Cookbook road test: Honey & Co: The Baking Book
Cooking from a new cookbook is like going on a first date: several factors have to come together in just the right way for it to be a success. But, more often than not, what looks great at first glance doesn’t produce the goods. After my date with Honey & Co’s new baking book, I think I’m in love…
The book looks good. It’s simply styled, nicely paced and the authors (husband and wife Itamar Srulovich and Sarit Packer) impart a strong sense of personality. Their CVs detail their experience working with the revered Yotam Ottolenghi, running their own successful London restaurant, Honey & Co, and publishing a previous, celebrated book, Food From The Middle East.
The main attraction is the passion for baking that leaps off the page. The tone is generous, the knowledge clear and revealed in an understated way that tells you you’re dealing with people who know what they’re talking about. So far so good.
Quality of the recipes… Some cooks just know how to put flavours together in an inspiring way, and it’s the unexpected twists that make a recipe really appealing – an unusual ingredient or a riff on a technique that comes from years of practice. Simply reading the flavour combinations (black fig, cardamom and orange; or spiced chocolate and prune) made me think, “Yes, yes, yes!”
My expectations were dangerously high – but the book delivered. The dough for the Balkan cheese bread was one of the softest I’ve worked with. I immediately ran around the office and told everyone about it, handing the dough round to be prodded and stroked. I was met with nods and ‘oohs’ of approval – echoed when they later tasted the finished loaf.
Next I tried the peach, vanilla and fennel seed mini loaves. The recipe was simple to put together, although I ignored the instructions and made it as one big loaf (I doubt many of us have eight mini loaf tins kicking around at home). I added an extra 15-20 minutes to the cooking time. Success: the flavours worked beautifully.
Honestly, this book had me at “peach, vanilla and fennel seed”. And I can’t imagine anyone could resist Itamar’s compelling words: “What baking requires represents everything we want our customers to feel – consideration, concentration, experience and patience.” Enough said.
Photography… There’s a mix of portrait, still life, food photos and a few handy step-by-step guides. The images are generally pared back but nicely framed.
Suitable for… This is a great book for anyone who’s even moderately interested in baking, or just eating amazing things, but baking pros will get a lot out of it, too.
Star rating: 4.5/5