Tuesday, April 10

Some thoughts on Baking

I think I have mentioned before the need of precision when baking. In other areas of cooking I rarely follow a recipe word for word, ounce for ounce (or for you young ones – gram for gram) but when it comes to baking I believe and so does Delia and Mary Berry that most baking failures are down to the same old things – wrong tin size, wrong oven temperature, or not following the recipe – the recipe naturally has to have come from a respectable source I might add.
I am very wary of recipes I see on other blogs –‘this is my recipe’ when you know jolly well it isn’t – nobody without years of baking experience can produce an original recipe of their own. Tweaking with someone else’s doesn’t make it original. Changing 8 0z of SF flour with 4 of SF and 4 of plain does not make a brand new recipe.

Years ago recipes were often very closely guarded secrets. I believe this was because as most women were housewives there was probably some rivalry as to who made the best fruitcake or lightest sponge – these days most women want a medal if they make something that doesn’t have instructions on the packet; others who are a tad too competitive have to become uber housewives with a book deal or launch their own brand of deserts etc.
I would love to one day write a book on baking, but I think it will have to be a collection of other peoples recipes that I have discovered and that work for me – I’d have a loaf cake section, a 6 inch tin section. I would say things like ‘while you have the oven at 180oc for your xxxx cake why not make xxx buns on page 43 on the other shelf. I would also have suggestions about what you would do with the egg yokes if a recipe I gave called for the egg whites. It would be my homage to the art of practical common sense living which isn’t necessary glamorous or sexy so I guess I wouldn’t sell many copies.
Here for your pleasure are the fruit scones I made for my husband – he has taken himself off to bed with ‘flu’ so I will probably end up giving them to the birds – the recipe is from Mary Berry’s Ultimate Cake Book but I have added a handful of golden organic sultanas for a little bit of additional interest (scones can take a little bit of tinkering). This does not make them Mrs G’s fruit scones – they are still just Mary Berry’s with added sultanas.

::Egg washed ready to go into a hot oven::

::Just butter and eat!::

::From start to finish ready in under half an hour::


  1. i for 1 eagerly await your book!!

    (i like practical) sexy cookery definitely isn't for me...comforting + well explained is much more important : )

    i think that lots of the recipes in nigella's books are her interpretations of others but she always makes reference to their origin which i like. i made a good nigel slater cake this holiday...lemon pistachio...nice + damp + pretty too. do you have his kitchen diaries? i just love to sit + read it...which i did on sunday in the sunshine with a cup of coffee : )

    hope your hubby gets well soon...he should really eat those scones for medicinal reasons! xxx

  2. Anonymous5:02 PM

    I think you have just written the first entry for your book, there now and I have broken my silence ;)

  3. Those scones look delicious! (I hope your hubby feels better soon!!!)

    When it comes to cooking, I really have no patience with recipes! I usually make up my own ideas as I go, and if the family likes them, I try to make them better. When it comes to baking, I really want quick and easy recipes, as I still lack that patience!

  4. I was thinking about this today - all of the cookery books I actually use are the ones without photos.

    While I might like looking at Tessa Kiros's Apples for Jam, I cook from Simon Hopkinson, Nigel Slater, Elizabeth David and Jane Grigson.

    Actually, to be honest, the more I have had Kiros's book the more fey and smug I have found it and I find the colour coding system to be style over substance in the extreme.

    Is that last comment the equivalent of insulting cats on radio 4? Good job your blogging numbers went down Lynn!

  5. Hello all:)
    I am flattered at least 2 people in the world might buy my book - except of course I would give you both a copy;-)
    Kelly - the scones did get eaten by the patient - well some of them.......Harry and I forced a few down too.
    Fabrile, shall I start calling you Greta?
    Louise with all your brood I think quick cakes are perfect.
    Jane I haven't looked at the Kiros books - to be quite honest I shun 'in' books.I am with you on the photo front - the more photos the more hype.
    I am past worrying about upsetting anyone. I am thinking of putting a sign up, Beware, strong opinions here.

  6. Lynn - you may not like this but . . .I have nominated you as a thinking blog - it is one of these chain lettery things I suppose but I have chosen to follow it up as it gave me a chance to list the blogs that make me think a bit. You are now meant to nominate your own five and so on (but don't worry if you don't want to)

  7. Hello, you don't subscribe to Flylady by any chance do you? It's just that your comment about measurements in baking were the subject of a Flylady email the other day. :)
    I have to agree with you. When it comes to things like casseroles and soups, you can substitute and add/subtract ingredients, but not baking, because of the chemistry involved.
    With regards cookery books, I do like to see a picture of the finished result because I find I'm less inclined to try a recipe without one.
    My most used cookery book is The Dairy Book of Family Cookery which I bought from the milkman back in the 80's.

  8. Hello Jools:)
    My mum had that Dairy Cookery Book from the milkman.
    I am not familar with the FlyLady, but I shall look her up.
    Being a visual person I do like food photos, although I sometimes feel they can be a bit of a double edged sword especially when so many of them have been tampered with. it's like looking at women in magazines and feeling old and plain(maybe that's just me!) when they have been airbrushed and botoxed etc

  9. The Dairy cookery book (the 1970s one I think, perhaps late 1960s, my Mum won't hand it over)has the BEST recipe for chocolate sauce.

  10. Hello
    Was just looking through your comments and noticed the Dairy Cookery Book from the milkman. I learnt to cook with that and would spend hours in the kitchen with my mum trying out those recipes. I agree with you, I need to know what I'm doing when I'm baking. The scones look delicious, my daughters would eat dozens of them!

  11. i have the dairy cookbook too...no, my mum wouldn't part with hers either but i found one for 50p in a charity shop : ) great for all the basics. i have the 70s version which has lots of kitsch colourful pics in...i think this is where my cookery book reading all began. i also have a file with all the recipes given to me by friends + family which is like a little history...i'm sure you have the same lynn. of course mine has the bara brith one you gave me...which is getting a bit ragged from constant use : )

    happy friday! x

  12. Who needs glamourous and sexy in a book about baking? I would definitely buy your baking book if you wrote one. A book suggesting other things to make at the same time is a great idea. Those scones look fantastic.


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