Category: Biscuit recipe

Peggy Porschen’s ‘Boutique Baking’ book review


I’ve been a big fan of Peggy Porschen for ages. I met her at the launch of the Hobby Craft magazine a few years ago. She had done a beautiful feature on how to decorate these cute cookies. She’s really lovely. Very quietly spoken and so passionate about cakes. We could have talked icing for hours!

At the launch I showed her some of the pictures of my cakes (they were really dodgy photos on my phone!) and she was so complimentary. She asked if I wanted to come along to one of her cookie masterclasses that she was doing that weekend. She had one place left! Obviously I jumped at the chance! It was a Halloween themed class (which I am pretty into as my birthday is on Halloween!) We made pumpkin, cat, and ghost cookies. I learnt tons that day.  Peggy made it look so easy but let me tell you it’s not!

Peggy’s been baking cakes for years and is one of the biggest cake guru’s in the country! She even sells her wedding cakes at Fortnum & Masons!!! She opened a cake shop just over a year ago in Belgravia, in the heart of London which is a huge success. In the basement she does classes. I can’t recommend them enough! Check out the website here!

The book

Her latest book is inspired by the cakes and cookies that are sold in Peggy’s shop.  As with her previous books the cakes and designs are beautiful, seasonal and would make fantastic gifts. There are loads of recipes and step by step shots on how to create the decorations and effects. So what’s in it?

The contents

Sweet treats

These are so cute. Mini Meringue kisses, Morello Cherry Bakewell tarts with the cutest cherry decorations on top, ice cream cake pops, Peggy’s signature macarons, Mini cinnamon donuts (I adore these!!) I’ve tried to make donuts in the past and they turned out to be greasy blobs so I’ll definitely be giving these a go.

PEGGY PORSCHEN'S BOUTIQUE BAKING- Morello cherry Bakewell Tarts

Beautiful biscuits

Just when you thought you couldn’t do anything new with biscuits Peggy comes up with a whole host of goodies, from stencilled decorations to moulded flower toppers.  The teaspoon chocolate biscuits are really lovely. I also love the sound of the mulled wine stars.  Deelish!


Cupcake heaven

With these flavours who can go wrong? Banoffee, sticky toffee, black forest, strawberry and champagne, Lemon and raspberry, vanilla chiffon, chocolate heaven and Cosmo (yep – like the cocktail!)  Each one has the perfect frosting and all are easy to make and look great.

Lucious layer cakes

I’ve used many of Peggy’s recipes from her previous cake books but these are something else! I love the way the cakes are layered and then cut open so you can see how tempting they are once ready to be served. The summer berry cake uses jam in the buttercream which is such a great idea. It gives the cake a pretty colour and looks like it would taste amazing. The chocolate on the Tipsy Orange Truffle cake looks so perfectly flat! How does she do it? There’s also a dark truffle cake and white chocolate passion cake as well as a glorious victoria cake complete with shell and swirl detailing.

PEGGY PORSCHEN'S BOUTIQUE BAKING- Tipsy orange truffle cake

Classic cakes & Bakes

There’s a great choice here with Neapolitan marble cake, Chocolate hazelnut Torte, Triple berry cheesecake, Luxury fruit cake, Mini eggnog kugelhopfs and the Raspberry & Rose dome cake which looks amazing and is the kind of cake decorating I can only aspire to.

PEGGY PORSCHEN'S BOUTIQUE BAKING- Raspberry and Rose dome cake

Delicious drinks

I was surprised to see drink recipes in the book, but then again there must be loads sold at the cake shop! They look so pretty. I think the pink lemonade and Minteani are first on my ‘to try’ list but they’re followed closely by summer berry ice tea and home made hot chocolate. I reckon you can stand a spoon up in that!


The icing on the cake

This is where you learn how to make daisies, blossom, chrysanthemums as well as other pretty details from icing. You’ll also see steps on how to decorate cup cakes, assemble layer cakes, how to use Royal Icing and making a paper piping bag.

There’s also an Acknowledgements page and a Suppliers page.

This book is serious eye candy. Not only are the recipes mouth watering, but the way they look is just beautiful. They’re the kind of cakes that I would love to take round to a friend’s house for a party. They look as good as they taste and there’s so much to choose from. Peggy’s books just get better and better.  It’s a great buy!


You can buyPeggy Porschen’s ‘Boutique Baking’ book, Published by Quadrille on by clicking on the image below.


The only Double Chocolate Cookie recipe you’ll ever need!

Chocolate cookies

Cookie stack chocolate cookie recipe

I love chocolate cookies. I mean I LOOOVVVVEEE them! But, I’m fussy! They have to be dark chocolate (milk chocolate in a cookie? No way! Well not for me anyhow) and they have to be soft, melt in the mouth and just plain yummarge!
This recipe is for the best double chocolate chip cookies you will ever make. I’ve made them many times and even when they go wrong (like when I burnt the melting chocolate and just left it out of the ingredients) they still taste great. But with the melted chocolate included they are divine!

The last time I made them I was in a bit of a strop. I’d had a particularly stressful day. It was half term, my girls had trashed practically the whole house and the snowman I was making for an up and coming shoot was flopping big time which was making me really stressed out!
When I’m stressed I crave chocolate more than ever, so I decided to hit two stones with one bird (before you say it- I know, I always say that the wrong way round. I think it’s funny!) To chill out and relax I bake. It’s a simple remedy. Baking and creating something cheers me up and if it’s chocolate I get my sugar rush too! My sister popped round that evening and said I should be in a strop more often if it meant more cookies like this!

so, onto the recipe

The Ingredients for Double chocolate cookies

Makes around 20

  • 400g dark chocolate
  • 110g butter – at room temperature
  • 130g light brown sugar
  • 1 egg (medium)
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 150g plain flour
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda

How to make double chocolate cookies

Preheat your oven to 170 C ( Fan 150C) Gas 3. Line a baking tray or two with grease proof paper and pop them in the fridge. This prevents the cookies baking too quickly on the bottom.

Melt chocolate for chocolate cookiesTake 150g of the chocolate and melt it in a heat proof bowl placed over boiling water. Make sure that the boiling water doesn’t touch the bowl or the chocolate will burn (trust me on this! Been there. Done that!) Once melted set aside to cool a little.

Chopped chocolate chunks
Roughly chop the remaining chocolate. You can use chocolate chips but the oozing won’t be quite as big!

butter and sugar for chocolate cookies
Mix the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.

Add egg
Add the egg and mix again adding spoonful of flour if it starts to separate. Add the vanilla essence.

Stir in the flour, bicarbonate of soda  and cocoa powder.

mix in the chocolate
Add the melted chocolate and stir through. Mix in the roughly chopped chocolate pieces.

Let them cool
Use a  dessert spoon to measure out equal measurements of dough (it will be a bit sticky) and roll it into a ball, place it on the baking sheet, leaving space for spreading between each one. Flatten slightly with your fingers.

Let them cool
Pop them in the oven for 10 minutes and not a second longer. Then place them on a rack to cool down.

Mmmm. Oozing chocolate cookie!
Now this is where it all goes wrong for me! All that roughly chopped chocolate is all melted and gooey and if you break a cookie in half it should be too moist for you to be able to resist eating it. I have normally eaten a few before they have cooled down completely. This is my favorite time to eat them. Fresh out of the oven!
They will last a day or two in an air tight container but I think they taste best eaten on the day of baking. They stay moist even once they have cooled down completely.

Who can resist gooey chocolate like this? Not me!


‘The Great British Book of Baking’ book review

The Great British book of bakingThis book accompanies the first BBC series of ‘The Great British Bake Off’ TV series. It’s fantastic, which is probably why it’s been in the top 10 best sellers list for ever! It’s got over 120 savory and sweet recipes from around the British Isles. Loads that you’ve heard of and some you may not.

So what’s in the book?

These are the headings for each chapter and a glimps of what’s included.

  • A word from Mel & Sue The very funny duo who present the programme
  • Tips from the Judges. I’ve mentioned I’m a big fan of Mary Berry – She is the Original Guru, and Paul (I’ve got the bluest eyes on TV) Hollywood. Great tips from them both.
  • Introduction
  • Biscuits and tea time treats– Annetha’s moulded shortbread, brownies, all the classics I love- chocolate banana bread, Jewish honey cake, scones oooh and Welsh cakes. Yummarge!Annetha's moulded shortbread-The Great British book of baking
  • Bread– Farmhouse soda bread (I love this with eggs Benedict so much) Jasminder’s Focccia- do you remember it from the programme? Looks just mouth-watering. Four plait Challah (another Jewish one – Now I REALLY have to have a go at this one. No excuses!) Bagels, Naan, hot cross buns, Mark’s sticky Marmalade tea loaf. Too much choice!
  • Tarts and Flans– There is a great section on how to make pastry and fill a flan case and plenty of recipes for savory tarts to whet your appetite, like Blue Shropshire and broccoli tart, but it’s the sweet ones they really float my boat. I want to try Westmorland tart which is packed full of dates and raisins. But there’s all the classics too. Bakewell tart anyone?Cherry Pie-The Great British book of baking
  • Pies– If you want to make a pie you have to make a rough puff pastry (apparently!) so this is where you get the low down. There’s chicken, beef as well as apple and Cherry pie recipes, individual plum cobbler (Mmmm). I really want to give the Apple pie with cheddar crust a go. I had never heard of this before but it’s been around for 300 years.Apple Pie with Cheddar crust-The Great British book of baking
  • Cakes– Now we get down to the nitty-gritty. Cherry cake, Lea’s Pistachio and cranberry cake, Lemon drizzle, Jasminder’s parrot cake- don’t worry there’s no parrots in it, just loads of exotic fruit, Cornish clotted cream cake and of course a victoria sponge to name just a few! I could go on and on but as there are 50 pages of cakes I think you get my gist. There are tons!Lea's Pistachio and cranberry cake- The Great British book of baking
  • Puddings – I don’t feature anywhere near enough puddings here on CB&C considering how much I love them. The pudding recipes in this book are of course lush. Loads of traditional ones including bread and butter pudding, sticky toffee pudding, Baked Alaska, Apple and cinnamon Charlotte and Queen of puddings. I hadn’t heard of quite a few of these recipes till I watched the TV series so it’s great to find a book that not only gives the details but where they come from too!
  • Fancy pastries In this chapter you’ll learn how to make puff pastry and choux pastry. There’s plenty of savory recipes like sausage rolls and Little goats cheese and tomato tarts but for me a pastry is all about the sweetness of the Honeyed Baklava, cream puffs and Millefeuille!Millefeuille-The Great British book of baking

What I love about this book

There’s so much background information about all the foods and where they come from throughout this book as well as cute little cameo’s from local bakers and tea room owners. It’s so much more than a recipe book. I’ve been sitting reading it all. Things I ordinarily wouldn’t consider making take on a whole new meaning and I am so much more interested in them. It’s almost like a food history lesson.

Although this book is from The Great British Bake Off and has Mary Berry, Paul Hollywood and the contestant’s recipes throughout I can’t review it without mentioning the very talented Linda Collister and Sheila Keating who wrote it. They’ve done a cracking job and I think it is going to become a very dog eared/ stained book on my bookshelves in the years to come.


Cinnamon balls recipe for Passover

 Passover cinnamon balls recipe

I love these cinnamon balls. They really remind me of Pesach from my childhood along with the Macaroons from yesterday’s post. We could never leave them alone and with four kids in the house my poor mum could never bake them quickly enough!

They are a quick and easy to make, not to mention very tasty biscuit that are really soft inside and are totally moreish. I use the recipe from The New Complete  International Jewish Cookbook, By Evelyn Rose. It’s a fail safe recipe. It’s also a great one to do with kids.

The Ingredients

(makes around 20)

2 egg whites (at room temperature)

125g caster sugar

225g ground almonds

1 level tbsp of cinnamon

How to make Cinnamon Balls for Passover

Line a baking tray with grease proof paper and heat your oven to 160°C, Gas mark 3.

 Passover cinnamon balls reciepe

Whisk the egg whites. I use a hand-held electric whisk as they are super speedy and effortless to use and clean.

Whisk until you have stiff white peaks.

Passover cinnamon balls

Evelyn Rose says in her book that you know when your egg whites are perfect when you lift out your whisk and the peak doesn’t flop to the side but stays upright.

Passover cinnamon balls

Add all the rest of the ingredients.

Passover cinnamon balls recipe

Use a spatula or metal spoon to mix the ingredients together. Avoid using a wooden spoon as it will bash all the air out of your egg whites and you want them nice and fluffy.

Passover cinnamon balls recipe

Now for the fun bit. Make your hands wet. I tried doing this part with dry hands and it just makes a big, mushy goo on your hands! Half fill a mixing bowl with water for speed and convenience. With a wet palm roll around 20 balls and place them on your baking sheet. They don’t spread too much when baked so you can fit quite a few on a tray.  Pop them in the oven for 18 minutes.

Passover cinnamon balls recipe

Remove the tray from the oven. Place the icing sugar in a bowl and while the cinnamon balls are still warm roll them around until coated all over. Then leave to cool completely. You can add a second coating of icing sugar but I never feel the need.

Passover cinnamon balls reciepe

Just look how moist and cinnamony these are!  Tim came home from work just as I was finishing up, popped one in his mouth and said “Lush!” Nice compliment I think.


Almond Macaroon Recipe for Passover

Passover Almond Macaroons

Well, what can I say about these sticky, sweet and delicious bisuits that doesn’t involve going into the complete disaster I created whilst trying to make them in a hurry! Let me start by saying they are really easy to make but I made a complete pig’s ear of it!

Anyway, let me set the scene….

On Friday night my sister hosted our family’s Seder night (which is a meal that starts the Jewish festival of Passover). We were missing a few key ingredients (namely a mum, dad, brother and his family. I imagine it’s what it feels like to have your first Christmas dinner without key people!)

Anyway, I digress…..

My sister and her husband had gone to a lot of effort with not only a cracking roast chicken dinner (OMG it was soooo good!) and she had printed off kid friendly Hagadas (the prayer book we follow through out the meal) and had props at the ready. When it came to the part when the Egyptians wouldn’t let the Israelites go and the 10 plagues are described there were flying plastic bugs (for locusts) red blobs of lipstick applied unexpectedly to my face for boils and flying teddies for wild beasts. It was brilliant.

I offered to make cinnamon balls (tomorrows recipe) and macaroons for our desert. I thought I had left plenty of time. That is the story of my life. I’m always late. Sorry Shell.

I set about making the macaroons and they looked great in the oven. I turned my back for two minutes and they burned. So the lesson here is don’t ever turn your back on a macaroon!

The next batch turned into a soggy mess in the food processor. I tried to add a bit more egg white to see if they would be fluffier – big mistake! I added more almonds and more sugar but that didn’t seem to make any difference. It was more like cake mix than a roll-able dough. The third mix was great but I was so worried that I would overcook them that I took them out of the oven a little early and had anaemic macaroons.

The thing with Macaroons is that they bake quickly and it’s a judgement call as to when they are done enough. I actually prefered the pale ones which were really soft throughout with a harder shell and were completely delicious. Beau ate practically all of the overdone ones before we have even left the house! It’s a matter of taste.

I would say that if they last longer than a day (highly unlikely!) they do get firmer in time so I would veer towards a light brown colour.

The Ingredients

(makes about 15 macaroons)

125g ground almonds

1 egg white (from a medium size egg) at room temperature

150g caster sugar

table spoon of icing sugar

15 almonds half to decorate

How to make Almond Macaroons for Passover

Heat your oven to 200°C, Gas mark 6. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.

Chop almonds. Peseach Almond Macaroons recipe

Give the ground almonds a whiz a food processor for 10 seconds. You don’t have to do this step but it will make the texture of the macaroons even finer.

add sugar.Peseach Almond Macaroons

Add the sugar and whiz again till blended.

Add egg white.Peseach Almond Macaroons

Add the egg white and blend thoroughly. It should form wet clumps.

Roll into balls.Peseach Almond Macaroons

Roll out the macaroon balls. I like them to be quite large so they are really soft inside. Give them plenty of space to spread. About 3 cm between each one is perfect.

Flatten a little.Peseach Almond Macaroons

Flatten the balls lightly with the palm of your hand

Brush with water.Peseach Almond Macaroons

Brush each macaroon with water with damp pastry brush. Don’t over wet them.

Dust with icing sugar.Peseach Almond Macarooms

Give the macaroons a light dusting of icing sugar and top off with half an almond. Pop in the oven for 12-15 minutes. Watch them like a hawk so they don’t over bake like the ones below!

Pop them on a cooling rack till they are completely cool.

Peseach Almond Macaroons

All that’s left to say is Chag Sameach (or Happy Holidays!)


The best books to bake with – Mary Berry’s Baking bible

Best books for baking

I think now is a good a time as any to start sharing with you all my favorite baking books. I have a LOT, as I am sure you can imagine, but some I love more than others.  I’m not going to feature them in any particular order. I’m just going to share them with you and do a good review on each one that I can’t live without. I’m also hoping to review new books as they are released, but more on that another time.

Mary Berry’s Baking bible

I was given this book when it first came out in 2009 by Jane Curran, the Food Editor on Woman and Home magazine. When a book is called a ‘baking bible’ you really expect a lot from it, and I have to say that it really delivers. It’s the first book I pull off my shelves when I want to bake something new! It has over 250 recipes so if you can think of a cake, tart, biscuit, tray bake, and pudding or pie the chances are it’s in here!

I have tried about 20-30 recipes from this book so far. My favorites are the Lemon Drizzle Tray bake (recipe to come tomorrow! Yay!) the very best chocolate fudge cake – it really is THE best and the melting moments biscuits, which I make with my girls as they have to be rolled in oats before they’re baked and they are brilliant fun to make with kids. I still haven’t attempted any breads or rolls. I think I may be too impatient to make bread, as you have to leave it to rise before you come back to it, knead it a bit more and so on and I’m more of a bake it now and eat it now kind of a girl.

So what makes this book great?

Click on the book image to go straight through to Amazon!

The book is divided up into sections which cover everything you could possibly want to make. There are also pages covering baking hints and tips, conversion tables and clever techniques. Here’s what’s inside.

  • Classic cakes– like Madeira and Victoria sandwich (which I am making tonight to take to a friend’s  house tomorrow)
  • Fruit and nut cakes– Cranberry and Apricot fruit cake anyone?
  • Spiced cakes– like Almond Spice cake
  • Chocolate cakes– you name it, it’s in here! Death by chocolate and brownies to name just two.
  • Cupcakes and other small bakes– like Madeleines, muffins, and eccles cakes
  • Celebration cakes, including a classic Christmas cake with different measurements for different size cake tins- very handy.
  • Special Cakes– These are “more complicated to make but look very impressive” such as Sachertorte, Wimbeldon cake and Chocolatines.
  • Tray bakes– I’ve only just discovered these, having only made flapjacks before. They’re really light and soooo easy to make. I defy anyone not to go back for seconds. Iced chocolate tray bake, Devonshire apple cake and Fast flapjacks are the next ones on my to try list.
  • Biscuits and cookies. So far I’ve made the Fork biscuits, chocolate chip cookies (for Tim… not me!), Lavender biscuits and Oat rounds. But the melting moments as mentioned earlier are my favs, especially still warm from the oven!
  • Fancy biscuits– These are a bit more fiddly but taste fantastic (of course) I’ve tried a few but I fancy having a go with the Almonds Tuiles and Macaroons. As Mary says in the book, these would make a great gift with a personal, thoughtful touch.
  • Shortbreads and bars – Bishops fingers, Millionaire’s Shortbread, Bakewell slices, They’re all here. You know how I feel about shortbread?
  • Baking for Children– Here there are a selection of fun and easy to make cakes and biscuits for kids to help make your kitchen a mess- or is that just my girls?
  • Tarts and Pastries – My father-in-law is the master of the tarte tatin so I don’t even go there, but all the recipes you need for tarts, tartlets, chocolate éclairs (Tim’s favorite – do I say that for everything?) and pastries are here.
  • Breads– Just looking at this list makes me hungry- English muffins, honey glazed walnut bread, Irish soda bread, Focaccia!!!!
  • Fruit breads–  Oooooh I’ve just seen the recipe for Banana and honey tea bread- two favorites in one. There’s also carrot and orange loaf, Courgette loaves and tea breads
  • Buns and scones. This is where I think I should really give yeast bakes a go! Bath buns, Rock cakes, hot cross buns and no less than eight types of scones.
  • Hot puddings and pies– Now I am a HUGE pudding fan. This has to be my favorite section, starting with classic apple pie and going right through to bread and butter pudding, treacle sponge and Pecan pie… pass the ice cream please?
  • Soufflés and Meringues–  Roll on summer so we can all make the Strawberry Pavlova and lemon meringue pie. I’ve never attempted to make a soufflé before, but looking at the hot chocolate one I really want to have a go now.
  • Cheesecakes– There are nine cheese cakes to choose from. I fancy the American Chocolate Ripple one.

After writing all that I have decided that I should only sit down to review a cook book after lunch and NOT before. Instead of wanting something healthy today, I’m dying for some bread and butter pudding now! Probably due to its warming effects and the fact that there’s 3 inches of snow outside. Resist Emma resist!

So, you can see why I recommend Mary Berry’s Baking bible to any keen baker whether a novice or an experienced cake maker. It’s got it all and what’s more you can hear Mary Berry’s voice encouraging you when you read it. Her recipes are simple to follow and are nearly all made up from baking cupboard supplies. If you have eggs, flour and sugar in your baking cupboard then you can conjure up a treat from this book in no time at all.

A quick Mary Berry story

Last summer I went to the Lakeland Christmas press launch. (Christmas starts in June/July for stylists!) At press launches shops show you all the new products that they are going to be selling the autumn and winter and Lakeland were also showing all the food gifts that they will be selling that year too.

I was being shown around the launch by the lovely Lakeland PR , Kelly. One of their newest designs was a sandwich cake tin that has a form in the middle that lets you have tons more cream filling in the centre. On the display was a copy of Mary Berry’s Baking bible and I said to Kelly “I’ve got that book. It’s fantastic” To which she replied “Oh Mary’s here, she’s in the next room being shown the new kitchen gadgets” Well you can imagine how excited I was. I HAD to meet her.

Now I should just make it clear at this point that I have met quite a few celebrities in my time. I’ve shot a lot of famous people’s houses and been to a lot of celebrity product launches, so I really shouldn’t get star struck anymore. I mean I’ve been an interior stylist for 12 years!) But let me tell you, meeting Mary actually made me nervous. This is ridiculous as she is so tiny and slim (doesn’t she eat her cakes? I only have to look at a cake and I put on 3lb!) but she is the nicest lady. When I met her I prattled on about loving her book and being a baking mad nut and we chatted about how impressed we both were with the new Lakeland products and she was really sweet. She talked to me for what seemed like ages. It absolutely made my day.  Now whenever we see her on TV on The Great British Bake Off I always say to Tim  “I’ve met her. She’s lovely” Now, if I could only meet Paul (I’ve got the bluest eyes ever) Holiday!


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