Our Verdict: “Crumb”

Maureen: This was great, but the problem with baking books is you don’t always have time to make a loaf or bread or a cake. So I didn’t make as much as I would have liked.

Kirstin: That’s true.

Maureen: But the things I made worked and were good. I really wanted to try to make croissants once and for all, but I just never had a day to devote to it. But when I do try to do it– and I definitely will– I’ll follow Ruby’s method.

Kirstin: I probably would have cooked from this book more, but my problem is my oven. I think it hates me. I do have some techniques that I can use, but still, it’s difficult to bake with it. It’s frustrating because the book made me realise how annoying my oven is, so that’s a shame.

Maureen: Maybe that’s why you’ve never taken to baking, because your oven is so problematic.

Kirstin: When I did do it, I had a lot of fun baking from this book.

Maureen: She gave really good explanations for how to do certain baking techniques, which was very helpful.

Kirstin: It’s a great baking book. It’s got solid straightforward recipes with things that you want to make. If I had a friend who wanted a baking book, I would definitely recommend it.

Maureen: I agree.

Kirstin: I would totally trust her instructions, she was really good.

Maureen: All in all, recommended.

Overall Grade (A- F):  A (Maureen)  A (Kirstin)
Best recipes:  Ciabatta (I didn’t actually make this, but I did enjoy eating this) (Maureen) Cheesecake, because now I love cheesecake. (Kirstin)
Grade for Photography (A-F): Kirstin: B
Any disasters? (Kirstin and Maureen) No.
Bookshelf or Charity Shop Donation? Bookshelf, the one dedicated to baking.
Would you give this to a friend?  (Maureen) Yes, but if I had to choose between this one and “Flavour,” I would probably give the latter. (Kirstin) Yes, I’d give it to someone who wanted to learn about baking.


Our Verdict: “Crumb”

“Ciabatta” from “Crumb”

It was Mother’s Day in the U.K. yesterday, so I thought what better way to celebrate My Special Day than to have one of my favourite meals (fondue*) that would showcase one of Tim’s best skills (making bread).

So I didn’t actually make this recipe, though I admired Tim’s handiwork when it was all done. I asked him how it went. He said ciabatta can be tricky, because the dough is incredibly wet and difficult to form. Once he mentioned it, I remembered a “Great British Bake Off” episode– it might have even been Ruby’s year– where they all struggled with the ciabatta task from “Scary Bread Guy” (what we called Paul Hollywood in Season 1).

Tim didn’t need to worry. It was delicious. We HOOVERED this bread up. The boys couldn’t Cget enough of it. We now have a second loaf, which we will enjoy just as much tonight.

This is another winner from Ruby Tandoh.

Spoiler Alert: The fondue uses a recipe from next month’s cookbook. Watch this space!

If you’d like to try this yourself, Google Books has indexed “Crumb.” Click through this paragraph to see for yourself. 

“Ciabatta” from “Crumb”

“Parathas” from “Crumb”

We make our fair share of bread but have only made parathas once before. Though this was a Jamie Oliver method from “Save with Jamie” and he called the chapatis.  For what it’s worth, they seemed the same to us. I just did a quick Google search, and indeed, they are the same thing.   With good memories of that and plans for an Afghani lamb and rice dish from the amazing “Sirrocco” from Sabrina Ghayour (which we reviewed in June 2016) Ruby’s version seemed an obvious accompaniment.

It’s interesting that, for something so basic, how different the two recipes are. Jamie uses both white and whole wheat flour, Ruby just white. He adds olive oil and milk, hers calls for butter and water. What they share: both are easy and disappeared quickly. These will have to become a regular on curry night.

If you would like to try this recipe yourself, click through here to see it on Google Books.

“Parathas” from “Crumb”

“Blackberry Ricotta Cheesecake” from “Crumb”

Kirstin: I used to make cheesecake a lot when I was younger and not so much recently. But having made two wonderful recipes from Ms Tandoh’s books I can feel myself drawn to them again. And I urge you to do the same. This one had a beautiful blackberry compote mixed in (sadly not in the picture because we ate it all!) which went beautifully with the lemon ricotta flavoured cheese. Cheesecakes are an easy but very satisfying form of cake, lovely to share with others for tea and dinner alike. Do it. You know you want to.

“Blackberry Ricotta Cheesecake” from “Crumb”

“Rye Bread” from “Crumb”

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, loyal readers! (Top Tip: Remember to brush your teeth if you’re drinking any green beer today.)

Last Sunday, with St Patrick’s Day just around the corner, we thought what better way to celebrate than with some corned beef. Of course, what’s better alongside corned beef than rye bread? Now we like a seeded rye or dark pumpernickel more than most but find the options on offer lacking in our part of London (this is true for most of London). That means making one at home.

For the inexperienced these breads can be scary: The dough is dense and hard to work, so success never seems guaranteed. Ruby’s couldn’t have been easier but had its own uh-oh moment. While working the water/orange juice/treacle into the dry ingredients it seemed there wasn’t enough moisture. Avoid the temptation to add more. Just keep going, keep working the dough, and everything will come out fine.
Although it’s not quite the rye bread that we grew up with on the East Coast of the U.S., it’s still delicious. It’s even better toasted the next day if any lasts that long.
“Rye Bread” from “Crumb”

“Lemon and Marzipan Cupcakes” from “Crumb”

Marzipan is always a winner for me. Ruby admits elsewhere in the cookbook that she is guilty of eating marzipan as a snack. I do the same thing. There’s nothing like the solid hit of almond and sugar to keep me going when I’m dragging.

These were delicious and easy. But I do think calling them cupcakes is a bit of a misnomer. To me, cupcakes are a perfect cake at the bottom (which this is) featuring a pillow of icing on the top (which this doesn’t). This is more like a lemon and marzipan muffin. Whenever I gave these to friends after I made them, I would ask, “But don’t you think this needs some icing?” since they’re called cupcakes. But everyone said, no, they were perfect as they were.

I have to agree. If you added icing on top of this, it would be a bit much. Ruby does advise that you can make a lemon drizzle for the top, which I might try next time, as it would make them less like a muffin and more like a cupcake.

I still wouldn’t call them cupcakes, though. I would call them delicious, however.

“Lemon and Marzipan Cupcakes” from “Crumb”

“Blueberry Clafoutis” from “Crumb”

My usual go to on a Sunday evening for friends coming around is a strawberry crumble (Nigel Slater if you’re interested) but this may just have taken its place. The clafoutis looked so pretty (it’s not every day that I take out the macro lens but it would have been rude not to in this case) and tasted wonderful; the lemon and vanilla essence balancing out the fruit perfectly. Would I make this again? I’m already planning to next weekend. And maybe the weekend after that too. One of my friends on facebook suggested I try using cherries in the summer and I may just do that!

Oh and if you’re interested, it warmed up beautifully the next day too.

“Blueberry Clafoutis” from “Crumb”

“Honey Madeleines” from “Crumb”

Today is the first day of Spring. I can tell it’s Spring because of all the Spring activities I have been up to today. These have included washing all the bedlinen and then putting it out on the line to dry, wearing stripes, listening to The Police, gardening and also…baking!

I am not a baker. Have I mentioned that before? I have an oven that has a tendency to burn things and I just don’t have a feel for all things pastry. So I thought I would make the madeleines. Because French. And financiers! I had not however read the small print which included making brown butter which looked terrifying. So having procrastinated for most of the morning I finally got down to it and made two batches of 12 madeleines. It was a bit of a faff with the chilling of the tin and then the pastry in the tin but my goodness they were worth every second! Ms Tandoh explains all the stages beautifully and she has a lovely picture of the result if you want to see what colour the madeleines are meant to be when made in an oven that behaves itself. I am restraining myself by not downing the whole lot before my family returns home later. They smell DIVINE! And if Ms Tandoh can get me out there and baking, then she truly is a genius!

And the bedlinen is already dry!

“Honey Madeleines” from “Crumb”

“Garlic Dough Balls” from “Crumb”

I’m sure the first time I was introduced to garlic dough balls properly was at Pizza Express. They’re known for them. They’re known for them because they are delicious. So when I saw this recipe, I thought I ought to give it a go. If nothing else, I knew the rest of my family would be willing to try them, since they’re fans of dough balls too.

But as much as I like to bake, baking bread always frightens me a bit. Unlike cooking or regular baking, you really have to trust in the science and be exact in your measurings. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t.

So I approached this recipe with a bit of trepidation, but I shouldn’t have worried. The recipe was easy to follow, no disasters occurred and the dough balls were delicious.

It was a win all around, I’d say. So the next time I want some dough balls, I won’t have to go to Pizza Express to have them.

Google Books have indexed “Crumb”, so if you’d like to give Ruby’s Garlic Dough Balls a try, click through this sentence to see the recipe.

“Garlic Dough Balls” from “Crumb”

Cookbook A Month, March 2017: “Crumb”

Maureen: This is a first, in the history of this blog. We’re doing the same author two months in a row. Ruby must be something special.

Kirstin: I know. We felt bereft at the end of February, so we thought we’d try Ruby’s first book in March, even though some of us are not bakers. See how much I love her!

Maureen: I know you don’t think you like baking, but maybe this will be the month you will come around to liking it. You never know.

Kirstin: [Big sigh] I will give it a go.

Maureen: I’m feeling confident that this is going to turn your attitude toward baking around.

Kirstin: Usually we do a baking book in May.

Maureen: That’s true. But why not bake in March? It feels like the world is going to shit. Let’s bake for a month and make everyone feel better.

Cookbook A Month, March 2017: “Crumb”