There is something very chic about large celebration cakes that are composed of lots of little cakelets. In France the croquembouche is a traditional wedding favourite. In America fairy cakes are undergoing a renaissance. Meanwhile in Yorkshire, at Betty's of Harrogate, they also have their finger on the pulse. The Fondant Fancy Party Cake is a "cake" made from 16 individual fondant fancies. The cakes are made from sponge sandwiched with raspberry preserve and buttercream, before each is covered in marzipan and dipped in fondant icing.
The Betty's Fondant Fancy Party Cake 1.12kg, made to order; allow 10-14 days for delivery, £29.95 incl p&p. Betty's by Post, Pagoda House, Plumpton Park, Harrogate; 01423 814008, www.bettysandtaylors.co.uk
As we gradually come to see the merits of boxed vegetable schemes, it makes you wonder why someone hasn't applied the principle to other foods? Earlier this year a venture called Fishinabox, based in Shropshire, won a Seafish Industry Award for the best small retailer. You stipulate how often you want to receive a box of fresh fish, they pick a selection from more than 70 varieties and give you a box combining the familiar with the less common. Fishinabox supply fish only from sustainable sources. Delivery is free throughout Shropshire, the Welsh Borders, and parts of Staffordshire, Worcestershire and Cheshire, the rest of the country must pay a small charge for an overnight courier.
Fish boxes range in size from 2 meals for 1 person to 6 meals for 6 people (£8-£115). Fishinabox: 01852 820966; www.fishinabox.co.uk
Earning his crust
Richard Bertinet's first book was called Dough and proceeded to sweep up a hatful of book awards here and in the US, so Crust – the follow-up title – was eagerly expected. This is not a book for the novice: anyone who doesn't enjoy baking will probably find it rather daunting. For once, the addition of a DVD is valuable rather than merely a gimmick; watch the sequence where Bertinet – a serious Breton – makes brioche. You may have to re-run it several times as you try to master the skills that Bertinet makes look so easy. This book will be a great help if you want to make your own sourdough, brioche, baguettes, ciabatta or bagels. The recipes are clearly laid out and the pictures (by Jean Cazals) are helpful and beautiful at the same time.
'Crust' by Richard Bertinet, published by Kyle Cathie, £19.99
Mesh it up
It is not often that you come across a genuinely original product, but trying out the Cookamesh is a real eye-opener. When you roast or bake at high temperatures, the one part of the food that is not properly exposed to the heat is the bottom – which is why we occasionally have to put up with soggy flans, mushy pizzas and flabby oven chips. Now there is the Cookamesh tray, which allows the heat to circulate – and it really works. The open texture means superbly crisp oven chips; and putting your pizza on to a disc of Cookamesh will do wonders for the base.
The Cookamesh basket measures 31 x 25 x 4cm and costs £6.99; the pizza disc is 32cm in diameter and costs £3.99.They are available from good cook shops including branches of Lakeland (www.lakeland.co.uk)Reuse content