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Two years ago, my daughter was getting married and asked me to make her wedding cake. I have only made one wedding cake before, and that was my own when I married in 1979, but I no longer had the recipe that I had used, however, I remember it involved using a huge bucket to stir all the ingredients in, to then divide between the three layers.
I looked through my existing cook books, but found on visiting my mum (prior to her moving into a home) that she had this book on her shelf, in pristine condition. My mother didn't need to use cookery books, as she still used her tried and tested post war cooking techniques and didn't see any reason to experiment!
This book has now become a firm favourite in my collection of cook books.
The wedding cake recipe was perfect, and as opposed to my own wedding cake mixture, Delia gives the measurements for each individual tin size, so you can make them at different times, to ensure that they all get enough time and space in the oven. I have given a slightly simplified version of it in my previous review about cakes.
Back in the day, when I was a teenage girl, we still had gender roles, so girls were taught the rudiments of cookery and dressmaking. Now these days are long gone, and I think it is difficult for young people to know how to cook basic food when they first leave home for Uni etc. I have tried to teach my lot as they have gone through their teens, but as each of them have gone on to Uni , I have bought them some form of basic cookery book (including my son).
Delia gives very good dietary advice and how to do the very basics of any cooking. Such as understanding what good nutrition is, and how to have a healthy diet. She also gives advice on what kitchen equipment it is ideal to have, rather than loads of fancy utensils that you never actually use.
Her recipes include the real basics such as short crust pastry. She explains about all the different rices and grains, and what to look for. There is a section on spices, and what each one could be used for. She really is like an old fashioned Domestic Science teacher, although she would hate that, as I seem to remember she really hated the subject at school.
She has a section on 'left overs' but I have to say, the ingredients that she includes as 'left overs' would not be leftovers in our house, they would be the main ingredients (other than the bubble and squeak or the bread pudding).
Delia is easy to follow and uses accessible ingredients, not the type that you have to search for. The contents page shows what is included over the next 575 pages:
Conversion tables; Introduction; Equipment; Eggs; Bread and Yeast cookery; Stocks and soups; Pates and starters; Fish; Meat: Roasting and pot roasting; Meat: casseroles and braised dishes; Poultry; Offal; Vegetables; Rice and other grains; Vegetarian cooking; Pulses; Pasta and Pancakes; Herbs; Spices and flavourings; Sauces; Cheese; Salads and dressings; Barbeques and picnics; Cream, Ice Cream and yoghurt; Pastry; Cakes; Scones and biscuits; Fruits and puddings; Preserving; Left overs; and Index.
My only quibble is that there is not much mention of people who have special dietary requirements, such as those with Coeliac disease who need to avoid certain grains. I think that this is where this book shows its age, as there are many more people now who are concerned about their consumption of wheat than there were in the early 1990's.
Last weekend saw me making the Christmas cake from Delia, and it is smelling absolutely delicious, and ready for the marzipan to cover it.
If you only have the room or money for one cookery book, I think that this one is well worth purchasing, as it covers almost everything that you would ever need.
There are various Delia books on Amazon (I have the Cheat book, which I recommend also) but this Complete Cookery Course is still selling, and the hardback copy is on there at £16.25.