I’d dip my fingers into the creamed butter and sugar – quickly, before my mother had a chance to smack them away. I’d eat as much of the sweet chocolatey mix as I could, before the eggs were added and the mixture was tainted. Though after the addition of flour and vanilla the mixture had usually been adequately amended for me to lick the bowl spotlessly clean.
As for the baked, iced cake itself, well that too was a treat. There is nothing more wonderful as a child than opening your school lunch box to find, hidden beneath white waxed paper, a tasty slice of chocolate cake.
Baking was a huge part of my childhood. If I wasn’t baking with my mother, I was watching my father make steamed pudding or apple shortcake. As a family it was just what we did. I suppose that’s why I have always baked with my kids. Though I have learnt that baking with little boys is different to baking with little girls and baking with two is far more challenging than baking with one!
Good recipes are hard to find and good recipe books even harder. For years I have stuck to my tried and true recipes that have been handed down to me from my mother and even her mother before her. I have at times found recipes online but a good reliable, go-to recipe book cannot be beaten.
Imagine then how excited I was to receive a copy of Jo Seagar Bakes: a collection of some of her most delicious and handy recipes! From biscuits to slices, cakes and loaves, savoury and sweet. At over 300 pages there’s plenty here to keep even the most prolific baker busy.
It doesn’t matter if you are a seasoned pro or a beginner, this book has you covered. Wanting something simple? Well how about some good old fashioned Afghans or Jo’s Chocolate Chunk Oat Cookies (a real lunchbox hit in our house!)? If you want a challenge then how about some Chocolate Éclairs or some Chocolate Meringue Kisses? Macarons even! It’s all here!
My favourites? Well it’s hard to pick only a few. So far we’ve had a great result with a batch of Gingerbread Cookies, some Special Christmas Cookies and a Red Velvet Cake – made for my son’s zombie themed birthday party; cutting into a blood red cake was very fitting for a zombie party and it tasted good too! Though one thing I must add is: listen to Jo, follow instructions. I foolishly took a shortcut and used olive oil instead of the recommended rice bran oil in our red velvet cake. And while it wasn’t overly obvious, I could taste the savoury olive flavour beneath the cream cheese frosting. When it comes to baking, it’s best to do what you are told.
I am still looking forward to trying such mouth-watering gems as the Salted Caramel Fudge Brownie, the Flourless Chocolate Cake, Seagar’s Chocolate Mud Mousse Cake and the Bounty Bar Slice. Yum!
If the amazing recipes weren’t enough, the book also happens to be beautiful. Each page is designed carefully, with tender attention to detail. Gorgeous photography by Jae Frew accompanies every recipe, as does a collection of clever quotes relating to eating good tasty food regularly:
“Let’s face it, a nice creamy chocolate cake does a lot for a lot of people. It does for me.”
- Audrey Hepburn.
Jo Seagar Bakes is a masterpiece of a recipe book. If you were only going to have one baking book in your home, you’d want it to be this one.
Photography by Jae Frew