A baker since a young age, Victoria Glass is an expert cake maker and owner of Victoria's Cake Boutique. The author of Boutique Wedding Cakes: bake and decorate beautiful cakes at home, she was featured in a recent retro-themed issue of the UK magazine Baking Heaven and recently released her second cookbook, "Deliciously Vintage."
"Deliciously Vintage" rounds up sixty favorite bakes from around the globe, including a wonderful selection of British standards (Jammy Dodgers, rock cakes, fat rascals, Chelsea buns, Bakewell tart, Battenberg cake, puddings) as well as international offerings (Australian Lamingtons, French madeleines, eclairs and clafoutis, South African melktert, Austrian Sachertorte, and many American contributions such as Mississippi mud pie, hummingbird cake, and Boston cream pie). Each recipe has a charming little story that gives background on a particular recipe; I found the British ones particularly amusing with schoolyard humor ("squashed fly cakes" for Eccles cakes, "dead man's arm" for the jelly roll).
Divided into biscuits and cookies, small cakes and bakes, large cakes, pastries, and desserts, you'll be sure to find the perfect baked good for any occasion, whether a dainty tea party (madeleines, Florentines, cream buns, lemon drizzle cake), elegant European coffee (Opera cake, Sachertorte, Kugelhopf), to a (children's) birthday party (cute butterfly cakes, PB&J cake, devil's food cake - hot chilis optional, although the chili horns make a particularly devilish touch indeed!). Best of all, ingredients should all be commonly available at your local grocery store.
Recipes are given in Imperial and US (volume) measurements; along with ingredients, you will also find a list of all required bakeware at the bottom of the page. I made the Chelsea buns and the Bakewell tart first; the Chelsea buns are much leaner than traditional American cinnamon rolls (also featured in the book), and you can substitute whatever dried fruit you have on hand for the filling. Victoria's instructions are straightforward and easy to follow, with helpful hints throughout (she was also kind enough to write back promptly when I had difficulties with a test recipe).
As with other Ryland Peters & Small titles, layout and design deserve a special mention. The book has a delightfully retro feel about it, from the red-and-white trim on the cover and matching endpapers to the old-fashioned china and linens in the photos. Each recipe features a full-color photograph on the facing page, and the background of the page featuring the recipe carries over elements from the staged photo. I love that touch with all their books as it lends a sense of continuity that serves to tie the recipe and its photo together.
I loved the wide range of international desserts from the UK, Finland, France, Australia, Austria and the US, and these are simple, down to earth bakes that can be accomplished in a relatively short time. Victoria did a lot of baking with her mother and grandmother as a child, and that love shines through in "Deliciously Vintage;" it's sure to delight bakers of all ages and there is enough variety to keep you baking happily for many months to come!
Update: Victoria's newest baking book, Baking Mash-Up, is now available!
(Review copy courtesy of Ryland Peters and Small)