The Cook and Baker, written by Cherie Bevan and Tass Tauroa, features an exciting variety of sweet and savory treats for every occasion. A few highlights include Chocolate Lamingtons, Passionfruit Meringue Tarts, Berry Jam Shortbreads, Old-Fashioned Pork Sausage Rolls, and Cheese Toasties. I will also be featuring their recipe for Flourless Chocolate Fudge Cake following the review.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Murdoch Books in exchange for my honest review. All comments and opinions are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase something through the link, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Cherie Bevan and Tass Tauroa
Cherie Bevan enrolled in a cooking course at Auckland’s Polytechnic Collage at 14 and was head chef at a delicatessen and catering business by the age of 17.
Tass Tauroa also graduated from Polytechnic and was a personal chef to the Maritime Commander during his service in the New Zealand Royal Navy.
Together, they have worked together for over 20 years and opened The Cook and Baker in Sydney, Australia in August 2012.
The Cook and Baker
The Cook and Baker begins with a short introduction into the authors’ lives and going into business together before jumping right into the recipes. I actually had The Cook and Baker shop on our list of places to visit during our indefinitely postponed trip to Sydney in April 2020. At least while not traveling, I am still able to enjoy a little piece of it at home before finally visiting in person someday!
Chapters are divided according to the following: Cakes, Sweet Tarts, Slices, Biscuits, Donuts and More, Festive Baking, Confectionery, Savoury Pies and Tarts, Sandwiches, and Base Recipes.
While I focused on the sweet treats during the review, there are also a delicious assortment of savory pies, tarts, and sandwiches I can’t wait to try. As we get closer to the holiday season, the section dedicated to celebratory food for Christmas and Easter will be particularly helpful. I especially loved the addition of so many New Zealand and Australian favorites.
The beautiful photography is provided by Chris Chen. Among the pages, you will find both full-page photos to accompany the recipes along with a few from the shop.
Measurements are listed in Metric and US Customary. Titles are written in English. Each recipe has a headnote with background information, personal stories, helpful tips, serving size, prep/cooking time, and serving ideas.
Flourless Chocolate Fudge Cake
I wasn’t originally planning on featuring the Flourless Chocolate Fudge Cake, but ended up being hooked from the very first bite and the texture is absolutely fantastic. It is also gluten-free with no nut-based ingredients either!
There are a couple of steps, but overall it isn’t overly complicated and the cake comes together with only a handful of ingredients. Butter is placed over low heat, then combined with the dark chocolate until melted and smooth. The mixture is paired with a brown sugar syrup and egg yolks before folding in beaten egg whites to form the light, yet decadent batter.
The texture was difficult to show in the photographs, but it is actually achieved by creating two separate layers! Half of the batter is first baked in a springform pan for 30 minutes, then allowed to cool before topping with the remaining batter and baking just until set. The result is a dense, cake-like base with a more fudgy, brownie-like top. The best of both worlds all in one slice!
I paired the cake with a homemade vanilla whipped cream from the book. It would also be delicious with fresh berries or crème fraîche.
This Flourless Chocolate Fudge Cake is best served the day it is baked at room temperature. It can also be made up to 2-3 days in advance and stored covered in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
I also made the Louise Cake, Lemon Curd Shortbread, Passionfruit Melting Moments, and Caramel Popcorn.
The recipe for the New Zealand Louise Cake comes from Cherie’s mother. It actually reminded me a bit of the Hertzoggies (South African Jam and Coconut Tartlets) in slice form. A buttery shortbread base is covered in a thin layer of raspberry jam, then topped with a coconut meringue before baking until crisp and golden. I absolutely loved all the flavors and textures packed into each layer.
The Lemon Curd Shortbread were a particular favorite. A shortbread base is pressed into a pan, baked until golden, then covered evenly with a layer of lemon curd. The remaining shortbread is crumbled over the top before continuing to bake until set. This recipe can also be made with homemade passionfruit curd for quite the delicious variation.
A friend recently gave me a few extra passionfruit from her backyard and The Cook and Baker has a handful of wonderful ways to use them! The Passionfruit Melting Moments (also known as Yoyo) were especially perfect. These light cookies have a melt-in-your-mouth texture and are sandwiched with a creamy sweet passionfruit filling.
Cherie and Tass call the Caramel Popcorn “an irresistible sugar hit” and they are certainly right! Popped popcorn pieces are coated in a sweet and salty syrup, then baked until set. Once cooled, they will last up to a week in an airtight container (but it only took a couple of days at most for them to disappear from our kitchen).
The Cook and Baker is a wonderful pick whether you have visited the shop in person and want to recreate favorites at home or are just looking for new ideas in the kitchen. Many of the treats come together in about an hour, though a few require a bit of planning. When possible, Cherie and Tass have included options to make a few of the steps ahead of time to break up the preparation.
Most of the ingredients are readily available in the average American grocery store. A few items that may require further searching include caster sugar, golden syrup, almond meal, raw cacao powder, golden raisins, currants, and Vegemite.
Flourless Chocolate Fudge Cake Recipe
Excerpt from The Cook and Baker
Flourless Chocolate Fudge Cake
- 240 grams (8 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter chopped
- 360 grams (12 3/4 ounces) dark chocolate chopped
- 285 grams (10 ounces, 1 1/2 cups) light brown sugar lightly packed
- 60 milliliters (2 fluid ounces, 1/4 cup) water
- 5 eggs at room temperature, separated
- Cocoa powder for dusting
- Preheat the oven to 180˚C (350˚F). Lightly grease and line the base and side of a 23 centimeter (9 inch) spring-form cake tin with baking paper.
- In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over low heat then take off the heat, add the chocolate and stir until melted.
- In a small saucepan, mix together the sugar and 60 milliliters (2 fluid ounces, 1/4 cup) water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Pour the hot syrup over the melted butter and chocolate and stir until combined.
- Stir in the egg yolks, then pour into a medium bowl and set aside.
- Use an electric mixer with a whisk attachment to whisk the egg whites until stiff, but not dry, peaks form.
- Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture until combined, making sure there are no streaks of egg white.
- Pour half of the mixture into the prepared tin, gently spread level.
- Bake for 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out almost clean. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
- Flatten the top of the cake, pour over the remaining batter then return to the oven and bake for another 25-30 minutes.
- Leave to cool completely before removing from the tin.
- Dust with cocoa powder and serve.