Category Archives: Guests

A Passion for Pâtisserie – Ten Top Tips from Master Pâtissiers William & Suzue Curley

Pâtisserie is what brought us together; it is what drove us to open our first shop in 2004 and it brings joy and happiness to our lives and, we hope, to our customers. As pâtissiers and chocolatiers, we feel that we have a duty to pass on the skills of our craft to the next generation and we take great pride in being able to provide the inspiration to do so.

Our main focus is, of course, to arouse and surprise the taste buds. A pleasure that we hope we can, in some way, bring to everyone, through the recipes in our new book Pâtisserie.  Through Pâtisserie we hope to prove once and for all that creating beautiful pâtisserie in the home kitchen is both achievable and hugely satisfying.

Here are our top tips for creating flawless pâtisserie at home:

1. When using butter in cakes in, allow it to come to room temperature, it will more easily become light and fluffy.

2. When adding eggs to any mixture, ensure you add them slowly, to prevent the mixture separating.

3. When melting chocolate, melt over a water Bain-Marie, with the water hot, but not boiling, as the chocolate will burn if it gets too hot.

4. When preparing pastry, it is important to let the pastry rest for at least 30 minutes in the fridge. This will prevent the pastry shrinking or changing shape upon baking.

5. A good set of digital scales is well worth the investment as precision is essential for successful baking.

6. Sieving dry ingredients is important, thus breaking up any lumps that have formed, when using baking powder it is advisable to sieve with the dry ingredients twice.

7. When whipping cream, insure you have a dry cool bowl, it may worth popping your bowl in the fridge in advance to keep it cool until you need it.

8. I love my chocolate, always pick good quality chocolate, but try use the flavour characteristics to match the flavour of dish/cake you are making.

9. Recipes can be adapted to suit different shapes and sizes of moulds and tins, you don’t always have to buy new equipment when you make something new.

10. Always shop around for good quality ingredients, ideally in season.

Happy baking!

William & Suzue Curley


Pâtisserie by William & Suzue Curley is available to buy online and in all good bookshops now. The book is published by Jacqui Small

More information on the William Curley boutiques can be found here:

A guest blog post from Roger Pizey

To all the Baking Mad readers,

I am so excited to have been invited to write this guest post. is such a great resource for any one with a love of baking and the enormous variety of recipes from the simplest to the more unusual and complex is truly inspiring.

You are exactly the kind of bakers I wanted to inspire whilst writing my new book “Worlds Best Cakes” and I hope you enjoy the selection of recipes I have chosen to appear here.

I found my love of baking many years ago when I worked at Le Gavroche for Albert Roux and it has never gone away. When I was asked to write “World’s Best Cakes”, despite the enormous challenges involved, it was a joy to be able to indulge my passion for baking.

There are so many wonderful cakes in the book it would be impossible to choose a favourite. I have enjoyed baking each and every one of them. It has been an inspiring and enjoyable experience to visit so many different countries through their cuisine. The cakes from the Middle East were a particular pleasure to discover with their assault on the senses – their delicate perfumes of orange flower and rose water, their wonderful almond textures and the vibrant green pistachios.  Of course we are lucky these days to be able to source all the ingredients from our local supermarket making international baking so much easier.

Whether you feel like making a small cake, a sponge cake or a show stopping cake just enjoy. A cake made with a smile is definitely the best kind of cake!

Roger Pizey

Enter the competition to win a copy of ‘World’s Best Cakes’ here! And check out a selection of the recipes from the book we’ve put on

Mandarin, polenta and macadamia cake



Tarta de Santiago

Danish Layer Cake

Nielsen Massey Vanilla Workshop

Recently Baking Mad attended a fabulous workshop hosted by pure vanilla experts Nielsen-Massey, educating people about the history of vanilla and the importance of quality vanilla in baking.

Nielsen-Massey ambassador Eric Lanlard hosted the event at his shop ‘Cake Boy’ in London, where members of the media and food bloggers assembled to enjoy a selection of vanilla inspired canapes and mini desserts along with a few glasses of champagne.

Eric discussed the production of vanilla and about how the world’s finest vanilla is grown in the warm, moist, tropical climates of Madagascar. He explained that vanilla pods, or beans as they are commonly called, are the fruit of an orchid, and that of the thousands of varieties of orchid, the vanilla plant is the only one known to produce an edible fruit. The flower of the vanilla orchid opens for only part of one day and if not pollinated on this day pods will not be produced.  This is why Nielsen-Massey hand pollinate each and every flower, over the two to three month flowering period to ensure a plentiful crop.

Nielsen-Massey use an exclusive cold extraction process to slowly and gently draw the delicate and distinctive flavour from the vanilla beans.  This process differs from all other processes as it doesn’t use heat or pressure when extracting.  The vanilla is extracted under precise temperature control at 72 degrees Fahrenheit, using a specially constructed stainless steel extractor, after the beans are loaded into the extractor, an alcohol and water solution is pumped continuously over and through the beans.  It can be a lengthy process, taking three to five weeks to complete depending on the batch type being produced.  The finished vanilla is then filtered into a holding tank ready for bottling.

We were invited to observe three small dishes in front of us containing vanilla essence, vanilla extract and vanilla bean paste. Eric highlighted the difference between the three, with the vanilla paste and extract having a denser texture and a much more poignant vanilla smell. The vanilla essence was more fluid and clear with a synthetic smell, and Eric explained that synthetic vanilla essence is shockingly what 98% of the world still use as a flavour and fragrance. It’s obvious to see that the Nielsen-Massey Pure Vanilla Extract and Vanilla Bean Paste would bring a stronger, more amazing flavour to your baking.

Eric demonstrated his favourite vanilla recipe, a Nielsen-Massey Fraisier. Using copious amounts of Nielsen-Massey extract and bean paste he assembled this strawberry delight, topping it with toasted marzipan and hand decorating it with chocolate. Fabulous!

Every attendee received a lovely Nielsen-Massey goody bag containing Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Bean Paste, Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Extract, a Nielsen-Massey branded apron and an individually wrapped Cake Boy vanilla cupcake using Nielsen-Massey and topped with a golden vanilla pod.

Thank you to everyone who attended on the day I think we all had a fantastic time. We hope you enjoy using Nielsen Massey vanilla products forevermore to make your baking totally delicious.

Jason Atherton

Jason Atherton, chef/owner of Pollen Street Social

It was over a month ago now, but I’m only just recovering from Taste of London and Taste of Edinburgh.

They’re two of the UK’s most stylish food festivals, where anyone with an appetite for al fresco dining can sample exquisite food and see demonstrations from world-class chefs.  

I was in good company alongside many culinary greats including Tom Aikens, Gary Rhodes, Theo Randall and Bruno Loubet, not to mention the gorgeous Gwyneth Paltrow who was  feverishly signing copies of her new cookbook ‘Notes from my Kitchen Table’.   She looks as good in the flesh as she did on Glee (I know you all watch it).

Taste is not just about savoury dishes, which is great news as I have a real passion for puddings.  So much so in fact, I put in a bar, devoted to serving desserts, in my new restaurant, Pollen Street Social

The dessert menu is created to appeal to lots of different tastes, from a rather sexy Watermelon, Candied Goat’s Curd and Basil Sorbet to a traditional English rice pudding, but served with hay ice-cream and lime jelly.

Making puddings is a real art; it’s the only part of my kitchen where I insist on everything being accurately measured and weighted.  If you put one too many olives in a tapenade, nobody is going to know. But when you make a lemon tart, if it hasn’t got the exact amount of eggs in it, it’s not going to set.  I’m a stickler for using the right ingredients as well.  To get the best results you need to start with the very best ingredients you can afford.  I always use Billington’s unrefined range which I guarantee will make a real difference to the results of our baking.

Have a look at some of my latest pudding recipes on, or pop into the restaurant.

Pollen Street Social, 8-10 Pollen St, W1 (020 7290 7600),

Jason Atherton

Jason Atherton is the chef/owner of Pollen Street Social

I did my apprenticeship with some of the best chefs in the world including Pierre Koffmann, Nico Ladenis, Marco Pierre White and Ferran Adrià (at his pioneering experimental restaurant, elBulli, in Spain). It was tough, and whilst I enjoyed every minute of it, I’ve always wanted my own place.
Pollen Street Social has been 22 years in the making. I may not have had the name back in 1989, but I always knew that there would be a dessert bar. At Pollen Street Social, people can wander in off the street and enjoy a pudding and a glass of wine or, for a different perspective, diners can move to the bar after dinner where there’s a great view of the kitchen.
When it comes to puddings, I like to tap into people’s sense of childhood, add a bit of fun and at the same time, give everything a little twist. The Tiramisu is served with a hot chocolate coffee, while the PBJ (Peanut butter and Jelly) is served with cherry jam and creamed rice crispies.
The right ingredients are absolutely essential. I always use the Billington’s unrefined range, which I guarantee will add a new flavour dimension to everything you bake. 
I’m pulling together some new recipes for / and I look forward to sharing them with you soon. In the meantime, the next time you’re in town, pop into the restaurant for a pudding.

Guest Blog Post: Paul.A.Young

Being Yorkshire born and Durham bred, baking and desserts were part of every day eating, especially with an array of seasonal ingredients to look forward too. I can still remember the excitement and anticipation I felt as Bramleys and blackberries season grew ever closer, ready to be muddled together with a buttery crumbly topping and a dredging of demerara sugar for crunch and flavour.

Growing up in the early eighties, my diet consisted of seasonal produce, natural home baked, roasted, cooked and prepared food with occasional new innovations of convenience foods. I preferred the home cooked from scratch option as so much love and attention went in to every creation. I learned to bake from the age of 6 or 7 as both my Mum and Grandma allowed me to get involved, get my hands dirty and have a mix or two, and then scrape the cake bowl clean of the buttery uncooked floury cake batter. It’s still magical to see how these basic raw ingredients, with a relatively short blast of heat in a metal box, leave the oven with such glorious textures, flavours and aromas.

From a young age, I knew food and cooking would be my career path and training to become a chef in Durham was indeed a highlight of my life so far, during which time I discovered French cooking with glorious amounts of butter, cream and most importantly for me, sugar. Sugar is part of my life and always will be, it fuels my whole existence and I chose to specialize in Patisserie when joining Marco Pierre White’s Criterion Brasserie in 1996. I learned to truly cook in his kitchens and became head patissier in his Quo Vadis restaurant in Soho and remember feeling complete and whole as I spent more time in this pastry kitchen than out of it. Sugar once again was the stronghold of my life and without it I would not be sat writing this today.

At my two successful chocolateries in London we hand make everything from scratch using French chocolate of the highest quality, seasonal ingredients and of course hundreds of kilos of sugar.
For ten years my choice of sugar has been Billington’s organic and unrefined golden caster, light and dark muscovado, demerara and molasses. I’m a purist and even my sugar has to be of the highest quality with complex flavours and textures. I learnt from a wonderful lady who was working with Billington’s that not all sugars were the same and some disguised with overcoats of caramel colour concealing white sugar beneath and I haven’t used anything else since.

Only Billington’s sugar gives my chocolates, cakes and brownies their balanced sweetness without the tooth aching sugary sensation that over refined white sugars can give. Balancing sweetness with chocolate is vital for a rounded and well-finished truffle, too sweet and the complexities of the finest cocoa beans will be compromised and ripped apart.

Billington’s golden caster and dark muscovado gave me the inspiration to develop the ultimate chocolate fudge brownie for my shops and we sell hundreds each week, as well as my team eating a few too! Being seasonal and with Easter approaching I wanted to create something traditional but with a modern take, so the classic Simnel cake was my platform. We had this traditional cake at home every Easter, with my Grandma ruling the kitchen and the only one allowed to bake this very unique cake with a squidgy layer of marzipan baked though the centre of the cake.

Aromatic cinnamon and nutmeg with brandy soaked vine fruits, Billington’s golden caster sugar and an incomprehensible amount of 70% Valrhona were muddled together topped with real marzipan pieces and a showering of dark muscovado, then baked to a fudgy dense texture and rested for 24 hours before cutting and wrapping. A well-balanced taste with rich chocolate and toasted nutty marzipan, what makes this brownie so very special is the melt in the mouth dark muscovado crust giving a treacle toffee finish.

If you wince at the thought of the heavy traditional Simnel cake then this recipe is a gusty spring breath of fresh air. Easter week would not be the same if I didn’t share this new brownie recipe with you. It will become, I am sure, as big a part of your Annual Easter celebrations as it is mine and it’s all down to Billington’s amazingly pure and flavoursome sugar.

For more information visit

Guest Blog Post – A Gluten Free Journey – Adriana Rabinovich

I’m often asked how I got involved in the gluten free world. As the author of a gluten free cookbook, a frequent lecturer on all issues gluten free and in recent years as a specialist cookery teacher in gluten free food, it’s not difficult to see why people come away thinking….’that’s the gluten free lady’. But before this, my life was very different. I owned a company that made lots of baked goods all of which contained gluten.
The journey started when my daughter Ruthie was diagnosed with Coeliac Disease at 18 months of age. I remember coming home from the hospital feeling exhausted but relieved to know what was wrong with my gorgeous daughter. The gastroenterologist was unequivocal in his diagnosis. Coeliac Disease. The next words I heard were, “she will need to be on a gluten free diet”. And the thing I didn’t quite absorb at the time was “for the rest of her life”. That night we had a very simple meal of buttered rice and went to bed. I was worried about how we would cope. But in truth, I was relieved to know that what was making her ill was food related and that her recovery was based on discovering a new way of eating. Food, cooking and baking are in my blood and I knew that however difficult it might seem, I could do something about it. That was the beginning of our journey.

The following morning I decided to go through my cupboards to remove all items containing gluten. Within minutes there were three black sacks sitting outside my back door. All cereals, breads, pasta, flours, biscuits and sauces were chucked away. Stock cubes, spices, soy sauce and those lovely little decorations for cakes were next. I wish now I had had the foresight to have taken a photo of what remained (which was not a lot) and indeed what had been removed. To some, this looked like madness, but I felt very strongly that if my daughter was going to be gluten free, then we as a family would have to do our best to support her. I did not want to feed her different meals and make her feel different. It was clear in my mind we would go gluten free together. For months prior to my daughter’s illness, I had been preoccupied with her lack of progress in basic things like standing up in her cot or walking unaided.. My GP had re-assured me that all children develop differently, but I remained concerned. Within a week of going gluten free, my daughter was walking. I distinctly remember being in the kitchen downstairs and for the first time hearing little footsteps above my head, not just walking, but running.

The next few months were all about experimenting, learning to read labels and trying to get to grips with the new diet. We spent lots of time in the free from aisles and bought lots of things which mostly ended up in the bin. I started looking for recipes which I could convert. Slowly, by trial and error, I began to build a repertoire of recipes which we could use on a daily basis. The new diet was presenting me with lots of interesting challenges and I was finding new ways of baking and cooking without gluten. With Ruthie as the chief taster, I was also getting expert and sometimes very direct feedback. Then one day, as she was leafing through the first cookbook I had written, she looked up and said….”why don’t you write a cookbook for children like me?” and of course the moment she said it, I knew I had to do it. The Gluten Free Cookbook for Kids was written and developed as an everyday family cookbook with lots of child friendly recipes that both adults and children would enjoy. I wanted to help parents find easy, but delicious recipes, where they could access ingredients easily, from a supermarket. And although it says “for kids”, it really is a very practical cookbook that has some great recipes.
I decided that a website which focused on child friendly food would be the next logical step. The website was developed by my husband and with his guidance I took my very own first footsteps into gluten free cyber world.
And the journey continues. My newest venture is teaching. I want to do more to help people feel good about their diet. I started teaching, trying my methods out on friends at first, to see if this was something I could do. Within a few months I discovered how much I enjoyed teaching and how much I could do to help people embrace the change. Nothing gives me more pleasure then watching my students making pizza, bread, cakes and pastry and being amazed at the results.
Through teaching, blogging, writing and talking about gluten free food, I hope to make people more aware of what is possible and remove the negative barriers that surround the image of gluten free food. No more boring, sandy biscuits, no more cakes that fall apart, no more horrible bread. I enjoy the challenge of finding a new way to bake gluten free bread that doesn’t look and taste like bricks, or pastry that doesn’t fall apart when you look at it and of course everyday there is something new to taste. How great is that?

For more information about gluten free cooking including information on some of the courses I will be running, please see

Molly Bakes – Guest Blog Post

My name is Molly Bakes and I am extremely excited to have been asked by Baking Mad to share a couple of my cake pop recipes with you. As a baker, I know how important good quality ingredients are, which is why I only ever use Billington’s unrefined sugars and Allinson Nature Friendly Flours in my recipes.

A mere two years ago, I didn’t know a whisk from a paddle attachment but redundancy at the beginning of 2009 gave me the time to discover a passion for baking that I never knew I had. The madness started when I posted some photos of cupcakes I had baked on a Facebook fan page and within two weeks I had around 200 followers, half of which I didn’t even know! Soon enough people started asking where they could buy my cupcakes so I hired a stall in London’s Brick Lane Sunday Upmarket.

After seeing the “cake on a stick” sensation all over American baking blogs last year I decided to try my hand at them and began making and selling them on my stall around Valentines Day. They were an instant hit and soon enough more and more of my fashion forward customers caught on. As a result, I am now sending my creations to cake lovers all over the UK.

In the last year I have been lucky enough to bake for a range of celebrities, including Katie Price, Elle MacPherson and the ladies from Britain’s Next Top Model. I have also catered for clients such as The Sun newspaper, and Juicy Couture. However, the biggest highlight so far has been clinching a deal with Selfridges where my cake pops are now stocked.

It is my pleasure to share two of my most popular recipes, Lemon and Toffee, with Baking Mad. Enjoy trying them out and most importantly have fun baking and decorating them. Don’t forget to add some finishing touches using the brilliant range of Silver Spoon Cakecraft.

A top tip from Dulwich Divorcee and her daughters

We have been busy bees recently meeting some fantastic people who we thought might be interested in hearing more about Baking Mad. We have been eating (cakes of course) and chatting to our hearts content. Last week we met with Alice from Dulwich Divorcee (no prizes for guessing where she hails from) and she has provided us with her very own top tip and blog post to go with it. We’re honoured and proud to bring it to you – enjoy!

My girls and I have always been great bakers. Partly, it’s a greed thing. Life seems a little bleak without cake, and we all know that shop bought cake is Not the Same At All. There’s also the sense of achievement involved for children. All that weighing, measuring and mixing leads, quite quickly, to a real, concrete result – although of course one always hopes it won’t look or taste like concrete. Even when my daughters were very small, the pride they felt at producing something edible was immense – and well worth a trashed kitchen.
These days, the kitchen stays relatively tidy and I can more or less take a back seat, particularly when fairycakes are on the menu. We must have made these a trillion times, yet they are a firm favourite and they only improve with each baking. We keep making small alterations in our mixture and icing which keep the baking interesting. And, of course, decorating the top of a fairycake is such a splendidly girly thing. Who could resist?

Our top tip for icing was only discovered recently. We got the recipe from fellow blogger English Mum – basically, half butter to icing sugar, and add milk. We didn’t bother adding milk to start with, and found it very hard to create nice swirly icing with a piping bag. A couple of tablespoons of milk makes all the difference and has really allowed us to go mad with the icing. And we’ve also just bought silicone fairycake cases for £3.50 for 12 in lovely pastel shades.

Here’s our fail safe fairycake recipe, adapted from an all-in-one sponge recipe:

8oz Nature Friendly self raising flour, sieved
8oz butter, softened
8oz sugar – we used Billington’s unrefined granulated sugar this time which really does make a difference, giving a lovely flavour and extra sweetness
4 large eggs
vanilla essence

Cream butter and sugar, add eggs one at a time beating thoroughly, add vanilla essence and, finally, flour. This time, we halved the batter when it was made and added 4oz of crushed walnuts and a tablespoon of strong instant coffee to one half. Distribute into cupcake cases and bake at gas mark 3 for 25 minutes or so.

200g butter
400g Billington’s unrefined golden icing sugar
a little milk

Mix together. For the walnut fairycakes, we added another spoonful of strong instant coffee to half the icing mixure.
To decorate – go wild with the sprinkles!
Other variations are lemon or orange fairycakes – just add the juice and pith of a lemon or orange to the mixture, and add pith to the icing. These are also nice with a glace icing, made up with icing sugar and lemon or orange juice.