Anthill Cake – The beloved Russian dessert

During the Soviet regime, housewives could cobble together a simple dessert called muraveynik with limited ingredients and little technical skill. Russian home bakers simply piled inexpensive pantry staples into a small hill, which earned it the name “anthill cake.” The towering confection wasn’t really a cake in the traditional sense. It was made up of a basic …

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Saint Agatha’s Breasts

This ricotta and marzipan pastry honours the Sicilian saint’s most noteworthy body part. What’s the first thing you think of when looking at these delectable pastries? Your mind isn’t in the gutter—it’s spot on. Nuns around the ancient port city of Catania, located on Sicily’s east coast, paid tribute to their patron saint by baking pastries …

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A Brief History of British Royal Wedding Cakes

From Queen Victoria’s English plum cake to Prince William and Kate Middleton’s eight-layer fruitcake, these masterpieces have taken many forms Prince William and Catherine Middleton’s 2011 wedding cake.Lewis Whyld/WPA Pool/ Getty Images By Victorian standards, modern wedding cakes can appear quite amateur: The wedding of Queen Victoria’s oldest daughter, Princess Royal Victoria Adelaide Mary Louisa, …

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Chimney Cake

After rotating over hot coals, the Transylvanian treat unravels in a sweet spiral. Have you ever tried a barbecued cake from Transylvania? If not, you’ll want to add the chimney cake to your bucket list of culinary curiosities. Kürtőskalács originates in the Hungarian-speaking regions of Romania. It gets the  nickname “chimney cake” from its cylindrical shape, …

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Lapis Legit

This Dutch-Indonesian cake contains up to 30 layers. The Dutch call Indonesian lapis legit “bacon cake.” In English, the sweet goes by “thousand-layer cake.” Though both names are hyperbolic, they are a testament to this treat’s decadence. The Indonesian-Dutch fusion dessert features 18 to 30 individually baked layers of spiced butter, sugar, and egg yolk. Colonialists …

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Keeping birthday desserts fresh

‘Cake hack from my chef buddy: store in the microwave,’ Zoë wrote on the image of the half-eaten birthday cake. the former magazine beauty editor explained her reasons for the unusual storage solution. ‘Airtight and doesn’t dry out cake like the fridge does,’ Zoë said.

Flat layer cakes

I’ve had my struggles with cake layers. They always come out domed and I always trim off less dome than they really need, which means slidey cake, drooping frosting, and all around MESS. To remedy this, I’ve read about using cake strips (strips that wrap around the pan and magically create flat layers) or baking …

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Cutting Dough

Use a sharp razor blade rather than a knife to score your dough. It gives a professional touch to your crusts; also consider buying a pizza stone, which makes a huge difference to the “bum” of your bread. Dean Brettschneider

Listen to your baking

Use all your senses, including hearing. A well-baked baguette crust should crackle when it first comes out of the oven. You can also knock the base of sourdough loaves with your knuckles. If you hear a hollow sound it’s well baked – if it sounds tight the dough may be undercooked. Dean Brettschneider


To better understand the basics of kneading try experimenting with scones by altering mixing times. Note the difference in result when you simply “put together” a scone mixture compared to a batch you’ve mixed for five minutes. Dean Brettschneider

Heart shaped muffins

You don’t have to have a heart-shaped muffin tin to make fun heart-shaped muffins or cupcakes for Valentine’s Day.  Simply line a tin with paper liners, then drop a marble in between the tin and liner. (Balls of aluminium foil will also work.) Noreen

More spring

Most commercial bread enhancers and dough relaxers (available from a wide variety of sources, including online) rely on ascorbic acid. Ascorbic acid slightly weakens the gluten, allowing for more stretch or spring. John Burgess


Soufflés will collapse somewhat after time, no matter what. If it doesn’t deflate partially after an hour, it was over baked. The most important part is folding the meringue into the base gently, to avoid losing volume. Also, contrary to what most people are saying here, you do NOT need to beat the egg whites …

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