You’d think nine years into teaching, I wouldn’t be engulfed by the busyness of the start of the school year. And yet I am, every year. So that, along with a whirlwind, weekend trip to California for a family wedding last month, is why it took me two months to complete my latest cookbook challenge. I selected The Pooh Cook Book by Katie Stewart, which was inspired by A. A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner and published in the early 1970s in Britain. My parents gave me a used copy of the cookbook (which is now out of print) for Christmas a couple of years ago, as I’ve loved Winnie the Pooh since I was a young girl. The cookbook is geared for children, which made me love it all the more. (I already was swooning at the Britishness of it: “Cooking, like most things, is easy when you do it properly.” How can you not read that with a British accent in your head?)
It being a cookbook for children and one inspired by the honey-loving Pooh bear, there were as many sweet recipes as there were savory ones (or perhaps even more). All four of my recipes for this challenge were the former. Two came from the chapter titled “Smackerels, Elevenses, and Teas” and two were from “Provisions for Picnics and Expotitions.” Some of the baking ingredients took a little extra effort to find (I ordered golden syrup from Amazon and tracked down a small bag of castor sugar at my local HEB) or research (after baking two recipes which turned out a bit salty, I finally looked up British self-raising flour, which is NOT the same as American self-rising flour, it turns out), but I enjoyed the process a great deal. Perhaps I was imagining myself as the next Great British Baker.
Starting with my number one favorite, here are my four bakes from The Pooh Cook Book:
1. Honey Cookies – p. 46 – 5 stars
These cookies were refreshingly simple in an age of professional baking bloggers whose recipes seem increasingly over-the-top and elaborate. Made with pantry staples (apart from the slivered almonds for decoration), I quickly made the dough and baked the cookies while James napped one Saturday afternoon – no chilling of dough required. The dough was a little sticky, so I skipped the rolling-into-balls-and-then-flattening steps and just went with the drop-cookie technique. They weren’t as uniform in the end, perhaps, but they were faster to make. And they were delicious! The cookies were a bit salty because I used American self-rising flour instead of salt-free British self-raising flour, but they were still soft, sweet, and worth making again (although I do plan to use the correct flour next time).
2. Pooh’s Raisin Bread for Eating with Honey – p. 12 – 4 stars
I picked this recipe largely because of its name, but it turned out to be our second favorite recipe from the book! It’s a cake-like quick bread, and like the honey cookies, simple to make and simple in makeup. We especially enjoyed lightly toasting slices of this bread with a thin layer of butter and a drizzle of honey on top.
3. Honey and Raisin Scones – p. 14 – 4 stars
British scones are American biscuits, so I was a little surprised that I wanted to make this recipe considering that I already have two go-to biscuit recipes. But both of those are plain biscuits, so I suppose I was a little curious about the addition of raisins and honey to these. I ended up making this recipe twice because the first time, I once again used American self-rising flour when I shouldn’t have and had somewhat salty biscuits as a result. I really wanted to see what these would be like when baked correctly, and I’m glad that I made the extra effort to make a second batch. They were slightly sweet and extra-tasty served with a little butter. The honey and raisins made for a nice change-up from our beloved plain biscuits.
4. Flapjack – p. 42 – 3.5 stars
This recipe caught my eye because it called for something named ‘golden syrup.’ How could I not try it? I also was intrigued by the idea of preparing something akin to baked oatmeal batter but that would harden into breakable, crispy pieces. In the end, it was more like making homemade granola than baked oatmeal. The golden syrup was worth the extra expense, as it had a flavor I’ve not experienced elsewhere. It made this oat-centered snack truly unique.
I will be holding on to The Pooh Cook Book, no question. My husband was an especially big fan of all the recipes because he often prefers simple baked goods over flavored or fussy ones. He also seemed to enjoy that the recipes call for just white flour, which is different from my normal bakes with either 100% whole wheat flour or a white/wheat blend. The Pooh Cook Book also will be fun to look through and bake from once James gets a little older and can help me more in the kitchen. It’s a keeper!