Gizzi Erskine shares her baking tips

Advice from ELLE's Fashion Bake Off judge


The lovely Gizzi Erskine was at ELLE HQ yesterday to judge the ELLE Fashion Bake Off and, while she was here, we asked her to share her top tips for flavourful fancies and avoiding a soggy bottom.

She may mince her meat but she certainly doesn’t mince her words…

1. Substance over style

‘Ultimately cake has to taste good, so that should be your primary focus, not what it looks like. If your cake is perfectly cooked and filled with something delicious then you’re onto a winner. So many of these cupcake businesses that have sprung up focus too much on the cakes looking great and then they have far too much icing – it’s disgusting!’


2. Start simple

‘If you’re a baking virgin, master your classic Victoria sponge. It’s a technically interesting because it’s all about even volumes between your flour, butter, sugar and eggs. Once you’ve mastered that you can experiment and look at how other countries do it, the American’s make really great whipped cakes.’

3. Get the science bit right

‘You can’t estimate with baking! It really is a science. If you’re doing general cooking you can add a bit of this and a bit of that, but with baking you need the basis of your cake to be perfect and that means precision. Then, boring as it sounds, you’ve got to get your method spot on. Fact is, to get a really light cake you need to get the air in, so beat it like mad. I’d always go for an electric whisk; you’re never going to get enough air in with just your guns.’


4. Know your ingredients

‘Butter has delicious flavor but sometimes you get more moisture from using olive oil so try different things. One of my biggest frustrations in baking is when you see chocolate cakes made with cocoa powder – chocolate cake should be made with chocolate! Likewise, if you’re going to have vanilla you need to use vanilla extract, not essence.’

5. Face your nemesis

‘Pastry is a bitch; it was my nemesis for such a long time. Now it’s the perfect poached eggs, I can’t stand them now because I’ve made so many recently. But it’s all about practice and that takes patience to keep trying until you get it right – it’s often tiny things but if you keep experimenting you’ll get there.’

So there you have it, all you need to become star baker in no time. And if you want to know how to satisfy your sweet tooth without turning into a pudding yourself, Gizzi’s latest book, Skinny Weeks and Weekend Feasts, follows the (brilliant) philosophy that a little of what you like won’t hurt you – good news with Christmas around the corner.

‘When it comes to Christmas, I say sod it. Enjoy yourself. I probably shouldn’t admit this but on Boxing Day I fry Christmas pudding and eat it with cream – it’s amazing. Then the New Year comes and I’m back to eating normally. It’s common sense really.’ We knew there was a reason we liked you Gizzi...

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