The Baking Book is as warm, inviting and tempting as its authors' London restaurant, Honey & Co. Although the couple's first book (reviewed here in January) had the "voice" of Itamar Srulovich, this volume seems to reflect that of his wife, Sarit Packer, which makes sense as she develops the baking recipes for the restaurant.
Both chefs, originally from Israel, worked in many London restaurants before opening their own. Packer writes, "Our original business plan for Honey & Co didn't contain a single cake. I told Itamar I needed the place to be about chopping vegetables, roasting meats and grilling fish. But when we saw 25a Warren Street [where Honey & Co is located] and its beautiful front window, I knew that cakes would have to be part of what we were going to do.
"We set about creating our own cake identity. Itamar suggested fruit and lots of colour, so that it would look like a Middle Eastern marketplace, and I started with that. Then he suggested spice and coffee and honey, and I added them to the mix. This is how we work together: we develop, we taste, we get excited and angry and occasionally disappointed when something fails … Those of you who have read our previous book will know that Itamar loves his cakes and sweets, and that he is my biggest inspiration. He dreams of cakes and I try my best to fulfil his dreams …
"In essence, pastry is a combination of a few staples - butter, sugar, eggs, flour and occasionally nuts, chocolate and fruit. It is how you combine them and the proportions you use that create the huge variety. This book is inspired by my memories of my baking life, of all the people I have cooked with and the places I have worked … There is always another recipe to discover, or a trick you have never heard about. It is the search that is the best part."
The recipes start with a subject near and dear to my heart: jam making. She advises making jam in small batches (start with no more than 2kg of fruit), using flavourful fruit and avoiding artificial pectin. The flavour combinations are inventive and exotic: raspberry and lime jam (the recipe includes dried limes); black fig with cardamom and orange; apricot and elderflower; Amalfi lemon and rosemary marmalade.
The savoury baking recipes include merguez sausage rolls; spiced cauliflower muffins; burnt aubergine burekas; maakouda (potatoes, onions and eggs baked with double cream, ras el hanout, capers and parsley); roasted pepper lahma (a type of flatbread) with feta; Greek moussaka; and Balkan cheese bread.
And the sweet recipes feature poppy seed cake with lemon icing; tahini sandwich cookies filled with white chocolate and rose; chocolate, coffee and cardamom cake; peach, vanilla and fennel seed mini loaves; orange blossom and marmalade cakes; and chocolate, hazelnut and cinnamon krantz loaf.
Honey & Co - The Baking Book by Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich.