The Baker’s Daughter by Louise Johncox – Review
I can’t tell you how excited I am about the recent release of The Baker’s Daughter – Timeless Recipes from Four Generations of Bakers by Louise Johncox (Macmillan). Why you may wonder? Well Louise’s dad Peter owned Peter’s tea shop in Weybridge where he baked bread, made all manner of cakes and savouries as well as creating a fine array of home-made chocolates oh and I nearly forgot his jams and marmalade. When Peter married Frankie (Louise’s mum) she became the familiar face of Peter’s serving all the customers. I spent my childhood and beyond either having tea in the team room or popping in for sweet and savoury bakes. If ever we had unexpected visitors that needed feeding, Peter’s was like an extension to our kitchen being just a short walk away. As a young child I would be treated to my favourite iced animal biscuit from the shop and as I got older I loved all the cream cakes (the strawberry tart in summer was sublime) and the Danish pastries. When we had lunch in the tea room it always had to be Welsh Rarebit with a tiny dish of English mustard as nowhere else made them as good!
Peter’s were in Weybridge from 1958 until 2000 when they closed due to Peter’s retirement. Peter worked 14 hour days, 6 days a week and only ever had 1 day off sick. During my whole time as a customer I never saw Peter once but just his hands through the serving hatch in the tea room. When Peter’s closed it was the end of an era and a very sad day for Weybridge. For years after we kept reminiscing about the loss of such a wonderful place and really missed our Welsh Rarebits in particular. Peter’s had played such a huge part in our lives whether it was for our everyday needs, our birthday cakes (I remember a netball one for my 15th vividly), my sister’s christianing cake or splendid chocolate eggs at easter time.
What I hadn’t realised was that Peter came from a long line of pastry chefs and both his parents and grandparents ran tea shops. In Louise’s quest to write a memoir of her time at Peter’s, so started a journey of the culinary variety, when she started learning how to bake from her now retired father and a physical journey to Poschiavo a village on the Swiss Italian border to trace her ancestors. Louise’s book really is a labour of love as she extracted recipes from Peter that had never written down put them into domestic quantities. No mean feat from a baker that just did things by instinct and never once timed anything in the oven but just knew when a loaf etc was ready!
It’s a fitting tribute that Albert Roux OBE, KFO has written the foreward to this book as he understands what it is to run a family business and all the hard work that goes with it. Without Louise’s book generations of recipes would have been lost and that would have been such a shame. Whether you knew Peter’s or not this book is full of fabulous recipes for everything from their famous gooey cream meringues, almond macaroons (a favourite of my mum’s), custard creams (one of dad’s favourites) to the wonderful Welsh Rarebit that we all missed so much! In addition there are some recipes from Frankie which include fudge, chutneys and jam. The first recipe I baked from the book was Frankie’s Lemon Drizzle Cake which was totally gorgeous and intensely lemony!
Who knew as a little girl, seeing Louise in the tea shop as we both grew up, that one day I would be reviewing her book and be able to re-create all the wonderful sweet and savoury bakes from my childhood? Most of you reading this will not have experienced Peter’s but you can capture a bygone era, a wonderful story and generations of wonderful recipes in this remarkable book. Each chapter shares a moment of time in Peter’s history with a mixture of funny and poignant memories which lead into each collection of recipes. Peter may not be with us any longer but his legacy will now live on through this wonderful tribute!
I give this book 5/5 for the stories and all the wonderful recipes you’ll want to make.
Louise will be doing a book signing at Weybridge Books on 26th April from 2pm.
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Disclaimer: Many thanks to Macmillan for my copy of The Baker’s Daughter by Louise Johncox and the prizes, all opinions are my own and I was not paid for this post.
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