Reviewed by Nia Lock
The Dairy Diary has a long history of producing excellent recipes. I remember my mother using her Dairy Diary in the 80’s full of scribbled notes and recipes. It used to be delivered by her milkman. I now buy the Dairy Diary for her every Christmas from my milkman.
The Around Britain Dairy cookbook by Dairy Diary is exactly the sort of cookery book that I would pick up in a bookshop for either of my parents or for myself. It would make the ideal gift for Father’s day as it’s a beguiling combination of British travel and traditional cookery.
It’s a large hardback book, about A4 size and the beautiful photographs on the cover also run through the book, a mixture of scenery from each region and pictures of the recipes. It also has snippets of poetry on some pages. It begins with a well laid out introduction and cooks information section, giving all the conversions you’re ever likely to need in nice easy to read tables. This is perfect for my Dad as he’s always converting from imperial measurements. I’ll probably buy him one but a quick flick through tells me I’m keeping this copy all for me
Our meals for the next few days were already planned when I received the book, as soon as I opened it I knew I wanted to begin testing the recipes right away. My only option was to jump straight to the puddings section of the book, luckily I had no plans for the weekend in that department.
The front of the book contains the regional guides, more of a round up of eight regions and an introduction to the types of recipes that are included, I had to come back later to read these properly because the recipes were too exciting. The rest of the book is divided into chapters such as Afternoon tea or Delicious dinners which is the most helpful way for the recipes to be arranged, rather than by region.
I am a keen home baker and have hundreds of cookbooks, I’ve baked many different things but this book still has plenty of things I’ve never made before such as finkadella or chestnut teacakes. There are also lots of well known recipes such as fish pie and Cornish pasties. At the top of each recipe there’s a couple of sentences explaining the origin of the dish, this is a detail that I absolutely love, it really appeals to me. The recipes are well thought out and consistently written.
The first recipe I tried was the Pinkerton pear sponge. A very simple recipe which produced a light fruit pudding which looked exactly like the picture and tasted just like the puddings of childhood. I also made the Bakewell tart, a well known dish which was really delicious, although I had to use bilberry jam instead of raspberry. Next was the fascinating Kentish pudding pie which is a sort of custard tart made with ground rice. Each one was utterly delicious. All three recipes are ones I will repeat in future.
The section on feasts and festivals towards the back of the book contains well constructed recipes for traditional feasting such as the Christmas turkey and toffee apples. Throughout the book there are plenty of exciting regional recipes that were completely new to me such as New Year Anglesey cakes, which I can’t wait to try.
This book contains an excellent and unusual collection of 130 traditional local delicacies. The recipes are well laid out on the page, easy to follow, work well and turn out exactly like the pictures. It’s been a joy to cook from the three recipes that I’ve tried so far from this book and I’m looking forward to making many more.
This book can be purchased from Dairy Diary here.