Every now and again I come across a cookbook which makes me go ‘ahhhhh’ – big happy sigh. A cookbook that is a delightful reprieve from the hundreds and thousands of recipe books that are pumped out each year. Having written a few cookbooks myself I know the intense amount of effort involved. Writing a cookbook is HUGE. I recently heard it likened it to having a baby. It begins with the book idea [conception]; then the writing, editing, more editing, and a lengthy production process [pregnancy]; and then the book is released [the baby is born]. During this time you live and breathe ‘the book’, every waking moment you are consumed by it. And then you hold that physical book in your hands, and you are like WOW, I did this.
Having this deep understanding of what it takes to write a book, this new cookbook recently stood out to me. Limited Edition Cookery is written, styled, edited, produced and distributed by Auckland-based food writer Laura Faire. You have probably come across Laura’s scrumptious weekly column in the ‘Escape’ pullout of the Sunday Star Times. Or maybe you have her first book ‘Now is the Season’. Beyond writing the recipes and styling the food, Laura was part of every single stage in the production of this book. Sharing a similar passion as I have for the environment and protecting it, Laura has ensured every detail is as Eco as possible. The book is certified carboNZero, the paper stock from managed tree farms and recycled sources, and the words and images printed with vegetable based inks and citrus cleaners. The attention to detail is beyond the call of duty of most established publishers. It is more like a limited edition art print than an everyday cookbook. In fact each book includes its own hand-written [by Laura herself] print number inside the cover. Mine is 247/1000. Only 1000 copies were printed and every single book is personally signed by Laura.
In Laura’s own words, ‘… I have created this book. I have touched each page personally and wrapped the final book in its paper wrapper… this is a labour of love, of quality and care. And the materials used in this book are clean enough to be added to your compost and then spread through the garden. So even if this book doesn’t sell it will be good for the planet.’
The recipes are fresh, seasonal, and simple with a touch of professional from Laura’s experience as a chef in top Auckland restaurants [these days she is a food writer and stylist, and mother of 2 young children]. The book is sectioned into the seasons so you can easily turn to the season of the moment and find a recipe to suit the produce and weather. With autumn upon us I am looking forward to trying the Broccoli & Rocket Soup, and Saffron-Infused Cauliflower Rice, and below I have shared Laura’s Autumnal Date & Apple Cake – or as aptly called in the book – A Date with a Honey & Apple Cake. I love Laura’s little stories to accompany every recipe, as any reader of Laura’s Star Times column will agree, she certainly has a wonderful way with words.
Throughout the book there are little surprise pages, one with a small packet of ‘bee blend’ seeds to sow in your garden and grow wild flowers to feed the bees. Another page has a postcard with a recipe to post to a ‘beloved friend’. I want spill the beans on all the surprises so to leave you to discover the lovely pages of Limited Edition Cookery. A cookbook that I will treasure and use throughout the seasons. You can check out more pages from Limited Edition Cookery HERE. Thanks Laura for making such a memorable and visually delicious book to hold.
Recipe reproduced with permission from Limited Edition Cookery by Laura Faire. I added the Date Syrup Frosting as an afterthought, it would be lovely on any spiced-apple type cake.
1 cup chopped pitted dates
1 1/4 cups water
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup date syrup [or Honey]
125 g virgin coconut oil OR butter
2 free-range eggs
1 1/2 cups white spelt flour [OR 1 cup rice flour + 1/2 cup tapioca flour]
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
70g ground almonds [approx. 1/2 cup]
pinch of salt
3/4 cup date syrup
2 Tbsp virgin coconut oil
- First make the date syrup. Cover the dates with the water and soak overnight. Whiz together the dates and water in a blender until smooth, adding a little more water if needed to get to a pouring consistency. Pour into a glass jar with a tight fitting lid, store any excess in the fridge.
- Preheat oven, 170C. Grease and line the base of a 24cm cake tin - or grease a 24cm 'Bundt' cake tin [as used in the photos].
- Chop the unpeeled apples into 1 cm chunks discarding the cores. Place in a mixing bowl.
- In a small saucepan melt the honey, date syrup and coconut oil gently together. Let cool for a few minutes before mixing in the eggs [so not to scramble them]. Give this mixture a quick whisk by hand to make sure it is well mixed.
- Sift the flour, baking powder and spices into the bowl with the cubed apples. Add the almonds and salt. Stir to coat the apple, then fold in the wet ingredients. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 45 minutes until the cake springs back to touch. Rest cake in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack. Cool completely.
- To make the Frosting: Place the date syrup and coconut oil into a small jug and sit the jug in a bowl of hot water. Mix until the syrup and oil soften and combine into a thick pourable frosting. Spoon over the cake, allowing the frosting to pour over the sides. You want it to be thick enough so it doesn't just pour off the cake but rather slides down the sides and stops perfectly at the base of the cake.
Variation: I have also made little mini cakes with this recipe by 3/4 filling muffin cases and baking for 30 minutes until golden and springy.
ONE LAST THING…
After a 5 year break [to start a family] and many requests later I have decided to start up my popular cooking workshops again – kicking off in Term 2. If you are interested in coming along I would love your feedback so to tailor the workshops to what you want to learn. I have put together a short 2-minute survey HERE.
*The workshops will be based in Nelson, HOWEVER, I am looking into some Saturday workshops around New Zealand later in the year so please indicate your location in the survey if you are interested.