Second cookbooks are hard to write about and, I imagine, enormously tough to write in the first place. You’ve used all your good anecdotes already, and all the ideas in your mental IN CASE I EVER WRITE MY OWN COOKBOOK file have been done. The recipes your customers begged for have, for the most part, been published. This is all to say that I’m having a difficult time discussing Golden, the sophomore book by Itamar Srulovich and Sarit Packer, which is a follow-up to their book Honey & Co. and focuses on sweet and savory baking (mostly sweet).
It’s a great book, packed with recipes that work and jump off the page screaming to be made. The pictures sell the food, and the way that the recipes are arranged, by time of day, conveniently places them into your day and life. But something about it seems a little flat and less than innovative. I don’t think you need to disrupt the cookbook paradigm to be relevant, or whatever the tech geniuses will tell you, but I do think this is best read as a companion, maybe a very long final chapter, to their first book.
Srulovich and Packer will inevitably be compared to Yotam Ottolenghi, that other Israeli chef with a big London presence who they’ve worked with. I think this book is more introductory than his – small ingredient lists, more straightforward methods, maybe more grounding in traditional preparations. Still, they embrace the big flavors and emphasis on fresh fruit and produce that comes from their shared Southern influence. The use meat and chocolate where they work, but those heavy flavors are judicious and thought-out.
You will need a kitchen scale for this book! Real talk, I went most of my cooking life without one and made a $15 investment last year and it’s so worth it, especially for the cakes and breads here. But if you measure properly and follow the directions (and read them through before you start, as the writers remind several times), you will be rewarded.
My favorite cakes were the orange marmalade bundts, but I brought the chocolate/cardamom torte to a party and I fear to see that crowd again without it. My phyllo spirals may have embarrassed the entire originating culture (am I the only one whose store-bought pastry is never the right shape for any recipe?) but they were delicious. And I was really glad to conquer lahma, a perpetual favorite but one that goes stale very quickly if you buy them from a bakery.
I was out of town for most of April, traveling for work and eating a lot of not-great packaged food. Coming back into the kitchen, I’m glad this is what I came home to, and that I still have about a hundred things on my list to try. Maybe some will ~disrupt my cooking life~, but more importantly, they’ll probably all be really good.
PS – keep an eye out for an absolutely-super-exciting collaboration we are cooking up over here. More info in a few weeks!
make this one thing:
Marmalade Mini-Bundt Cakes
for the cake batter:
200g unsalted butter, at room temperature
250g granulated sugar
seeds from 1/2 vanilla pod or 1 tsp vanilla extract
zest of 1 orange
60g ground almonds
200g AP flour
1 tsp baking powder
a pinch of table salt
60g whole orange marmalade (make your own or use jarred. Mine was very chunky and I would recommend blitzing with a hand blender or food processor if that is the case with yours.)
2 tsp orange blossom water
for the syrup:
juice of 1-2 oranges (about 60g/ml)
150g granulated sugar
1 tbsp orange blossom water
Preheat the oven to 375F. With this cake I advise using old-fashioned metal bundt tins, as the crust that forms is great and you will get a lovely shape for the cakes. (Pictured above, I used vintage metal cake tins in a different shape.) Lightly grease the tins with butter spray, or lightly butter and flour them if you prefer.
I used an electric mixer with a paddle attachment to make the batter, but if you don't have one, you can make it by hand. Cream the butter, sugar, vanilla, orange zest and almonds together until they start to fluff up and stick to the sides of the bowl, but don't overwork or allow the mixture to go white. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix in the eggs one at a time, making sure each is fully combined before adding the next. Then add the flour, semolina, baking powder, salt, marmalade and orange blossom water and combine to a nice, even consistency. Take care not to over-mix, as this can result in a tougher texture that isn't as nice to eat.
Pipe or spoon the batter into the tins - you end up with about 150g in each (or use a single large bundt tin). For the small cakes, bake for 10 minutes, then turn the tins around and leave for a further 10-12 minutes until just set to the touch. They will firm up later, so don't be tempted to leave them in the oven for longer. (If you are using a large bundt, it will need an additional 15-20 minutes until it is set.)
While the cakes are baking, mix the orange juice, sugar and water together in a small saucepan and bring to the boil over a high heat. Skim any impurities that form on top and continue boiling for one minute, then remove from the heat and add the orange blossom water.
As soon as the cakes come out of the oven, brush generously with the syrup and allow to soak in. Don't be tempted to leave any - it may look like a lot but it will be absorbed and make the cakes like little syrupy rum babas (without the rum). Flip the tins as soon as you can handle touching them and gently release the cakes onto a wire cooking rack. These keep well for up to 3 days (because of the syrup) and are best kept at room temperature, rather than in the fridge.
Serving idea: fill the center of each cake with Greek yogurt and a touch of marmalade. Alternatively, simple serve the yogurt on the side.