“A cake should be a feast for the eyes and a memory for the palate.” Celebrated cake baker Mich Turner utters these words with all seriousness, knowing that cakes should be equal parts attractive and delicious.
After all, Britain’s “Cake Maker to the Stars” (actor Pierce Brosnan calls her the “Michelangelo of cakes”) is a trained food scientist who spent her early years in baking overseeing Marks and Spencer’s Christmas cake production followed by a stint as bakery and patisserie buyer at Harvey Nichols, the famous luxury department store in London.
In 1999 she left Harvey Nichols to start her own London bakery shop, Little Venice Cake Company, which ultimately became one of England’s most acclaimed cake stores. Turner’s award-winning designs and celebrity clientele include Her Majesty The Queen, Madonna, Ozzy Osbourne, Gordon Ramsay and David Beckham. Turner recently appeared at the Americas Cake Fair in Orlando, Florida, where she entertained a packed crowd by preparing a recipe for Skinnylicious Vanilla Cake from her new book, “Have Your Cake and Eat It.”
“This vanilla cake uses eggs, sugar and flour with no fat at all,” she says. “It is wonderfully light and aerated. Remember that if you’re reducing fat, you have to complement by adding lots of flavor.”
She’s a big fan of Nielsen-Massey vanilla and, in this recipe, uses vanilla bean paste to whisk with superfine sugar and eggs in a heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. She whisks until the sugar dissolves and reaches a temperature of 104-113 F. Then she removes the mixture from heat and transfers to an electric mixer where she whisks at maximum speed for 15 minutes until the batter cools and thickens to triple in size.
“I love using Nielsen-Massey vanilla. They take the vanilla bean and put it into a gel paste, which makes it really easy to use,” Turner tells the crowd. “If you’ve got warm eggs with the vanilla bean paste, you’re going to create a mousse-like substance.”
For the next step, she sprinkles all-purpose flour a little at a time, gently folding into the mixture to avoid activating the gluten in the flour.
“You want a batter that’s fluffy with a mousse-like texture,” she says. After baking “I typically spread with a fresh fruit compote and Italian meringue.”
Turner believes that consumers today are looking for lower fat dessert options, but that doesn’t mean you can afford to skimp on the flavor.
“As a qualified food scientist and nutritionist,” Turner says, “I am a firm believer in using quality ingredients to create totally indulgent cakes. I like to combine this with an understanding of the chemistry of the cakes to showcase intricate hand craftsmanship to create cakes of exceptional quality.”
Among her many accolades, Tuner was named Harper’s Bazaar & CHANEL Entrepreneur of the Year in 2006, and in 2009 her company was listed in the Walpole Luxury Brands of Tomorrow.
In 2010, Turner received a prestigious MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) for her services to the catering industry. She is also recognized as a Satin Ice Artist of Excellence and a brand ambassador for Create and Craft.
Since founding Little Venice Cake Company almost 20 years ago, she has created more than 10,000 bespoke cakes for celebrity, private and corporate occasions, as well as television, film and media.
The designs are bespoke, contemporary and classic, focusing on breathtaking intricate handcraftsmanship combined with totally indulgent cakes. They work with London’s most prestigious hotels and the UK’s leading event and party organizers.
In 2015, the company launched its first franchise in Kuwait. Servicing the Middle East, exclusive boutiques are planned for other areas.
Little Venice Cake Company has a global range of professional quality, cake and decorating tools, with key retailers including Lakeland and House of Fraser in the United Kingdom, Jo-Ann and Walmart in the US, and online with Amazon.com.
In addition to hosting cake demonstrations, judging competitions internationally and her frequent TV appearances as a judge on the successful Britain’s Best Bakery, Turner is a successful writer and the author of six bestselling books.