Tilly Pamment – The Plain Cake Appreciation Society

Published by Murdoch Books, an imprint of Allen & Unwin, Australia, 2023
Design Manager and illustrations by Kristy Allen
Designers Trisha Garner and Susanne Geppert
Photography, recipes and styling by Tilly Pamment

Tilly Pamment’s cake cookbook is a beautifully produced work of art with her elegantly styled photographs of every cake, variously accompanied by flowers, fabrics, covetable ceramics and baking paraphernalia.

Barbie speaks to Tilly Pamment about The Plain Cake Appreciation Society

The pastels and neutrals of the palette present an air of calm and gentleness, comfortable domesticity and simplicity. Full marks for design and layout.

As well, and importantly for a cookbook, the well tried and much tested recipes are accessible to the home cook, mostly simple to make, but also attractive to the eye – and we all know we eat with our eyes too. I am a very basic cake cook but I have so far tried three or four of the cakes and all were deemed delicious, if not quite as stylish in appearance as Tilly’s!

The book is arranged seasonally with cakes suited to the weather and human cravings for each time of the year. The flowers in the photographs are also seasonally selected and match both the colour schemes and nature of each cake.

For example, Passionfruit Swiss Roll (p. 56 to p. 59) features vibrant yellow broom flowers (I think), green edged napiery and cut lemons in the first photograph and then a whole vibrant page of cut passionfruits in the second.

And for tea lovers each cake is flavour matched as one would a wine with a main course. Bliss!

The author’s sunny personality shines from each recipe, with chatty introductory notes giving a back story or handy hints along with encouragement to cooks to ‘give it a try’. The recipes range from the hearty wintery treats of Sunken Chocolate Cake or Apricot, Cardamon and Chocolate Cake to the summery Citrus Madeleines with their light lemon glaze – and all stops in between.

For those who just like to read their cookbooks, this one will be a pleasure with its orderly and clear layout and its artistic flair. For those who actually cook, it provides an opportunity to make 52 cakes to suit the climatic variations of a year or simply your own whim. And the fact that we know that Tilly’s children have been some of her first tasters assures us that everything in the book is family friendly, whilst also being showstopper-worthy for grown up guests.

Incidentally, Tilly and I were agreed that Charlie Mackesy’s mole was spot on with his favourite saying: ‘If at first you don’t succeed, have some cake,’ (Charlie Mackesy: The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse, Penguin Random House UK 2022).

Thank you to Murdoch Books/Allen & Unwin for my review copy and to Tilly for chatting with me about the process of creating this book and the cakes in it – and the way we can express love and care through cakes.