We don’t have a television, so I had not heard of Stacie Stewart until I was sent her book to review. On finding out she reached the Masterchef finals in 2010 and is now on ITVs food. Glorious.food, I wasn’t much the wiser. Well, along with this august claim to fame, she also has a bakery supplying cakes and bakes to shops and events around the country. Ahh, now I get it, she’s a baker – my interest awakened.
The 208 page hardback book is an eclectic mix of recipes with vintage, classics and modern bakes both from Britain and abroad given a Stacie twist. The chapters are arranged by the calendar, starting off with New Year, New Baking Rules and ending with Christmas Baking & Gifts. Some of the recipes seemed to have been placed a little arbitrarily: Turkish delight with pistachios sounds delightful, but I’m not sure I’d have put it in the chapter for Mother’s Day and Vintage Tea. There is an introductory section on baking tips and equipment, which I thought would be particularly useful to the novice cook and is rarely covered. Such essentials as: oven temperatures vary – I had no idea about this when I started baking and it has caused no end of problems with both burnt and underdone bakes; toast nuts before you use them both for added flavour and loosening skins. Other tips are scattered throughout the book.
The recipes look to be really interesting and I have bookmarked a fair few of them. Each one starts with a little introduction, which I found to be a nice touch. Both historical and personal factoids are included; I didn’t know that the northern classic, singin’ hinnies got their name from the whistling noise they made when cooking. There are a few gluten free recipes and a couple of “healthy” bakes, but the majority are full-on lip smackingly indulgent. Peaches baked in sweet wine are served with amaretti studded ricotta. Beehive bars for breakfast sound a tad decadent to me with their copious amounts of sugar, butter and syrup, but I’ wouldn’t say no to them at any other time of the day. Rhubarb Tarte Tatin makes for a very interesting twist on the classic and one I am keen to try. Elvis gets a clever tribute with blue suede choux – choux pastry filled with peanut butter cream and topped with caramel and bananas. I was pleased to see that chocolate was well represented throughout the book; chocolate cake filled with salted caramel custard had me reaching for a bookmark immediately.
Cheese & Leek Scones on bottom tier
As well as adapting her recipe for madeleines (post to follow soon), I made Stacie’s cheese and leek scones for Easter Tea, pretty much as the recipe stated, other than substituting some of the flour for wholemeal. They were the star of the show, knocking my Simnel Cake and other fancy treats into the shade. I shall certainly be making those again. Both recipes were easy to follow and very importantly, worked.
The type face is blocky and I found it a bit difficult to read. With her vintage beehive hairstyle and heavy black eyelashes, Stacie is not to be missed. In fact whilst the pictures are good, there seem to be far more of Stacie than the bakes she’s made. I would have preferred it the other way around.
All in all, I think it’s worthy of a place on my cookbook shelves.
Hello, I’m Choclette. I’m a vegetarian home cook and whole food recipe developer. I have a passion for flavour, cooking with the seasons, baking and chocolate. Welcome to my award winning blog. Here you'll find delicious and nutritious recipes that are mostly easy to prepare and definitely easy to eat.