Baker & Spice’s Lemon Cake

Despite having a multitude of baking books, too many to count (Ok getting up to count: 28), I tend to return to the same two titles; Baking with Passion (Baker & Spice) and Breakfast, Lunch and Tea: The Many Little Meals of Rose Bakery.  Both books are oldies but goodies, the first having been published in 1999 with numerous reprints and the second in 2006.

Both are books that came out of successful shops, which makes a world of difference when talking success rate in your kitchen.  One thing is to have a home economist who had a make over, a spin through a PR machine to emerge glistening from the other side with a collection of recipes she has pawned from her peers, substituting almond essence for vanilla here and cocoa powder there.  Quite another is to have a book full of baked goods based on those that people line up and part with their money for.Yet another distinguishing feature is that Baker and Spice was the brain child of Gail Stephens (penned by Dan Lepard - who everybody worships these days and Richard Wittington) while Rose Bakery that of Rose Carrarini (also one of the co-founders of Villandry in London) both women.  (Massive generalization coming - can one start a sentence with parenthesis? Does anything really go on a blog? Or have I taken it to far this time?) Shops run by women seem to share certain characteristics; food tends to be un-embellished, think of a male peacock with his attention grabbing tail versus the demure female; absence of gilding doesn’t translate into absence of taste, the spartan cheese plate at La Formagerie (Patricia and Danny Michelson) is the best cheese plate you will ever have in the world, anywhere, ever.  Shops conceived by women somehow feel like the equivalent of someone who uses a Dove soap bar to wash their face and Nivea cream as a moisturizer, producing shiny naturally rouged cheeks with a few life lines thrown in for good measure; practical, real, genuine, dependable, good.

A lot of words to say that the recipes from Baker and Spice always work, you won’t find a recipe for Crack Pie in here but then tell me, who wants to wait 15 hours for a pie? (I did have a look through Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook but it left me a little cold, like Heston Blumenthal’s books.) Read more of this post


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