The Friday Five – great cookbooks for great dads


To finish off this year’s round up of great gifts for Dads, then these are 5 cookbooks that I think Dads might relate to and want to get into kitchen and start getting stuck into.


Bake It Yourself by Richard Burr - great cookbook gift for a food lover with a baking habit


BIY: Bake It Yourself by Richard Burr

Richard is one of my favourite non-winners of Bake Off, who could forget him and his pencil stuck behind his ear? Not to mention some incredible bakes. A good mix of sweet and savoury bakes, for every level of baker. Pencil not provided.


Mad Hungry: Feeding Men and Boys - a great cookbook gift for a food lover with a big appetite

Mad Hungry: Feeding Men and Boys by Lucinda Scala Quinn

I’ve cooked from this one, and it’s both great for feeding men, but also I would say could be the sort of robust dishes guys like. It’s not a dumbed down cookbook for men, it’s about great flavours but without necessarily being over-complicated, a recognition of the way most of us, men and women, cook for our families. I like this one a lot.


Tom's Table: My Favourite Everyday Recipes - great cookbook gift for a food lover with a taste for robust food

Tom’s Table: My Favourite Everyday Recipes by Tom Kerridge

I really like Tom Kerridge, doesn’t matter how many Michelin stars he has, he is still refreshingly down to earth and remembers how we cook in our own non-professional kitchens. What I like is that he brings in appropriate shortcuts from the pro kitchen to help take your home cooking up a level, without it getting over-complicated or stressful. Because it’s all about the taste, and everyone sitting down to some great grub.


Low and Slow: How to Cook Meat - a great cookbook gift for a food lover with a lot of patience


Low and Slow: How to Cook Meat by Neil Rankin

Couple of my favourite things going on here. I love slow cooked meat, and think it’s an appealing subject for a book for meat lovers. This is about taking something and treating it lovingly for a long period of time and watching it transform. Slow cooked brisket is one of my favourite things ever. And also it’s good to see a new book from Neil Rankin, one of those chefs who flies a bit under the radar.


The World of the Happy Pear - a great cookbook gift for a food lover


The World of the Happy Pear by David and Stephen Flynn

Just to balance out the meat from the previous title, then this is the latest offering from the Flynn brothers. Owners of the legendary Happy Pear Cafe in Ireland, they continue on their quest to show that vegetarian food is endlessly varied, packed full of flavour and simple to prepare. Well, they’re looking well on it and the recipes sound delicious too. I’m up for a grilled halloumi burger anytime.

So, five varied titles for Dads, hopefully not playing too much into male cooking clichés. If the dad in your life has a favourite cookbook then I’d love to hear about it, please leave me a note in the comments.





The ten best St Patrick’s Day cakes


I have a feeling that time is going to have run away this year and I won’t get round to making a stout cake, or it will be a last minute affair later today. If you’re like me, then perhaps you could do with some inspiration for today, or advance planning for next year. So here’s 10 amazing ones that I found on Pinterest.


Dark Chocolate Guinness Cake with Baileys Irish Cream Cheese Icing


First up, a classic, Dark Chocolate Guinness Cake with Baileys Irish Cream Cheese Icing from Love Swah.


Guinness Chocolate Cheesecake


For something more like dessert, then how about the Guinness Chocolate Cheesecake from Eats Well with Others?


St Patrick's Day Mint Chocolate Cake


Mixing up the flavours and colours, try the St Patrick’s Day Mint Chocolate Cake from Created by Diane.


Leprechaun's Hat Cake


Look for your own crock of gold with this Leprechaun’s Hat Cake created by Heather Baird of Sprinkle Bake for Betty Crocker.


Kit Kat Shamrock Cake


You might be able to make this Kit Kat Shamrock cake from Michelle at with younger cooks, definitely a chocolate lover’s delight.


St Patrick's Day Green Petal Cake


I’m not sure this beautiful Green Petal Cake from Blog Lovin’ is really the sort of thing you’re going to knock up before tea time today, but it is stunning.


St Patrick's Day Bundt Cake


I love a great bundt cake, and love this green and white version from


Green Velvet Cheesecake


Who says velvet has to be red? Try this green velvet cheesecake from B.Lovely Events.


Peek a Boo St Patrick's Day Pound Cake


Surprise them with the shamrock on the inside with this peek-a-boo pound cake from


Leprechaun Candy Bark


For something quick, fun, possibly everyone can get involved in making, then try the Leprechaun bark from Simply Being Mommy. Then devour.

So lots of possible options to still make a celebration of today. Failing that, I’ve still got an emergency can of Guinness in the fridge. Party for one.


5 gifts for those contemplating Bake Off next year


Five gifts for bakers considering entering the Bake Off


If you’ve got a baker on your list to buy for, then maybe they’re contemplating entering Bake Off. Whether next year or just as an idea for the future, then help them out with your choice of gifts to enhance their baking skills.


Kenwood kmix Stand Mixer - great gift for a food lover with baking ambitions

A Stand Mixer

Buying my Kenwood Chef transformed my baking, if only for the speed it adds in. This year saw the tent move from KitchenAid to Kenwoods, so if you are feeling generous and want to let them get used to the equipment, then a K Mix is the current stand mixer of choice in the tent.


The Flavour Thesaurus - perfect gift for a food lover looking to explore flavour combinations


Inspiring Flavour Combinations

One of the things I think linked all three finalists this year was their incredible use of flavours, and in amazing combinations. The Flavour Thesaurus is one of my favourite books on food, and just has some incredible ideas for putting different ingredients together.


Anti Gravity Pouring Cake Mix Kit - a gift for a food lover looking to take cakes to new heights


Cakes that defy gravity

I don’t think any of us will forget Nadiya’s can of pop cake. There are a number of versions of cake supports available that can help them achieve something similar. I really like the anti gravity pouring cake kit from Lakeland, there’s some good tutorials on their site as well.


Ginger Apron from Hedley & Bennett - perfect gift for a stylish food lover


A great apron

Let’s face it, there’s going to be flour and icing sugar all over the place as they get seriously into practicing. Now, I really like this one, which Edd Kimber was wearing at his demo recently at Cake International. It comes from Hedley & Bennett in the US, and can be personalised. Sadly, the shipping is US$31 so not the cheapest, so worth checking Not On the High Street or Divertimenti for alternatives.


Essential baking kit from the Bertinet Kitchen - perfect gift for a food lover into bread


A gift they might knead

Dreadful pun, but bread week always interesting to me. Give them good kit to practice with, like the essential baking set from the master of baking, Richard Bertinet. From a mixing bowl to a proving basket, scraper to a lame, this will get them underway.

So, five ideas here, but I’ve written about lots of baking ideas over the years, select the baking category to the right for more ideas. Although you can probably skip the piece on 7 baking tins they really don’t need!


The 7 oddest cake tins your baking doesn’t need


My cake tin cupboard is one that drives me nuts, as they keep falling out. But there aren’t many pans in there that are contenders for getting rid of, as they are all sensible shapes and sizes. Whereas if any of these crazy shapes were in there, it would surely be an easy choice. Seriously, why would you with any of these?


Skeleton in Coffin Cake Tin


Don’t get me wrong, I love Halloween as much as the next person. But even I would find it a little limiting to know what to do with this tin outside of Halloween. I mean, do you think you could convert this into a Sleeping Beauty cake? But if skeletons in coffins are your thing, then go ahead!


Cakewich cake pan


A cake that looks like a sandwich? Like you don’t have a square tin and a good knife for shaping? No space here for this one.


Raggedy Ann or scary doll cake tin?


Apparently this is a vintage Raggedy Ann tin. Looks scary to me. Back to Halloween perhaps, but definitely prettier dolls out there.


Cabbage Patch Doll cake tin


And there again, there are much uglier dolls too. If you thought that one was ugly, then can it get any uglier than a Cabbage Patch Doll? It’s a no on this one as well from me.


Cornstick Cake Tin


Maybe it’s cultural, but I’m not even sure what a cornstick is. All I know is that in 47 years I’ve never felt the need for a cake shaped like one, so I sure as heck don’t need a tin like this.


High Heel Cake Tin


Ok, maybe I’ve just got a thing against high heel things. There was the infamous blueberry vodka glass stiletto I hated. Then there was the bottle holder. And this tin doesn’t make me change my mind in the slightest.


Willy Cake Tin. Or, apparently, makes a decent lighthouse cake


What can I say about this one? Apparently you can make a decent lighthouse cake from it. But then I’ve never need to make one of those either.

So, what tins would you clear out of your cupboards? Can you add any more odd shapes to this list?


The 5 books to get you over Bake Off withdrawal


So, that’s it, all over for another year. We know Nadiya is queen of the kitchen, we know more about some more obscure pastries and cakes (anyone for tennis cake?) and we’re wondering what we’re going to do on a Wednesday night now.

To help ease the withdrawal symptoms, maybe a bit of baking of your own might help. Or at least some good reading about baking. Here’s my prescription of 5 books to ease the pain.


Short & Sweet by Dan Lepard - my favourite baking book ever


Short & Sweet by Dan Lepard  – this is by far my favourite baking book, and the one I turn to when I fancy trying something out just for the heck of it. Also has my go-to pizza dough recipe, never failed me yet. I love this book so much I buy it for those I love too.


Dough by Richard Bertinet - French boy done good on the bread front


Dough by Richard Bertinet – when it’s all about the bread and other things dough based, then Richard Bertinet is the man for me. It has nothing to do with the French accent. Lots to do with fabulous recipes for all kinds of bread deliciousness.


Bread Cake Doughnut Pudding by Justin Gellatly - worth it just for the doughnuts


Bread, Cake, Doughnut, Pudding by Justin Gellatly – this is new on my shelves here, but I cannot tell you just how delicious the recipes sound. Or how very tempting all the doughnut flavours sound. But I’m seriously considering acquiring a deep fat fryer just to try them out.


Adventures in Chocolate with Paul A Young - yes please!


Adventures in Chocolate by Paul A. YoungI’ve got a soft spot for Paul A Young, ever since seeing him make the most divine brownie ever. If ever there was someone you’d want on your side for chocolate week, Paul would be my choice. Amazing recipes, get chocolate in the house before you order this book.


BIY Bake It Yourself by Richard Burr - still a winner in our eyes


BIY: Bake It Yourself by Richard Burrwe were team Richard last year, he was definitely the winner in our eyes. I am so thrilled to see he has a book out and good things are coming his way. Still thinking these chocolate trees might make a good alternative Christmas cake.

So, working through these five might help with the withdrawal symptoms. Just be careful that they don’t give you supreme confidence in your abilities, and you suddenly find yourself filling in the application form for series 7…!


Get the rolling pin out for Mother’s Day


Rolling Pin with your name it - great gift for a food lover who likes the personal touch


I’m not really sure what I think of this one, but it made me smile as to how you might compose your face if you received this as a gift!

So, a rolling pin, with your name embossed. Could be lovely if you do a lot of biscuit baking but not decorating. Or want to really make sure people know you really made it.

There again, it won’t be able to tell if you made it, or you’re just rolling out a block of Jus-Rol!


Liven up coffee time!


I saw these on a newsletter from Not on the High Street, and they just made me laugh. Imagine breaking the news like this:


Give them a surprise with their coffee!


From my perspective, I thought about inviting people round for coffee and seeing how quickly the gossip the spread! It is only a small village after all.

These are by Sophia Victoria Jay, and I love a number of the products, many of which can be personalised. There are cake stencils, so no one can be in doubt which is your slice, or if you’re thinking of Mother’s Day, then I love the mum star baker version too.

Worth taking a look.


It’s got my name written all over it!


Quick browse at Not On the High Street, and there was this beauty:


Personalised Cake Tin - great gift for a food lover who wants their name on it


It has my name on it, literally and figuratively speaking. But it really does have my name on it. I know it can have your name on it too and, if you love cake as much as me, then why not? Indulge yourself, but makes a great gift for a keen baker.

Or cake eater, if they’re the possessive type.

Or possibly both.


Getting ready for Jubilee & Olympic baking


Are you ready for your Jubilee and Olympic baking?

Just a quick one for those of us likely to get involved in street party or TV party baking for the two big events this year. Cake Craft Shop have a special Olympic and Jubilee section for cake decorations, and some great stuff to choose from. Might be worth stockpiling now before everyone gets themselves into the swing of things.

There’s a patriotic cupcake package, so everything you need from cases to a stand to serve them on, and even red, white and blue sprinkles. There are cupcake cases, sprinkles and toppers, in every kind of regal, patriotic fervour than you could want. I really like the crown cutter, could see getting use out of this for kid’s parties for ever afterwards.

And in a naff, cheesy, retro kind of way, I love the sporting figures for the tops of cakes, and am already working out what to make. Swimming pool cake got to be done, and going to have to do a running cake for when Twiglet carries the Olympic torch this year.


Jogger Cake Topper - you never know when you might need one

I’ll no doubt be coming back to these two events quite a few times as the year unfurls, but these are great starting points to get into the cupboard now.


Hurray for National Baking Week!


What Sunday afternoons are made for whether or not you're a food lover


You might have gathered by now that I’m pretty keen on baking. I’ve written about the a to z of cookies, and unusual cake tins that I’m still not quite sure about. I’ve written about cake in far off places, and cake being at the heart of what it means to be home for me.

There’ve been new bakers like Baking Buddha and Edd Kimber, and old school like Mary Berry. There was baking for Christmas, baking for Easter, even baking for Halloween, which was definitely one of my favourites.

Basically, to me there is something suitable to bake every day, with whatever time you have available. My advice? Just bake, National Baking Week or not. You’ll feel better, and those on the receiving end will love you for it. Just don’t bake angry, makes for rubbish sponges!