Monday, 7 November 2011

Book Review: The Home-Made Sweet Shop

By Guest Blogger Lizzie Evans of Who has a Blog.

The Home-Made Sweet Shop is a recipe book with a difference. It has over 90 classic recipes for sweets, candies and chocolates, to help you turn your kitchen into your very own sweet shop.

With old school childhood favourites such as Peppermint Humbugs, Peanut Brittle and Turkish Delights, accompanying modern alternatives including Raspberry Lollipops, Fruit Sherbet and Rocky Road Fudge, you are spoilt for choice, and may find it impossible to choose between them.
Originally from California, the writer, Claire Ptak, trained as a pastry chef at Chez Panisse in Berkeley. She then moved to London with her husband and opened a cake company in East London called Violet Cakes. It has a very loyal following, with celebrity chefs Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson and Thomasina Miers all being fans of her tasty treats.

Claire is also a food stylist, and has worked on a number of cookbooks and newspapers including The Guardian, and The Independent. This, however, is her first book.

The book begins with an insightful overview of the history of sugar, sweets and chocolates. It looks at their origins, up until their modern day forms, and looks at why they are so successful today. It then goes onto a directory of key ingredients and equipment needed for sweet making.
I found this particularly useful, as I have never done anything like this before, and some of the terminology was a little intimidating. It was comprehensive, and easy to understand, but could have done with some alternatives to the equipment mentioned, as I found it hard to find all the pieces that I needed.
The book is then organised into 7 sections. From Boiled Sweets, Lollipops, Pulled Taffies and Fondants, to Marzipan, Nut Confections and Liquorice. There is literally every kind of sweet recipe you could possibly ask for, and something for everyone to enjoy.
Each recipe has it's own page, so they aren’t cramped, and are nicely organised in to simple steps, which are easy to follow. They also have the occasional helpful tips from Claire herself.

Here’s one we made earlier.
 The book is also illustrated with over 450 beautiful photographs, all snapped by the talented Nicki Dowey, who has worked on many food publications, and has also done photography for clients such as Marks and Spencer, Fortnum and Mason, and Waitrose.
The book ends with a nutrition breakdown for each sweet, which is really handy if you are making the sweets with your children, or are watching the calories.

 Mark Out of Five -3/5 The recipes are simple and they are clearly explained, but I wouldn't recommend it to a complete beginner.  The sweets are quite temperamental, and require a lot of concentration. The ingredients and equipment can also be quite pricey. They do, however, make great little gifts, and it’s well worth the read if you’re interested in making home-made sweets.

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