Tuesday 17 January 2012

Book review : Leon : Baking & Puddings (Book 3) – Claire Ptak & Henry Dimbleby

When the lovely people at Octopus Books sent me a copy of the Leon Baking & Puddings cookbook for review, I have to admit that I'd never heard of Leon. The back of the book informs us that the first Leon restaurant opened its doors in London's Carnaby Street in July 2004 with the aim of changing the face of fast food by bringing fresh, wholesome cooking to the high street. Six months later, it was named Best New Restaurant in Great Britain at the Observer Food Monthly Awards and there are now 11 Leon restaurants serving 70,000 people a week. Impressive stuff.

The first thing that caught my eye was the fabulous retro-style cover. The voluptuous angel bearing a huge strawberry Victoria sponge and the tattoo “Have your cake and eat it” immediately sets the tone for what is to come inside – vintage-style cakes and desserts like your granny used to make, but also a multitude of healthy but nevertheless indulgent treats that you can enjoy with a clear conscience.

The chunky 300 page book contains a generous 100+ recipes, but even more impressive is that three quarters of them are sugar, dairy, wheat or gluten free so it's a fantastic investment for anyone cooking for people with food allergies or intolerances. Vegetarians and even vegans are also catered for, with recipes such as Vegan Vanilla Icing and Pumpkin Seed Milk which can be incorporated into other recipes and used in a wide range of ways.

The book is split into two main parts, Every Day and Celebration, with various chapters in each – Breakfast, Power Snacks, Tea Time, Puds, Cooking With Children (my favourite section in the whole book), Bread & Yeast and Sweets for the Every Day part and every celebration you can possibly think of, from Christmas, Thanksgiving and Birthdays to the less obvious St George's Day, Eid, Wakes and Wimbledon. As they explain in the introduction, the collection of recipes is designed to celebrate the passing of time, both through the year and through our lives, and you'll find everything from hot cross buns and toffee apples to a Desperate Dan Pie for Father's Day !

I love the eclectic mix of recipes, from the most traditional things perfect for a trip down memory lane like eggy bread, classic Victoria sponge and coconut macaroons (that take me back to cookery classes at school !) to more exotic and surprising offerings like Maggie's Croatian Pear Pie, Andi's Marshmallow Topped Sweet Potato Pie and French Onion Tart. I love the fact that it gives you recipes for things you'd probably never have thought of making yourself, such as strawberry marshmallows, Turkish Delight and honeycomb. I also love the way it offers you better, healthier ways of making things you probably already make, such as using fruit puree in icing for natural flavours and colours and making fibre-packed, low-fat power snacks that do you good and fill you up as well as satisfy your cravings for sweet things, in place of the usual sugar-packed cookies and cakes.

Recipes aside, it's a lovely book to flick through for inspiration, packed with colourful photos and little anecdotes. I love the family photos from the 70's which make this such a homely book, as if you're being given a collection of family-favourite recipes rather than a commercial recipe book.

Star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £20 (but only £10 on amazon)

Other reviews you may be interested in :


  1. sounds a fantastic book and like you i love the retro cover. Think i will have to go and seek this book out myself!
    well done on a great review

  2. Love the idea of this book as it sounds really interesting and different from the usual books that are out there.

  3. This book sounds right up my street I love baking and adore puddings, the Strawberry Marshmallows mmmm a delicious treat.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...