The Tivoli Road Baker – Michael and Pippa JamesFebruary 21, 2018 by Jenny
There are cookbooks that are so beautiful that I am transfixed by the passion reflected in the photographs and stories from the moment I crack open the cover. The Tivoli Road Baker: Recipes and Notes from a Chef Who Chose Baking by Michael and Pippa James is one such book – the couple’s love of great food and community radiates off each page.
The craft of baking has captivated the British born chef who has been called “one of the greatest bakers of his generation”. The goal of this debut cookbook, co-written with his partner in all things, Pippa, is to inspire readers to make nourishing real bread at home and to give them the confidence to adapt it to suit their own tastes. That statement won me over; any cookbook that encourages creativity after nailing down basic techniques is a winner in my estimation.
The Tivoli Road Baker delivers the secrets of the Melbourne bakery’s best-loved creations along with baking basics and the keys to a good larder. Michael’s British heritage is reflected in traditional Cornish pasties, Saffron buns and Eccles cakes shared in the British bakes chapter. Also included in the 80 recipes here are Australian favorites such as Lamington doughnuts, Anzac biscuits and Monte Carlos. The heart of this book beats in the Bread chapter which guides the baker step by step into creating a great loaf of bread to share with those you love.
Readers are also introduced to the beloved growers and suppliers that the couple credit as being so important to the success of their little Melbourne bakery. “What we do isn’t magic, it’s the result of excellent ingredients, years of trial and error, and dedication to an ancient craft,” they state in the Introduction. But they are wrong, they do make magic with their work but where they are different is that they share the secrets of that magic with us. Their infectious spirit will unleash the baker in all of us inspiring us to learn from them and then learn from ourselves
Makes 1 large loaf
- 50 g (1 3/4 oz) butter, diced
- 130 g (4 1/2 oz) soft brown sugar
- zest of 1 orange
- 40 g (1 1/2 oz) honey
- 150 g (5 1/2 oz) flaked almonds
- 170 g (6 oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
- 50 g (1 3/4 oz) cocoa powder
- 1 1/4 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 225 g (8 oz) butter, soft
- 340 g (12 oz) caster (superfine) sugar
- 3 eggs, at room temperature
- 1/2 vanilla pod, seeds scraped (or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 160 g (5 1/2 oz) buttermilk
Bakery notes: If the almond topping sticks a bit in the tin or falls off when you invert the cake, you can fix it if you act quickly, before the caramel sets. Use a spoon or spatula to stick it back onto the cake, being careful not to touch the caramel directly, to avoid burning your fingers.
It’s best to use a serrated knife to slice this cake, as the top sets quite firm. Gently saw through the almond topping to avoid squashing the cake. It will keep well for a few days in an airtight container.
Preheat the oven to 160°C (320°F). Grease a 9 x 22 x 10 cm (3 1/2 x 8 3/4 x 4 in) loaf tin and line it with baking paper.
To prepare the almond topping, melt the butter, sugar, orange zest and honey in a small saucepan over a low heat, stirring constantly until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is thick and syrupy. Pour the syrup into your prepared tin, then sprinkle the flaked almonds evenly over the top. Set aside to cool.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, bicarbonate of soda and salt, then set aside. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and vanilla. With the mixer still running on a slow speed, gradually add the egg to the butter mixture a little at a time, ensuring each addition is fully incorporated before adding the next.
Alternate between adding a third of the dry ingredients and a third of the buttermilk to the batter, mixing well between each addition, until all the ingredients have been added and the batter has just come together. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure that the batter is completely mixed.
Pour the batter into the tin over the almonds and caramel, and bake for 60-70 minutes, until the top is firm to touch and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Leave to cool for a few minutes, then set a wire rack over a tray lined with paper. Invert the still warm cake onto the wire rack then gently lift off the tin, being careful to avoid the caramel, which will still be extremely hot. Leave to cool completely before serving, to allow the almond caramel top to
Recipes excerpted with permission from The Tivoli Road Baker by Michael and Pippa James, published by Hardie Grant Books November 2017, RRP $35.00 hardcover.
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