Book Review: Poh Bakes 100 Greats

Genre: Cooking
Publisher: Murdoch Books

Fans of perennial favourite, Masterchef™ are no doubt very familiar with the name Poh Ling Yeow. Poh was the bubbly woman in season one with a knack for Asian inspired cuisine, and though she may have been defeated by eventual winner Julie Goodwin, Poh’s popularity certainly hasn’t diminished. Between books, TV shows, pop up food events, and her destination café and bakery, Jamface, in Adelaide, Poh has certainly made a name for herself outside of the brief attention of reality TV.

Baking though, might just be Poh’s first true love. Baking gave her closeness with her mother, and an understanding of why things have to be done in certain ways to get the desired results. More importantly, Poh’s mother taught her the true secret to baking: always look back at what you’ve made, and look at what can be improved.

As such, ‘Poh Bakes 100 Greats’ isn’t just your average recipe book. It’s equal parts exploration, lessons, food photography to make you hungry, and a love letter to a mother’s guiding hand in the kitchen.

That sense of nostalgia is woven throughout, with many a recipe there that’ll remind you of trips to your grandparents (or other, older family members). The retro dishes are the best parts of the old school CWA style cookery, fun to make and even more fun to share with loved ones on a lazy weekend.

‘Poh Bakes 100 Greats’ isn’t just nostalgia foods, though. There’s salted caramel, and avocado loaves, the ever-present rainbow cake, and a wealth of other dishes for those looking for some more modern cooking inspiration. There’s even home made dog treats for those wanting to spoil their favourite pooch without all the preservatives and junk of the pre-packaged varieties.

It’s hard not to love these recipes, and to come away wanting to try cooking all of them, as soon as possible. For those comfortable in the kitchen, there’s boundless inspiration here to play with. But for those looking for a starting point to learn how to bake, ‘100 Greats’ needs to be on your TBR pile.

One of the best parts of Poh’s teaching style is that she never shies away from brutal honesty about the complexity of the dishes, but also about her own failings in the kitchen. For those struggling to get comfortable cooking, this is an absolute godsend. The croissants, for example, come with the warning that they’re a labour of love that can take more than a single attempt to get right (though they’re very much worth the effort). It’s nice to not expect perfection on your first try, and incredibly comforting to know that even a talented cook like Poh couldn’t get them right on her first try, either.

Whether you’re looking to learn the basics, or some kitchen inspiration, ‘Poh Bakes 100 Greats’ is the sort of kind, confidence-building foray into baking that makes for some incredibly fun cooking sessions.

‘Poh Bakes 100 Greats’ is published by Murdoch Books, and is available at all good retailers.

Rating: 4 and a half stars

Review by Kylie Thompson

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