Book Review: Soulful Baker

Soulful Baker - Front Cover FINAL(1)

This review includes a recipe extract from the book, found at the end of the post.

There are some cookbooks which, for lack of a better word, speak to me from the very beginning. Some more than others. Soulful Baker was one that jumped up right from the page for various reasons, the most important one is the story behind it and the people who are continuously shaping it.

Making the chocolate twist loaf

Chocolate Twist Loaf(2)
Chocolate Twist Loaf

Soulful Baker is about Julie’s journey accompanying her mother through dementia. Her mother’s diagnosis was and still is difficult for Julie, and she has since used baking as a form of therapy with the help of the recipes her mother taught her to make. Both mother and daughter found comfort in baking together during the early stages of the diagnosis and Julie prompting her to open an Instagram account, to post her beautiful creations.

In return, her followers send her lots of encouraging and supportive messages and photos of their cakes, pies and various other bakes. Julie’s Instagram feed is full of positivity, love and plenty of soul. The name of the book couldn’t reflect this ethos any better. This cookbook is a loving tribute to Julie’s mum. As my readers would know, this is something which my family experienced until recently. I have taken this book to heart.

Salted Caramel and chocolate tart(1)
Salted Caramel & Chocolate Tart

With over 175 recipes, Soulful Baker is filled with all the recipes one would ever need – all beautiful, creative and impressive without the extra faff, and the ingredients for each recipes are easily sourced from a local grocery store or supermarket. The book will guide the baker through frangipane tarts, madeleines, cakes, breads, ganaches, muffins and pancakes, that will feed not only the stomach but also the soul.

Apple pie
Apple Rose Tart

The chapters are as follows:

Fruit Tarts and Pies, containing recipes like apple rose tart and plum and frangipane tart, plus pastry decoration techniques;

Cakes, Bakes and Treats, with dipped lemon madeleines and muddle cake, as well as tips for getting cream fillings right every time;

Bread and Yeasted Dough, with trampoline bread and grissini;

Chocolate, including a stunning triple chocolate celebration cake and chocolate ganache;

Desserts, with delizia di limone and a meringue sharing nest wreath;

Weekend Breakfast and Brunch, with banana, pecan, and chocolate muffins and fluffy pancakes.

Crumble(2)
Crumble

I can’t wait for the colder months to start baking from this book. It’s a keeper.

Soulful Baker by Julie Jones, published by Jacqui Small. Out 21st September.

*About the author:

Julie Jones learnt to cook from her mother. Never anything fancy but always packed with flavour, loaded with butter and made with love. Aged 30, she re-trained as a chef and after spending just a few weeks in a Michelin starred kitchen she realised how flavour could be taken to a whole new level.

After her mum was diagnosed with dementia she started to bake with her as a form of mutual therapy, taking photos of their baking days together and posting them on Instagram as a precious record. Her personal story and her talent for baking quickly gained a very large and devoted following (18.8k as of March 2017). Every day she receives message of support and thanks for her inspirational feed, as well as many photographs of the baking that she has inspired in others.

Julie loves her creative space on Instagram where she’s discovered great warmth, support and a shared passion for food and baking from her many followers. At home, she runs a weekly supper club that is currently booked up until January 2018.

She has appeared on BBC Television’s Yes Chef judged by Pierre Koffman, and is a judge for the Nestle Professional Toque D’or Student Catering Competition.

You can find Julie’s Instagram here.

Vanilla Cheesecake(2)

Vanilla Baked Cheesecake with Seasonal Fruits

I find baked cheesecakes to be far more indulgent than their gelatine set cousins. They are rich, creamy and incredibly smooth and make for a very luxurious dessert indeed. Baking the cheesecake at a lower temperature for a longer time should hold off any unsightly cracks and will also prevent any colour from being taken. One important piece of advice that I will pass to you (learned through experience) is to ensure that the tin(pan) you use is leakproof. There is no fun in seeing all of your careful preparation leaking out of the tin (pan), covering the bottom of your oven!

Serves 8–10

Use a 21cm (8½ inch) round, 6cm (2½ inch) deep loose-bottomed cake tin (pan)

Base

90g (3oz/scant ½ cup/¾ stick) unsalted butter

200g (7oz) crunchy oat cookies

pinch of salt

Filling

500g (1lb 2oz) full-fat cream cheese at room temperature

100g (3½oz/½ cup/1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature

80ml (3fl oz/⅓ cup) double (heavy) cream

200g (7oz/1 cup) caster (superfine) sugar

2 tsp vanilla bean paste

30g (1¼oz/¼ cup) cornflour (cornstarch)

5 eggs

Fruit

400g (14oz) mixed summer berries or seasonal alternatives

2 tbsp icing (powdered) sugar

100ml (3½fl oz/generous ⅓ cup) water

juice of 1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 160°C fan/180°C/350°F/gas 4. Line the base and sides of the tin (pan) with non-stick baking paper.

First, make the base. Gently melt the butter in a small pan and set aside. Crush the cookies to a fine crumb, either by hand or in a food processor and add a pinch of salt. Pour in the melted butter and combine well. Press the mixture evenly into the base of the lined tin (pan), smoothing out evenly with the back of a spoon. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove and leave to cool completely.

Turn the oven down to 100°C fan/120°C/240°F.

Beat together the cream cheese and the butter until smooth – it is important that both are at room temperature to ensure that the mix will be lump free. When smooth and well combined, add the cream, sugar, vanilla and cornflour (cornstarch). Mix until smooth, then beat in the eggs. Pour over the base, removing any air bubbles that rise to the surface.

Bake in the cooler oven for up to 2 hours, checking after the first hour, then again 30 minutes later. The cheesecake should have a slight wobble towards the centre when ready. Only remove from the oven at this point if you feel that it has set sufficiently, otherwise continue to cook for longer. That said, it is worth bearing in mind that the cheesecake will continue to set as it is cools. Remove from the oven but do leave it in the tin (pan) until completely cooled. Refrain from putting the cheesecake in the fridge as it will change the consistency completely, losing its luxury.

Wash and prepare the fruit, halving any larger berries. Add to a pan along with the sugar and water and gently simmer for 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and add a few drops of lemon juice – a certain level of tartness is a welcome contrast to the richness of the cheesecake.

Slice and serve with some of the fruit spooned over the top.

Format: Hardback, 176 Pages
ISBN: 9781911127246
Size: 7.52 in x 9.843 in / 191 mm x 250 mm
Published: September 21, 2017

Soulful Baker was kindly sent by the publisher for review.

All images and recipe extracts are used with permission from the publisher.

*Information about the author is extracted from the press release.

This is not a sponsored post.

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