cake stories


Every cake I bake has a story to tell – of the dairy farmer up at dawn to send me fresh, creamy milk and butter, the happy chickens scratching in the morning mist laying beautiful golden eggs, the wheat farmer eating breakfast knowing he has a long, hot day of harvesting stretching out before him, drawing on a lifetime of experience that tells him the grain is ripe. Now it’s my turn – to call on my lifelong love of baking, and with these wonderful ingredients and the magical alchemy that is baking, turn them into delicious cakes for all to enjoy.

I didn’t grow up surrounded by abundance. But I learnt early about the importance for our wellbeing of fresh food and its availability. My parents’ childhoods and youth fell between the Great Depression and two world wars. Many people were starving. Any piece of earth that could be turned, a handful of seeds that had been squirrelled away broadcast over it, represented life. Out of this poverty came a deep respect and understanding of the seasons and provenance, the value of uncontaminated land for our survival. We were city people but knew the real national treasures were those who produced food in a way that cared for the land.

Our lifestyles have changed and the way we consume seems to be to our own detriment. But deep down I think we all care about these things, because they’re something worth caring about. Freshly churned butter and fresh cream and eggs are things of value and to be appreciated. Golden grain, grown from seed that hasn’t been tampered with, it’s roots deep in dark, alluvial soils alive with organic matter, are to be coveted. Rest assured, they will continue their story through my cakes.

no comments



vintage picnics gillian bell

vintage picnics gillian bell

Do you like to picnic? I’ve always loved picnics. Proper ones, that is. Where the basket is overflowing, its bounty wrapped in some cheery print.

My Swallows & Amazons vintage-style picnics is a nod back to the picnics of my childhood – full of adventure, sticky buns and tea. Where plots were planned lying on your back staring into the dappled-green canopy overhead, opening small parcels of food from a creaking hamper was as exciting as Christmas morning, and food tasted better beside a river.

My vintage-style picnics provide you with all the picnicware you need to have yourself a proper picnic from the past, with hampers, dainty plates, Thermos’ flasks, blankets and transistor radios. And what’s to eat? Well, you can choose from a menu that’s full of home-baked tarts and pies, soup and sausage rolls, fresh sandwiches, sticky buns, biscuits, scones and cakes, jellies and puddings, iced teas, homemade cordials and lemonades. Oh, and of course, a Thermos full of piping hot tea or coffee. Everything you need for a splendid day out!

Email for more information http://www.gillianbellcake.com.au/contact-us/


vintage picnics gillian bell

vintage picnics gillian bell



no comments


yellow roses the colour of sunshine

Dawn arrived on tiptoe this morning, through soft rain. But the rain can’t dampen the promise of the day ahead.

Miss F and Mr S are getting married today and their yellow rose petal cake, the colour of sunshine, symbolises all the joy and optimism and love that will fill their day.

They chose a two tier lemon cake, in ivory fondant, wrapped in soft organza and scattered with sugar rose petals. Each petal is made by hand and individually coloured.

“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate”.

My very best wishes to you both. yellow roses

yellow roses

no comments


I love a good picnic

The rat… appeared staggering under a fat, wicker luncheon basket.  “Shove that under your feet, he observed to the Mole, as he passed it down into his boat…

“What’s inside it?” asked the Mole  wriggling with curiosity. 

“There’s cold chicken inside it” replied the Rat briefly,   “Cold chicken, cold tongue, cold ham, cold beef, pickled gherkin, salad french rolls, cress sandwiches, potted meat, ginger beer, lemonade – soda water.”

“O stop, stop!” cried the Mole in ecstasies.*     

I love picnics. Something tasty to eat wrapped in pastry (which always tastes better outdoors), lying on a picnic rug staring up at the land of clouds or reading a good book, sticky cakes in tins and thermos flasks of tea.

Today is the perfect day for a picnic and I wouldn’t mind Ratty and Moles’ spread. But every picnic needs a cake, which their picnic hamper is decidedly lacking. Not a fancy one mind, but the sort that will stand up to the journey – the packing of the car or the crush of the rucksack. No, it needs to be a solid, dependable one that reassures you the moment you lift the lid of the tin that it has arrived in one piece and looking as good as if you had served it at home. So I think a sticky date and walnut loaf is in order. Buttered or not, whichever way you prefer. And I’m going to make a traditional egg and bacon pie that I can cut into big wedges when we get there and serve it with ripe tomatoes, simply sliced open and sprinkled with fresh mint and sea salt.


*From The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham

no comments


for Doreen

My friend R lost her mum Doreen to cancer this past year.

When I first knew R she told me about her love for jam drops and how her mum made the best jam drops in the whole world.  One day I baked R some jam drops which she said were delicious but they weren’t hard and crunchy like her mum’s. R likes her jam drops crunchy. I puzzled about what was in Doreen’s jam drops that brought my friend such pleasure. Of course, it was love. And probably some cornflour. jam drops cookies

To my dear friend R, Doreen will always make the best jam drops in the world. That’s just as it should be. But I have made you another batch, hoping they are crunchier, in memory of Doreen, and the love of a daughter for her mum and her jam drops.

jam drops cookies

jam drops cookies

no comments

Back to top