Learn How to Bake Dessert From a British Royal Chef

Carolyn Robb’s new book lends tips for even the least experienced cooks

If you’ve ever been to afternoon tea or marveled at perfectly frosted royal wedding cakes on your 53-inch flat screen, you’ve probably dreamed of crafting those storybook desserts that seem only attainable to those who dwell in castles across the sea. Well, not anymore.

Courtesy of The Royal Touch

Carolyn Robb, British Royal Chef for Prince Charles, Princess Diana, Prince William, and Prince Harry, is offering her royal recipes to the hoi polloi, just in time for the holidays. Her new cookbook, The Royal Touch: Simply Stunning Home Cooking, promises to bring a royal "wow" factor to any family table. And if her chocolate pear and pistachio slice or macadamia and salted caramel cake seem a smidge out of your league, she has a solution for that, too: Open your laptop instead of the oven and order one online.

Austin Chronicle: When did you know you wanted to be a baker? Was there a defining moment when you just knew?

Carolyn Robb: My mother was an amazing cook and baker and from a very young age, I was at her side in the kitchen helping her. When I was 10, I won a trophy for the best junior baker in a local competition and then I knew that I wanted to pursue this as a career. Over the years I have picked up many wonderful ideas on my travels – from South Africa, Switzerland, France, Italy, the Middle East, and California.

AC: In a nutshell, how did you end up as a baker for royalty?

CR:When I was at culinary school, I was selected to go to Kensington Palace for an interview as a royal chef. I got the job and two years later was appointed as the first female chef to Prince Charles, Princess Diana, William, and Harry.

AC: You’ve cooked for a lot of world-renowned royalty. What’s your most memorable baking experience?

CR:I have cooked for many members of European royal families but my most memorable occasion was definitely the first time that I made afternoon tea for Prince William and Prince Harry when they were 6 and 3 years old, respectively. Mouse cupcakes, mini gingerbread men and tiny sandwiches were among the tiny treats that I made for them.

Courtesy of The Royal Touch

AC: The holidays can be stressful. Any tips for home cooks hosting holiday meals?

CR:Use wonderful locally grown produce (organic if possible) and it will taste so good that you can cook very simply with it! Always keep the menu simple, make sure you choose some dishes that you can prepare ahead of time so that there isn’t too much to do at the last minute. Rope in family members to help out in the kitchen!

AC: What’s your favorite dessert recipe for special occasions?

CR:Chocolate biscuit cake is wonderful as a special celebration cake, for a birthday, or even as a wedding cake (as Prince William and Kate had at their wedding). My chocolate, pear, and pistachio tart is also a great favorite and served warm with a scoop of homemade vanilla, it makes a perfect end to any meal.

AC: Where can everyday home cooks find your recipes (or ready-made desserts if they need a little help bringing the "wow" factor)?

CR:My recipes are all in my book, The Royal Touch: Simply Stunning Home Cooking, and I have some products listed with Harry & David.

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