Boutique Baking – Peggy Porschen


I received Peggy Porschen’s ‘Boutique Baking‘ a few hours before one of my final exams in Philosophy and immediately noticed that keeping myself from pouring over it for hours at a go was going to require all the self-control that I could muster. I kept it close by and kept on revising. I sat for the exam. I came home. And then I almost literally devoured the book. In Maltese we would say ‘kiltu’ (which literally means that I ‘ate’ the book).

I like the look of ‘Boutique Baking’. Everyone likes the look of ‘Boutique Baking’. The cover itself (illustrated by Carol Gillott) is quite different to that of other cookbooks and the bottom part of the front cover that features the tables, chairs, teacups, teapots, cupcakes and a little dog reminds me of something that Beatrix Potter might have illustrated. 

Anyway, ‘Boutique Baking’ and I were destined to become best friends. Forever friends. Look at the pictures below. The photography inside is superb and the ‘props’ that Porschen uses in each photo fit perfectly. Every ‘setup’ is picture perfect as each dessert and its mode of presentation, be it a cake stand or a candy jar, for instance, is coordinated beautifully with teacups, saucers, flower arrangements and a backdrop that compliments all that is set against it.

Porschen’s divides ‘Boutique Baking’ into ‘Sweet Treats’, ‘Beautiful Biscuits’, ‘Cupcake Heaven’, ‘Luscious Layer Cakes’, ‘Classic Cakes & Bakes’, ‘Delicious Drinks and ‘The Icing on the Cake’ and, whilst I usually like the look of a select few recipes in each book that I pick up, I want to bake almost every sweet treat that Porschen has included. Each dessert that I’ve tried out so far both looks and tastes absolutely divine. My favourites are the Neapolitan Marble Cake, the Chocolate Crunch Cake and the Vanilla Cupcakes – and I’m extremely tempted to bake either the Creamy Caramel Cake or the Sticky Toffee Cupcakes tonight. Please don’t suggest that I bake both, as I would, were it not for the awkward looks of others. 

As the book is made up of almost 200 pages and costs only 20 GPB, I’d recommend Porschen’s ‘Boutique Baking’ to any reader who enjoys pretty, yet makeable, desserts. 

Tea & Cake London – Zena Alkayat and London’s Afternoon Teas – Susan Cohen


It’s time to bin those London travel guides. My advice? Fill the gaps in your bookshelf with either of Zena Alkayat’s ‘Tea and Cake London’ or Susan Cohen’s ‘London’s Afternoon Teas’, and begin to replace the usual attractions with tea shop after tea shop after tea shop.

‘Tea & Cake London’, a compact yet comprehensive guide to the diverse cafes in London, covers both ‘Everyday Specials’ (ch1) such as Peggy Porschen, Fleet River Bakery and Primrose Bakery, as well as more lavish ‘Grand Affairs’ (ch2) such as The Ritz, Fortnum and Mason and The Savoy. Next, Alkayat writes of a number of ‘Pop in, Take out’ (ch3) bakeries and patisseries such as The Hummingbird Bakery in Portobello and Clarke’s in Kensington. Finally, the last section of the book is dedicated to pointing out a good number of vegan and allergy-friendly specialty cafes and cake shops in London. 

Professional Cake Decorating – Toba Garrett


I like cake decorating and I bet you do too.

Garett’s ginormous book guides readers through a multitude of diverse cake (or indeed cupcake) decorating skills which range from basic to advanced; from simple to complex. 

Hotel Chocolat – Morning to Midnight


I came across Hotel Chocolat in Arndale, Manchester, and was delighted to taste a number of diverse chocolate goodies which ranged from simple salted caramel puddles or buttons to delicate strawberry champagne truffles. Coming to think of it, walking through the shop alone was a mouthwatering affair.