Anne Shooter Sesame and Spice £19.99 ( Amazon.co.uk hardcover)
I have around 110 cookbooks. Yes is not ok, you need a lot of Billy bookcases to hold them and sometimes the amount of possibilities are overwhelming, especially if you are as disorganized as I am. It ends up taking hours to find the recipe you want. So no, you probably don’t need so many recipebooks in your life so my intention in this posts is to try to give you cookbook reviews that help you to decide if this book is really for you.
I’ m starting today with Anne Shooter’s baking book that was published last year. Having a baking cookbook is a good idea if you are interested in getting good results. A lot of recipes in the web are not tested and although this might not be fundamental for making a soup is definitely a most when we talk about cakes, bread, biscuits and everything in between.
What is it about?
Sesame and Spice is a book that focus mainly in popular Jewish baking recipes from around the world. You will find recipes for bread, pizza, cakes, cookies, brownies, pies, sponge cakes, puddings, cinnamon rolls and so on. Some of the recipes will probably sound familiar to you, others will be really good surprises. Every recipe comes with a small explanation of the origins of the dishes or the meaning of it for the author.
Why should I buy a Jewish baking book?
Well, as you know, they are Jewish communities all over the world so a Jewish cookbook will cover recipes from Europe, America and the Middle East (at least) so you will have a good variety to choose from. They will also probably include some gluten free recipes and lacto free. If you are like me and you do not like creaming butter, Jewish baking books can also be a good source of recipes that use oil instead. All of this “alternative” recipes are the result of centuries of cooking with religious dietary restrictions in mind, but even if you are not Jewish you will find that after so much time spent in baking without yeast or flour for a week every year we have come up with a pretty decent amount of treats that will not make your celiac friends sick.
Is this the book for me?
Yes if you really enjoy baking and want some new ideas or if you have some free time during the weekend that you will like to spend in baking projects. There are recipes that are extremely easy and others that require more time ( that does not mean they are necessarily difficult). Some of them, like Grandma´s apple cake are sincerely easy to make and the result is really impressive! Also, the Passover section is fairly wide so if you have some love ones that prefer gluten free brownies this book is definitely for you (if you are celiac yourself you might want to avoid it as you will probably be tempted by the rest of the recipes).
If you already own a Jewish baking book that was given to you by your grandmother you might want also to buy this one as it will provide you with easier techniques to bake classics like bagels or honey cake and some more innovative and modern recipes like shakshuka pizza.
On the other hand, if you are looking for a simple muffin recipe for your office bake off and you do not bake often this is probably not the best investment.
What about ingredients and equipment?
Ingredients: extremely easy to find them, nothing to exotic, the spices, flours and everything else needed are all available in a big supermarket.
Equipment: You will definitly need an oven an a scale is fundamental, baking parchment, and some baking trays and a cake tin are also important. Anything else can be improvised and you do not need to bake in the exact shape that the recipe says.If you are really into baking bread you might want to start saving for a standing mixer, however is not indispensable. Start with the recipes that have a lower content of water and mix them by hand, is fairly quick and easy (like bagels for example).
My favourite recipes:
I have cook around half of the recipes in the book. They all work as long as you do not change the quantities of the ingredients, remember they were tested like that! My favourite is definitely the plum and vanilla cake but the hazelnut and chocolate filo cigars with rose water syrup are also an excellent choice for a dinner party. I also love the onion pletzel recipe, I got really popular among my friends after that one…. Haven´t done the cheesecakes (there is no one but three recipes!) as I´m afraid I will eat them by myself, anyone wants to share?