My New Year’s Resolution of no more cookbooks has fallen way by the wayside. I am Jo Blogs, I am a cookbook-a-holic, hi group! I know you all have the same addiction as me ;) So this post, I’m sharing with you both a recipe and also a wee cookbook review from one of my latest acquisitions (sounds less naughty than purchases doesn’t it?) – Jo Wheatley A Passion For Baking.
For those of you who don’t know (and welcome back from under that stone in that case!) Jo Wheatley won the second series of The Great British Bake Off, a hugely popular British home baker competition which is due to air it’s third series this year and won a Bafta very recently indeed! Now as I watched the series I will admit, I did not fully appreciate the lacking in cock-sure self-assurance Jo.
The other big personalities might have overshadowed her a little in the early weeks but as the series progressed and then I discovered her on Facebook after the show finished, what I came to realise about Jo is just how wonderful a home baker and person she is. Her raspberry and apple meringue pie and her showpiece, a stunning cabinet decorated with flowers and filled with the most perfectly finished, thoroughly inviting petit fours absolutely blew my mind in particular and these images have remained with me.
So when she released her cookbook last week, I knew I had to get a copy. I follow her on Facebook and the personality I’ve come to know from doing so to know is warm, loving, friendly and incredibly giving. She always replies to fans questions really quickly and compliments, even if it is just a simple “like” and she even answers direct messages equally as quickly, despite her huge following of several thousand people and busy home baking classes business and family to boot!
She has my admiration. The love for her family and friends comes through loud and proud in this beautiful cookbook which she has furnished with a comprehensive selection of what appear to be a collection of bakes she’s done for over 20 years in some cases to some newer innovations, including recipes off GBBO (yay!). A few from her blog and magazine features even made into to my delight – I’ve made the apple hazelnut streusel cake and chocolate mud cake and both are wonderful. It really seems the sort of manual you could teach yourself to become a proficient baker from if you’re not sure where to start.
I think the secret to Jo’s ongoing success is just how “normal” she is – she inspires confidence in you and comes across like a friend, not like the big baking celebrity shes fast become! Today, I thought I’d share Jo’s peanut butter cookies with you and her genius little gem of a tip. So here we go.
Scoop out a simple cookie dough recipe with a rounded, spring loaded ice cream scoop to give uniformity of size and shape. This dough has Demerara sugar in and whole roasted peanuts too – fantastic combo of sweet, crystal crunch and salt right there. Bake for a mere five minutes before, and here’s the genius if somewhat out of left field tip I shall be using for all my cookies hence forth – take the tray out of the oven and bash it, hard, on to your worktop!
Oooo, who else gasped a little at the thought of that one?! Well gasp all you like – its inspired and gives you the Ne Plus Ultra chewy cookie texture I’ve never, ever been able to recreate outside of a Subway cookie! This action deflates the puffed up cookie which is returned to the oven for a mere 5 more minutes to finish baking. I encouraged mine to flatten a little by pushing down with a clean oven mitt as they didn’t deflate as much as expected. They did, however, further sink into a slightly underbaked, perfectly textured chewy middle cookie with the barest of crispness around the edges on cooling. As you can see here :)
Oh I’m so delighted with these I so wish I had gone out for twice as long on my bike this morning so I could eat a whole one, guilt free! But alas, half of one for fatty boom boom me and the rest are packed up for tonight for my lovely girls I work with.
So if you want to make this recipe right now, here are a link to an online version of Jo’s recipe – here. These are slightly different as they contain chocolate chips and ever so slightly different sugar contents but really, just get yourself down to Sainsbury’s right now and buy yourself a joy of a book. Pour yourself a coffee (or grab an ice lolly for those of you enjoying this heat wave right now!), read Jo’s wonderful book and bake some of these cookies for yourself – you will kick yourself for not pre-ordering like I did ;)
Bravo Jo and congratulations – I look forward to making many more of your bakes :) xxx