Sweet plea­sures

The magic of bak­ing

Weekend Herald - Canvas - - CONTENTS -

Ican still re­mem­ber the first time I watched my mother make meringues – never imag­in­ing that when the gloopy egg whites went into the trusty Ken­wood with some sugar, a cloud-like sweet­ness would emerge. It was pure magic. If you have ever watched a kid lick the raw meringue from the beater for the first time, I’m sure you will also re­mem­ber that dawn­ing mo­ment of joy in dis­cov­er­ing this melt-in-the-mouth plea­sure – and a sense of awe that some­thing so good could be cre­ated out of two sim­ple, ev­ery­day in­gre­di­ents. In such mo­ments, happy mem­o­ries are made.

It might sound far-fetched if I were to say that the ther­a­peu­tic pow­ers of bak­ing can be lifechang­ing. But in this high-pres­sured world, bak­ing is such a great way to feel use­ful and suc­cess­ful. In the rush of end­less dead­lines and de­mands that con­sume daily life, just tak­ing a lit­tle time out to bake of­fers an easy sense of em­pow­er­ment. The process of mix­ing and knead­ing, whisk­ing and fold­ing, en­gages all your senses and forces you to be in the mo­ment. It’s al­most like a med­i­ta­tion.

I was lucky to dis­cover this easy plea­sure early, learn­ing quickly that the oohs and ahhs of de­light from my fam­ily and my mother’s friends could be achieved sim­ply by fol­low­ing a recipe. Peo­ple love it when you bake.

Hav­ing a son who is a (re­cently di­ag­nosed) coeliac, a veg­e­tar­ian daugh­ter and a hus­band who is in “my body is a tem­ple” mode, as well as a num­ber of ve­gan friends, means that I am now bak­ing with lots of dif­fer­ent in­gre­di­ents. Aren’t we all? But whether it is co­conut oil, spelt or rice flour that goes into the mix, the re­sults still show that you care. Life might be too busy to in­vite friends over for din­ner, but whisk up a cake or a slice and in­vite friends for cof­fee or af­ter­noon tea and you can get that same sense of con­nec­tion for a lot less ef­fort.

There’s such a feel-good fac­tor to bak­ing that makes it so re­ward­ing. It’s such a sim­ple rit­ual that brings peo­ple to­gether and says “I care”. Whether it’s tak­ing a cake to the of­fice for a col­league’s birth­day, drop­ping in on a new neigh­bour with a tin of home­made bis­cuits or mak­ing tof­fee ap­ples or fluffy marsh­mal­lows for the school fair, bak­ing is the essence of kind­ness, and it makes life feel safe and com­fort­ing. With the tins filled, your house feels like a home.

That’s why I’m so ex­cited to bring you my new book of sweet recipes, ES­SEN­TIAL Vol­ume Two: Sweet Treats for Ev­ery Oc­ca­sion (Annabel Lang­bein Me­dia, $65). Out in the shops on Mon­day, it’s the sec­ond vol­ume in the ES­SEN­TIAL duo that started last year with my best­selling book of savoury recipes. Now I bring you a beau­ti­ful com­pen­dium of than 450 sweet recipes, in­clud­ing some of my favourite and most pop­u­lar recipes from 30 years of kitchen ex­per­i­men­ta­tion, retested and re­vised for to­day’s ap­petites and di­etary needs, plus lots of ex­cit­ing new ideas. Just about ev­ery cake, bis­cuit, muf­fin, slice, tart, dessert, ice, pre­serve or sauce that you could ever want to make is in here – I like to think it’s the only sweet book you’ll ever need!

This week’s Can­vas recipes are a quick peek in­side the cov­ers of my new book. En­joy!

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