Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I have a lot to learn...

I'd never heard of Peggy Porschen before her book landed in my letterbox. But I was instantly smitten by how pretty it was and very much taken by its title.

'Peggy's Favourite Cakes and Cookies... to make every occasion special' - doesn't that sound like the perfect book for an enthusiastic baker like me?

I flipped to the back of the book to find out more about Peggy and was impressed by her credentials. A German lady who moved to London to study French patisserie; she has become cake maker to the stars. Her previous clients include the likes of Elton John, Stella McCartney and Madonna; all of whom have bought cakes from Peggy Porschen's Parlour in Belgravia.   

There's obviously a lot I could learn from Peggy. Her book is bursting with beautiful photos of the most fabulous-looking cakes and cookies. Rather too fabulous, perhaps, for a learner such as me. A learner who has yet to take a course in sugar craft. A learner who sells cupcakes that are nicely - but very simply - decorated. A learner who doubts she will ever succeed in making anything look as good as these cookies: 

Or these cakes:

Or this one:

Or this:

But should I be so defeatist? Should I not just think of this as a challenge?  If I master the basics, as explained by Peggy, I might be surprised by what I could succeed in doing.

The final section of this book is devoted to these basics. Here, Peggy lists the equipment necessary to make her cakes and cookies. Once again, I feel disheartened because I don’t have very many of them. 
However, I persevere and read Peggy’s recipes for sugar cookies, gingerbread cookies, Victoria sponge, rich dark chocolate cake, marble cake, sugar syrups, buttercream frosting and chocolate ganache. I go through the sections, complete with pictures, which demonstrate how to line cake tins, apply the perfect fondant icing, dip cupcakes, make royal icing and how to pipe different patterns and shapes such as sugar daisies, daffodils and rosebuds. 

There’s a lot for me to take in and it can seem overwhelming at times but by the time I’m done, I think I can do it. I’ll start with some of her more simple-looking recipes – perhaps a marble cake covered with a chocolate ganache and decorated with sugar flowers.

This is definitely not a book for the novice cook. No, it’s a book for enthusiastic bakers with a degree of experience. It’s also a book that has inspired me to try harder, learn more and make more beautiful cakes. Thanks, Peggy! 


  1. Hi Sharon, this book totally appeals to me. Thanks for the warning: not for the novice! I will approach with caution but the end results look worth the effort. Wow! Such stunning photos. This is now on my wish list - birthday coming up very soon...

  2. Great review Sharon. I felt the same way when we reviewed the newish book from Fiona
    Cairns. But as it turned out we did not need a team
    of bakers to work through a few of her recipes.
    Hope you blog some of your efforts from the book!

  3. Hester, you already seem to have a lot of baking experience so I'll bet that you'll be more than up to the job of producing some of these wonders. Keep me updated if you do!

    And thanks for the words of encouragement, Mona. I'll definitely blog any successes I (may!) have in my attempts to bake from the book. The only trouble is that I'm so busy baking for my market stall at the moment and experimenting with new items such as cake pops that I don't have time for baking from cookbooks. I'm sure that will all change come winter though.

  4. Ah it'll just take a bit of practice and determination - you'll be able to pull it off!! The cakes in the second picture look AMAZING!

  5. Miss Calamity Physics,
    I wouldn't be so sure about that. These cakes are AMAZING. But thanks for the vote of confidence!