Leon is a fast food chain with a difference. Firstly, the food is quite good, and secondly, it’s prepared on the basis that it should taste good and do you good at the same time.
This, Leon: Baking & Puddings, the restaurant’s third cookbook, stretches that last point to the maximum.
There are recipes in here that contain suet.
Nothing with suet in it can ever do you good, in a physical sense at least, but it’s guaranteed to taste good, so full marks on the first point.
This cookbook fits into a neat category. It’s one of those books that get picked up a little skeptically, then put down on one side for a week or two. I was put off by the, well, by the whole sense of twee over-enthusiasm and homeliness of it, all quirkiness and bright colours.
In Yorkshire, in January, we don’t do bright colours.
Eventually, I came back to it and realised the error of my ways, for within the brightly coloured pages, with their photos of perfect people making and eating perfect food, there’s a tonne of great recipes.
This shouldn’t have come as such a surprise. Really, Leon was made to produce a book about baking, and in retrospect, their take on puddings and baking in general was always likely to be good.
The book starts with a good forty-five page chunk about practicalities like ingredients, equipment, techniques and what to do when it all goes to pot – the couple of pages of ‘first-aid’ tips for kitchen disasters could prove useful one of these days.
The rest of the book is split into two halves – everyday recipes and ‘celebration’ recipes, which covers a range of occasions from Bonfire Night, through to Christmas, with a Turkish delight thrown in in honour of Eid.
There’s a good range of food here, and it’s easy to pick out a few ‘yep, I’m going to cook that’ recipes just by flicking quickly through the pages. Pecan pie, a fruit cake with more fruit than cake and rather good looking tarte tartin leapt out straight away, but I won’t, however, be cooking a sweet potato pie topped with marshmallows – not in a million years. I might have a crack at that champagne granita, though, if I ever find myself in the unlikey but luxurious position of having half a bottle of champagne to spare.
Leon: Baking & Puddings is essentially more of the same, but that’s no bad thing. The other two books were fantastic, and this is no exception.