/First Man: Michelle and Barack.
I love all flaws, especially in buttercream.
Friend: An old one.
Good-bye: Short and sweet.
Hideaway: A tree house.
Hotel: Mankas, in Inverness.
Neighbor: One who loves music and footsteps.
Nonfiction book: Chez Panisse Fruit, by Alice Waters.
Novel: Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens.
Pen or Pencil: Calligraphy.
Pet: My cat, Twiglet.
Piece of advice: “Be yourself.”
Podcast: I’m still looking for something as good as Serial.
Shoes: Nike Air Max 95.
Singer: Joan Armatrading.
Street: Wilton Way.
View: Tomales Bay.
Work of art: Anything by Noguchi.