I used to wonder what drew people to baking. To me, it always seemed like an effort reserved for special occasions — but, in recent years I’ve begun to recognize the comfort and kindness found in baking. There is a feeling of comfort found in a familiar recipe and the way that it scents the house in such a lovely way, and it’s the kindness offered when you share the goodies you’ve made. And, when you use a book full of simple recipes full of sweet familiarity, it feels good. There is something very beguiling about Edd Kimber‘s latest book One Tin Bakes. It’s not about equipment or technique but about baking things that make us feel good.
I appreciate the fact that Edd Kimber has created a book dedicated to distilling baking into its most homey and essential parts — it’s not about baking fantastical things, instead, his book urges the home baker to bake for enjoyment. He’s whittled the equipment needed down to one pan: a 9×13″ rectangle. From here he offers 5 chapters full of recipes which only use this pan! There are recipes for cakes, cookies, bars, pastries, pies, tarts, buns, and bread. Bake or no-bake. And the base ingredients he uses are ones that most home bakers will have in their fridge/pantry — flour, butter, eggs, sugar, vanilla, cocoa, and yeast. In this respect, Kimber’s careful consideration of the needs of home bakers is evident.
One of my favourite recipes in the book is the Mixed Berry Dutch Baby. Having only made them with the use of a skillet I am pleased to know that a larger version is easily made in a 9×13″ baking pan. Kimber’s Dutch Baby is delightfully bright dotted with juicy, delicious berries and, I found that with a dusting of powdered sugar it made for a lovely weekend breakfast. My daughter enjoyed hers with a bit of maple syrup and was thrilled with the warm jammy berries baked into the pancake.
Another recipe we enjoyed as a breakfast treat was the Slab Scones. We enjoyed our scones with macerated strawberries and thick vanilla yogurt from the local farmers market (Kimber councils against buying clotted cream if you’re living outside the UK as this version is a bit disappointing in the flavour department). Such an easy and clever way to make scones without the fuss of rolling and cutting. Since only my small family was enjoying the scones, I ended up freezing the extra. In this respect the use of the 9×13″ can create extra — instead of halving the recipes, I chose to either give away or freeze anything in excess of what we were able to immediately eat (this book would also be useful when baking for larger gatherings).
When I think of cakes baked in a 9×13″ pan I immediately picture a moist and well-frosted slab cake, which is exactly what Kimber offers with his Classic Birthday Cake. This vanilla sheet cake, with chocolate fudge frosting and enough sprinkles to choke a horse, was the perfect surprise cake for my daughter’s recent birthday. This Classic Birthday Cake is the epitome of what a celebration cake should be and, while the layered versions are also quite nice on a birthday day, it’s this type of cake that sticks in my memory as the ones I enjoyed as a child. Since I usually make two cakes for my daughter’s birthday, I was able to share this one with my daughter’s friend and her family.
One Tin Bakes speaks to the nostalgia of baking — many recipes remind me of the treats that I enjoyed as a kid. While I adore the Rice Krispy treats of my childhood, Kimber offers a version with more flavour and texture by using brown butter and by adding pretzels, peanuts, cacao nibs, and chopped chocolate. Since I didn’t have any Rice Krispies in my pantry, I opted to used puffed rice — a different texture than the crisped version although nonetheless delicious! In his recipe notes he also encourages the home baker to use their imaginations in coming up with their own combinations.
Alongside the nostalgia-inducing recipes there are an equal number that have more modern roots. Take the Espresso Cacao Nib Morning Buns inspired by Kimber’s dining experiences in San Francisco at Tartine Bakery and Dandelion Chocolate. In my haste to make a batch of brioche dough (it needs to chill overnight), I missed the instruction to use 25 grams less butter for the morning bun recipe. Since there was no way to fix my mistake, I carried on with the recipe. I also chose to form the buns into circles rather than squares. The resulting buns were delicious — maybe not quite as the recipe intended but despite my error they still turned out. While warm, just out of the oven, the buns are rolled in a fine mixture of sugar, cacao nibs, and espresso powder which pairs nicely with the light coffee flavour imparted by the coffee compound butter used in making the brioche dough.
Part of the appeal of One Tin Bakes is that bakers of any skill level can use and enjoy it — I also feel like this would be an excellent cookbook for kids to enjoy too (considering this is not an equipment-dependent cookbook). There is also something to be said for the versatility of using only one pan type (especially since this is one that many bakers will already own). With approachable, delicious recipes, One Tin Bakes is a cookbook I’m glad to have in my library.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Manda Group for providing me with a free, review copy of this book. I did not receive monetary compensation for my post, and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.