Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Peggy Porschen 'Boutique Baking' and a little cake recipe

I am a huge fan of Peggy Porschen and love her books so I was delighted to get my mitts on a copy of her latest offering 'Boutique Baking'.  As expected, it is a visual delight.  The cakes look amazing and the photography is stunning.

The book begins with recipes such as meringue kisses (gorgeous tiny pastel-coloured meringues), signature macaroons (some are heart-shaped!), morello cherry bakewell tarts and ice cream cake pops.

I am definitely going to be making these mini cinnamon doughnuts - my stepson will absolutely love them and they look so nice!  You can be sure I will pile them all up prettily in my cake dome too, just because I can.  

The book also has recipes for layer cakes, cupcakes, drinks and biscuits.  There are mini eggnog kugelhopfs that I plan to try, a lemon, almond and poppy seed cake and this gorgeous white chocolate passion cake looks so good:

There is a very well-illustrated 'techniques' section at the back of the book which gives step-by-step photography on tricks such as how to assemble (and ice) layer cakes and how to create simple flowers with cutters and veiners.  It also has the standard instructions you'd expect on how to frost cupcakes both with icing bags and palette knives.  If you have a special occasion coming up and want to create a beautifully simple but delicious cake you could do worse than trying one from this book. 

I buy this type of book all of the time - they have drool-worthy photography and beautiful styling but the recipes also tend to be fairly complicated with a huge list of ingredients.  I enjoy regular baking but if I was to constantly use recipes like this it would feel like too much of a faff and I am sure that I would be less inclined to get my cake pans out.  There is one super-easy sponge cake recipe that I have committed to memory and can whip up without a second's thought.  It's the recipe I started baking with and the one that I use almost weekly to create simple teatime treats for my favourite boys.  If you're new to baking, this is a great recipe to cut your teeth on.  

I call it the: 

Six, Six, Six Mix

I told you I have committed this to memory and this is how - by keeping the recipe in imperial measures as taught by my Great-Grandmother to my Mum and my Mum to me. (Big apologies to the young 'uns but 1oz is about 25g I think.)

The ingredients are just: 

6oz softened butter or baking spread (Stork)
6oz caster sugar 
6oz self-raising flour 
3 medium eggs 

This amount of batter will give you at least 12 large cupcakes, a good-sized tray bake or a small cutting cake (say, a 5" tin).  But if you want to make bigger cakes, or more cupcakes just increase the ingredients: for every 2oz you use 1 egg.  Simples. (So: 8oz butter, 8oz sugar, 8oz SR flour means you use 4 eggs. And so on.)

The method

Switch your oven on:  gas mark 5 or about 180C.  Grease or line a tin (or line a muffin tin with paper cases).

Cream together the sugar and the butter/spread for ages until pale and fluffy.  If you have a free-standing mixer this bit is great - I just switch it on and potter around the kitchen for a while, stopping every now and then to scrape the mix from around the sides of the bowl.  An electric hand mix is also useful but my great-grandma used a good old wooden spoon and her buns were delish.

Sieve your flour than add a large spoonful together with one egg to the sugary, buttery mix.  Mix up a tiny bit.  It will look as though it's about to curdle - don't worry.  Add the remaining eggs in the same way (with a spoonful of flour) mixing a bit in between.  When all the eggs have been added, throw in the rest of the flour and mix until you get a smooth batter.  At this point, I always add a tablespoon of cold water.  (I use a tablespoon of cold water however many ounces of ingredients I use.  It just makes the batter a little looser.)

Stick a finger in the mix and test it.  (Optional but yum.)

Pop your mix in your tin/cases and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes.  If baking a large cake with more ingredients you could need to bake for up to 45 minutes.  You know it's ready when the top of the cake is pale gold, it doesn't wobble when you move the tin and/or when you insert a skewer into the middle of the cake it comes out clean.  

(You can also tell whether a cake is cooked or not by the noise it makes.  An uncooked sponge cake will fizzle a bit and sound 'wet'. Just chuck it back into the oven for a few more minutes.)  With some cakes you have to be careful of opening the oven door when they are baking in case they sink.  As long as you let these bake for a minimum of 15 mins with the door firmly closed you'll be fine to keep popping them in and out of the oven until they are cooked to perfection.

Allow to cool and decorate with your choice of topping.  A really simple option is to just make some royal icing (lots of icing sugar and a drop of water or lemon juice) and sprinkle sugar strands on the top.  That's what I did with my tray bake last week - my family calls it 'bits and bobs' cake.  It's a winner every single time.


So there you have it.  A simple recipe that you can memorise and pull out wherever you may be.  I love the feeling that I always know exactly how to make a lovely cake, wherever we are, and could bake it in an empty baked bean tin if absolutely necessary.  It's like an important life skill for me!  Just remember:  666.   

It produces a lovely sponge cake but it's quite rich so won't last more than a few days (not a problem in our house).  When you get confident with this simple sponge you can start to vary the flavours:  add a tablespoon of coffee essence and frost with coffee buttercream or add a tablespoon or lemon juice and drizzle with a mix of equal parts lemon juice and sugar.  Swap out a little flour for an equal measure of sieved cocoa powder to make chocolate cake.  You could also throw in a few chopped glace cherries, raisins or chocolate chips for a bit of variety.

I am sure there are lots of you who are more experienced bakers and will have rolled your eyes at me publishing such a basic recipe but then I am hoping there will be a few of you who, like I used to, really want to learn to bake but think it sounds a bit scary.  After using this recipe a few times, you'll be well on your way to trying one of Peggy's gorgeous creations.




  1. That book looks like a real treat.
    Love the pic of the cinnamon doughnuts... yum yum.
    Your tray bake looks delicious too. I love a fail safe recipe that you can use again and again.

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  2. Peggy P is amaze! I have one of her books on biscuits, it's great!! This one looks just as nice :) hope you make something fun from it!
    Jessie, xo

  3. Thank you sooo much for this post!
    :-) I've been fancying baking your cake ever since I saw it on your facebook! I'll definitely be giving this a try tomorrow..!

    Ashley xxx

    PS - Your new book looks gorgeous!

  4. Will be purchasing that book! Total baking porn.

    I use that method too - I was attempting to teach some kids it recently, but they are all new fangled and metric.

    Claire xx

  5. Feel really peckish now! What a lovely book

    Claire xx

  6. You had me at meringue kisses :) what a gorgeous looking book and a great recipe to boot! Thank you so much for sharing Nicki x

  7. Gosh, how wonderful .... That book is certainly goin on my wish list. Thanks for the recipe too :)

  8. Hi Nicki - I also have this one to heart from my Nan. I always think of an egg as being equivalent to 2 oz of the other ingredients then proportion it out to the amount I need. Its a yummy cake and like you said you can vary it so much too. Your new book looks lovely as well. I love cinnamon doughnuts and have been missing Ikea's since they stopped making them (although their presentation isn't quite up to the book's!) Lily. xxx

  9. Ooh Peggy Porschen does create some beautiful cakes! The book looks right up my street - love to bake! Your 666 recipe is one i use all the time too - its my fail safe cake recipe! Off to have a look on amazon now :0)
    Victoria xx

  10. Lip smackingly lovely!

    More cake - groan....but if I must - for the kids (nod, nod)

    Nina xxxx

  11. Hey girlfriend, I use the six six six mix method too. I love your advice and it's def not teaching granny to suck eggs. It's teaching people your way of baking. If it's obvious to some, so be it, can't please everyone.
    I've been baking too many cakes of late and it's WELL showing. But it's worth it. I am happiest when eating lush stuff so I can't have my cake and eat it....oh, I can...
    Brill advice re knowing when a cake is done.
    I often make a Victoria sandwich or a loaf lemon drizzle but will try a tray cake soon I think.
    I've been making microwave mug cakes recently. Go and google it. Found the recipe on Netmums. It's blimming brill!!!!!
    x x x x x x x

  12. Yes! hurrah! I have never heard any one say a cake fizzes and pops if it's not cooked quite...that is except for me! Oh yes we are twinkles for sure!

    By the way I have troughed today and am cross with myself.


  13. I've got a very similar recipe that has been passed down from my gran to my mum to me - I love the idea of that little bit of history living on. I love the idea of using the mix to make a tray bake (espec covered in icing and sprinkles!) - I have a rare child-free few hours tomorrow and I'm thinking I may just forget that I'm supposed to be painting the boys' bedroom and make a tonne of cakes instead. I blame you and your bad influence (says the one who wees in sheds).
    Emily x
    PS - have posted the jam recipe - get your jam pan out!

  14. PS - I listen to my cakes too to see if they're cooked - have to be careful of the old ears though!

  15. I always use the 666 mix too and have done since I can remember! I add a teaspoon and a half of baking powder - which is the recipe published by Stork about 30 years or so ago.

    It's my idiot-proof recipe! Always works and stays moist for several days (not that it lasts that long)

  16. Loving the look of that book. It's now on my Amazon wish list. Your cake looks amaaaaazing. Xxx

  17. It's a great book, I love the way Peggy brings something new to try. Lots of my other books have the same recipes in them. I recently made her raspberry and lemon cupcakes, and substituted the raspberries for blueberries and they came out great.

  18. I've just realised my lovely that I've been making a slight mistake with my cakes, now....my sandwich cakes are fine but sometimes my fairy cakes loose their height on cooling and resemble an old ladies wriggled face (apologies to old ladies), cuckoo told me that if my cakes make a noise (fizzes) then it's done but by her comment above I've mis-heard her and she obviously said 'not done'.....aarrrgg!!! so glad that's cleared that up.

    So tomorrow I'm gonna try your cake, ask Cuckoo for her Volcano Flapjack recipe, really yummy.

    Love your blog x x x x

  19. Ooooh yum....i think i shall make this for my best boys too...thank you x
    What a great little cake baking rhyme, i think even i could remember that!
    that book looks sooo pretty, I have one called Miette, it too has the most stunning photos of fancy cakes but i have never baked anything from it as it looks waaaay to scary!
    love jooles x

  20. My Gran taught me a 4, 4, 4, cake but there was never enough of that cake. With a three egg mix you must get so much lovely batter. Yum :D

  21. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm! Am hungry now!

  22. Im looking for a new book for my mum... shes the baker in my family! I will be giving the tray bake a go myself though.

  23. Oh that book looks good, very good, not good for anyone planning a diet though :s. There is an award for you over on my blog my lovely x x x x

  24. I have just stubbled across your blog and it is amazing, so interesting, literally have been scrolling all the way through and loving every bit.. Cannot wait to read more posts :) thank you for brightening up my evening


  25. Ah they all look so yummy! I'd love to have the time to make things liek that! Whilst I've been at uni my mums been trying to occupy her time by baking...I'm looking forward to going home to it all haha :)

    Thank you for you lovely comment on my blog! I'm sorry I've not got back in touch earlier, exams are taking over my life it seems!

    Great post!

    Love, Elizabeth xx


  26. Thus book looks amazing, the illustrations are lovely! xx

  27. Thank you for posting your 666 recipe. I was craving something sweet the other night, and since this only needs about 25 minutes in the oven, I thought I'd have a go, so I started baking at 9pm!! Adapted it slightly into some big cherry and almond buns - satisfied the sweet craving perfectly!

  28. I have bookmarked this! I've had a real disaster with baking recently and I need to get back on track.

    I'm going to give the 666 thing a whirl and add something nice on top.

    Thank you for sharing!

  29. Hello I have just found your lovely blog, thank you for the recipe
    Thea x

  30. Yum! I found this via today's post on Krafty Cupcake, how did I miss it when I've been a follower for ages, doh!

    I remember this as mix as 2-2-2, but I know none of mine ever looked quite so pretty... going to have dig out my baking mojo and get back in the kitchen

  31. Oh in so going to make this for me and Joseph. Gorgeous pictures xxx