I didn’t realise a 3rd Leon book was in the pipeline until it (Leon: Baking and Puddings) landed on my doorstep – a pleasant surprise for someone who uses the first two books a great deal in the kitchen.
It also pleased me that on a quick initial look through the almost 300 pages of recipes I came across a recipe for ‘Good Scones’ with the jam and cream the correct way round – the Cornish way! We immediately got off on the right footing.
Leon: Baking and Puddings is co-authored by Henry Dimbleby, co founder of Leon restaurants and Claire Ptak, the former pastry chef at California restaurant Chez Panisse and now the chef proprietor of Violet Cakes in London.
Illustrated in the ‘classic’ Leon style the book is split into two halves – part one: Everyday, including chapters on breakfast, snacks, tea time, puds, cooking with children, bread and sweets; part two: Celebrations including chapters on Christmas, Easter, Bonfire Night, Halloween, birthdays and even wakes.
Throughout the book there are ‘how to’ sections sharing with the reader basic techniques and tools as well as comprehensive information on typical baking ingredients such as flours, sugars and sweeteners and eggs. There is also inspiration for the more experienced home cook too with recipes for Baked Alaska and Honeycomb. But what makes this book really stand out for me is that three quarters of the recipes in it are either sugar, dairy, wheat or gluten free – so great for people with food intolerances or allergies.
On to some of the stand out recipes. First up the ‘Better Brownie’ on page 76 which uses fructose instead of sugar – something I’ve never used before myself. Tea Time treats includes lots of lovely cakes – with the Clementine Polenta Cake looking particularly good. The gooey Lemon Bars on page 94 are also going on my must try list.
The famous Leon Chocolate Mousse can be found on page 144, again sugar free! There are fruity sorbets and parfaits, ice creams (Raspberry Ripple – my all time favourite) and bombe’s as well as more traditional pudding recipes such as Spotted Dick and Sussex Pond Pudding.
Of particular interest to me was the cooking with children chapter – which if I am honest was a little light on recipes. My eldest is a keen baker and she liked the look of the Technicolour Dreamcake on page 187 and has asked for it for her birthday.
On to the Celebration section where traditional recipes like Simnel Cake, Pumpkin Pie and Mince Pies stand alongside more contemporary offerings such as Meghli – a sweet scented Lebanese rice pudding traditionally served at Christmas and the amazing Triple Chocolate Fantasy Cake on page 272.
There is a quirky extra helpings chapter right at the end of the book including the Leon Salted Caramel Banana Split recipe – with a montage of diners attempting to eat it (it is huge!). All in all a book that I’m sure will be well used in my kitchen and would make a lovely Christmas present for someone with food intolerances or allergies.