The Baker by Leanne Kitchen


As I was writing the title, I was transported back in time, reminding me of the poetry sessions at primary school. Do you remember them? When you stood up by your desk trying not to shuffle your feet, declaiming title and verse, not really understanding what it was all about, all the time knowing that you were saying something beautiful. It was not an easy exercise, but the important thing was that you were learning, and some of us, many years later, might still read poetry.
The Baker is a bit like that: an ode to baking. Everything is in there, information on ingredients, equipment, techniques, etymology, history, even a trouble-shooting section. This sounds more like a handy reference guide than a book of poems, and it could easily have been, if it was not for the fantastic recipes and their beautifully styled photographs worthy of the best coffee-table compilation. If you have a present to give, either to yourself (especially to yourself) or to somebody else, with this book you will make someone very happy.
Now for the scientific bit: Leanne Kitchen trained as a chef, her career in food spanning some fourteen years. This book contains 100 recipes divided into chapters on Quickbreads, Yeast, Cakes, Biscuits, Pies and Tarts, Batters, Desserts and Puddings.
And for the poetry, here is one I prepared earlier: Jam drops.
I was so pleased with the taste that I had a go at another:

Mango and Passion Fruit Pies




Ingredients:
400g plain flour
165g icing sugar
200g cold unsalted butter
2 egg yolks mixed with 2 tablespoons iced water
1 egg, lightly beaten
Icing sugar for dusting
Filling:
60 ml passion fruit pulp
1 tablespoon custard powder or instant vanilla pudding mix
3 ripe mangoes peeled, sliced, and chopped
80 g caster sugar

Method:Sift the flour and icing sugar into a large bowl. Using your fingertips, lightly rub in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.

Make a well in the center, then add the egg yolks to the well. Mix using a flat-bladed knife until a rough dough forms. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface, then gently press together into a ball. Form into a flat disc, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Grease a round pie dish ( the recipe indicates six fluted loose-based flan tins).
Roll out 2/3 of the chilled pastry between two sheets of baking paper until 3 mm thick.

Cut out the shape of your tin. Refrigerate for another 30 minutes. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 190 degrees C (375F/Gas 5).
To make the filling, in a small saucepan stir the custard powder and the passionfruit pulp until thick - will take a couple of minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the mango and sugar.
Fit pastry in the tin(s), add the filling, roll out top pastry and fit over tins, and then brush with beaten egg. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes.
Serve at room temperature with whipped cream.

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