Mirror online ~ Robin Campbell was shocked when the Icelandic bank she worked for went bust almost overnight.

Suddenly she was unemployed but with six months’ salary in her pocket she saw it as the chance to pursue her dream of running her own business.

“Initially I was nervous but then I realised that a massive decision to leave the world of banking, where I’d worked since university, had been made for me,” says Robin, 28.

“I’d always vaguely imagined I’d end up doing something involving food, possibly running a delicatessen.” Read more…


…where are my books? They were supposed to be here on July 3 and they are nowhere to be seen. I’ve gone through all the stages of E.A.T. What is this syndrome you ask? E.A.T. stands for Excitement, Anticipation, and Temper-Tantrum! All baking enthusiasts experience this at some point or another. I’m currently all cosy in the final stage. What the mixing bowl is going on? I keep looking out for that card stuck precariously on the front door threatening to blow away on a gust of wind angled just right…or wrong way. I’m like a cupcake without buttercream topping. DONNE-MOI MY DAMN BOOKS DAMN IT!

Rose wedding cake by Diana Henry-Make your own wedding cake

Rose wedding cake by Diana Henry Photo: PETER CASSIDY

Serves 25

Telegraph UK online ~ Making your own wedding cake could not be simpler. Diana Henry decorated this wedding cake using a mixture of crystallised petals from large ivory roses and whole miniature roses. This icing looks best with ivory, cream, pale yellow or peach-coloured petals. The miniature roses are not edible, so remember to warn guests. The iced cake can be brought to the venue on its stand, with the crystallised petals in an airtight box. Apply them a couple of hours before the wedding.

I need cornflakes, milk, chicken and oh yes a wedding cake…

British Brides who are on a tight budget need worry no more. Both Asda (a grocery store) and Marks & Spencers are offering sweet options in the shape of affordable wedding cakes.

Asda has created an Extra Special line which includes “…rich moist fruit cakes bursting with juicy plump sultanas and raisins, glace cherries, candied orange and lemon peel, walnuts and pecans, laced with French brandy and decorated with sweet marzipan and soft icing.” The cakes are offered in three different sizes – small, medium and large ranging in price from £7.00 – £13.48.

However with the rolled fondant surface, brides will have to call on creative friends/relatives to add the requisite swoops and swirls to complete the look or they may opt for a simple and stylish design using fresh flowers.

On the otherhand, Mark and Spencers has gone several steps further by offering six cakes and cupcakes (Vanilla, Strawberry and Chocolate – £35.00/48). Their Traditional Wedding Cake is not only covered with marzipan and soft icing but also decorated with simple piping that can be ready for collection in just seven (7) days! It serves 26 and ranges in price from £12.00-£55.00. The collection’s flavour options include fruit and flavoured sponges such as all-butter or chocolate decorated with e.g. white chocolate curls. They all look beautiful!

Tiers come in three (3) sizes so you can mix and match or even opt for just one tier for an intimate wedding. Each tier comes on its own cakeboard and can be stacked using pillars and dowel rods (sold separately).

Everyone should be able to afford a wedding cake for their special day so I’m impressed that Asda and Marks and Sparks have tapped into this niche. These are both very convenient options but I wonder about their taste. If anyone has tried either of these cake collections I would love to know your thoughts. In the meantime Bon appetite!

The Jaffa Cake war

MailOnline ~ McVitie’s Jaffa cakes are almost as British as the tea time to which they provide a perfect accompaniment.

But the country’s third biggest-selling biscuit, after Kit Kat and the chocolate digestive, has come under fire from a company claiming to be the ‘adult version’.

With England still smarting after the humiliating defeat by Germany in the World Cup, Hanover-based Bahlsen will seek to add insult to injury tomorrow with a major advertising blitz to undermine McVitie’s position.

The six-figure television campaign aims to steal market share from McVitie’s  –  part of United Biscuits  –  with the slogan ‘the future is oblong’, referring to its biscuits’ elongated shape.

‘We’ve looked at our range and decided that of all our products the Messino is a jaffa cake and that needs no introduction for the British,’ said Bahlsen marketing manager Jon Dance.

‘Without wanting to sound pretentious about what is basically a biscuit, our position is about being continental, more indulgent, more interesting and more stylish.’

Bahlsen’s choco Leibniz is already established on shop shelves and its Messino jaffa cake made a low-key arrival at the end of last year.

Madeleines + Macarons Summary ~ The Messino Jaffa Cake, a square version of the round Mc Vities Jaffa Cake, has also copied the colour scheme of McVities packaging in its attempt to use its stylised version to increase its market share with an expensive ad campaign. End of story.

P.S. LOL! Can you tell that I’m McVities fan?

The first Madeleine recipe I posted was provided by the Williams Sonoma store (a version of their online recipe) and I had declared that I would also try out David Lebovtiz’s version…and try them I did. They were a revelation. I now realise that my first Maddies were waaay too brown (may be due to the brown sugar caramelizing in the baking pan? Not sure).

This second attempt produced flavourful, lightly browned versions. I am so proud of me! I made a few minor changes and next time I’ll add a few more but these were simply great.

Lemon-Glazed Madeleines ~ Adapted from David Lebovitz’s recipe

24 cookies

If you use baking powder, they may take another minute or so to bake since the batter will rise higher. They’re done when the cakes feel just set if you poke them with your finger. Avoid overbaking them, look for light browning on the edges at pan level. I baked these in the middle of my oven. FYI Lemon glaze can be omitted.

3 large eggs, at room temperature

1 tsp clear Vanilla Essence/Extract (optional)

2/3 cup granulated sugar/superfine sugar

rounded 1/8 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder (optional)

zest of one lemon

1-2 tablespoons of lemon juice (optional)

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature

1 cup (150g) powdered sugar

1 tablespoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice

2 tablespoons water

Next Steps

1. Brush the indentations of a madeleine mold with melted butter. Dust with flour, tap off any excess, and place in the freezer.

2. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, whip the eggs and sugar for 5-8 minutes until frothy and thickened. Stir in Vanilla Essence/Extract (optional).

3. Sift the flour, baking powder (optional) and salt and use a spatula to fold in the flour mix into the batter. (Rest the bowl on a damp towel to help steady it for you.)

4. Add the lemon zest and juice to the cooled butter. Fold butter mixture into the batter, in approx. 4-5 portions. Fold just until all the butter is incorporated.

5. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. (I left mine for 6 hours but this is not necessary).

6. To bake the madeleines, preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

7. The batter will be relatively firm. Get a teaspoon and a cup of water, wet teaspoon before each scoop (makes it easier to slip the batter off the spoon). Place enough batter in the center of each indentation to fill it to 3/4. DO NOT SPREAD IT.

8. Bake for 8-9 minutes or until the cakes just feel set. While the cakes are baking, make a glaze in a small mixing bowl by stirring together the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and water until smooth.

9. Remove from the oven and place the madeleines on a cooling rack (you can use a fork to gently loosen them). The moment they’re cool enough to handle, dip the scalloped cake top in the glaze or you can also turn them over to make sure both sides are coated and shake off any excess. After dipping, rest each one back on the cooling rack, scalloped side up, until the cakes are cool and the glaze has firmed up. Bon appetite!

Storage: Glazed madeleines are best left uncovered, or not tightly-wrapped; they’re best eaten the day they’re made. They can be kept in a container for up to three days after baking, if necessary. Freezing is not recommended since the glaze will melt.

World’s biggest cake melts in Paris heatwave

PARIS — A towering cake vying to be the world’s biggest lasted one day outdoors in Paris, brought down not by ravenous sweets lovers but a sweltering heatwave in the French capital, organisers said Friday.

It seems the so-called “Tour sans Faim” (Tower without Hunger)”, standing 7.82 metres (25.7 feet) tall, had to be taken down because it was starting to look more like the leaning Tower of Pisa.

A temperature of more than 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) made the big pastry tower rather soft and unstable.

Chef Gilles Stassart and architect Jean Bocabeille brought together a team of pastry chefs, architects, engineers and other artistic specialists to build the huge cake, hoping to make the Guinness Book of World Records.

It was unveiled Thursday at the Cite de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine in Paris and was supposed to last four days. Fortunately, a representative from the Guinness book was there to record the short-lived creation.

It took 628 kilos (1,385 pounds) of flour, 508 kilos of sugar, 350 eggs, 18 kilos of butter to make the bricks of cake used to build the pastry tower.

Actually, the huge cake is not edible and will be turned into fertilizer.

Still, some pieces of the towering cake will be on display in an exhibition at the architecture centre until Sunday.

Tarte Citron au Citron

I love lemon and am positive that this Pierre Hermé creation would be devine. Shame I won’t be in Paris in the near future and can only fantasize about its tangy goodness…for now.

Chocolate Cherry Bread Pudding

Long story short, I have a biase against any meal that includes recooking bread in any way except toast. Bread pudding was an especially repulsive concept to me as I assumed that it would be soft and slimy much like the scum produced on the surface of hot milk. DOUBLE YUCK! But I was recently fervently encouraged to taste Bread Pudding.

I knew that I would absolutely HATE it. Sigh. I literally took as small a serving as I could and added a touch of Creme Anglais. I figured that I could comfortably consume this small serving before my gage reflex kicked in.

I returned to my table and figured what the hell lets get it finished. I scooped up some of the pudding with the Creme Anglais and popped it into my mouth. I was immediately sorry that I hadn’t taken more. It really was GREAT! It had a nice texture and was deliciously rich without being overly sweet. It was gone way too quickly.

I was hooked. I sent my appreciation and compliments to the Chef and decided that I would try to recreate this dessert when I returned home. I looked through recipe after recipe and came up with one of my own and took it to work for a bake sale fundraiser and it sold out and I also gave some to one of my taste testers, The Accidental Natural, and she loved it too. So, if you have the chance to visit Queen’s Landing ask for Chef Carol’s White Chocolate Cherry Bread Pudding, you won’t be dissappointed.

White Chocolate Bread Pudding with Cherries (this is a version of my recipe which was sourced from Epicurious.com et al)

For bread pudding

  • about 1/2 pound brioche or challah
  • 5 ounces fine-quality white chocolate
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 large whole eggs
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

For poached cherries

  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup dried tart cherries
  • Accompaniment: whipped cream, Creme Anglais or Vanilla Icecream

Make pudding:
Butter an 8-inch square glass baking dish. Cut enough bread into 3/4-inch cubes to measure 6 cups. Chop chocolate.

In a small heavy saucepan bring 1 cup cream just to a boil and add chocolate. Remove pan from heat and let mixture stand, covered, undisturbed. In another small heavy saucepan bring milk and remaining cup cream to a gentle simmer. In a bowl with an electric mixer beat together whole eggs, yolks, sugar, and a pinch salt on medium speed 5 minutes. With mixer running, add milk mixture in a slow stream, beating until combined well. Whisk chocolate mixture until smooth and add with vanilla to egg mixture. Beat mixture until combined well.

Arrange bread cubes in baking dish. Pour cream mixture over bread and with a spoon push bread down into mixture to coat evenly. Chill pudding, covered, 1 1/2 hours (I don’t think that this is necessary).

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Bake pudding in middle of oven 45 to 60 minutes, or until set and springy to the touch. Transfer pudding to a rack and cool 30 minutes before serving.

Poach cherries while pudding is baking:
In a saucepan bring wine, water, and sugar to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Add cherries and remove pan from heat. Let mixture stand, covered, 1 hour. Drain cherries in a sieve and discard liquid.

Serve pudding with cherries and whipped cream, Creme Anglais or Vanilla Icecream.

Canadian compromise helped to determine size of Centennial cake

A month before July 1, the telephone rang in my office. A woman from the Centennial commission asked if my company, Morrison Lamothe, would cater Canada’s 100th birthday and make the birthday cake for the 1967 event. It was to be an eight-foot dummy cake installed at the base of the Parliament Buildings that the Queen would cut on July 1. I said we’d be honoured to be part of the proceedings.By chance that evening, I met for the first time with Secretary of State Judy LaMarsh, who was responsible for the happenings on the Hill. When I told her the commission had ordered an eight-foot birthday cake, she reacted with horror. “Why, a cake that size will look ridiculous in front of the Peace Tower! I want a 30-foot cake!” I was a little taken aback and said I would only proceed when I had confirmation by telegram of the exact size.

Three weeks later, eight days before July 1, the telegram arrived confirming the birthday cake was to be 20 feet high. A typical Canadian compromise! Read more…