Why buy it?
Twenty years ago, pastry chef Phillippa Grogan returned from a working stint at London’s famed Clarke’s restaurant inspired to bake goods with real ingredients and integrity. She opened her first store in Armadale, Melbourne not long after. Today, the eponymous range of Phillippa’s packaged treats can be found lining the shelves of every self-respecting boutique deli in the country.
These core tenets still guide Grogan and can be felt in every page of her debut cookbook Phillippa’s Home Baking, compiled with noted food writer and business partner Richard Cornish. Despite a slightly twee start urging readers to bake like their parents and grandparents, Grogan’s voice stirs with inspiring conviction about baking’s virtues and finds a reassuring tone as the book progresses, enhanced by her obvious baking knowledge and eye for detail. In fact, behind the Martha Stewart-like appeal of the recipes and book’s design is a resource for serious bakers, with insightful information on the craft, from sourdough to puff pastry.
It’s amazing, actually, how much the duo pack into this 300-page book. Each recipe is accompanied by a thoughtful introduction and often a variation or tip, and the sweet and savoury collection encompasses everything from baked goods to meals using leftover bread. Stephanie Alexander writes in her foreword that this book will become a classic in many kitchens. She could be right.
As the title advertises, Phillippa’s Home Baking is filled with rustic, country-style treats, but there’s something for everyone with its broad range of recipes, from simple (peanut butter cookies) to advanced (making levain – sourdough starter), and Aussie (honey Anzac biscuits) to European (drommekage – Danish dream cake). Ingredient lists lean to the uncomplicated, while methods incorporate lots of detail for consistent results. Every dish has been tested by a team of home bakers, too.
In a book this big (there are over 140 recipes), it’s difficult to single out one. For a quick, basic dessert or treat for the kids, Phillippa’s simple vanilla butter cake with bright pink raspberry butter-cream frosting is enticing. For something more advanced (you’ll need to start a day ahead), there’s the custardy and poached fruit brioche tart. Grogan describes it as “one of the most elegant tarts I have ever baked”.
Most surprising dish
Inspired by good friend Stephanie Alexander’s take, Grogan’s red velvet cake also uses beetroot to produce its signature red-pink tint. Says Grogan: “Really good beetroots can produce aromas that are like raspberries and chocolate. I also love [beetroot] because it’s another chance to sneak vegetables into treats without children detecting them, hopefully developing their palates in the process.”
While the Phillippa’s brand is more commonly known for its packaged sweets, Grogan is equally a bread baker and her love for warm, fresh loaves comes across in the two chapters dedicated to the topic. “It is difficult not to feel an amazing sense of pride when you successfully bake your first loaf of bread and present it to your family and friends. Somehow this sense of fulfilment never really leaves me.” Bake a loaf and you will undoubtedly agree.
CWA-style recipe lovers, bakers looking to up their skills with technical know-how, and sweet fans of all persuasions.
Phillippa’s Home Baking by Phillippa Grogan and Richard Cornish (Lantern, $49.99, hbk)