My life in food: Fiona Cairns, cake maker

"The queen of cakes" is renowned for her attention to design as well as taste

Dubbed "the queen of cakes", not least for creating the wedding cake for Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding, Fiona Cairns is renowned for her attention to design as well as taste. With 25 years’ experience, Cairns supplies cakes for Waitrose, Selfridges, Harrods, Sainsbury’s and Le Bon Marché, Paris. Her new book, Seasonal Baking, published by W&N, is available now.

What are your most- and least-used pieces of kitchen kit?

There are two things I would say are my most used. One is my KitchenAid, because a lot of my recipes start in my home kitchen. It mixes, whisks and beats. The other thing I use every day is a very old-fashioned wooden lemon-squeezer. My least used is, sadly, my pasta machine, or my ice-cream machine. I don’t know if I should even admit to having a bread machine…

If you had only £10 to spend on food, where would you spend it and on what?

I would go into Leicester, where there are a couple of Indian shops I particularly like and £10 would go quite a long way. I like to cook Indian food and you could get quite a few things there, such as grains, rice, herbs and spices and put together many different meals.

What do you eat for comfort?

Porridge. I have it more or less every day for breakfast. I’m Scottish but I make it in a very un-Scottish way. The Scots make it very simply, but I make it with milk and water or sometimes just milk and then add berries or nuts or seeds or honey. Occasionally, if I really need some extra comfort, I put a little bit of cream in it – that to me is the ultimate comfort food.

If you could only eat either bread or potatoes for the rest of your life, which would you choose?

It would definitely be bread. I used to live in London and then moved up to the Midlands about 25 years ago and it was quite difficult to buy good bread. I used to bring bread back from my meetings in London. But we do have really wonderful bread from local bakeries up here.

What’s your desert island recipe?

Traditional Indian kedgeree. It’s basmati rice and lentils and it’s served with kadhi, which is like a spiced yogurt broth. It’s made with ghee, mustard seeds, cinnamon and turmeric. I have learned to call it ghee and not clarified butter because my husband’s Gujurati.

What’s your favourite restaurant?

The one that has the most memories for me is Hambleton Hall in Rutland because I used to work there and I still go there for special occasions. It hasn’t changed much over the years and I like that. The other is Bruce Poole’s Chez Bruce in Wandsworth. I really like his style of cooking. We went there with friends after the Royal Wedding in 2011.

What’s your favourite cookbook?

Keep it Simple, by Alastair Little, is the most worn book in my kitchen. Scallops with Thai spicy cabbage salad is a recipe from there that I love – it represents his style well.

Who taught you to cook?

My mother taught me how to make cakes. But the person who taught me most was Lyn Hall at the school La Petite Cuisine, and then Nick Gill, who was head chef at Hambleton Hall. It was the time of Nouvelle Cuisine in the early 1980s, and they were both very good teachers. Lyn instilled something within me. I am a perfectionist and I think I got it from her.

ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
Fans take a selfie with Ed Miliband in Kempston, near Bedford, on Tuesday
election 2015
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Guru Careers: Dining Room Head Chef

    £32K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Dining Room Head Chef to work for one of ...

    Guru Careers: Pastry Sous Chef / Experienced Pastry Chef

    £27K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pastry Sous Chef / Experienced Pastry Che...

    Ashdown Group: Technical IT Manager - North London - Growing business

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Supervisor

    £24800 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As one of London's leading Muse...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
    Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

    Flesh in Venice

    Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
    Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

    Juventus vs Real Madrid

    Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
    Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

    Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

    Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power