My First Baking Book / Kids Can Cook Vegetarian

My First Baking Book
David Atherton, illustrated by Harry Woodgate
Walker Books

Great British Bake Off winner David Atherton has a new cookery book for young cooks and it’s bursting with exciting recipes, each with a healthy twist. It’s divided into five sections – breads, cakes, sweet biscuits and bites, pastries and finally, some extra special ‘showstoppers’ but first of all David offers users some helpful tips, ‘tricks’, a few facts and an equipment list.

I’ve certainly never thought of baking a loaf in a flowerpot but this is one of the ideas in the bread section and it was interesting to find chocolate chip buns in the same section – a recipe to try when I have young relations staying; that’s if I can tempt them way from all the alluring cakes in this book. The chocolate garden cups remind me of when we visit Udaipur, Rajasthan where the owner of our favourite cafe would quickly rustle up chocolate cup cakes (sans gummy worms) for us when they’d run out of the pre-baked ones. I think those were cooked actually in the cups rather than a baking tin like they are in David’s recipe.

My very favourite idea is the show stopping focaccia sunflower picture. This is actually a flatbread that looks like a work of art in Harry Woodgate’s illustrations. It’s the perfect thing to offer any Ukranian guests you might be hosting, or to bake with a primary school class where there are Ukranian children.

As with his previous books David puts exciting, creative twists on baked goodies that might otherwise seem relatively ordinary and there are plenty of those in this book, each one clearly and alluringly illustrated by Harry Woodgate.

Kids Can Cook Vegetarian
illustrated by Esther Coombs
Button Books

Comprising an introduction giving information on safety, equipment and basic techniques and more than thirty recipes divided into three sections, this is for a vegan like myself, a very welcome addition to the Kids Can cooking series.

First come the ‘snacks and sides’ – savoury treats and three dips. Main meals is the largest part and includes breakfast burritos, falafels – my mouth is already watering at the prospect of making these, a yummy sounding roasted vegetable bowl, bean burgers and carrot hot dogs – now there’s another great idea. 

For those with a penchant for pasta, several of the recipes in this section include some kind of pasta, though I rather like the thought of courgetti, which looks like a noodle dish but uses long thin strips of courgette. This is definitely going on my list to try.

There are six ‘sweet treats’, two of which are for pancakes (blueberry and banana) but the recipe that is top of my must make treat list is the courgette brownies.

With easy to follow, step by step instructions for each recipe, illustrated by Esther Coombs, this book offers hours of fun in the kitchen (under the watchful eye of an adult) and an assortment of goodies to look forward to consuming. Wash those hands, put on your apron and off you go.

My Green Cookbook / Polly Bee Makes Honey

My Green Cookbook
David Atherton, illustrated by Alice Bowsher
Walker Books

Hot on the heels of his excellent My First Cook Book, Great British Bake Off winner David Atherton offers around forty vegetarian recipes. No matter if you’re looking for a tasty meal, snacks, a sweet treat or an attractive cake (several, even), there’s something here.

Like the author, I love walking in the forest and looking up at the trees so was immediately drawn to the yummy-looking Autumn Woodland Cake, though as a vegan, I’d want to make one or two slight tweaks to the ingredients list.

The Curry Korma Bowl too caught my eye right away. Indian food is one of my favourite kinds of cuisine. Having been unable to travel to India since fleeing that country at the start of the pandemic I can’t wait to go back but with all the necessary ingredients for this dish already in my cupboards, this is one of the recipes I’ll try first.

And, having requested a large amount of haldi from an Indian student studying here the last time he returned to the UK, I have lots of turmeric and so next week intend to have a go at making the Bread Crowns – they look really fun and tasty too.

Among the Sweet Treats, I was attracted to the lemon and pear muffins as the young relations who often visit, are fond of muffins of many kinds. We can try making those together. (Maybe we’ll do two batches with me using a vegan egg substitute in one).

David’s enthusiasm shines through in this recipe book wherein he also explains the impact ‘eating green’ can have on health and well-being, and on the environment. With occasional touches of humour, Alice Bowsher’s illustrations add extra allure to the recipes.

Buy to keep and buy to give.

Honey was used in several of David’s recipes, now here’s a book all about that delicious ingredient/food.

Polly Bee Makes Honey
Deborah Chancellor and Julia Groves
Scallywag Press

This is the second book in the Follow My Food series. Here, a girl follows worker bee Polly as she (and her ‘sisters’) work hard first collecting pollen and nectar from various flowers in a meadow

and then taking it back to the hive where the nectar is squirted into the honeycomb and some of the pollen acts as food for the baby bees inside the hive.

During the narration we also meet the drones (Polly’s brothers), the queen (the egg layer) as well as the beekeeper who cares for the hive and harvests the honey,

helped by the girl narrator who is shown happily and appreciatively tucking into a slice of bread spread with delicious honey.

After the main narrative come a ‘pollen trail’ and a factual spread giving further information about bees.

With Deborah’s straightforward narrative and Julia’s bold, bright illustrations, this is a good starting point for youngsters especially if they’re working on a food (or perhaps even minibeast) theme in a foundation stage classroom.

My First Cook Book

My First Cook Book
David Atherton, illustrated by Rachel Stubbs
Walker Books

I’m far from an expert cook, nor have I really any aspirations so to be as my partner serves up delicious vegetarian dinners every evening. I wasn’t one of the many people who turned to baking during lockdown but nonetheless I was motivated to try some of the exciting recipes in 2019 The Great British Bake Off Winner, David Atherton’s book, aimed primarily at children. David has also been an International Health Advisor and is a fervent believer in the importance of teaching young children about healthy eating.

In My First Cook Book, he presents over forty nutritious recipes organised under four headings: ‘Starting the Day’, ‘Lunches and simple suppers’, ‘Delicious treats’ and ‘Teatime bakes’; and despite its title, this is very much a family book; adult supervision is required for each recipe. The author is an advocate of cooking together as a family and before the recipes, provides an illustrated list of basic kit for cooks, definitions of some terms used, notes on measurement and more.

I’m sure little ones will absolutely love the Banana bear pancakes (so long as they like bananas) – fantastic to see that young spinach leaves are included in the batter mix.

I was especially drawn to the Edible chia bowls that you can fill with whatever you so choose. I’m going to use a plant-based yogurt as the only slight deviation from the ‘live plain yogurt’ suggested in the ingredients.

If you’re thinking of lunch during a walk, why not try the Piggy buns as part of your picnic, filled with something of your family’s choosing. They look almost too cute to consume.

Among the ‘Delicious treats’ are goodies both savoury and sweet including Hummus lion and Energy stars – now they look truly tempting.

From ‘Teatime bakes’ I’m sure few people will be able to resist the Mega-chocolatey cake. I’ll say no more, other than that the recipe given makes 24 servings: what are you waiting for …

I had to laugh at David’s comment about pretending to be a dog as a kid in his Peanut butter bones introduction. It took me back to a reception class I once taught where for the first 2 weeks a little girl insisted she was a dog and crawled everywhere, even down the corridor to the hall for an assembly. The head was less than impressed with me: now these biscuits I’ll make for Farhannah, whom I’ll never forget.

I could go on raving about the recipes herein but I’ll merely say, get hold of his book and tuck in. It’s terrific! Made all the more so thanks to Rachel Stubbs’ fantastic illustrations of both the step-by-step food creation and the families having fun in the processes of cooking and consuming.