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Book review – National Trust Simply Baking

19 October 2012 by
Book review – National Trust Simply Baking

National Trust Simply Baking
Sybil Kapoor
National Trust Books, £25
ISBN 978-1-907892-32-5

Former chef turned food writer Sybil Kapoor's latest collection of recipes looks at baking. No surprise there - the clue is in the title. However the word ‘simply' is a tad misleading. This weighty tome is chock-full of information, culinary history and recipes.

Kapoor worked with the National Trust in order to tackle a well-worn subject from a fresh angle, by exploring the way classic British baking has developed as a direct result of the produce available and the cultural context.

She has drawn inspiration from the Trust's amazing collection of properties, from its working water mills such as Clyston Mill in Devon, to its attractive dairies, like the one at Uppark House in West Sussex, and that inspiration is shared with the reader through evocative photography and detailed references. In fact this is as much a guide book to some of this country's most treasured heritage as it is to the cakes and bakes that it has inspired.

The opening two chapters are entitled the Dairy and the Mill, and they focus on primary baking ingredients such as butter, cream, eggs and flour. As such, there is a great deal of emphasis on the core techniques and processes that are essential in successful baking.

There follows four chapters that delve into various sources of ingredients. The Kitchen Garden, further sub-divided into flowers & herbs, shoots, vegetables, soft fruit, and roots, while the Orchard looks at the revival of fruit trees in the UK and a plethora of uses for the growing abundance of fresh home-grown fruit that is available.

The Hedgerow sheds light on foraging - an idea that has grown in popularity in recent years, while Kapoor concludes with the Larder, comprising sub-sections on sugar & spice, dried fruit, coffee & tea, chocolate and honey.

National Trust Simply Baking is a comprehensive look at the rich history of British produce with the majority of recipes accompanied by enticing food shots by Karen Thomas. But at the same time it is as much about how British baking might look in the future. Because how can we know where it's going without first understanding where it has been?

If you like this, you'll love these:
Simply British Sybil Kapoor
â- The Great British Book of Baking Linda Collister
â- A Country Cook's Kitchen Alison Walker

By Janie Manzoori-Stamford

E-mail your comments to Janie Manzoori-Stamford here.

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