If you ever receive an invitation to Jessica Haggerty’s Brighton home, be sure to wear loose clothes. The striking redhead is renowned for pressing homemade treats on her guests and won’t take no for an answer.

“People literally wobble out of the door,” she laughs.

Cooking is one of Haggerty’s dual passions.

The other? Brighton.

Although she lived for a time in Edinburgh where she ran a gourmet B&B (“I used to serve four-course breakfasts!”) she missed the city too much to stay away for long.

Now she’s combined her two passions in new cookbook, Brighton Bakes.

Full of glorious recipes for cakes, pies, picnic snacks and light dinners, the book is as much a celebration of Brighton as it is of Haggerty’s food.

Although she launched her catering company, Fresh ’n’ Fruity, up in Edinburgh, it was returning to Sussex that saw it take flight.

She pays homage in birthday cakes made with Dark Star stout; red onion and Sussex Slipcote cheese muffins; even a delightfully camp Brighton Rock roulade.

“It was Brighton that provided the inspiration for experimentation, for the food to really spring to life and become something personal to me,” she writes in the foreword.

“The salty air seasoned my resolve and the town provided a haven for yet another wandering soul.”

The recipes have been honed over years of “concocting and playing” and all have been tried and tested at the parties, weddings and events Haggerty has catered.

Some may even have been enjoyed by celebrities; for one mad year, Haggerty was employed as a personal chef to the rich and famous.

She’ll only name one – Hove’s own goth-rocker Nick Cave – but whether he preferred Haggerty’s “hot diggedy dogs”

or her Margarita cupcakes, we’ll never know.

“I’ve been sworn to secrecy!” she apologises.

“Let’s just say it was a very surreal 12 months. At times, I’d have an hour to cook five separate meals as requested by a group. It certainly kept me on my toes!”

With a background in publishing (that explains the beautifully-produced book then) she has no formal cookery training and has instead paid her dues at home, like Delia Smith before her.

She credits both her mother – who cooks “the best scones, the best Scotch pancakes and the best mince pies I’ve tasted anywhere, ever” – and her gardener grandmother as her chief inspirations.

Although her grandmother rarely went near a kitchen, her love of plants is reflected in Haggerty’s recipes, which incorporate elderflowers, rose petals, rosemary and nasturtiums.

One of her all-time favourite recipes is for a layer cake packed with rosewater and rosewater compote and strewn with rose petals.

“It’s my go-to for weddings, parties, afternoon teas. When you’re blending ingredients like almonds, raspberries and putting fresh rose petals on top too, it’s so special – English summertime in a cake!”

Cooking should be all about experimentation, she says. “Let your food reflect you. There aren’t any rules.”

Although “full of admiration” for professional cooks who earn their chops in the tough world of restaurant kitchens, Haggerty’s focus is on the sort of food most of us actually make – a bit imperfect but no less appealing for it.

Don’t be ashamed if your sponge only rises a few centimetres or your pie filling is irregular.

“There’s a beauty in the higgledy piggledy, in the individuality of the slightly wonky that is very appealing.

I’d rather make something that tastes totally delicious than looks perfect.”

Although she winces at what a buzzword it’s become, Haggerty is a firm believer in cooking seasonally and the book is arranged according to the changing seasons – vibrant fruit tarts and colourful quiches for the summer months; chunky loaves of bread for autumn; warming pies and bread puddings for winter.

Combine with that other foodie mantra – buying local – and you’re sailing, she says.

Again, it might have become a cliché, but when you live in a city with such an abundance of locally produced veg, ales, chocolate and cheese, it’s a bit of a waste to go to the supermarket.

With ideas for everything from afternoon tea to summer street parties, 20-minute meals to full-on wedding cakes, Brighton Bakes looks set to become a kitchen classic.

*Brighton Bakes is out now, published by the Book Guild and priced £19.99 * Look out for Jessica’s Brighton Rock Cake recipe in next week’s magazine