They couldn’t be more different, and yet each in their own way are a nice little snapshot of who we are, where we’ve come from, and the kind of cakes we’ve come to know and love along the way.
And as cookbooks that focus largely – if not both fully – on the recently re-embraced art of baking, both are perfect stocking fillers for a budding baker you know and love this Christmas.
I’m talking (in part) about The ICA Cookbook, a tidy tome which I came to know and love at the start of our short summer, when I spent the guts of a month editing recipes from over 40 contributors from ICA guilds all around the country.
Each recipe was edited by me and tested by the ever-cheerful Marie McGuirk down in An Grianán, Termonfeckin (which is ICA HQ). The book includes gorgeous photography and styling by Joanne Murphy and Orla Neligan and elegant design by Tanya Ross.
Favourites include the clever Parsnip Cake with Walnuts & Raisins (move over Carrot, you’re so yesterday), Fraughan Buns (good excuse to get out for a day’s picking in the Wicklow wilds) and Grandma’s Rhubarb Tart (part soda-bread, part tart, totally retro and totally Irish).
But there’s two parts to this tale. For I’m also talking about The Cake Cafe Bake Book, which I had a very small but proud part in helping produce – well, me and the many other friends and supporters of Michelle Darmody’s gem of a café who helped fund her self-published book through Fundit. The result, designed by the uber-talented Niall Sweeney, is so darn stylish that an international publisher has gotten on board to distribute the book to all good bookshops around the world, no less!
Fundit allowed people like me pay up in advance for the book, knowing we’d love it. Which allowed Michelle and Niall go ahead and make their Bake Book. And one of the exciting things about self-publishing is that there’s no nervous publishing company telling you that you can’t take risks. Risks like not having any photos. At all. IN A COOKBOOK! A COOKBOOK FULL OF DELICIOUS CAKES!
But anyone who knows how Michelle and Niall work – or indeed knows the Cake Café tucked away off Camden Street on Pleasants Lane – knows that their risk is going to pay off. And I can tell you that even before my pre-bought copy wings its way through my letterbox. I don’t need luscious photos of Michelle’s cakes to convince me they’ll be delicious. I’ve eaten them often enough to know I love them.
If you’d like a little preview of what a photo-free bake book might look like, check out their Youtube trailer, or just head to your nearest good bookshop on Saturday morning, where you’ll find both new cookbooks fresh from the presses, on the shelves and representing an interesting snapshot of where Irish baking has come from and where it’s at today.
Anois, cá bhfuil an cáca milis? Níl ocras orm ach…