Love for baking led to long-standing role at Wild Walnut Cafe

Photo by Helena de Reus.
Photo by Helena de Reus.
Carol Johnston Wild Walnut Cafe Lawrence.


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.

Favourite ingredient?

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?


Favourite meal?

It has to be a roast, probably a roast chicken with all the trimmings.

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 cake)
Makes two 20cm cakes


500g sultanas
500g raisins
500g currants
½ cup sherry
rind of one lemon
1 cups brown sugar
250g butter, softened
1 tbsp treacle
5 eggs
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 beat again.

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 large bowl.

Add the floured fruit mixture into the mixer and beat slowly until well blended.

Divide mixture into two 20cm spring-form tins lined with baking paper.

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.

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