Introduction

Introduction

By
James Martin
Contains
0 recipes
Published by
Quadrille Publishing
ISBN
978 184949 094 8

This is the book I’ve been wanting to write for over a decade. It’s a compilation of all my favourite desserts, including recipes that have been in my family for generations, classic dishes, traditional favourites that I’ve given a new twist to, plus lots of recipes that I’ve developed from scratch. The desserts range from warming, comfort food such as sticky toffee pudding (how can anyone resist that?) and white chocolate, whisky and croissant pudding, to light, summery dishes such as apple or mango sorbet and raspberry puff pastry stack. There are homely puds, including individual apple and blueberry pies and spicy plum crumble, and the classics found on many restaurants menus – lemon tart, chocolate profiteroles, even Black Forest gâteau which deserves a new lease of life. There are cakes and bakes you can put together in a matter of minutes, plus celebration cakes such as the white chocolate wedding cake and the stunning fire-and-ice cake.

This book has developed from a television series, Sweet Baby James, which I filmed in various places around the UK. While on my travels for the show, I visited Lucy’s deli and restaurant in Ambleside in the Lake District. There she holds a monthly pudding night called ‘Up The Duff Night’, serving just puddings to all the diners. I say ‘puddings’ as in ‘more than one’ – I was actually served six, one after another. They all arrived at the table hot and loaded with cream. First was a clotted cream rice pudding, rich and creamy with the skin on the top (just how it should be) to prove it had been cooked in the oven and not subjected to the microwave. Next up was a rhubarb crumble, again with cream, followed by a banana fruit cake pud, also hot and served with cream. At this point my belt gave way to my belly and I had to call it a night, but the 12 women I was with battled on with another three puds.

These pudding-only nights are nothing new in the US – New York eateries serving only desserts are opening all the time, and the trend is spreading to Europe. It just goes to prove real puddings hold a special place in our hearts and many fond memories. They can either remind you of school dinners or mum’s or gran’s special dessert surprise. The Hot Puddings chapter is full of these classics and modern twists on dishes that have been around for years. There are dishes like peach Melba that’s been given the modern chef treatment but still retains all the elements that combine to make it such a great dish. I’ve also simplified troublesome dishes such as the soufflé – everyone’s nightmare dinner party dish, but when it’s made with bought-in custard I promise you can’t fail. In the Tarts and Flans chapter, you’ll find apple pie – the nation’s favourite pudding – served with blueberries, the new super fruit according to the healthy eating experts, plus many other ideas for both new and old pastry-based dishes.

All households used to have a baking day only some years back, but now it’s sad to see so many people resorting to buying the plastic-coated, dried rubbish from the supermarket. The art of baking isn’t a science; it’s one of knowledge and practice, and if you were to ask chefs what they remember of their childhood food, homemade cakes and biscuits would come up in the conversation. I know they would in mine. That’s why I love visiting the WI stalls at fairs and shows around the UK – they bring back so many great memories of my gran and auntie who were both amazing pastry cooks. None of my family were chefs, just great cooks, and that’s why we can learn something by just visiting these cake stalls selling great food cooked with love by a generation who really understand the art of good baking. Take a look at the Cakes and Bakes chapter where you’ll find plenty of recipes to tempt you into baking again.

The Cold Puddings chapter is for all those people who come up to me to say the reason for not making desserts is the lack of time. The chapter is full of stuff you can make in advance and even leave in the freezer for a week or two. There are desserts you can take your time over in order to get them right as well as simpler ones to make in minutes. It’s the same with many of the recipes in the Ice Creams and Sorbets chapter – most of them can be made in advance.

If you want to learn the real art of true cooking, you start at the beginning. Many people think pastry is a science, but it’s all about understanding the basics and knowing why things do what they do. For me, it’s where my passion for cooking first began. As a young kid, I’d watch my gran rubbing butter and flour together in a bowl balanced on her knees while she watched a whole episode of Coronation Street, always listening to the show but never distracted from the task in hand. Her pastry was better then any pastry I’ve ever tasted since, and that’s down to the way the fat was incorporated into the flour. You wouldn’t think that a small thing like that would make such a difference, but it does. Follow my recipes in the Basics chapter, and you, too, can master the not-so-difficult task of pastry-making.

So flick through the pages in this book – you’re guaranteed to find plenty to tempt you back into the kitchen.

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