Last month I worked at the inaugural Cake & Bake Show in Earl’s Court, assisting in the pop-up kitchen for TREX – a pure vegetable fat still going strong after 80 years and witnessing a revival as a retro, multi-purpose baking ingredient…

‘TREX!’ yells a tiny Scottish man in a white overcoat, punching the air with gusto. Myself and ‘Team Trex’ (a band of three led by my good friend, home economist Sue Ashworth) are furiously weighing out flour and sugar just minutes before the Show doors open. We’re stopped in our tracks by the man in the white coat – Eddie Spence MBE. As cake and icing fans will know, Eddie is one of the most respected cake decorators on the planet (he’s iced many cakes for the Royal family including the Queen’s Golden Wedding Anniversary Cake), his courses continue to sell out in minutes, and what isn’t in his book, The Art of Royal Icing, isn’t worth a piping bag.


Published in: on October 1, 2012 at 10:06 am  Comments (4)  

Is cake ‘less indulgent’ than it was 50 years ago?

Last week I was interviewed by BBC Food for an online article discussing the cost of tea and cake today. Read it here – and let us know your thoughts. Do you make a cake on a Sunday? Would you rather splash out on a coffee and a slice of home-made cake at your favourite cafe or is there nothing nicer than baking from scratch in the comfort of your kitchen?

Published in: on September 10, 2012 at 8:42 am  Leave a Comment  

Coconut slices

Serve as a cold summer slice or douse in custard when the sun goes down

It’s been a fun and frenzied week of baking at Finchley WI. Last Sunday WI members donated a gorgeous array of biscuits, cookies, cakes and a rainbow of macarons (thank you Cindy Robert of Petit Gâteau) for Avenue House’s summer fair followed by a pop-up tea-room yesterday as the Olympic torch came through town. These Coconut Slices, taken from The WI Vintage Teatime went down a treat. They’re SO incredibly easy to make and serve over 20 – good news for big crowds. Perfect with a hot cup of tea.


Published in: on July 26, 2012 at 6:19 pm  Comments (2)  

Complicite pop up for TEA

If only all afternoon tea could be served with a spoonful of Complicite. It was the creative learning arm of the renowned theatre company, that, this weekend, staged a pop-up afternoon tea event with dream-like qualities, transforming a communal lounge in over-55’s centre Dora House (St. John’s Wood, London), into a spotless, 1940’s-esque tea-room. Flanked by paisley wallpaper, sweeping net curtains and live classical music, an impeccably styled cast of waiting staff and actors played out themes of love, regret and distant memories as customers looked on in disbelief over a pot of Earl Grey.


Published in: on June 24, 2012 at 7:13 pm  Comments (5)  

How does she do it?

During the Second World War, food demonstrations were a coveted event for WI members who could glean new ways to make supplies go further

Everyone has a culinary short-cut up their chef whites. Or knows someone who does. Mine is to dis-obey the all-in-one microwavable method for the perfect white sauce and stick to the timely process of milk and butter roux plus lots of whisking of milk in pan. In the long-run it can save crucial minutes after third attempt of electronic version leaves me in a puddle of full-fat. Note to self: must try harder.


Published in: on June 18, 2012 at 4:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

Strawberry jelly cake

Quintessentially British, strawberries and cream make the perfect addition to afternoon tea. Layer with buttery crumbs for a decadent dessert

Happy Bank Holidays! If you’re preparing for a Jubilee street party or just fancy impressing your guests with a mouthwatering dessert, I can heartily recommend a portion of Strawberry jelly cake, taken from The WI Vintage Teatime. The original recipe is adapted from the Buckinghamshire Federation of Women’s Institutes ‘Diamond Jubilee Cookery Book’, 1979, a collection of local WI recipes published to commemorate 60 years of WI and a county of esteemed home-cooks and bakers. This jelly is a jubilee veteran.


Published in: on June 2, 2012 at 6:20 pm  Comments (2)  

‘Out of the strong came forth sweetness’

128 years and millions of tins later, Lyle’s remains a sweet cupboard staple

When your ginger biscuit or flapjack recipe calls for a spoonful of syrup or treacle, there’s nothing quite like prizing open the shiny metal of a new tin and diving right in. Lyle’s Golden Syrup, with its iconic gold and green packaging and official Royal stamp of approval, has become one of the world’s best-loved baking brands and a cupboard staple for generations of home-cooks. Now, in line with worldwide Jubilee celebrations, it’s getting a ‘happy and glorious’ makeover as a limited edition tin.


Published in: on May 10, 2012 at 3:13 pm  Leave a Comment  

Invalid cookery


Ringing the service bell can really take it out of a girl

‘Serve food for an invalid punctually at the time expected, and let hot food be perfectly hot. Serve daintily on a tray covered with a spotless cloth, and with shining silver, and sparkling glass (The Cheshire Federation of Women’s Institutes Cookery Book, 1935)


Published in: on April 12, 2012 at 12:33 pm  Comments (1)  

A vintage year ahead

Just in time for all your bank holiday banquets, street parties and afternoon teas


Published in: on February 28, 2012 at 4:11 pm  Comments (3)  

Old English Sherry Trifle

A trifle delicious


Published in: on May 31, 2011 at 10:32 am  Comments (4)