Baking is one of life’s great pleasures. Baking can create either sweet or savory dishes. It can be quick or time-consuming. Baking can be deeply traditional or cutting edge modern. Baking brings so much pleasure because it so cleverly reflects the personality of the baker. And no one demonstrates that better than the deeply, deeply, (yep, I’m going for a third) deeply talented Nadia Hussain. You may have watched Nadiya win the title on series six of the GBBO. Or you may have encountered her more recently on the BBC series Nadiya Bakes (available on Netflix in the States). Based on her newest book – also titled Nadiya Bakes – I am convinced the woman can do no wrong.
Before We Start
Nadiya is a UK chef, author and television personality – so it makes complete sense that her latest book was published in the UK first. It is scheduled to be released in the US in the summer of 2021, but I simply could not wait. So, I ordered a copy from the UK publisher and I have been in a state of bliss since it arrived last week.
Bake, eat, love, repeat!
– Nadiya Hussain
Since it was published in the UK, my edition needs some on-the-fly adjustments to accommodate American cooks. Most obviously, the measurements are in Metric units. A handy kitchen scale solves that, for the most part. Cooking temps are in degrees Celsius and depending on the age of your oven, that might require a bit of math. Happily for me, my oven includes a setting to toggle between degrees Fahrenheit and Celsius. Whew!
None of that has affected the outcome of any of the recipes that I’ve tried (one week and several recipes in). I have found myself hugging this book more than once this week, and I think you’ll see why.
Baking Is A Part of Life
Nadiya Bakes covers cakes, tarts, breads, cookies (biscuits, if you’re British) and more. Some are gorgeous, elaborate affairs like the Kransekake Biscuit Tower. Others, like the Mango and Black Peppercorn Cranachan, take only 20 minutes and eight ingredients. To each recipes, Hussain brings a sense of joy and pleasure – and a wickedly clever take on flavor combinations.
Many people may read this and not get it. But for those of you who love baking as much as I do, you will get it instantly.
– Nadiya Hussain
Take the Mango and Black Peppercorn Cranachan as an example. A cranachan (pronounced ‘Kran-e-ken’) is a traditional Scottish dessert that includes raspberries, oats, cream and whisky. Hussain’s version uses mango instead of raspberries and cornflakes instead of oats. Yep, cornflakes. She doesn’t stop there, though. She toasts the cornflakes in butter and black pepper. The heat of the peppercorns with the sweetness of the mango is the sort of sweet/savory dessert memory that you’ll carry around with you days afterward. Give me a million years and I would have never come up with this dessert. It is sublime genius.
In Nadiya Bakes, Hussain shows that baking isn’t just for desserts. I made the Potato Rösti Quiche two nights ago and just finished the leftovers for lunch today. Wow. Just wow. I’m not sure which was better; they were both that good. The concept is simple enough – a grated potato crust with a cheese and egg filling. The results, though, are anything but simple. There is a ton of flavor here, with the biggest surprise being the smoked paprika. Just like the cranachan, the quiche has a flavor profile that I’m going to be turning over in my mind again and again. And again. Really, it’s that good.
Best of All
Some folks may be thinking, “Crana-what?! Paprika, mango?!” Fair enough. Remember how I said that baking reflects the unique personality of the baker? Maybe black pepper and mango isn’t your thing. It’s ok. Among the recipes in Nadiya Bakes, you’ll also find simple and fun updates to classics. If your house rings out with “Pizza again?!” – and yes, you can get to a pizza again?! place – something like the Pepperoni Pull-Apart might be just what you need. Traditional pizza fillings like sauce, pepperoni and cheese are baked into a simple bread dough. The end product has sections that can be easily pulled apart for sharing. I’ve had the book for just a week and my kids are already asking when I’ll make “pizza bread” again.
As I said, I’ve hugged Nadiya Bakes several times since it arrived last week. If you can’t recall the last time you hugged a cookbook, order this one now. We all need a hug from time to time.