“The Primrose Bakery Book” – Our Verdict

Kirstin: Well the recipes that have worked have been amazing! Especially those ginger snaps! Wow! But the ones that haven’t, have been a disaster. I will so not be making those brownies again, for instance. Thank you Anna for rescuing me.

Anna: Yes, my raspberry coconut slices whilst yummy, were a bit of a mess. That might be fault for using frozen raspberries, of course.

Maureen: The recipes for the caramel slices and the flourless chocolate cake were both terrific. I will definitely be making those again.

Anna: And I might make the triple layer caramel cake again. If I have a spare day.

Kirstin: I think this book could have done with a little more proof reading. The directions were sometimes a little vague.

Maureen: “A little vague” is a really nice way of saying, “sometimes nonexistent.” The caramel slices were absolutely fantastic, but I’d really like to see directions more specific than, “grease a large rectangular baking tin.” In the end, I went for the one that I had, but never really knew if I had the right one.

Anna: How do you think this compares to the Hummingbird Book?

Kirstin: It’s not as good, I am afraid to say.

Maureen: I agree with Kirstin. There definitely were flashes of brilliance in “The Primrose Bakery Book” but overall, the Hummingbird book was better.

“The Primrose Bakery Book” – Our Verdict

“Flourless Chocolate Cake” from “The Primrose Bakery Book”

Sorry. I am deviating from the format YET AGAIN and not including any dialogue. The problem, once again, is I made this for my book club and it’s difficult for us to stay on one topic for long.

Flourless chocolate cake is one of those things that might appear to be really complicated and quite difficult to make, but actually the opposite is true. The trick is to beat the egg whites into submission. Show no mercy. If the egg whites are nice and stiff, the cake will work. I’ve decided that the best way to describe the consistency you need is to say that it should be like shaving foam. The fact that it looks an awful lot like it helps matters.

Also, the other thing to bear in mind, is no matter how stiffly you beat the egg whites, the cake is still going to fall once it’s out of the oven. Don’t sweat it. It’s still delicious. If you’re going to make Nigella Lawson’s Easter Egg Cake from Feast (a firm favourite over here), you cover the collapse by putting even more chocolate on to the top. It’s a delicious solution, but unnecessary. Learning to live with imperfection is a better solution, not least because it will make life easier  altogether.

Here’s a fine example of me learning to live with imperfection. See how it’s collapsed? I shrugged it off. I knew it would taste good, and it did.

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“Flourless Chocolate Cake” from “The Primrose Bakery Book”

“Triple Layer Caramel Cake” from “The Primrose Bakery Cookbook”

Kirstin: The cake looks amazing Anna!

Anna: I’m glad you think so… it feels like it’s been a nightmare to cook.

Kirstin: But it looks AMAZING!

Ella: I can’t wait to try it.

Anna: Thank you Ella. I hope it tastes good after all that…..

Kirstin: Why was it so difficult?

Anna: Maybe I’m not a natural baker. But it didn’t help that the recipe for this cake is actually on 3 different pages of the book. In fact there is no recipe on the actual recipe page. The sponge is the same as the Cookies and Cream Cupcakes, and the icing is on the next page. So you spend a lot of time flicking back and forth, which is a tad time-consuming.

Kirstin: So if the sponge was the same as the cupcakes, did you have the same issues as Maureen?

Anna: She was not lying when she said that she used every bowl in the kitchen. This isn’t a quick cake to rustle up.

Kirstin: I can see that.

Anna: But this is Peter’s late birthday cake…..

Peter: …. With no candles…….

Anna: So we should eat it! Actually, this tastes delicious.

Kirstin: You sound suprised! The sponge is really moist. I could have taken more icing actually.

Anna: I would have put more on if it had been easier to ice. It set super quickly so I had to keep reheating it in the microwave in order to get the whole cake iced. I had to smoodge it a bit on top too. It’s supposed to be runny and ‘cascade’ over the cake so I obviously got that wrong.

Tom: It’s yum!

Anna: I’m just amazed at how lovely the sponge is! After all that work, this is truly lovely. And thank you for my flowers Kirstin!

“Triple Layer Caramel Cake” from “The Primrose Bakery Cookbook”

“Cookies and Cream Cupcakes” from “The Primrose Bakery Book”

This recipe was a special request from Nicholas, to make for his 9th birthday party. I’m sorry to deviate from our usual format. Frankly, though, if I were to record the conversation of Nicholas and his friends at cake time during the party, there would be *a lot* of discussion about films, superheroes, football and other subjects and no discussion of cake. So this is my recap of the recipe.

The boys LOVED it. The adults liked it more than we thought we would, but it still wouldn’t be a firm favourite. They did look pretty, though.

The chocolate cupcake itself was fine. However, the recipe itself was a bit of a faff, involving multiple bowls, the separation of eggs and the beating of egg whites. The chocolate cupcake recipe that I usually do, which doesn’t involve any of those things, is just as good and not nearly as big a hassle.

Also, to file under “forewarned is forearmed” because you’re beating egg whites to add some structure to the cake itself, I did find that they collapsed on themselves once they cooled down a bit. This could have been operator error, and they still tasted fine, but certainly it’s not a good look.

Finally, a word on the icing. This is not a traditional buttercream icing. You are, in fact, making the American delicacy called “Fluff” (it seemed to me), which is ultra sweet, sort of fluffy and also readily available to buy on Ocado. The good news for me is if for some reason I can’t find it, I’ll know how to make it, which is important to anyone who wants to make Whoopie Pies, as it’s used for the filling.

But as a cupcake icing, I have to say I wasn’t convinced. I think a buttercream icing works better for a cupcake. It wasn’t terrible, I just think there’s better options.

So in summary: the sun shone for our party, the boys liked the cupcakes, and a wonderful day was had by all. But I probably won’t be making these again.

“Cookies and Cream Cupcakes” from “The Primrose Bakery Book”

“Coconut and Raspberry Slice” from “The Primrose Bakery Book”

Anna: This is a real tea time thing to bake, the sort of cake you’d find on a fancy cake stand at Fortnum’s. As you were coming round specifically for tea it was only appropriate I baked this.

Anne: But you didn’t just bake this, you made cookies as well.

Anna: This is true. And you have also brought a variety of Waitrose’s finest baked goods. But teatime isn’t teatime without a bit of variety! Shall I prepare you a smorgasbord of high calorie delights?

Anne: Yes please. I did BMF this morning, so I think I’ve worked off enough calories to compensate.

Anna: Can’t say that I have, but I did bake these slices and the cookies which expended a degree of energy. What do you think?

Anne: Delicious! The coconut stuff is super sweet but it’s offset nicely by the tart raspberry. They are a bit mushy though.

Anna: I know! They were a bit of a nightmare to get out of the tin, let alone slice. In fact ‘slice’ is a rather ambitious name for these. It’s the raspberries in them. I knew it would make them go mushy and so they did. I’m not sure quite how to get round that, given they are raspberry slices.

Anne: They are still delicious.

Anna: Yes, but not very beautiful. I don’t think  I can be bothered with making them again because of this. I will stick to my faithful cookies and brownies for now.

“Coconut and Raspberry Slice” from “The Primrose Bakery Book”

“Corn Muffins” from “The Primrose Bakery Book”

Nicholas (8–But not for long!): Yum! These are nice.

Maureen: What do you like about them?

Nicholas: I like the sweetness.

Maureen: Yes, I suppose you would, since we’re eating them with chilli. What do you think Andrew?

Andrew (12): They’re good.

Maureen: These are nice. I thought they’d be sweeter, since you add honey and sugar, but they’re not at all.

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“Corn Muffins” from “The Primrose Bakery Book”

“Brownies” from “The Primrose Bakery Book”

Nancy: This is a rather eggy brownie, gooey on the inside and crisp on the outside.

Kirstin: I had a total nightmare with this recipe. For a start it doesn’t say how big the tin should be. And then half way through the recipe it starts talking about using two tins. And at one point it told me to beat the eggs and vanilla extract gently. How does one do that, I wonder, but the real disaster was that it needed a tablespoon of baking powder and 6 eggs, which I felt was a little excessive. Of course then it looked totally mad in the oven, but who is to say I should have used a smaller tin?

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“Brownies” from “The Primrose Bakery Book”

“Caramel Slice” from “The Primrose Bakery Book”

Maureen: These are outrageously good.

Andrew (12): It’s almost like Millionaire Shortbread, which we love.

Nicholas: I really, really, really like these.

Maureen: Yes, I know we love millionaire shortbread. This is why I never make it, because I fear I will eat the whole tray myself.

Tim: How much butter do you think is in this?

Maureen: I don’t know, but I would guess a lot.

Tim (finding cookbook to confirm the copious amounts of butter used): 313 grams! That’s insane.

Maureen: Umm… butter! This is why they’re so good. I notice that you cut them very small.

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“Caramel Slice” from “The Primrose Bakery Book”