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.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Voices
Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and David Cameron appeal to the audience during the Question Time special
voices
Sport
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
News
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
Sport
football
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’
tvThe Enfield Haunting, TV review
News
The Mattehorn stands reflected in Leisee lake near Sunnegga station on June 30, 2013 near Zermatt, Switzerland
news
News
Michelle Dockery plays Lady Mary in Downton Abbey
peopleBut who comes top of the wish list?
News
Miriam Gonzalez Durantez, right, with Lib Dem candidate Jane Dodds in Newtown, Powys, as part of her tour in support of the party’s female candidates
general electionNick Clegg's wife has impressed during the campaign
  • 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

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Supervisor

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

    Recruitment Genius: Centre Manager

    £14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Guru Careers: Accountant

    £28 - 45k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Accountant is needed to take control of the ...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Assistant Manager

    £18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This hotel in Chadderton is a p...

    Day In a Page

    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
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living