Boutique Baking - review by Sarah Trivuncic

Sarah Trivuncic, food writer and author of Bake Me I’m Yours…Sweet Bitesize Bakes on Boutique Baking.

Peggy Porschen’s

new book Boutique Baking is a departure from her previous titles – rather than high end sugarcraft creations and celebrity style wedding cakes, the cakes in her new title are based on those sold in the Peggy Porschen Parlour.

The bakes are as exquisite as ever, Peggy is a baker who sets trends rather than follow them but there is plenty inside Boutique Baking for the less experienced baker to enjoy making without feeling intimidated.

There are tricks to vary things you may be baking already; Peggy’s tribute to the cake pop

is served in an ice cream cone rather than on a stick, her macarons are cleverly feathered with food colouring streaked inside the piping tip. Cupcakes are obviously a huge seller in her parlour, my personal favourites here are the chic banoffee cupcakes with matching dark brown cases and blossoms and the Cosmo cupcakes

based on the cocktail made with Cointreau.

Show stopper chapter has to be “luscious layer cakes” – Peggy presents a series of three layered cakes in an elegant 6 inch size. The piping on the Glorious Victoria Cake

is effortlessly simple – I saw her demonstrate icing this cake at the Squires Sugarcraft Show where the room was packed full 45 minutes before the start time, such is her popularity amongst baking fans.

My standout cakes in the book are the raspberry and rose dome cake

– I predict we’ll be seeing a lot more cakes this shape soon, the white chocolate passion cake decorated with birthday candles and triple berry cheesecakes. The whole thing is topped off with recipes for drinks from the parlour such as pink lemonade (it has to be pink if it’s at Peggy’s)

and hot white chocolate with vanilla. With the recent hot weather I am especially desperate to try her summer berry ice tea.

Some recipes in the book use Peggy’s own jam range as ingredients although you could substitute with others. You could always though, if you’re near London, use it as an excuse to drop by the Parlour and buy some.

Sarah blogs at

Photos (c) Georgia Glynn Smith

Quadrille Author Events in June

As well as the start of summer and the four-day Jubilee weekend, June brings some exciting events with some of our fantastic friends!

Boutique baker and cupcake artiste Peggy Porschen will be running a baking masterclass at Lydia Booth’s cookery school in Blackrock, Dublin. If you’re an aspiring Irish baker, there’s no one better to learn from than Peggy. She’ll be showing how to make your own treats that are as pretty as they are delicious on Wednesday the 6th June from 18:45-21:00

Visitors to the BBC Good Food Show will be in for a treat as Reza Mahammad, the King of Spice will be there signing copies of his new book Reza’s Indian Spice and hopefully sharing the spicy secrets that have made the Star of India an award-winning restaurant for over 50 years. The show runs from the 13th to the 17th of June at Birmingham’s NEC, and Reza’s signing takes place at 13:45 on Saturday the 16th.

If just getting your book signed isn’t enough, you can head to Books for Cooks in Notting Hill, where Reza will be running a workshop on rice dishes. To see this expert in action and enjoy tasting his creations, be sure to book your spot. Reza’s workshop will be on Thursday the 28th of June at 11:00


Michelin-starred seafood chef Nathan Outlaw will be at Waterstone’s in Truro at a signing of his new book Nathan Outlaw’s British Seafood. This collection of recipes is full of tantalising photos shot on location in Cornwall, so this event should not be missed by any South-West seafood lovers! The event is at 12:00 on Saturday the 16th June.

Two Quadrille favourites will be bringing their magic to this year’s Taste London Festival: Atul Kochhar and Jason Atherton. Atul will be showcasing the skills that made him the first ever Indian chef to be awarded a Michelin star in the AEG Taste Theatre on Saturday 23rd June between 13:30-14:00. Gordon Ramsay protégé and author of Gourmet Food for a Fiver will also be demonstrating at the festival, date and time TBA.



The Birthday Cake Book Reviewed by thelittleloaf

thelittleloaf  discovers why with Fiona Cairns’ new book, The Birthday Cake Book, you really can have your cake and eat it.

As someone more than slightly obsessed with cooking and eating, I love how special occasions are marked by what we consume. Think of a birthday or party you’ve attended in the last year or so, and (often in addition to copious amounts of alcohol) most likely there was some kind of cake involved. Whether picked from a beautiful line of boxes in a bakery, or slathered in icing as generous as the creator’s love for its recipient, this cake will have been chosen with a special person or moment in mind, marking the passing of another year, an achievement earned, a marriage made.

The association between cakes and celebration is nothing new. While ancient Egypt was the first culture to show any significant baking skill, we have the ancient Romans to thank for the round, flat fruit cake which made its way to our shores in the 14th century and embedded itself in British tradition; the majority of wedding cakes today are still made from a variation on a dense boozy batter packed with fruit and nuts.

I’m not a huge fan of fruitcake. I like the odd slice, slightly spiced and laced with brandy, but for me cakes and baking can be so much more; feather light sponges or a moist fudgy crumb, fondant and food colouring, silky ganache, sticky syrups, different tastes and textures and often (if not absolutely always) chocolate. Which is why when Quadrille first asked if I’d like to review the new book by Royal Wedding Cake baker, Fiona Cairns, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. If I’m completely honest, I was more excited by Will’s (17 kilo) chocolate (1,700 rich tea) biscuit cake than the official and terribly traditional 8-tier fruit version.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. Fiona’s role as Royal Baker - and the level of skill involved in creating Kate and Will’s incredible official cake - might make you think her recipes would be elaborate, conservative and unachievable but ‘The Birthday Cake Book’ is anything but, full of warmth and wisdom whatever your skill level.  Her introduction invites the reader to ‘stir in happy thoughts’, not to seek perfection, but to enjoy the baking process, thinking about the person for whom they are making the cake, and the memories that will last long after every crumb has disappeared. This is absolutely what baking should be about.

Highlights from the book include a lifesize piggy bank complete with chocolate coins, an erupting volcano that kids will go crazy for, the slightly more sophisticated masala chai cake with ginger fudge frosting,  giant Jammie Dodgers, a slightly bonkers savoury smoked salmon cake and, if you really can’t even be bothered to bake, a crispy Mars Bars fridge cake. Yes, there are some pretty complex recipes in here (life size football boots complete with threaded laces or the epic pirate galleon spring to mind), but with several standard sponge flavours to choose from, and simple little cupcakes, bars and biscuits in every chapter, bakers of every level will find something that they can try.

Fiona also makes several suggestions for variations on each recipe, allowing the confident baker to get a bit more creative in the kitchen. I loved the sound of Devil’s Chocolate Cardamom Cake, but with friends coming round for a dinner party, wasn’t quite feeling the Swarovski-studded crystal skull version included in the book. Instead, I baked a batch of the deliciously moist, darkly spiced cake then smothered it in rose scented white chocolate buttercream, copying an icing technique Fiona demonstrates on another cake.

The end result was absolutely incredible, and the process surprisingly simple; Fiona’s cakes don’t just look amazing, they taste good too. While most readers (me included) will have to embark on a journey of discovery  before they feel prepared to tackle some of the more complex recipes in the book, Fiona is the best person to guide you along the way.  I have no idea how many thousands of pounds the Royal Wedding cake ended up costing, but for the price of a book, you can soon be churning out confections just as delicious, if a little less beautiful. This is a book that will keep on giving over years to come, allowing you to develop skills as a baker, and ultimately, to have your cake and eat it.