Reading List

Aparita Bhandari on 3 cookbooks you should devour this season

The CBC columnist considers the transformative power of baking with recipes from around the world.
(Aparita Bhandari)

Columnist Aparita Bhandari likes to bake. She has brought in three books that she looks to for inspiration. As a dessert person, she favours and discusses the cookbooks Sweet by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh, Duchess Bake Shop by Giselle Courteau and Handmade: Stories of Strength Shared Through Recipes from the Women of Sri Lanka.  

Sweet by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh

Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh compile a collection of pastry recipes for all palates. (Pal Hansen/Penguin Random House/Peden+Munk)

"Yotam Ottolenghi is probably best known for his vegetarian Savory books, but he started out as a pastry chef. Sweet: Desserts from London's Ottolenghi, co-authored with Helen Goh, is his return to sugar. Since it's a dessert book from Ottolenghi, the ingredients are different and it has international influences. Flipping through this book was such a treat because I saw pavlova, a meringue dessert from Australia, where I grew up. This cookbook has quite the range!"

Duchess Bake Shop by Giselle Corteau

Giselle Courteau shares the recipes that made her Edmonton shop famous. (Tina Faiz/Penguin Random House Canada)

"I got into baking when I was a kid, much like Edmonton's Giselle Corteau. I loved those treats in the shop, but they were never bought for me, so I started making them. Similarly, Corteau's mother would not let her buy treats and told her to instead bake them at home. During a trip to Japan, she discovered macaroons and tried to recreate it in a small toaster oven. From baking in her kitchen, she has now graduated to a proper pastry shop in Edmonton where there is always a lineup. She is a self-taught baker and I like Duchess Bake Shop because it gave me permission to try things I don't traditionally bake, like éclairs."

Handmade: stories of strength shared through recipes from the women of Sri Lanka

A cookbook consisting of recipes from 34 of Sri Lanka's widows who endured times of war. (Palmera)

"Handmade is an atypical cookbook. It is full of Sri Lankan recipes which in a way were lost because of wartime displacement. An organization out of Australia called Palmera spoke to women in Sri Lanka and collected these recipes that would have been passed down through generations. Younger Sri Lankans living in the diaspora have gravitated towards this book. Being from northern India, the sweets I tried from this book tasted familiar, yet their ingredients were foreign to me. It perfumed my kitchen in a whole different way and I quite enjoyed it!"

Kitchen alchemy

"There is something magical about baking. With other cooking, you can experiment or be more whimsical; with baking, there are only exact measurements and ingredients. When it all comes together, it's this magical thing — it's about transformation."  

Aparita Bhandari's comments have been edited and condensed.