Cookbook Review: The Natural Baker, by Henrietta Inman

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The cover and photos in this book are extremely enticing. The recipes are based on whole, fresh ingredients and range from extremely simple recipes to rather fiddley ones. I have tried several and will give you three examples of these, all of which were very tasty and one that will become a special occasion item in my catering repertoire.

It has been however, a bit of a trial to cook some of these recipes due to the ingredients. If I didn’t have the background knowledge to make substitutions for ingredients that are not readily available, I would have been stuck. Inman, to her credit, does provide hints in some recipes and explains the more unusual items in her introduction, but buying substitutes makes several recipes rather expensive to cook. Be aware as you peruse the recipes within.

The book has sections which cover Breakfasts, Breads and Crackers, Cakes and Biscuits (Cookies), Lunches and Suppers, Desserts and Puddings. Henrietta has also tried to bridge the language barriers in cooking by giving alternative names for both ingredients and implements. For someone who has poor eyesight, this book is challenging as the print is small, fine and feint.

This is a book for those who wish to experiment and try some unusual, natural ingredients when baking.

Walnut and flaxseed (linseed) banana bread with lots of toppings (page 20)

The banana bread was somewhere between a bread and a cake but lasted well in the fridge and could be served with a multitude of toppings. I particularly liked it with lemon butter or ginger marmalade – toppings of my choice after looking at the variety offered in the book. The toasting of the walnuts gave a rich flavour that really complemented the bananas. The seed provided a gritty texture that was pleasant and unusual. This did take a bit longer than anticipated to cook through but was well worth the extra 10 minutes watching and waiting.

Cappuccio cake with whipped mascarpone coffee cream (page 77)

The Cappuccio cake was wonderful but definitely a special occasion recipe as it was quite fiddley. I found that I had far too much whipped mascarpone cream and needed to lighten the cake with fresh strawberries as it had rich mocha flavours. Be careful when cutting. If you attempt it with in the first few hours after completion, it tends to crumble. The day following baking seemed to have no problem in this area however. Once again, this keeps well in the fridge and using the suggested alternatives to rice and teff flours made it more affordable. The teff flour was not available here so I used wholemeal flour instead.

Tomato, ricotta salata and aubergine (eggplant) tarte tatin with pecorino pastry (page 123)

The Tomato and Aubergine Tart was a great surprise. The flavour is intense even though it is made with simple ingredients. The pastry made with pecorino cheese is something I will be using in many dishes. It is nutty and has a cheesy bite. The consistency is quite crunchy yet the internal layer seemed to soaked up the garlic, tomato and caramelised onion flavours very well. The quantities for this pastry however, needed quite a bit of adjusting with the addition of another egg and ¼ cup of water to get it to come together for rolling.

Reviewed by Leanne Caune

Rating out of 10:  6

Distributed by: Murdoch Books
Released: April 2018
RRP: $39.99 hardcover

 

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