Extras
 

There's still time to snap up a crafty gift for Christmas that will look great and keep little ones busy in the holidays

Katy Holland: Raising money for schools and not a cremated muffin in sight

Are we there yet? An innovative new holiday club

Baking Cakes in Kigali, By Gaile Parkin

At the heart of this African novel is Angel Tungaraza, a Tanzanian woman who has recently moved to Rwanda with her husband Pius and their five orphaned grandchildren. Menopausal and putting on weight, she is an enthusiastic baker of delicious, brightly-iced cakes, which she sells to friends and neighbours. But Baking Cakes in Kigali is not simply a warm story of family life and friendship. For it is set six years after Rwanda's genocide of 1994 – "those hundred days while violence was tearing this country to pieces like a chicken on a plate".

Dense beetroot and chocolate cake

Makes one medium-sized cake

Bites: The key to seduction: a good soufflé

While Gordon Ramsay ponders the fall-out from his latest brush with the red-tops, TV world ushers in a new chef du jour. Eric Lanlard, the expletive-free protégé of Albert Roux, who's baked for the Beckhams and Madonna, has just bagged his first series, Glamour Puds (on Discovery), where he lures the ladies with gingerbread soufflés.

Minor British Institutions: Rock cakes

Like one or two other of our small but much loved institutions, the rock cake seems to have crumbled away a little lately, almost unnoticed. It does seems a long time since they were a common sight, now supplanted perhaps by those US-style muffins that landed in the mid-Eighties.

Fancy restaurants are going to the wall. Could this be the perfect time to open a tearoom?

Orange Pekoe: 3 White Hart Lane, London SW13, tel: 020 8876 6070

Cut a slice of the action: Cake makers' creations can be wedding show-stoppers

When the pop singer Gareth Gates married Suzanne Mole this year, one feature that stood out, apart from the grins on their faces, was the huge five-tier cake: a heady combintation of chocolate, Bailey's truffle, lemon cake, carrot cake and champagne truffle. While much is made in the Hello!-world of wedding dresses and venues, often the cake gets gobbled down and not a word more is said.

The Ten Best Cupcakes

Chow down on our selection of scrumptious cupcakes.

Cupcake wars: Celebrity favourite Sprinkles launches a legal bid to lick the competition

They are America's biggest food craze since gourmet coffee. Now frosted cupcakes have cemented their standing as a staple of the national diet – by tapping into the business community's insatiable appetite for legal disputes.

Swinton takes on Cannes with cup cakes and Scottish rain

When Tilda Swinton announced plans for a film festival in her home town of Nairn in north-east Scotland, she said she wanted it to be the antithesis of the glitz and glamour of Cannes. As it opened yesterday, the Highland weather was doing its bit to help. "I did a rain dance last night and it seems to have worked. What better place to be on a rainy August afternoon than in a cinema?" she said.

M&S takes biscuit: teacakes cost Treasury £3.5m

The humble chocolate teacake cost the Treasury £3.5 million today. That's the price of a VAT mistake which classified Marks & Spencer teacakes as chocolate biscuits.

The Old Country, By Sam North

What is it with the English aristocracy? There are far more deserving objects for our compassion, yet Sam North's masterly creation, Lord Woodford – a self-centred, bristle-moustached, scarlet-faced, alcoholic aristo who's never done a day's work in his life – milks the reader's sense of pathos until it hurts. And makes you laugh at the same time.

Dark chocolate cake

This cake is probably the easiest dessert in the world to make; it simply requires good-quality chocolate. It is exceptionally dark and rich – with no added sugar. The smallest slice is all you need.

Close-up: Claire Ptak

Chez Panisse couldn't hold on to this pastry chef. Can east London do better?

Driver who ate alcoholic cake will be banned

A woman who claimed she had eaten Christmas cake laced with whisky is facing a drink-driving ban after a High Court ruling yesterday.

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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there