Holiday Baking with the Grandkids

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"Treats from Little and Friday" a  recipe book in which Kim Evans shares all her delicious baking secrets is out now.

Kim is a passionate self-taught baker. She began her remarkable journey in Sydney where as a cash strapped fine arts student she swapped her baking for art supplies. Back in New Zealand she sculpted wedding and special occasion cakes in Christchurch. Then moved North and sold her baking at weekend markets. In a daring move she took the plunge with a tiny capital of $3000 to establish a baking business.  It was so successful that she now owns two cafes and a bakery in Auckland. This is her first recipe book.

Little and Friday café lives in a peaceful suburban Takapuna street.  The parking is easy. I took my nine year old granddaughter there for a treat. Right next door is the bakery. She took a peek through the window to see the bakers busy at work creating gorgeous cakes, donuts, brioches and pastries both sweet and savoury.

We ordered our drinks at the counter. She asked for a Foxton Fizz Curly Top lemonade.  I ordered a cappuccino.

We sat down at the large wooden table which takes up most of the interior space and lends a relaxed communal feeling .We were surrounded by other family groups and a few couples. While   waiting we poured ourselves a glass of cool water spiked with a cinnamon stick and a sprig of mint from the retro milk bottles on the table.

My granddaughter loves meat pies. I rarely bake them. To her delight there were plenty to choose from. She spotted a chicken and leek and a bacon and egg pie but could not go past her favourite, a mince and cheese one. I asked her to rate it.

She approached this task like a Junior Master chef judge. First she carefully lifted the lid of the pastry to reveal a plentiful meaty filling with no gristle or fat in sight. A pool of melted cheese lay in the centre.

She took a bite out of the pastry lid and declared it was not quite as crispy on top as it was on the sides. But it’s really yummy she said. Then she finished it to the very last crumb and gave it an excellent rating.

I indulged my sweet tooth with a sizeable walnut and fig slice with a creamy icing topped with some ginger, rich but moorish.

Having been to Little and Friday my granddaughter can’t wait to spend some of her holidays baking with me. Given half a chance she’d bake every savoury pie and galette in the book.

It’s not a book specially written for children but the recipes are so clearly explained and easy to follow that they are perfect for parents and grandparents to bake with them.

For young cooks who have a sweet tooth making small tarts with sweet pastry  which is made in the food processor)  and the chocolate chip and Anzac biscuits would be a good place to start.

When the grandkids are out of the kitchen I’ll try my hand at some of the more sophisticated treats like the pistachio shortbread crescents spiced with cardamom and rosewater.

The art of baking macaroons is one I have yet to master but her cranberry ones look very achievable. It’s a modern take of a recipe Kim found in one of her Mother’s Home Ec manuals for which you don’t need to beat the egg whites.

Kim has also simplified the process of how to make a buttery brioche. It’s going to be hard to choose between the caramelly flavoured cinnamon, date and walnut and the chocolate ones. Think of hot chocolate oozing out as you bite into them straight out of the oven!

Panforte filled with white chocolate, manuka homey, dried figs and walnuts would be just right to pass around with a coffee as an after dinner treat.

The raspberry and chocolate meringues promise to be crisp on the outside with a lovely gooey filling. I’d serve these for dessert with a berry coulis.

At the back of the book there are also some very useful finishings and fillings.  Basics like cream cheese icing, tomato relish and lemon curd as well as some original recipes for caramelised beetroot and candied carrots.

It’s not just the recipes but the whole philosophy on which this book is based on which appeals. My granddaughter has been well taught at school, Words like sustainability and recycling come easily to her generation. She likes the idea that at Little and Friday many of the ingredients used in the baking are organic and locally sourced. And that the food scraps are not wasted but are swapped with an organic pig farmer for free range eggs.

This is one of those recipe books that won’t linger unloved on my recipe book shelf. My granddaughter will see to that!

Treats from Little and Friday by Kim Evans is published by Penguin Group (RRP $44.99)

Read more from Lyn Potter at www.toothpix.co.nz.