Magazine article The Spectator

A Selection of Baking Books

Magazine article The Spectator

A Selection of Baking Books

Article excerpt

Credit: Melanie McDonagh

If I were the kind of person who invited people to come and have a bite to eat that very evening -- and you've got to watch it in London, where people are inclined to draw themselves up to their full height, even by email, to ask what sort of sad case you think they are to imagine they're free right now as opposed to in six weeks' time -- well, I'd reach for the Morito cookbook (Ebury, £26, Spectator Bookshop, £20).

It is the book of the fashionable restaurant/café (and most cookbooks these days are) of that name, in London's Exmouth Market, described by the authors, Sam and Sam Clark (husband and wife), as the 'little sister of Moro' (another even more fashionable restaurant) and 'the noisier, more rebellious sibling, eager to experiment and explore'. Whatever, there are lots of good things here that you assemble as much as cook; grazing plates, tapas things to nibble.

This isn't complicated cooking, but it does call for a range of Hispanic/North African ingredients that are easier to come by in Hoxton or online than in, say, Sunderland. And having wrestled to fill really sticky dough with walnuts and olives for their stuffed rolls, I can say with some bitterness that what's simple on the page isn't always simple in practice. And once you've bought the expensive sherry, high-quality vinegar and the rest, it dawns on you that relaxed cooking shouldn't be equated with cheap.

Another cookbook of a fashionable hangout is the Ginger and White Cookbook (Mitchell Beazley, £18.99, Spectator Bookshop, £14.99) of the pseudo-nymous Hampstead café, which comes with an imprimatur from Helena Bonham Carter. You wonder why the Hampstead classes look so sleek, so content? It may be because they graze on banana and wheatgerm smoothies and chorizo, avocado and lime on toast before sallying off to run quangos and do acting. Actually there's a lot that's simple here: steak with Gentleman's Relish, say, is served with tarragon and GR butter. My only quibble is that the mini chocolate cupcakes ended up concave, but they tasted fine.

Justin Gellatly, master baker, is the Nemesis of the low-carb diet, and I would happily eat every day at his stall at London's Borough market where he and his wife Louise sell the best breads, grounded in the English baking tradition. …

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