Review of Jo Wheatley’s new cookbook, ‘Home Baking’


From counting out the cakes to decorating them, these were a delight to make – for me and the children.

From counting out the cakes to decorating them, these were a delight to make – for me and the children.

If you like the sound of dishes such as Apricot Frangipane, Chilli Chocolate Cookies, Thyme, Cheese & Tomato Quiche, and Chicken, Pancetta & Maple Parsnip Traybake then look no further than Jo Wheatley’s new cookbook, Home Baking which is published tomorrow, 7 May. Having bought – and loved – Jo’s first cookbook, A Passion for Baking, I was delighted to get my hands on her second.

Once again, Jo keeps things simple – nearly all the recipes fit on one page, and there are no obscure ingredients. Like her first book, this is packed with gorgeous photography and has a nice clear layout. The book is organized by theme, and the chapters break down as follows:

–       Biscuits, bars and cookies

–       Bread and scones

–       Cakes

–       Baking with children

–       Crumbles, tarts and pithiviers

–       Quiches, pasties, pies and savoury puddings

–       Quick and simple

–       Special occasions

–       Supper bakes

–       Teatime treats

I was really pleased to see her include some delicious-sounding savoury dishes that can be baked in one pan in this book. Like me, Jo is a big fan of ‘recipes that involve as little fuss as possible, and hardly any washing up’ – she is talking my language – and indeed the language of any busy parent – minimum fuss, maximum flavour!

The recipes that appeal to me personally include Spelt Bread, Parmesan & Pesto Fantail Loaf, Lime & Coconut Tray Bake, Thyme, Cheese & Tomato Quiche, and Chicken & Leek Pie. From the Quick Bake chapter, Easy Italian Soda Bread and Coffee and Walnut Traybake sound great, and suitably speedy. The Special Occasion chapter features dishes such as Beef Wellington, a wonderful looking Easter Meadow Cake and Salted Caramel Chocolate Pots – fabulous. There is also a show-stoppping Toffee Apple Croquembouche, for the brave! She also does new takes on classic dishes such as Toad in the Hole, which I will definitely be trying.

I turned to the Baking with Children chapter and was interested to read that Jo believes in teaching children to cook and bake as she thinks it encourages a passion for food and eating homemade. Although I did think there was rather a lot of sugar in the Sweetie Spectacular Traybake!! For a special occasion, I imagine this would have the ‘wow’ factor, however.

I was completely won over by the photograph of the Owl Cupcakes, however and decided to try these with my daughter, who is 2¾. So mummy got on with making the cupcakes – I followed Jo’s recipe to a tee, using a blend of 80g wholemeal self-raising flour and 120g white self-raising flour (the recipe simply calls for ‘200g self-raising flour’) and they turned out beautifully. The buttercream icing recipe worked a treat, but I did find it was too much – half the quantity would have been fine, especially since these were for children and already quite sugary with the milk chocolate and white chocolate buttons going on top.

My daughter absolutely loved doing the decorating, to make them look little owls – I have never seen her so absorbed in doing something baking- or cooking-related before, so it was lovely to watch. Once they were finished, they looked completely beguiling. Needless to say, the owl cupcakes went down a storm among her, her brother and their cousins who all arrived to play next day. I will definitely be doing these again!

Home Baking by Jo Wheatley (Constable & Robinson) is published tomorrow, 7 May 2013, and available from Sainsburys for the introductory price of £8 (RRP £16.99).

Disclaimer: I was sent Jo Wheatley’s new cookbook to review. All opinions are my own.



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