Librarian’s Choice – Sweet Treats

This week’s blog comes from Kat, an assistant community librarian based in the North East of the city.

When I wrote about my top ten books of 2015 there were quite a few mentions of food, and I will admit that I am a bit obsessed – I particularly love sweet stuff, but I try and restrain myself most of the time. I love baking – not just because I get to enjoy the sweet treats but also the opportunity to share them with the people I care about. These are my all fave baking books and the treats that I have made and shared, although sometimes I make the cookies just for me!

Kat Domestic goddessHow to be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson

This has got to be my longest serving and most frequently used baking book – I stole my mums copy when I first moved out for uni – and the one I always always go back to, because I know that pretty much anything is going to work. This book has everything I could ever want to bake and I love Nigella’s writing and how there is a little story before every single recipe. Some of my favourite bakes have been jam doughnut muffins, Coca-Cola cake, honey and banana muffins….. oh my gosh pretty much everything! I think the best recipe though has to be the butter cut out cookies; “It’s not hard to make biscuits that hold their shape well while cooking; it’s not hard to make biscuits that taste good and have a melting, buttery texture: what’s hard is to find a biscuit that does all of these things together. This one does it all, and with ease.” These have worked every time I’ve made them and always get compliments (which I reckon is the best way to judge a baking success!).

Kat Delia's CakesDelia’s Cakes by Delia Smith

This book is absolutely beautiful, and like Nigella I just know that I can trust Delia to help me make something yummy. One day my best library friend Beth randomly told me about a coconut and lime cake her Nanna used to make from ‘Delia’s Summer Collection’ which was the best cake she had ever had; a few weeks later just before her birthday I found the recipe for that cake in this book. A bit of a hunt later and I managed to find an obscure ingredient in a little shop in Chapeltown (thank you so much to the random lady in the shop who helped me find it!) and managed to bring her a special birthday cake to work (we may or may not have eaten most of it between the two of us with lots of coffee). Apparently it was just like her Nanna used to make, and she was very happy with it; I made the cake a few times that summer (it is the perfect summer cake!) including for Beth’s wedding and it was always perfect.

Kat Jamie's ComfortJamie’s Comfort Food by Jamie Oliver

All I made from this book was the hummingbird cake, which is probably the most impressive looking cake I ever made, and all I can remember about the process was looking in so many shops for edible flowers. Don’t bother, you can’t find them anywhere….. just use pansies from your mum’s garden. She will forgive you for stealing them because this cake is so good!

Kat GuGü chocolate cookbook

This was a book that I had seen lots of times at work and just randomly took it home just before my sisters birthday and made the only good chocolate cake I’ve ever managed (apart from a Betty Crocker mix, they are always good!). It was too big, it was too sickly, and it was perfect!

Kat the boy who bakesThe Boy Who Bakes by Edd Kimber

My best friend went travelling for two years and she used to send me postcards from where ever she was – they always mentioned the food she was missing; one thing she mentioned was a brownie from Crust & Crumb in Chapel Allerton (which are perfect and you should probably go buy one right now) and the other was the chocolate chip cookies from this book. I have made these sooooo many times now (including when Vick came back from travelling -yay!), I did once have a failure, which was devastating and confusing, but I think that was a weighing scales malfunction.

Librarian’s Choice – Tea Party Books

This new delicious collection of books is from Sapphia, an Assistant Community Librarian based in Moor Allerton.

This collection of books can help you create the perfect supper (dessert) club or dream tea party full of yummy sweets, baked treats, cocktails and interesting activities to keep everyone entertained. It might mean you will spend some time on it, but you never know you could be so good at it like Mrs Marmite Lovers that you can make a business out of it. At very least you’ll have fun eating and drinking all your delicious homemade goodies in good company.
I will apologise this list is full of the sweet stuff; I don’t have much time for sandwiches when there is so much choice in cakes and sweets!

Everything OzEverything Oz- The wizard book of makes and bakes by Christine Leech and Hanna Read- Baldrey

This is an amazing book full of ideas and charm; there are templates galore to help you create your very own world of Oz including a twisting Tin Man and a dancing Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion hand puppets and giant Poppies. You and your guests can feast on green lemonade and cherry pie in a facemask of eternal youth, surrounded by a field of giant poppies you can learn how to create.
View it all through a pair of your very own emerald glasses to view the glow in the dark jelly Emerald City. And when it all gets a little too much and it’s time to go home, fortunately this book also shows you how to make your own Wishing star and the all-important pair of Ruby Slippers!
There’s no place like home. Especially when there’s a tea party to be had.

Homemade sweetshopMrs Beeton’s Homemade Sweetshop: Our favourite sweets to make, give and enjoy by Isabella Beeton and Gerard Baker

This book with its beautiful cut out sweetshop window design has all the recipes for sweet treats to accommodate any tea party guest’s desires, including chocolate honeycomb, rose and violet creams, vanilla fudge and silvered orange slices. It gives you a great little guide to working with different types of sugar including the sugar stages and temperatures you need to get your sugar to, to create all the different types of sweets. The authors sweep through the history of sweets and how they came to be so popular, useful equipment to use for sweet making, methods of storage and gift packaging. Lots of nostalgic recipes to remind you of your own childhood favourite sweets and something yummy for your guests to nibble, whilst they wait for the tea to brew. Or even better, with your new found skills at gift packaging, a goody bag to take home.

secret tea partyMs Marmite Lovers Secret Tea Party: Exquisite recipes for the ultimate afternoon tea by Kerstin Rodgers

Ms Marmite Lovers knows more than a thing or two about Afternoon tea, whether it is a cream tea, a low tea or a high tea, there will be recipes of indulgence on every page of this book. The pioneer of underground Supper clubs from 2009, Kerstin Rodgers started the craze of Pop-Up restaurants and is still highly sought after due to the exquisite detail she puts in to all her events. This book helps you think about everything to create a fabulous vintage tea party, setting the table, lay out, making your own teacup candles and cake stands as well as how to read tea leaves. On top of this you get lots of yummy recipes like teacakes with rose water and cinnamon and mini cherry bakewells. There are also instructions on how to make a perfect cup of tea, giving you optimum temperatures, brewing times and recipes.

quinntessential bakingQuinntessential Baking by Frances Quinn

A lot of people will know Frances Quinn for winning the BBC’S Great British Bake off. A designer and a baker at heart, each recipe is beautifully executed and there are cute supporting illustrations throughout the book. Although these recipes do require time and dedication, you are guided through all techniques. The designs do also allow for a few imperfections, whist still looking like showstoppers. My favourite recipes include the bonfire cupcakes, with glazed sugar fire and carrot candle cakes, with real looking chocolate candles and edible melted white chocolate wax which would be perfect for a birthday or celebration. You can even pretend to light them with the edible chocolate biscuit tipped matchsticks. (Recipe also in this book!)
You would be sure to impress any tea party guest with these bakes, just make sure you have quite a bit of time and don’t get too disheartened if yours doesn’t look exactly like the picture. Frances gets to spend all day on hers, practicing and practicing till it’s photo ready.

Vintage sweets bookThe Vintage Sweets Book by Angel Adoree

Angel Adoree takes all the flavours from your favourite childhood sweets such as jazzies, cola cubes and white chocolate mice and helps you to not only make those sweets yourself but also have an adult alternative, a cocktail! My favourite cocktail recipes in this collection are the Rhubarb and Custard cocktail- with advocaat and brandy and the Rocktail- a cocktail using the classic seaside rock and ginger liquor. The book is also full of little finishing touches that you may want to add to your tea party including spinning tops, cocktail monkeys, organza pom poms and harlequin puppets. It’s time to be an adult, but still have that childhood wonder.

friends at my tableFriends at my table by Alice Hart

Friends at my table is a book full of moreish rustic meals, set out according to the season so that you can do exactly as Alice does, and use the 12 separate menu’s on all kinds of occasions including a wedding shower! These meals are mostly savoury and a lot more wholesome but are great at helping you cater for a larger group. On top of the recipes and lovely summery hazed photography there’s lots of great activities that Alice encourages you to incorporate at your supper club. There are some fab ideas such as wild swimming, how to forage for food, light a pit fire and even how to play basic beach cricket. This I accept may be a little far-fetched for some of us, best not to have our guest poisoned on a foraging trip or almost drown in a dangerous river! But it’s about thinking outside the box. Take advantage of your surroundings, and the company you have around you. This book has great tips on how to keep you and your guests entertained as well as well fed. And not to disappoint you on the sweet pudding front, there’s a recipe for a black forest Sundae. Delicious!

Domestic goddessHow to Be a Domestic Goddess: Baking and the Art of Comfort Cooking by Nigella Lawson

From the lady that states, ‘I don’t believe you can ever really cook unless you love eating.’ A list about making food for guests had to include Nigella Lawson. This is the book that started a new obsession with baking luxurious food that we knew would certainly be calorie laden but used great fresh ingredients and recipes that made you feel indulgent and comforted. These bakes are definitely something you want to show off to guests. There is a white chocolate rocky road, a damp lemon cake and a winter plum pudding with clear instructions and tips for a great result. These recipes try and get you to fall in love with baking, taking your time and allowing you to be fully prepared, so that when it comes to the eating, you can share the joy with your guests. Sexualising the food and the baking equipment, like Nigella, is at your own personal risk. Remember we are all adults now. We are at our very first step to becoming a domestic Goddess or God.

Need some inspiration for kids’ activities over Christmas? #Crafts #Baking @Child_Leeds

Fun Christmas crafts to make and bake: over 60 festive projects to make with your kidsKeep the kids entertained WITH CRAFTS AND BAKING

 100 Christmas Things to Make & Do by Fiona Watt is full great ideas with really simple step-by-step instructions for novel cookery and craft projects, including snowball truffles, bouncing snowmen Christmas tree decorations and an advent calendar designed as a castle published by Usborne, market leaders for children’s craft books.

Fun Christmas crafts to make and bake: over 60 festive projects to make with your kids by Annie Rigg. Christmas is the perfect time for kids to get creative – so let them craft and bake their way The Christmas bookto the most magical of Christmases

Depending on the children’s age, you could try some Christmas cookery. The Christmas Book by Rita Storey – where Christmas came from, Father Christmas, mince pies, and more! You’ll be able to impress everyone with your Christmas knowledge. Also filled with lots of festive craft activities and recipes, you can follow the simple step-by-step guides and make gifts for all your friends and family.

Or try Christmas Fairy cooking by Leonie Pratt – Christmas treats include snowflake biscuits, Christmas fairy kisses, jewelled fairy muffins, Christmas fairy crowns and a Christmas castle cake