Sunday, 19 May 2013

Good Housekeeping Children's Cook Book - Happy World Baking Day

I've been drafting this post for a while and not been able to upload the photographs because of a mysterious technical glitch that just stalled at 90% of uploading each one. I thought I'd have another go to celebrate World Baking Day today. I may even try some baking of my own later, though I'd be quite happy if I could manage light and fluffy scones. Do the simple things first - the ones people enjoy eating. Which is why I've perfected banana bread that people are coming back for a second slice before it's even cooled down.

One occasional advantage of republishing vintage books is that you're given other vintage books as people think you'll appreciate them. I normally do and find them an interesting read. While I wait for the strawberries to grow, though I don't have enough of a gardenful to consider opening my own tearoom, I'll think of trainee cooks like Candy Nevill. She was lucky enough to create her own recipe notebook because she had cookery lessons at school. For those who didn't, the Good Housekeeping Institute could help then and still does today. This Good Housekeeping guide dates from the late 1950s, so around the time in which Candy would have been learning to cook. It's a clashing mixture of black and white and saturated technicolour photography. It would have been the perfect present for the young cook as it covers everything he or she would need to learn. I've omitted the cover picture as it's a frankly scary shade of orange with small boy gnawing on a toffee apple, one neat girl in an apron dipping an apple in the hot toffee and a taller boy looking over their shoulders while doing the drying-up. It's useful in that it's not simply a book of sweets and biscuits - you're taught how to make simple suppers, breakfast and the sort of recipes you might manage if your mother (it's only mother) is unwell.  

We start with a birthday cake. Home-made, be-ribboned and slightly squint candles.

Even the contents page is interesting. Before you're introduced to a circus of iced biscuits, you also learn how to prepare yourself (hand-washing, find an apron) and the kitchen. There are even illustrated instructions on how to light the gas stove. It's generally useful to get your ingredients ready before you start. 

Finally, this red, orange and blue runs over a two-page spread. It shows exactly how colour photography can enhance cookbooks and you see every layer in that jelly. 

It's a world away from layer cakes, cutting-edge patisserie and cupcakes with icing that's taller than the cake that you see in many shop windows now. Enjoy the vintage world of cooking for the family.

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