Sunday, December 30, 2012

On my Bookshelf: Red Velvet and Chocolate Heartache

I want to share with you what I spent most of Christmas Day reading. The book that has inspired me to get back into the kitchen after my marathon Christmas cooking bout, and to get back to writing again to boot!

Really, what's not to love about this book? From title, to photos, to the writing and recipes. This book is proudly devoted to the total indulgence of the senses and is written by a woman who understands cake completely - from its chemistry to its soul, via the emotional needs it fills. 
"Of all foods, cake is the most fun and, as such, shouldn't belong only to the elite (those with fast metabolisms who just "don't diet", those who have no intolerences to wheat or dairy, or who have never had to take into account gall-bladder or cholestrol related concerns.)"
This is no ordinary book of cakes, with the same old recycled recipes. No ma'am! These are cakes which are good for the body and the soul. A must-have for all those needing low fat, low GI, dairy free or gluten free recipes. Instead of  butter and wheat flour, she uses a combination of ground almonds, rice flour and vegetables - sweet potato, carrot, courgette, pumpkin, butternut squash, potato and even swede!

Usually healthy baking books are written by health nuts whose taste buds have been killed off by years of dedicated tofu eating and wheat grass smoothies, and so flavour or texture are compromised, because having been sugar, dairy and everything else free for so long, they are frankly delighted to find anything sweet that they can eat. 

Not so Harry, who reassuringly says: "I didn't write this book because I'm obsessed with healthy food. I wrote it because I adore cake." And this love of cake shines through the pages. It's pretty, girly and voluptuous!

Recipes include: Forbidden (beetroot) Brownies, Steamed Golden Syrup Pudding (turnip),  Lemon and Lavender Drizzle Cake (courgette), Parsnip Vanilla Fudge, not forgetting the eponymous Chocolate Heartache (aubergine!) and Red Velvet (beetroot) cakes.

These recipes have been tried and tested meticulously, and as an avid baker, reading her testing diaries was fascinating. I can't wait to try most of them. And share them with you here!

Harry Eastwood first launched her career co-presenting the TV series and book Cook Yourself Thin. She has built her reputation on real food that's better for you. Having previously known her from TV, I had no idea what a superb writer she was. The way she describes the personalities of each of the cakes is inspired. Take her "Autumn Apple and Cider Cake": 
"This cake is dignified. She takes her time but is never late, and hates shop-bought marmalade. She always remembers your birthday, and her presents are tied with real ribbon. Patient and wise, this cake is a warm shawl against the biting wind and the death of the year."
Though full of virtuous cakes, which will top up your fibre and micro nutrients, rather than your cholesterol, this book is anything but worthy. True decadence!


  1. Sounds like a fab book :) how was the aubergine cake?

  2. I am now buying this today. Totally inspired!!

  3. :) I've sold six copies of it so far!! I wish I was working on commission!!


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