Sesame and Spice by Anne Shooter

Warmth and generosity and love shines  through the pages of ‘Sesame and Spice‘ by Anne Shooter as in this plum and vanilla cake which I have now made time and time again. It’s a book of Jewish baking with old family recipes found scribbled on bits of paper to modern interpretations of cakes and pastries found in New York and Israeli bakeries.  Grandma’s apple cake, with the spiced apple layers running through is symbolic of the traditional recipes in the book.

Grandma's apple cake

At a demonstration, Anne Shooter told the story of how she had met Nigella Lawson and had thought that Nigella’s next book should be about  Jewish and Middle Eastern baking. Anne then realised the next day that she could actually write the book herself herself and created her proposal. It’s so easy to start with the cakes in a new cookbook but the savoury recipes are fresh and inviting.

I wondered about the faff involved in cooking aubergines three different ways for this aubergine and halloumi tart with lemon and mint but it was well worth all the effort.

The shaksuka pizza is a modern twist on a pizza and with an egg in each quarter,  it fed us nicely without that heavy doughy feeling you sometimes get having eaten a pizza.

These chickpea, feta and harissa sambusac have an unusual yeast pastry. Yeast isn’t usually my thing but these worked really well and would be a great vegetarian party snack or lunch box cheerer upper.

I’ve never made challah bread before and we giggled as it rose up plumptiously one Sunday afternoon. We ate it sliced with home made jam and it was miles better than crumpets. The next day, it made excellent, rich toast and it would be also good in a bread and butter pudding.

Challah bread

It made an old fashioned Sunday afternoon tea quite special along with the date and walnut cake.

Date and walnut cake

The Ottoman cake is quite delicious as is the pomegranate and almond cake with a rose scented syrup. They are light and delicate as individual cakes baked in mini bundt tins or it’s possible to make one big one in a tin and then slice it up.

Pomegranate and almond cake with rose-scented syrupNext up on my baking list from the book is the date, maple and walnut pie which is a cross between a pecan pie and a sticky toffee pudding. I also also want to explore more of the savoury baking with the onion pretzels and the courgette, feta and mint pashtida.

The book is  personal and heartfelt and tells a story of a culture and its food. The greatest compliment that I can give it is that I come back to it whenever I want something new and different to bake.

Author: Kate Roxburgh

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