Carol Johnston Wild Walnut Cafe Lawrence.
Photo by Helena de Reus.
Why and how did you become a chef?
I've always baked, and enjoyed baking. In 1999 I was asked to
cook at the Wild Walnut, and here I am, 13 years later.
Biggest professional challenge?
Cake decorating is the hardest thing, but so far I've been
able to pass the buck. Sometimes it can be a rush to make
enough cakes to fill orders. At the moment we're making
Christmas cake after Christmas cake.
Lemon. It's not too sweet and it's not too sour. I love using
lemon curd or lemon as a flavouring in muffins.
Best cooking tip?
Cream your butter and sugar properly. It's a simple step but
it makes all the difference in any recipe.
What type of food do you like to eat?
Savoury. I make a pinwheel savory scone which I quite enjoy -
it has pesto, smoked chicken, garlic, and cream cheese.
Who cooks at home?
It has to be a roast, probably a roast chicken with all the
Favourite kitchen gadget?
Kenwood Chef, the bigger the better. I use it all the time.
It's a real time saver and saves your hands and arms.
How have people's tastes changed/latest food trends?
It's never really changed as far as baking goes - everyone
still comes back to the old favourites. They can taste the
difference between packet baking and home-made.
Battle of TV cooks Gordon Ramsay or Jamie Oliver?
Gordon Ramsay. Jamie Oliver makes more practical dishes but
seems to throw things together, but Gordon Ramsay seems to
have a much better method.
Dundee cake (Peter's special
Makes two 20cm cakes
½ cup sherry
rind of one lemon
1 cups brown sugar
250g butter, softened
1 tbsp treacle
2 cups flour
½ tsp ground allspice
½ tsp cardamom
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp cloves
½ tsp coriander
½ tsp nutmeg
Two days before the cake is made, place fruit in plastic bag
with sherry, turning every now and then.
Beat butter until fluffy, add sugar, treacle, lemon rind, and
Add eggs one at a time with a tablespoon of the measured
flour between each.
Mix the rest of the flour and spices with the fruit in a
Add the floured fruit mixture into the mixer and beat slowly
until well blended.
Divide mixture into two 20cm spring-form tins lined with
Decorate with whole almonds and cherries.
Bake for 1½ hours at 125°degC on lower rack, then for another
2½ hours at 100°degC with cakes covered in brown paper.
Dribble 1/8 cup of sherry over each
cake while hot.
When cool, wrap in a brown paper bag to store.