Books & Literature

Cookbook Review: A Year of Sundays, by Belinda Jeffrey

A collection of Belinda’s much-adored and anticipated Sunday morning Instagram posts accompanied by beautiful recipes, A Year of Sundays is as much a conversation with a friend as it is a cookbook.

Wonderful recipes combined with memories and reflections.

Belinda Jeffrey is an international award-winning writer of cookbooks, especially renowned for her book Desserts, which won the French Gourmand World Cookbook award for Best Desserts book in Australia in 2013. Earlier this year, she gave up running a cookery school in northern NSW to pursue opportunities to travel and teach at other people’s cookery classes.

A Year of Sundays is compiled from a year of Jeffrey’s Instagram posts. The book contains more than just recipes and delightful pictures of the finished dishes. What I especially enjoyed was the backstory to the recipes — such as the memory of Jeffrey and her sister competing to see who could spit apple pips the farthest, which came to mind as she was slicing apples for a cake. The content is divided into months, and there is a photograph of the dish opposite the backstory and then, over the page, the ingredients and method are listed.

The hardback book is a quality production but it does not stay open at the recipe and I found the method section hard to follow. As there is no space between paragraphs, it’s hard to find one’s place when looking for the next step in a solid block of text. The instructions also make assumptions about what equipment one has at hand. It would be useful, especially for novice cooks, for an alternative to be suggested.

I choose two dessert recipes to taste-test.

Lemon curd and shortbread tart (pages 111-113)

This recipe calls for the pastry to be made in a food processor, a piece of kit I don’t have, so I used a hand-held mixer. The pastry is easy to make from familiar ingredients but one needs to be organised to let it chill for three hours before use. The texture of the shortbread when grated is unusual and the finished tart is impressive enough for a special dessert. I substituted my own home-made lemon curd for the one in the recipe book. The tart has just the right mix of sweetness, the tart tang of lemon, and crunch of the shortbread.

Dark chocolate, caramelised date and hazelnut brownie (pages 213-215)

This was beyond delicious and definitely a recipe for chocoholics as it contains 345 grams of dark chocolate. There is quite a long list of ingredients but all are readily available. I used gluten-free flour and substituted almonds for hazelnuts as that was what I had in the pantry. Once again, I found reading the method would have been much easier if the text had been broken up with some white space, particularly as there are numerous steps. The caramelised dates are absolutely luscious and I had to stop myself eating the mixture as is, rather than in the brownies. The brownies are sticky and fudgy, complemented with a crunch from the coarsely chopped nuts and were very popular at the morning tea I took them to.

I have not been aware of Belinda Jeffrey’s cookbooks before this one but I will certainly seek them out and try some more of her recipes — perhaps even something savoury.

Reviewed by Jan Kershaw

This review is the opinion of the reviewer and not necessarily of Glam Adelaide

Distributed by: Simon & Schuster
Released: November 2021
RRP: $45

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