Month: May 2013

Cake of America

Baking the USAMap of America cake

This is a cake I made over two years ago. It was huge as it was intended for a big 50th birthday party and it needed to feed all the guests. I delivered it into London on the day of the party and remember fretting the whole way there that it would break, move or something would fall off. It didn’t but I have since learnt never to deliver a cake without a box of cake decorating tools and an icing bag ready to ‘re-stick’ anything that falls off (legs on models springs to mind!) It’s also a good idea to pack out the boot of your car with cushions so the cake box can’t slide around.

Not so easy peasy lemon squeezy

This is the largest lemon cake I have ever made. The cake board was 26″ wide and the cake had to be baked in two goes as I didn’t have a tin large enough to do it in one go! In the end it worked out perfectly as all the parts of the map that jot out from the main body of land could be made from one cake and attached to a really large rectangular cake. I then used tons of buttercream to seamlessly blend all the cake parts without any separation lines showing.

Covering this cake in sugarpaste was really difficult. I hadn’t had all that much experience in getting it into awkward nooks and crannies and it was huge. In the end I just had to go for it and do my best.


Map of America cake

The birthday boy and his partner were off on a holiday to America to celebrate his 50th. I found out where they were going and what he was into so I could really personalise the cake. They planned to hire a car and as he liked music I found sheet music by some of his favorite artists and had mini versions printed onto sugar paper. I cut these out and placed them on very thin sugarpaste then positioned them on a rolling pin to dry out so they would look like they had flown out of the car on the road as they vroomed around. I also had the Las Vegas sign put onto sugarpaper too. I made the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco, the Hollywood hills and sign and the Las Vegas sign along with the Cadillac and both men driving in the car and the road sign just had to say ’50’.

Map of America cake

I was really happy with this cake. Normally, I use a pre-coloured green sugarpaste  for grass but I softened the colours on this cake and I think it worked well. 

Life lessons with a cake

Whenever I make a cake I always get my girls to have a look before it’s delivered. It’s the official sign of approval as you know how honest kids are! I showed it to the 7-year-old Beau who asked “Why are there two men in the car?” I replied without even thinking  “Because it’s Cliff’s boyfriend’s birthday”  Then I realised what I had said and waited for the questions to come. “His boyfriend?” she asked. Now, I hadn’t really given explaining this topic much thought before. After all Beau was only 7 and Darcey 4 and we had only just covered the birds and the bees!  This was a question I wasn’t ready for so I just said. “Yep. His boyfriend. Some boys like boys, some girls like girls, everyone likes everyone”. “Oh” she said. “Like Kurt in Glee?” “Exactly”. I said. And that was that. Sometimes my girls really surprise me. She just got it. No more questions. I love that. 


It’s been a crazy week…so far!

This week I’ve been shooting for Talking Tables. I’ve done quite a few shoots for them in the past so I should know by now that shooting all day, driving for 2 hours to and from the location house and getting cakes ready for the next days shots means that there’s little time for blogging. Especially when you are shooting for four days straight. So, I thought I would just quickly share with you a few of the cakey shots we did last November for the Spring/Summer 2013 brochure and the brand new wedding brochure. Talking Tables is so up my street. Interior styling and making shoot cakes for a living! What could be better?

Speak to you all again soon.


From The wedding cake brochureTalking Tables - Pearls & Pastries - Bridal - Dessert and cake lifestyle - Portrait

A birdcage cake stand! How gorgeous is this? Talking Tables - Pearls and Pastries - Birdcage cakestand lifestyle - Portrait

Cupcakes are always a must on these shootsTalking Tables-Truly Scrumptious Cake Stand-Portrait

This was my first attempt at rose icing. I love these cake toppersTalking Tables - Truly Scrumptious - Cake platter with pop tops lifestyle - Portrait

Talking Tables - Truly Scrumptious - Cake platter lifestyle - Portrait

New York Cheesecake Recipe by Hannah Miles

New York Cheesecake

I am very excited today to bring to you an extract from Hannah Miles’  Cheesecake book which I reviewed – and let’s face it, raved about yesterday. As I mentioned Tim’s favorite cheesecake is New York cheesecake and this is the recipe I used to make my cheesecake for the Jewish Festival Shavout this year. It’s sitting in my fridge chilling right now! I’m not allowed to eat it until the rest of the family get home later on otherwise you all know what will happen don’t you? They won’t get a look in!

Tim likes a cherry topping on his cheesecake so I have made a cherry compote to go along side this cake. I didn’t want to change a thing to Hannah’s recipe. Just look at that sour cream topping. Who needs cherries?

I hope you enjoy this recipe.


New York Cheesecake


Serves 12

For the crumb base

150 g/5½ oz. digestive biscuits/graham crackers

90 g/6 tablespoons butter, melted


For the filling

600 g/22⁄3 cups cream cheese

225 g/1 cup clotted cream (if unavailable, use crème fraîche)

100 ml/generous 1⁄3 cup crème fraîche

140 g/¾ cup caster/white sugar

4 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste


For the topping

300 ml/1¼ cups sour cream

3 tablespoons icing/confectioners’ sugar

a 26-cm/10-inch round springform cake pan, greased and lined


How to make the New York Cheesecake

Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F) Gas 3.

To make the crumb base, crush the biscuits/graham crackers to fine crumbs in a food processor or place in a clean plastic bag and bash with a rolling pin. Transfer the crumbs to a mixing bowl and stir in the melted butter. Press the buttery crumbs into the base of the prepared cake pan firmly using the back of a spoon. Wrap the outside of the pan in cling film/plastic wrap and place in a roasting pan half full with water, ensuring that the water is not so high as to spill out. Set aside.

For the filling, whisk together the cream cheese, clotted cream, crème fraîche, sugar, eggs and vanilla bean paste in a blender or with an electric whisk. Pour the mixture over the crumb base, then transfer the cheesecake, in its waterbath, to the preheated oven and bake for 45–60 minutes until the cheesecake is set but still wobbles slightly. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and allow it to cool slightly so that the height of the cheesecake reduces. Leave the oven on.

To make the topping, whisk together the sour cream and icing/confectioners’ sugar and pour over the top of the cheesecake. Returnto the oven and bake for a further 10–15 minutes until set.

Remove the cheesecake from the waterbath and slide a knife around the edge of the pan to release the cheesecake and prevent it from cracking. Leave to cool completely in the pan, then chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours before serving.


New York Cheesecake

 Cheesecake by Hannah Miles is published by Ryland Peters & Small at £16.99 and is available from


Book review: Cheesecake – by Hannah Miles

CheesecakeThis Wednesday is one of Tim’s favorite Jewish festivals. It’s Shavout. Now he’s not religious. In fact he’s not even Jewish!  And  I don’t think he could tell you what Shavout is all about. But he knows which cake goes with which festival and for Shavout it’s Cheesecake. Tim loves cheescake. So, you can imagine how happy I was to receive this new book Cheesecake, by Hannah Miles, Ryland, Peters and Small publishers  in the post last week.

Buy it on Amazon here!

 Hannah Miles was a finalist on Masterchef back in 2007 and has since written loads of mouth watering books including The Gluten-free Baker: Delicious Baked Treats for the Gluten IntolerantDoughnutsPopcorn Treats and Mini Cakes to name just a few. Let’s just say she’s been pretty busy!

The latest book has ’60 classic and original recipes for heavenly desserts’. Each page has the most yummy looking cheesecake. I seriously want to try them all. There are some really clever concoctions and mixtures in here that I would never have thought of.

I decided to let Tim choose which cake I would make this year for Shavout from the book. Would it be Sticky Toffee cheesecake or Key lime pie cheesecake? Or maybe something really different like salty honeycake cheesecake? Nope! He wants a New York cheesecake – complete with added black cherries. What is it they say? You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him step away from his favorite flavour! So New York it is!

So, What’s in the book? 

Well there are tons and tons of great recipes including baked, fridge and gelatine based cakes. Most gelatines aren’t kosher so I haven’t tried any of those yet, but as I love a baked Cheesecake the most I don’t think it’s going to be a problem!



I love it when an author spells out exactly what it is she uses for her ingredients. It’s also great to have the bare basics explained – ie what the different types of cheescakes are and how they are made. This is the part of the book that teaches us the most I think. It’s what I read while enjoying my breakfast each morning. Planning my day. Escaping into a world of cream cheesey yumminess!

Classic Cheesecakes

Vanilla, Fruits of the forest, Raspberry ripple to name just a few!

Cheesecake, by Hannah Miles

Fruity cheesecakes

These flavours are not what you would expect- Champagne rhubarb cheesecake, Lemon meringue cheesecake, Caramalised banoffee cheesecake are just a few that look really moreish.

Cheesecake, by Hannah Miles

Candy bar cheesecakes

Now these will really whet your appetite – Rocky road cheesecake, Honeycomb cheesecake, Chocolate hazelhut cheesecake (that’s what I would have chosen to make first!)

Cheesecake, by Hannah Miles

Gourmet cheesecakes

These are the ones I would make for a dinner party to impress! Chocolate chilli cheesecake, Hibiscus, raspberry and pomegranate cheesecake or Crème brȗlèe cheesecake.

Cheesecake, by Hannah Miles

Party Cheesecakes

Trifle cheesecake (Oooohhh nom nom nom!), Baked Alaska cheesecakes, Cheesecake pops. These ones are something else!Cheesecake, by Hannah Miles


Around the world cheesecakes

For an interesting twist on cheesecakes these look yummy. American pumpkin cheesecake, Greek Baklava cheesecake, Polish cheesecake and Black forest cheesecake – I think Tim must have missed that one!

Cheesecake, by Hannah Miles

So, to sum up…

This book is yummy. It doesn’t have any of those odd or wacky flavours you often find in books on just one type of cakes – like the cook has run out of ideas and has had a look in her kitchen cupboards for inspiration and thought ‘I know, I’ll make tea flavoured cheesecake’ – I have a book with tea flavoured cheesecake in it! Every single cake looks amazing and is really straightforward to make. There aren’t any difficult to get ingredients and for those that are less run of the mill Hannah makes alternative suggestions.  We couldn’t get clotted cream so we just used double cream- that sort of thing.

In all I think this is going to become my dinner party favorite cook book. Whenever we have anyone over I am going to make a different cheesecake because everyone loves a cheesecake… don’t they?

Cheesecake by Hannah Miles is published by Ryland Peters & Small at £16.99 and is available from


Fast from the freezer Double Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

Choc_chip_cookiesI have to admit that I am one of those people who doesn’t like to go to someones house empty handed. If I’m asked over for a coffee I have to take something with me and since I started this blog I always like to take something I’ve baked.  But let’s face it. That’s not always possible. There are features to write, kids to clean, cakes to decorate and a house to try and keep under control. So, I have a new plan. It’s forward planning. I make these double chocolate chip cookies right up to the point of baking – well in advance and then I pop them in the freezer- ready for any last minute coffee invite. Simple!

They’re brilliant. Taste AMAZING- especially still warm from the oven and what’s more they take just 10 minutes to bake to perfection.  They’re also a great way to get a chocolate fix, she says having been munching on 4 in the last 10 minutes.


Double chocolate chip cookie recipe

(Makes around 30 cookies)

  • 125g butter – at room temperature
  • 175g light brown sugar
  • 50g golden caster sugar
  • 1 egg- lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp spoon vanilla essence
  • 190g plain flour
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 100g dark chocolate chips


To make the cookies

  1. Mix the butter and sieved sugars together until pale and fluffy. With a food mixer this will take around 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add the egg and sieved dry ingredients to the butter mix and blend well.
  3. Add the chocolate chips
  4. Roll into balls and chill in the fridge for at least an hour or overnight if you are baking them without freezing.
  5. To Freeze: place the balls of cookie dough on a baking tray and place them in the freezer. Once completely frozen place the balls in a labeled sandwich bag ready for another baking day.
  6. To bake: Heat your oven to 180ºC (160ºC fan) and line a baking tray with silicon paper
  7. The cookies will spread so place each dough ball on the baking tray leaving plenty of space around each one. I bake 9 on each tray. If baking from the fridge bake for exactly 8 minutes. If baking from the freezer bake for exactly 10 minutes. The cookies will look like they aren’t cooked but don’t worry they are. They may also appear a bit puffy. The puffiness will deflate and leave a lovely cracked or chocolate chip yumminess on each cookie.
  8. Once baked remove the tray from the oven and place it on the cooling rack. Leave the cookies on the baking tray for three minutes then carefully place them directly on a cooling tray. The cookies are very soft when they come out of the oven so don’t attempt to remove them from the tray until they have cooled a bit. They will just squish into a big gooey mess if you touch them too soon.
  9. Eat them up while they are still warm. That’s when they taste the best.



Lucy Young and Mary Berry’s Mini Banoffee pies

Mini Banoffee PiesMini Banoffee Pie

This recipe is taken from Mary Berry and Lucy Young’s latest book At Home, BBC Books Thank you BBC Books for sharing it with us.

Buy it here on Amazon

“Everyone’s favourite dessert – these individual pies are Lucy’s recipe and are divine. Tins of ready-made caramel can be bought in any supermarket and save having to boil a can of condensed milk like we used to, to give it a caramel flavour.” Mary Berry

Mini Banoffee Pie recipe

serves 8

For the base
40g (11⁄2oz) butter, melted
75g (3oz) digestive biscuits, crushed

For the topping

50g (2oz) butter
50g (2oz) light muscovado sugar
1 × 397g tin caramel
4 small bananas
200ml (7fl oz) double cream, lightly whipped 25g (1oz) square of dark chocolate

You will need eight 7cm (21⁄2-in) cooking rings, arranged on a baking sheet. To make the bases, mix the melted butter with the crushed biscuits and stir until combined. Spoon evenly between the rings and press down with the back of a spoon. Chill while you make the topping.

Melt the butter in a saucepan then add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Add the caramel and stir until combined. Simmer for 1 minute then set aside to cool for a few minutes.

Pour the sauce into the rings on top of the biscuit base and chill for about 1 hour or until the toffee has just set. Slice the banana and arrange on top, then spoon or pipe over the cream. Slide a fish slice under each ring and move to serving plates. Remove the rings and finelygrate chocolate on top of each pie to garnish.

Serve chilled.


The toffee can be put into the rings up to a day ahead. Top with banana and cream up to 6 hours ahead (leave the rings on as the banana will discolour if exposed to the air). Not suitable for freezing.



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