Originally I was going to share a recipe that I adapted from my favourite baking book, but I decided to just recommend the book to start off with. Baking Magic written by Kate Shirazi is a fantastic baking book for people of all abilities. (I know some amazing bakers who are terrified about how their biscuits will turn out). My baking style – great tasting, not so beautifully decorated was wonderfully improved by this book and I was inspired to practise cake and biscuit decorating techniques. The book is a conglomeration of 4 books; Cupcake Magic, Chocolate Magic, Cookie Magic and Muffin Magic (the latter was written by Susannah Blake).
Shirazi and Blake both writing in a fun, lively way encouraging you to get creative. But my favourite thing is actually where they describe recipes by how faffy they are (one of my mum’s favourite expressions about how fiddly a recipe is). A lot of the cake and biscuits designs are pretty tongue in cheek – such as the gingerbread gangland. There are also recipes that are very suitable to make with smaller children such as jammy splodgers.
My personal favourites from the book are the Guinness cake and Beet the Choccy cake, while my mum adores the butterscotch cookies. The main thing with learning to bake (which relies a lot on the chemical properties of food to make cakes rise) that above all practise is important. If it doesn’t turn out looking beautiful first time, keep practising. People are more than happy to eat cake that’s risen more on one side than the other. Its only really you that notices imperfections (particularly with dessert, whenever cake appears at work I become rather Gollum like hissing “my precious” at whatever’s on offer).
You can find out more about Kate Shirazi and her cake company Cakeadoodledoo here.
Below is a series of photographs showing the butterscotch cookies and Guinness cake I made from the book when I was at home with my parents for Christmas.