Peanut butter jammie dodgers

Book Review: Homemade Memories by Kate Doran

by Camilla Stoddart 30 October 2015

Homemade Memories is a collection of favourite childhood treats given contemporary twists by food blogger Kate Doran. Camilla Stoddart finds lots to get nostalgic about.

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Previously in-house writer and editor for Heston Blumenthal and cookery publisher at Penguin, Camilla is a freelance editor and writer who manages to combine her love of food with her love of words for a living.

Former cookery publisher at Penguin, Camilla Stoddart was more recently Heston Blumenthal's in-house editor, researcher and writer at The Fat Duck. When she's not combining her love of words with her love of food as a freelance editor and writer, she is fending off blows from her two children both of whom believe they are superheroes. Mostly she'd like to spend her days eating good food with friends ideally under the shade of a lime tree in south west France with a large glass of rosé.

Kate Doran was nicknamed the ‘little loaf’ as a toddler because her appetite for bread was apparently bigger than she was. Many years later when looking for a name for her baking blog, the moniker seemed perfect and she has been writing about her adventures in home baking at ever since. The blog is personal, charming and visually delightful which is why Kate has gathered such a loyal following, hungry for her common sense advice and indulgent recipes. Now she has made the leap from blog to book, as many bloggers do, but Homemade Memories doesn’t feel like a recap of the last four years of experimentation, instead it’s an homage to her childhood and the snacks, puddings, cakes and drinks that gave her her love of sweet things. The book is full of funny stories and happy memories together with the recipes they have inspired – ice creams from Italian holidays, chocolate fridge cake from children’s birthday parties, iced buns that remind her of half time in netball matches at school, her granny’s rock cakes etc. Her childhood sounds lovely, as does Kate, and her book is a most pleasant place to spend time.

What sets Homemade Memories apart from other baking books is the collection of homemade versions of classic childhood treats like Jaffa Cakes, Jammie Dodgers, Milky Ways, Sherbert Fountains and even Ferrero Rocher. While I am sadly not the sort of woman who makes her own After Eights, I do believe Kate when she says they’re worth the effort. As she says, you not only know that there are no nasties in what you are eating, you also get the added extras that come with making things from scratch – the smells, the anticipation, the satisfaction and the opportunity to lick the bowl . . .

While the recipes are inspired by childhood, this is not really a cookbook for children – the recipes are relatively advanced and the results are sophisticated. For example, Kate’s version of my own childhood favourite, butterscotch Angel Delight, is laced with whisky and there are other naughty treats like boozy chocolate fondants, Amaretto Bakewell tarts, Irish Cream fudge and chocolate milk with coffee and whisky. It’s a book for grown-up kids who want to revel in nostalgia but update the classics with contemporary twists. And the twists are glorious – think Fig and hazelnut bread and butter pudding, Coconut and raspberry Battenburg, Cardamom and honey Mini Milk ice lollies and Malt whisky loaf.

There are, however, simpler recipes in the book and lots of crowd-pleasers too. I made the Chocolate honeycomb biscuit cake with my children which was spectacular despite being extremely easy, so easy in fact, that the utter deliciousness of the finished cake was almost unexpected. There was something about the texture and the combination of flavours that raised it above the average fridge cake and made it a total knockout with the kids and adults alike. Maybe it was because we made the honeycomb ourselves which I highly recommend doing – it’s dramatic and fun and it tastes better than any honeycomb I’ve had since my own childhood. ‘It tastes of honey’ said my son with wonder and in that moment I was reminded why Kate is so passionate about making your own treats even when it seems like a faff. Maybe I could be the sort of woman who makes her own After Eights after all!

Buy this book:

Homemade Memories: Childhood Treats with a Twist by Kate Doran (Orion, 2015)

Photography © Helen Cathcart