Review: How I Cook by Skye Gyngell

I was looking through my drafts folder this morning to see what delights remained unfinished and unpublished. I was mortified to spot this post as I had received a copy of this book months ago from those lovely folks at Quadrille to review. I thought I’d posted this ages ago, I’m a bad, bad, blogger.

I’ll be the first to admit that before I received this book I hadn’t a clue who Skye Gyngell was. So I was delighted to be given the chance to review a book that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise heard of.

Skye Gyngell is an award winning chef and food writer. The head chef of Petersham Nurseries Cafe in Surrey, How I Cook is her third book. A collection of over 100 recipes that she cooks at home for family and friends.

It is beautifully laid out, divided into (which I love!) Breakfast, Sunday Lunch, Alfresco Eating, Afternoon Tea, Simple Weekday Dinner, Late Night Supper, Special occasions and finally Time to Spare which is a chapter with recipes for preserving (in other words, recipes that will take a bit of time to prepare). So it’s easy to find something for a specific occasion. She gives you menu ideas if you are entertaining. Not all the recipes are illustrated and I must admit, I do like to see what the finished dish is supposed to look like but I absolutely love this book and will definitely be on the look out for her other books.

I baked her Lemon and Poppy Seed cake for my dad and it very quickly disappeared.

So, while I go and take myself off to the naughty step, have a look at the recipe below!

Lemon and Poppy Seed Cake

What you need:

115g unsalted butter (at room temperature)

275g plain white flour plus extra to dust

175g caster sugar

finely grated zest of 3 unwaxed lemons

35g poppy seeds

2.5tsp baking powder

230ml whole milk

4 large egg whites

For the Icing:

2-3tbsp lemon juice

300g icing sugar

To finish:

finely pared zest of 1-2 lemons


Preheat the oven to 170c. Line a loaf tin with baking parchment, brush the parchment and sides of the tin with melted butter, then dust with a little flour.

Cream the butter and sugar to gether, using a hand held electric mixer until pale and smooth. Add the lemon zest, vanilla extract and poppy seeds, and sift flour and baking powder together over the mixture. Stir once or twice, then pur the milk and stir briefly again – you should have a smooth, homogenised batter.

Whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl until they form soft peaks. Fold a third into the mixture using a large metal spoon, then carefully follow in the rest.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 1 hr 15 mins or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Leave in the tin for a few minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool.

To Make The Icing:

Warm the lemon juice in a small saucepan, add the icing sugar and stir until smooth. Pour the icing over the cake, spread to cover the top and allow it to drizzle down the sides. Scatter the lemon zest over the surface, to cover generously.

Leave the cake to stand for 15 minutes before cutting, to allow the icing to set.

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