Cookbook review: Mary Berry’s fast cakes

Queen of baking Mary Berry offers of a whole stash of speedy recipes in her latest collection.

Need a cake in a hurry? Mary Berry will have a recipe for that – guaranteed.

Arguably the nation’s most beloved food writer, this is a revised version of the former Great British Bake Off presenter’s 1981 original. Packed with snappy instructions and cakes to rely on, here’s our verdict on the updated collection…

The book: Fast Cakes by Mary Berry

Who will love it? Firstly, kids – there’s a whole section dedicated to child-friendly bakes (the jelly tot cakes are particularly adorable, while the bright pink coconut ice is such a doddle, kids won’t even need supervising to make it). Then it’ll appeal to people who need cake and need it now – most of the recipes only take 10-15 minutes to prep.

What is it trying to get us cooking? Classic cakes, in all their forms – from coffee and walnut and banana loaves, to decadent chocolate fudge cakes – as well as biscuits, scones, fruit breads, buns and pastries. Basically, sweet stuff that requires an oven.

How easy is it to use? Extremely easy. The whole point of this book is to help you whip up bakes at speed, so by necessity, they aren’t complicated, use few ingredients (that you can get at every supermarket) and are laid out one recipe to a page. It’s designed so neatly, in fact, that it’s practically impossible to miss a step or misunderstand an instruction. The only downside is, there isn’t a picture of every bake, so for some, you’re baking blind, so to speak.

The best recipe is… The lemon drizzle traybake, an oldie but a goodie, it’s easy to scoff an entire tray solo in a single sitting.

The recipe we’re most likely to post pictures of on Instagram is… The baked alaska birthday cake; mountains of singed whipped meringue and sparklers? Let the likes roll in.

The recipe we’re least likely to try is… The chocolate cream fingers, because they’re essentially Bourbon biscuits, and in our opinion, it’s tough to improve on a Bourbon biscuit straight from the packet.

Overall rating: 7 – if you’re a beginner baker, it’s perfect; if you’re more experienced, you’re unlikely to be wowed, even though they are speedy recipes.

Here’s how to make Mary Berry’s Honey and Almond cake:

(Serves 6)

• 150g baking spread, from fridge
• 100g light muscovado sugar
• 2tbsp runny honey
• 3 large eggs
• 150g self-raising flour
• 50g ground almonds
• 2tbsp milk
• 1tsp almond extract

For the filling and topping:

• 100g butter, softened
• 2tbsp runny honey
• 1/2tsp almond extract
• 150g icing sugar, sifted
• 50g flaked almonds, toasted


1. Preheat the oven to 160°C/Fan 140°C/Gas 3. Grease a 17.5cm deep cake tin and line the base with non-stick baking paper.

2. Measure all the ingredients for the cake into a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until well-blended and smooth.

3. Turn the mixture into the tin, level the top and bake in the preheated oven for 45-55 minutes, or until well-risen and the tops of the cakes spring back when lightly pressed with a finger.

4. Leave to cool in the tin for about 10 minutes, then turn out, remove the paper and finish cooling on a wire rack.

5. To make the filling and topping, measure the butter, honey, almond extract and icing sugar into a bowl, and mix well until thoroughly blended.

6. Slice the cake in half horizontally and sandwich together with half of the icing. Coat the sides of the cake with half of the remaining icing and roll in some toasted almonds so that the sides are evenly coated. Use the remaining icing to cover the top of the cake then sprinkle with the remaining almonds.

Fast Cakes by Mary Berry is published by Headline Home, priced £26. Photography Georgia Glynn Smith. Available June 14.