== Cupcake Magic ==

By Kate Shirazi, published by Pavilion

Kate Shirazi apparently moved to Devon in 2006 "looking for a slower pace of life", so the obvious choice was to become a baker(!).

Clearly not wasting any time, having quickly established her online business Cakeadoodledo, she’s already come up with a tome on cupcake making.

Subtitled ’little cakes with attitude’, the chapters are split into low-faff, mid-faff and high-faff, clearly aimed at the home baker. But there are some interesting ideas on the savoury side, from ricotta and smoked salmon cupcakes (if you like that sort of thing), to bacon and egg cupcakes (ditto...).

There are also ethical brownie points earned in urging people to pay more thought towards the eggs they use. Shirazi keeps her own chickens recovered from battery farms, but rather than give them a holiday, she puts them back to work churning out eggs for her cakes (but in a free-range environment).

This is all conveyed in Shirazi’s distinctively chummy tone that may grate with the gruff cynics among you. But at least she’s not afraid to ruffle a few feathers, firstly confessing to preferring margarine over butter for the cakes, and then proposing an unfashionably irreverent defence of lurid artificial colouring.

"Think of the possibilities of harnessing the energies from a small child in the throes of a colour-induced frenzy of hyperactivity," she writes.

"I may have solved one of the eco-conundrums of our time."

And you can’t really ask more than that from a book about cupcakes.