In January I made a New Year resolution about wanting to learn how to decorate cakes and cupcakes, so a few weeks ago; I jumped at the opportunity to review the new cookbook by Fiona Cairns called ‘Bake & Decorate Tea Time Luxury’. It is her first book and in it, she shares her secrets for baking and decorating beautiful cakes.
Her company, simply called Fiona Cairns, bakes and decorates 750,000 cakes annually for Waitrose, Harrods, and Selfridges and has supplied Fortnum and Mason for the last 15 years. She has also made cakes for Bono, Pink Floyd, Simply Red and she makes Sir Paul McCartney a Christmas cake every year. These are good credentials in my opinion for writing a cake baking/decorating book.
The cookbook is beautiful in its layout, with simple and well thought images that show the cakes to their full potential. The book is split into two sections, one called ‘Bake’ and the other ‘Decorate’. In the ‘Bake’ section, there are many easy to follow recipes for different types of cakes and biscuits, including, family chocolate cake, Battenberg cake, very lemony crunch cake, gingerbread biscuits and for the more adventurous, chocolate and beetroot cake. In the ‘Decorate’ section, there are lots of ideas and tips for how to decorate the cakes and biscuits in the first section for any occasion. Some of Cairn’s ideas include a sweet shop, a summer garden, a giant cupcake, penguin cake, and a gingerbread man cake. She even gives you a few ideas of wedding cakes. The book is full of inspiration for the amateur or the experienced cake baker and decorator. I will be trying out some of the decorating ideas myself for events throughout this year.
To test the book properly and make sure the recipes work, I decided to make the Victoria Sponge cake recipe. Fiona’s version is above and mine is below. The recipe was simple and easy to follow, with instructions for with and without electric mixers. I used a hand whisk and it was easy to mix together. I did not use cream in my version. Apologies for the photo of my version, it is on a lid of container as I took it to work the next day for my colleagues to eat. It is a very light and yummy cake to eat. It is delicious! I have reproduced the recipe below with full permission from Quadrille Publishing. The book is released on 19th March and can be purchased from Amazon here.
Many thanks to Emma at Quadrille Publishing for sending me the book to review. It is much appreciated.
Bake and Decorate: Tea Time Luxury
Ingredients (Serves 8)
For the Cake
- 175g unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the tin
- 175g self raising flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- 175g golden caster sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the Filling
- 150ml double cream
- 4 tbsp raspberry or strawberry jam
- Icing sugar, to dust
Preheat oven to 180°C/fan 170°C/350°F/gas mark 4
You can choose to cook this cake either in 1x 20cm sandwich cake tin or 2 x 20cm sandwich cake tins. Butter the tin or tins, then line the bases with baking parchment. If you use just 1 tin, line the sides with a 7cm high collar of baking parchment as well, to allow for rise.
For this batter, I use an electric mixer with a beater attachment, but use a food processor, or a bowl with an electric whisk, if you want.
Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl, the add the butter (in knobs), the eggs, the sugar and the vanilla. Beat together until thoroughly blended, taking care not to over mix so you will have a light sponge. Scrape the bowl into the tin or tins and level the top.
Bake for 20-25mins if using 2 tins or 30-35 minutes if using 1 tin, until the cake springs back into touch or a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and leave for a couple of minutes, then run a knife around the rim to loosen the cake from the tin and turn out onto a wire rack. Peel off paper and leave until completely cold.
Lightly whip the cream until just thickened into soft peaks. If you have baked cake in 1 tin, split into half horizontally with a serrated knife. Fill with jam and cream and sandwich together so the cream forms the uppermost layer. If you have baked the cake in 2 tins, be sure to sandwich the flat bases together. Dust the top with icing sugar.
PS: Don’t forget to end my giveaway. You can win two cookbooks. All the details and how to enter are here.