Mary Berry's Best Home Cook shares her top tips for budget baking

WHEN it comes to cake, the bigger the better.

And if lockdown didn’t inspire you to take up baking, then this snap, of a huge chocolate caterpillar, doing the rounds on Facebook, will.

I spoke to Suzie Lee Arbuthnot, 36, from Lisburn, Northern Ireland, who spent four hours crafting the colossal version of the M&S Colin cake, which baking fans have gone crazy for.

Suzie, crowned Britain’s Best Home Cook this year by Mary Berry, gave me her best tips for budget baking.

VITAL MIX: Make sure your cupboards are stocked with basic essentials. These include eggs, flour, butter, caster sugar, vanilla extract (extract has a more intense flavour than essence), baking powder, baking soda, milk and lemon juice or vinegar (can transform the milk into ­buttermilk).

Suzie says: “With these you can make everything from scones to biscuits to naan breads.”

SMART SWAPS: Suzie says: “Buying plain flour and baking powder separately is a great way to not waste self-raising flour. For every 100g of plain flour, add ½tsp baking powder and a pinch of salt to make it into self-raising. Meanwhile, plain flour can be used as a sauce thickener and to make goods such as flat breads.”

SHOWSTOPPING SAVINGS: If you fancy creating a showstopper for a loved one, you don’t need to fork out to make it look professional.

Suzie says: “If it’s for kids, buy a shop-bought plain cake, then decorate it with coloured ribbon and use your child’s cleaned toys as cake toppers.

“If you’re feeling adventurous, use writing icing to decorate. You can also use coloured fondant to place the toys on. For example, green icing makes great “grass” when indented with a fork.

“You can buy letter cutters for a couple of pounds and use leftover fondant to spell out their name on the cake.”

WASTE NOT: Make sure you keep bakes fresh.

Suzie says: “Place crunchy bakes, such as biscuits, in an airtight lunch box with some kitchen roll, which will help to absorb any moisture and keep them from going soggy.

“For cakes, cover up well with beeswax paper or cling film and make sure all surfaces are covered.”

  • You can visit Suzie on Insta @suziecookingthebooks and her YouTube channel, Suzie Lee Cooks.

Deal of day

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Cheap treat

PUMPKIN spice bagels are back at Asda until November 4, for just £1.

Top swap

INSTEAD of paying £44 for the ProCook Gourmet wok, above, on, buy the Vivo by Villeroy & Boch Group version, below, for £24.24 on the same site.

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Shop & save

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Give this a go…

WANT to craft a giant Colin cake?

See for tips and ingredients.

Suzie says: “It is essentially a giant swiss roll. In my YouTube video I have included a recipe for a smaller Colin cake – as I appreciate that making this exact cake (mine could feed 200 people!) is a little unrealistic for most.”

Giselle's little helper

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The 75ml cream, made from all-natural ingredients, is available now for £9.99 at


SAVE up to 60 per cent on Orla Kiely home accessories at The Original Factory Shop.

  • All prices on page correct at time of going to press. Deals and offers subject to availability.

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