Thursday, April 1, 2010

Tea Time Luxury

Bake and Decorate Tea Time Luxury – Fiona Cairns

This book was a case of love at first sight – I got it a week ago as an early Easter present (any excuse) after a rotten day, and after another rotten day I have turned to it again to be cheered up. I had meant to bake something from it as a treat for the Scottish one but the afternoon is passing fast so I'm going to write about it instead (hopefully he’ll be happy with a cream egg).

It is a truly lovely book to look at even with the addition of the sort of sparkly lettering that I normally view askance, and is full of pretty, pretty, cakes. I’m a fan of the concept of tea time even if it’s the sort of thing that I never get round to doing quite as formally as I would like. We (me, my Scottish friend and my mother) like a bit of ceremony around the place, especially if it involves well pressed linen and some spiffy china (my mother really likes her china and we’we've spent many a January day in Stoke-on-Trent to prove the point).

Cook books are a weak spot for me, not I think a surprise for any regular readers here, but even I've got to the point where I have to seriously question if I need another one – it has to offer something special, and honestly I think this one does. As it's all sparkly I couldn't help but notice Fiona Cairns name on the front and she sort of interests me as she’s vaguely local; I knew she’d started a business baking cakes at her kitchen table, and now sells to Fortnum and Mason’s and Waitrose amongst others which seems impressively industrious and inspirational to me. That’s what made me pick the book up.

I kept dropping heavy hints about it because of the contents (not just the pictures either). The recipe’s look good (not tried any yet but there’s nothing there to raise the suspicions of the regular baker, or to put them off either) white chocolate and cardamom rosewater sponge anyone? And that’s not even the best looking cake in there... I wouldn't say there’s anything ground breaking, but rather a really good repertoire of usable things, the tips and hints section strikes me as particularly good, but again probably all stuff I could find elsewhere. What I like is the structure of the book; hints followed by the bake part, and then the decorate section. Decorating is broken up, like the recipes into large cakes, small, and biscuits.

All manner of impressively cool but simple things are shown; pretty things with crystallised flowers and ribbon, child friendly (not perhaps if it’s your own child that’s going to be hopped up on sugar) things heaped with candy's, decadently expensive looking things involving gold leaf (which I might one day use – but not before a pay rise or two). It’s all very inspiring, and really appeals to the magpie instinct within. I am adding a square cake tin to my kitchen wish list, where it will join the long desired aspic cutters, and I'm after some black viola’s for candying purposes to make something very sophisticated in the birthday cake line.


  1. Ahh - that looks amazing - you know I'm a sucker for a baking book too!

  2. I did think of you when I was writing this Verity, I think it seems very you.

  3. Hmmm, the joys of trying to comment on blogger...