Monday, 28 December 2009

Christmas Culture

Avoiding crap repeat tele and decade list programmes has definitely been the order of Chrimbo 2009 so been culturing myself up the last few days. Watched the brilliant Eric Cantona in Looking for Eric followed by Spike Jonze's Adaptation, not so brilliant but entertaining none-the-less, on dvd and then today  hit the genius Ed Rushca at the Hayward followed by the awesome Pop Life at Tate Modern (thanks to Jeff Koons for the hardcore porn room, every gallery needs one). Both made me think I need to go west for inspiration so am planning a trip to California and New York very soon (maybe in time for Cochella hmmm?). But best bit of culture I've seen today comes from the ever brilliant New York Times.
Picturing the last 10 Years

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Candy Cakes

Look like a cross between a scene from Alice in Wonderland and a Christmas shroom session- taste scrumptious! If you're ever in the Goodge Street area of London check out Candy Cakes...

Saturday, 26 December 2009

We wish you a Cherry Christmas!

Once again been a while but I'm back, jobless and free! So expect more ramblings and even more cakes in the coming months you lucky the meantime in the true spirit of turkey and jesus we spent Christmas day at Sarchanar Kebab House on Edware Road (Paddington end), best Iraqi kebabs this side of Bagdad, and have to say what a top way to spend the day - food was yummy and no washing up!

We had some of this delicious bread for Boxing Day brekkie too!

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

He's behind you!

Apologies for the blog silence kids but life has taken some crazy twists and turns this last 10 days - anyway yes we did indeed spend last night at the panto Aladdin at the Hackeny Empire and oh my gosh what fun! Took my 4 year old goddaughter and her mate who had a riotously good time (well Lilah spent the whole evening staring at the stage with her mouth agape and Gracie just kept dancing and clapping and laughing randomly - ace!). Here's the dame from last night in a panto spoof about Hackney Empire not closing down.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Green is the colour

Well it seems that Copenhagen and the upcoming climate change summit really is the topic du jour as we attended the Green Awards on Wednesday night at LSO St Luke's. Whilst possibly not the most smoothly executed awards on the night, their heart is definitely in the right place as these awards are to celebrate green creative thinking within the media industry. Our favorite winner from the night was this from film company Green Thing, very Swedish chef from the Muppets!

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

A Christmas Shopping Extravaganza: Three Kings Pub, Clerkenwell Close

Come on down to the 3 Kings on the 29th November for a Christmas shopping bonanza! As well as our scrummy yummy cakes there will be stalls from the following:

As well as hand painted furniture by Carol Maxwell, homewares from Little Red Treacle, and handmade children's clothes from Kathryn Ann Barry and much more besides!

And the best pub in London will be open for the first time ever on a Sunday!

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Cakes & Copenhagen

Just got back from 4 days in what is soon to be the worlds first carbon neutral city...and what a feast we had! I had one of my top three lunches of all time on Monday - a Smorresbod selection of salmon, herring, roast beef and chicken, washed down with the best bottle of wine in the whole world ever, (A Christmann 2007 Blanc De Noirs, Spatburgunder, Pfalz - google it buy it and try it - our waiter had actually been picking the grapes for it only a few days before) and followed with a superb selection of Danish goats cheeses. Stumbled upon this cute little English afternoon tea place - shame it was closed!

And check out this beautiful cake and jewellery shop...I want to live here!

Twin Magazine launch party

Cherry on Top were at the fabulous launch party for new fashion and art magazine Twin last Thursday. With photos from Todd Selby and words on everything from punks to Chanel to Peter Blake this bi-annual looks beautiful and reads like a cross between the New Yorker and Vanity Fair. And it all the fun all took place in the deliciously named Biscuit Building! We made some yummy chocolate and vanilla cupcakes for this one...

The Flaming Lips, hotdogs and tings

Went to see the Flaming Lips at the Troxy (10 mins walk from my house!) last night. Fabulous. Fact. And when we all moaned a bit about how they haven't changed their act in ten years bla bla bla we got hit on the back of head by a bouncy balloon and all was fabulous again and we had a chilli dog to celebrate.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Down On The Farm

Feel the need to get out of the city? Get back to nature, give something back and blow the cobwebs away? A chance to don your designer wellies which are still caked in Glastonbury mud? What you need is a weekend WOOFFing (Willing Workers on Organic Farms, for those of you who don't know!  Which is exactly how myself and some lovely pals spent this weekend, there is nothing like a spot of log carrying and leaf mulching to clear a red wine headache I can tell you!

Our farm of choice was Lower Shaw Farm in Swindon, last year's winner of Best Organic Garden in The Observer Ethical Awards. . It really is a fantastic place, run not for profit, it hosts numerous activity weekends - yoga, dance, jewellery etc as a community centre where kids get the play with the animals and learn how farms work. Owners Matt and Andrea are passionate about their work as well as being wonderful, interesting and entertaining hosts.

The work itself was kind of repetative - moving piles of logs, gathering leaves, cleaning buckets and sorting out a greenhouse. I couldn't bring myself to pluck and gut the chickens although some of my fellow wooffer's were frighteningly keen - FREAKS!. Still any monotony was more than made up for by the well earned tea breaks with endless home-made cakes and red wine around the bonfire complete with fire juggling display by the owners son. The food was all fantastic, my personal favourite the lemon and apple, cinammon cake which I informed came mainly from Cranks cookbook, I am getting me one of them!

Wellies have returned to their rightful place under the stairs for now but thoroughly enjoyed their airing!

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

If I were a Rich Man: yebedebedebedebedebededum

My Kenwood Multipro food processor arrived today. Excitement beyond my wildest dreams! Especially since I found it on this site used only once for £75 when they retail in John Lewis at £299. When it came into the office it reminded me of that scene in Fiddler on the Roof when Motel the tailer gets a new sewing machine and everyone was crowding round ooooing and ahhhhing! Watch this space for recipes and videos of me using my new gadget very soon.

An Education

I went to see this beautiful film at my local cinema, Mile End Genesis last night, and what fun we had for Monday...

Started off the night with a curry at Needoo, which is being dubbed by those in the know (well me and Jay Rayner actually) as the new Tayyabs (its the brainchild of a former Tayyabs employer), and I have to say it surpassed all expectations.

We ordered a typically Tayyabs order, lambchops, chicken tikka, fish tikka, tarka dahl, a roti and paratha and boy oh boy! Get yerselfs down sharpish there cause the food was scrumptious, there were no Tayyabs queues and it came to a tenner.

Now Jay reckon in his Observer piece that the lambchops in Needoo(ooooooooo) were the only things that didn't quite hit the mark but I have to say ours were truly delish and it was the breads that were slightly under par but am still licking my lips just thinking about them now!

And then onto the film (and some Divine chocolate from the Genesis - Rio Cinema eat your heart out) and if it wasn't for the fact that I still smelt slightly of tandoori grill I would have been transported back to a very stylish and middle class 1960s. This film is stunning looking, the clothes, the hair, the houses, the cars, the battenburg cake- everything. I wanted to go home and redecorate immediately (and make some battenburg!). And it was a great entertaining story with a fab soundtrack to boot. Made me rethink my opinions of both Nick Hornby and Emma Thompson. And that ain't no mean feat.

Also made me want to read Lynn Barber's memoirs, especially as when I went home and googled her I read that she had spent this year's Venice Biennale hanging out with Ronnie Wood and Tracy Emin at 'an endless succession of lavish drunken parties' - a woman after my own heart!

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Art Attack Pt 2 (a posting soon to be better known as Graham Coxon ate my cupcake!)

Another week of culture although less high art and more rock n roll. Tuesday night at the National we went to see Fiona Shaw in Brecht's Mother Courage. Now I know this is going to make me sound like a bit of a wanker but I did my disseration on Brecht and I reckon why mess with a formula that works? They rocked up the play too much to try and modernize it when it would have been just as powerful if they'd set it as it was written. Fiona Shaw, who was awesome in it by the way, was dressed like a Vivienne Westwood model and kept jumping around on stage like a member of the Who singing Muse-like anthems - bizarre. Still great play and great acting and the brownies at the National are well yummy!

But then last night - wowwwwweeeee- Graham Coxon ate my cupcake! It was a night in the 3 Kings pub in Clerkenwell (best pub in London), a fund raiser for MSF specifically for their work in Iraq with children who have suffered injuries in the war, and the brilliant Robin Hitchcock doing the Beatles' Abbey Road with Graham Coxon on electric guitar. As it happens MSF first started their great work in 1969 the same year that the Beatles recorded Abbey Road. And what with it being Halloween and all  I thought I'd make these Pumpkin and Ginger Cupcakes and check out the big smile on Graham's face!

Pumpkin Ginger Cupcakes
175g stem or glace ginger
175g molasses sugar
200g unsalted butter
2 eggs
250 pumpkin or butternut squash
200g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp all spice
1/2 tsp of ground clove
1/2 tsp cinnamon
125g chopped pecans
200g icing sugar
125g cream cheese

Chop 125g of the ginger. Beat the sugar and 125g of the butter then beat the eggs in one at a time. Stir in the pumpkin and the ginger then the sifted slour, baking power and spices, add the nuts and mix it all up!
Bake in a muffin tray with muffin papers at 170c fan assisted for 25 mins. Mix the icing sugar with the remaining ginger, butter and cream cheese and ice when cool.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Beauty and the Beast

I had my gorgeous goddaughter Lilah's christening yesterday which I spent most of Saturday making a ladybird cake (pink because she's obsessed with it).

Looked a bit more like a turtle (on acid apparently) as her dad was quick to point out but went down a treat. I used a chocolate cake recipe ala hedgehog cake style (baked in the oven in a pyrex bowl) and then pink frosting, giant chocolate buttons and matchsticks for tentacles!

Check out the pink monster version I also made for my friends' CJ and Nicky's birthdays!

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Raw is More!

Fantastic meal out with the lovely ladies last night. Saf on Curtain Road, the mainly raw, vegan restaurant. Who knew that healthy food could be this good. A literal taste sensation and a visual feast - every dish looked and tasted fantastic.
The unanimous favourite being the Raw Pad Thai, although my raw lasagne was a close second. The accompanying cocktails really were the icing on the cake, so fresh, so delicious, so beautifully decorated, so strong! Still not entirely comfortable with the nut cheese however!

So it got us to thinking, maybe it is time to make some of our own raw cakes, this recipe looks delicious, We will, of course be supplementing the goji berrys with fresh cherrys!

Raw Purple Iced Fruit Cake
200g almonds
150g dates
100g dried apricots
150g raisins
150g sultanas
2 teaspoons mixed spice
75g purple corn flour
75g lucuma powder
75g coconut butter
75g coconut butter
40g lucuma powder

4 level teaspoons purple corn extract
handful goji berries to decorate
1.Put almonds, dates and apricots into a food processor with the S-blade and process until all of the ingredients are broken down and start to form a dough that holds together.
2.Rinse the raisins and sultanas (it will help them stick to the dough), drain and put into a large bowl with the processed almonds, dates and apricots. Mix together until they are spread evenly throughout the dough.
3.Melt the coconut butter in a porringer or bowl over a pan on hot water.
4.Sieve the lucuma powder and mix with the purple corn flour and melted coconut butter, mix together to form a paste.
5.Add the paste to the large bowl of dried fruit/almond mixture and continue mixing until it is all a uniform colour.
6.Press the mixture into little silicon muffin trays - this will make 22-24 little cakes. Alternatively, you could make one or two large cakes in a large silicon cake mould, or even a glass or ceramic one, although you might need to keep it in there and cut slices from it.
7.You can either ice them straight away and refrigerate, or you could dehydrate them for a few hours and then ice and refrigerate. These are great eaten cold from the fridge, at room temperature or even warm without icing straight from the dehydrator!
8.To ice, lightly soften the coconut butter until it is soft but not completely liquid, by gently warming and then beating. Add sieved lucuma powder and purple corn extract (7:1) and mix together.
9.Ice cakes and decorate with goji berries before the icing sets.
10.Once they have set you can remove the cakes from the silicon trays - they pop out easily. It you have used a glass or ceramic dish just keep the cake in there.
11. Store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week.

Check out this and more at

Sunday, 18 October 2009

We heart the 80s

and  it ain't just the return of 80s fashion we're loving...remember these? (and no lies we know you'd love to be chomping your way through any of these right now)

Chocolate Mousse
Raspberry Pavlova
Missippi Mud Pie
Flourless Chocolate Cake (I actually had this at Acorn House on Wednesday and it was stunning)
Creme Brulee
Chocolate Fondue

and our favorite of course -
anything with a glace cherry on top!

Art attack

Its been a week of culture (well by some standards). Started with the launch private view of the Beatles to Bowie 60s icons, National Portrait Gallery where I spent my way round this brilliant exhibition singing my own chronological soundtrack to the exhibition (why didn't they do that? - that really would've been the cherry on top of the icing on the cake). Got chatting to Mike Joseph the photographer who took the shot for the front cover of Beggar's Banquet, him and his wife had travelled round Iraq in 1964 so seem to take a shine to me, and it seems that shoot really was as debauched as it looked. 

Next night a visit to the Rio Cinema for the new Shane Meadows Le Donk & Scor-zay-zee. Everyone please please go see this! its absolutely hilarious and Paddy Consadine takes comedy to another level. Kebab from Mangal (fav of Gilbert & George it seems as was sat next to them last time I was there) Green&Black's choccie (good thinking pals at Rio) and crying laughter = top night out.

From there to the Frieze Art Fair private view next night which if you haven't been is worth just for the people watching. Fat ugly Russian business men with young skinny blonde models, Chanel-suited plastic-surgery-gone-wrong talon nailed European dames, Grayson Perry and our new favorite drink, Bourbon with Appletise, made it a night out to remember. The art however was redolent of a phrase I once heard someone mention on a bus in Hackney - 'My art has gotten loads better since I stopped making it'...riiiiiiiighhhhht...

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Couture cakes

Cherry On Top made its inaugural appearance this Saturday at our favourite vintage shop - Shock and Soul, recently moved to its grand new home on Essex Road Islington (next to the Old Queens Head). Fantastic frocks and yummy cakes in one hit - what could be finer!!

Join us there on Saturday afternoons

Hot favourite this week - lemon cupcakes with cream cheese lemon icing.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Seinfeld: Uncurbed!

Wooooohooooo! If anything was gonna cheer up the onslaught of winter blues its was surely only to be news of a last ever ever Seinfeld reunion - on Curb! All four of them AND Larry in some vain attempt to win back the amazing Cheryl - I can only imagine what banale brilliance might take place but it really doesn't get better than this in my book - thanks Larry... 

Series 7 started cross the water already but watch this space for any sneak previews as they happen and check out this spoof Seinfeld reunion I found on the dailytube - kinda genius... 

This news calls for celebration so if you come down to our cake stall on Essex road N1 on Saturday for a joint wax lyrical we'll do the opposite of the soup nazi and give you one of our delicious blueberry victoria sponge cupcakes for free!

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

I'm new here

Three words...Gil. Scott. Heron.

January 2010

Check out the preview of the new album here:

I'll be making these Lady Grey (and John Coltrane) madelienes for that one.

Cake recipe by Sarah Leahey Benjamin: Lady grey tea and honey madeleines


70g (2¾oz) unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
2 tbsp loose Lady Grey tea, or contents of 2 tea bags
100g (3½oz) plain flour,
plus extra for dusting
½ tsp baking powder
pinch of sea salt
2 large eggs
70g (2¾oz) sugar
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp grated orange zest

Line a small sieve with two layers of damp cheesecloth and set over a small bowl. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over a low heat.

Mix in the tea leaves. Swirl the pan to disperse them, leave to stand for 10 minutes, then pour through the sieve. Twist the cheesecloth tightly to release the tea-flavoured butter into the bowl.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt into a medium-sized bowl. Using an electric mixer beat the eggs and sugar together until thick, light and fluffy – about four minutes. Add the honey, vanilla and orange zest and beat for a further minute. Gently fold in the dry ingredients by hand, followed by the tea-flavoured butter. Press clingfilm directly on to the surface of the batter and chill for at least three hours or up to a day. This is essential to allow the flavours to develop.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6. Thoroughly grease a madeleine tin that has 12 indentations, each measuring 7 x 5cm (3 x 2in). Dust with flour and tap out the excess. Place the tin on a baking-sheet. Drop a scant tablespoon of batter into each mould. (Don’t worry about smoothing it, as it will spread during baking.) Place on the middle shelf of the oven and bake until the madeleines are golden – about 10 minutes.

A skewer inserted into the centre should come out clean. Quickly tap the madeleine tin on the work surface to loosen the cakes before turning them on to a wire rack to cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Two Wheel Trauma

I decided it is time to face my fear of the traffic and learn to cycle in London!
This, I predict, will require perseverance courage and patience (mainly for my teacher).

Lesson number one saw me cycling from the Essex Road home via Shoreditch, through the busy streets of Bethnal Green and back along the canal. Sure it was a wobbly start - numerous apologies to fellow two cyclists Boldfor my sudden, warning free halts, a couple of near misses through inability to co-ordinate head turning and balance and the odd screech at pedestrians who made the fatal error of assuming I would give them right of way. Still, I made it home, unscathed and without swallowing any canal water - this, I deem a resounding success!

Along the way stopped in at SCP and ogled the many design pieces I covet:
Items I covet:
number 1:
Marcel Wanders Skygarden Light
number 2:
Bent wood chairs by Michael Thonet
number 3:
Drysdale modular Sofa system

All of which will be perfect in either of my dream homes in Provence on London!

Sunday Funday

A Sunday with no plans, the perfect opportunity to potter!

Woke up with a breakfast craving for muffins so whipped up a batch of Delia's finest banana and cinnamon, accompanied by fresh berries, a large pot of tea and the Sunday paper - perfect!

A big fan of red velvet cupcakes, but slightly put off by the alarming quantities of food colouring required, I decided to go down the more natural route of beetroot puree as dye. Granted, there was as much beetroot over the kitchen as in the cake but the results over all - pretty good! Slightly more earthy flavour and a much more dense and moist texture (not dissimilar to carrot). Topped with the two tone chocolate and vanilla cream cheese icing, they were happily wolfed with a cuppa at Aida's.