About The cake-shaker

Hello….. and welcome to my Blog.

It’s all about my busy and varied life as a London pastry chef, and will include recipes, titbits about my day to day work, and tips on how you can get the best out of your own baking.

Marie antoinette wedding cake.

all that glitters is cake !

I came up with the intention that this blog should be fun and light hearted, & so I have made the recipes as simple as I could and easy to make in the home kitchen

I’d like this blog to tempt and encourage the timid, or novice, bake/chef, who fears the oven and and feels intimidated by the whisk !  I also want the blog to be interactive- so you can ask me about things you may want to try, and also get tips on how to correct mistakes or solve problems.

If I come across any new products, ingredients or websites I may think will help or inspire people as they have myself to get the best out of the oven & stove I’ll be sure to let you all in on them. I think the best thing is to share the knowledge, I owe a lot to the chefs and bakers who shared their knowledge, tips & recipes with me when  I worked under them in my junior days, so I hope I can do the same for others.

Good grief, I hear you say, that sounds like a lot of work!  Well, perhaps it is: but I will do my very best to serve you well!  So let’s get beating those eggs, and kneading those buns!  I wont rest until everyone has, at the very least, made and packed their own fudge 😉

Here’s a little bit about me: I have been a pastry chef for 30 years now, starting as a an apprentice as a skinny un worldly 18yr old, baking, rolling and icing!  I have worked mainly for large blue-chip corporate operations, feeding the directors at some of the top companies in the world.  This is usually all done in a very fast paced environment within large brigades of chefs, and over the years I’ve managed to work my way up from junior apprentice to head pastry chef.

I’m also an accomplished cake decorator, and I suppose I’ve developed my own rather flamboyant quirky style over the years- creating cakes for a few celebrities along the way: Including Dannii Minogue, and several  members of the pop band, Girls Aloud, And a few others from the world of the telly box.

After a 7 Month sabbatical working as creative designer at Love bakery on the kings road with the marvelous Samantha Blears,  I returned to work at the ‘Ten sp” restaurant  at Spring Studios in Kentish Town, London, where I had worked previously  as pastry chef . It is a large photographic and filming complex, catering for high end media, magazine, retail, fashion, and show-business clients.

Then in 2015 I was made redundant after 8 years at the studios, but this was not seen as a bad thing, just an opportunity to start something new.

So now I work as Pastry chef at the fabulous Biscuiteers, where I’m charged with the production and development of new cakes for their icing cafes.

I reckon I’ve gathered plenty of knowledge worth passing on to others, and I’m very much looking forward to doing so. But I still think there’s lots for me to find out still on the way as well (Living proof an old dog can learn new tricks)  So lets get on with it!  And just remember, whatever you try to do, always use your imagination and aim to put your own stamp on things.  But above all- let’s have lots of  messy fun !!

Note: As I blog as I work, all photos are taken while I’m on the go, on an iPhone, too busy for on the spot photography, and styling with an amazing camera 🙂

© the cake-shaker.com

IMG_3556

Having a tea break 😉

 

IMG_3459

Since my move to the Bicuiteers, my career has become more colourful 🙂

Cake anyone ? just one of the "small" afternoon teas I make at work ;)

Cake anyone ? just one of the “small” afternoon teas I used to make at the studios.

22 thoughts on “About The cake-shaker

  1. Hi, really looking forward to this new blog.

    Here’s my first question for you. My 11yr old daughter is having a ‘neon’ birthday party in a couple of weeks and I would love to make some of your cupcakes . They need to be white but with neon decorations. Can you advise me on where I could find neon colourings etc and also the cupcake recipe. Oh, and also tips on how to display 80 cupcakes!

    Was that the sort of challenge that you wanted?

  2. Hi Captain Cupcake, really looking forward to this blog. Here’s your first challenge.

    My 11 yr old daughter is having a ‘neon’ party in a couple of weeks time. I want to make white cupcakes with neon decorations. I love the look of yours, in particular the icing and would love to recreate that image

    Can you help with a basic cupcake and white icing recipe and point me in the direction of neon colourings/fondants if they even exist. Oh yes, and tips on displaying 80 of the buggers.

    Can you fix it for me?

    • Thanks for the challenge julie, and also for helping me decide what the first recipe will be..CUPCAKES !! :), a simple but tasty one with an all purpose icing, i will put up the name of some websites you can order colours from, they are not exactly neon but what is known as “pearlised” which means they have a metallic sheen so are as near as damn neon as you can get, also there are some great edible glitters which will just add to the disco effect, you can cut out sugar paste shapes (stars, moon, flowers etc) and spray them with the colours then sprinkle some of the glitters on, easy peasy and quick too ! I will put the recipe up in the next couple of days.

      mark (the cake-shaker) 🙂

    • Thank you Eileen, well you are just the sort of person i am hoping to aim this blog at, and appreciate all comments so i can determine what direction this blog goes in the future

  3. Hi Mark,

    Can’t wait to see your updates, I’ve always wanted to bake, but don’t always know what to make. I have one request, if at all possible – as somebody who’s losing weight, would you be able to comment where artificial sweetener cannot be used? I’ll then know not to even attempt or be tempted to emulate your mastery! Good luck with the blog!! X

    • Hi Stephanie Thanks for the thumbs up for the blog, i will do my best to make it as useful as i can. With regard to the sweetener question..well there are a lot out there you can use, the granulated ones are the best, the only thing is that when using them because they do not caramelize like sugar you do not get the colour you get when baking, especially where brown sugar is involved, i.e in Cookies or gingerbread, they are best used in sponges like cupcakes. the best ones around are Splenda & Canderel. On an important health note always check the label and make sure any sweetener you buy does not have Aspartame in as this is thought not to be particularly good for you. I always still suggest people use unsalted butter when baking because most veg based cooking fats do not give good volume and taste but also butter is actually the healthy option because it is more natural unlike hard veg fats which have been altered chemically and are in fact harder for the body to digest. One thing you may notice is i hardly use salt ever in recipes, its just not needed and no one notices that i leave it out. Enjoy your baking and the best thing to remember is Cakes are little things you treat yourself to now and again so a little bit of what you fancy in moderation does no harm 😉

  4. Loving the site Mark :-).

    Please don’t forget any egg free recipes for me to be able to treat Lori…it’s damn hard finding any treats (esp in Sainsburys!) that don’t say ‘contain eggs & may contain nuts/sesame’…

    Penny x

    • Well that’s the sort of challenge i like i will certainly do my best to source some egg free , dairy and wheat free recipes in the future. We cant have people missing out on the delights of home baking ! Thanks for the vote of confidence in the site as well penny 🙂

  5. This is going to be a great website Mark!
    I’m looking forward to making the cupcakes, could you include how to make some little red or pink rose shapes to sit on top 🙂
    And maybe teach us how to make pink cupcakes.. I tried a few times and they came out dark red/brown!

    • Thanks john, with regards to the roses , sure i will do a piece on decorations using sugar paste you can buy in any supermarket. when you say pink cupcakes are you talking about the sponge or icing ?

  6. Oh my word!
    I just finished making the strawberry and passion fruit pavlova…. The BEST meringues I have ever made…..thanks so much for the superb tips. Please keep em coming and much love to Sir Terence of Ronald. x

    • FAb !! thank you for letting me know how you got on, now you can make so many different versions ( great for parties and the more you pile it the more of a “wooooooo” factor you will get) send a pic if you got one. I love it when people send me messages like this 🙂 xx

  7. Hello Cake Shaker Mark 🙂

    A quick and very basic (!!) question for you if possible, I’m about to make 2 birthday sponge cakes and bigger than I normally make them. However, whenever I guess the ingredients for different sizes it *always* goes horribly wrong, you will laugh .. I don’t suppose you have a recipe for a simple sponge for approx an A4 size tin??! Also – should I be putting anything between the sponge and the (rolled) icing which I use to coat the cake, as it falls off quite easily when cut.. maybe it’s just me!
    .. would your cupcake topping be any good for a filler?
    I have very simple, basic problems!

    Thank you 🙂 xxxx

    • Well here is a simple recipe, hope you have a mixer at the ready ? the method is exactly the same as the cupcake sponge recipe…just on a larger scale.

      500g unsalted butter
      500g caster sugar
      8eggs
      500g plain flour
      20g baking powder

      beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy
      add the eggs one at a time, beating in-between each egg.
      sieve you flour and baking powder together then fold into your cake batter.
      place in your cake tin that you have lined with baking parchment
      place in middle shelf of oven at 160c check after 40 mins, a trick is to stick a sharp knife in the centre, if it comes out clean the cake is ready, if there is batter on it bake for a further 15 mins. the cake should be a light golden brown in colour and firm but spring to touch, if you have a fan assisted oven i would bake it at 155c.

      Filling

      you will need a firmer filling so the cake will hold its shape when layered. try this basic vanilla one

      500g butter
      400g icing sugar
      1 table spoon vanilla essence or scrape the seeds out of one vanilla pod
      40g cornflour
      4 teaspoons of milk

      cream your butter and icing sugar and cornflour together with the vanilla flavour and milk, start at a slow speed so the sugar doesn’t fly everywhere, then give it a burst for about 2 mins until light and fluffy, layer the cake with jam, then butter cream, a good tip is to pipe the buttercream with a plain nozzle in strips no more then half an inch thick, this stops you breaking the sponge with the pressure of a pallet knife.

      when covering a cake with icing i coat it with a thin layer of jam, this makes the icing stick nicely, a good tip is to heat it up first and brush it on, otherwise just spread it on with a pallet knife, but very thinly.

      hope this was helpful, any probs feel free to ask any more questions

  8. This recipe was absolutely perfect and it’s the first cake I’ve made where I actually felt really proud. The measurements were just right for my tin, and the filling was spot on. It’s a first for me – so thank you very much Mark 🙂 x

  9. Thanks for the follow on twitter–I have reciprocated:) You have an impressive resume, but you know that. What I appreciate about what I just read is that you are so willing to share and encourage. I’ve long thought that cooking and baking should be inclusive, but so many professionals are exclusive. I really appreciate your willingness to teach, to share and to answer questions. 🙂

    • Thank you for such a lovely comment, & I look forward to following you on twitter 🙂
      I have never understood chefs who dont share, fortunately I worked alongside those who did over the years, & if it wasn’t for them encouraging & sharing their knowledge with me I wouldn’t have got to where I am today. So I just see it as giving something back & passing things on 🙂
      Mark .

  10. I want to make a cake A4 size as well (as above), but want it to be a rich(‘ish) chocolate cake. How can I modify the recipe to suit (apart from just replacing some of the flour with cocoa powder, and adding chocolate or cocoa to the filling)?
    One last thing…..to test the cake, I know you should use a skewer to see if middle is ready, but I have found, in the past, that this makes the cake flop and sink (even opening the door before it is fully baked, results in a cake with depression!) So how can you check it is fully baked, without risking a disaster?

    • Hi Sheila, sorry for not getting back…I’ve had a hectic busy week at work, all calmed down now so hoping I am not to late in answering your questions 🙂
      Are you referring to the chocolate cake recipe on my blog ? if you want to enrich it further add 4 tablespoons of veg oil and replace 200g flour with extra dark ( extra brute) cocoa powder, or fold in 200g of melted dark chocolate to the batter and add 100g cocoa powder with out taking out any flour.
      The testing is a tricky one, if it sinks when the oven door is open then its been opened far to early, it shouldn’t sink after at least 30-35 mins cooking time. To test with out placing a skewer in do not open door until cooking time is done, then gently pad the top the flat side of a pallet or butter knife ( or if you are brave and have “hot hands” prod with your finger), it should be springy or at least firm, any sort of “give means it needs at least another 10 mins.
      another method is to drag your finger over the surface gently, it shouldn’t leave any mark ( again one for experienced bakers used to handling hot goods)
      I hope this is helpful, and do let me know how you get on.

      Mark 🙂

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