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Delia’s Cakes With the Delia Online Cookery School Hodder and Stoughton • £25

While it has been obvious for quite a few years that the only time we tend to see Delia Smith now on the television is when the cameras name-check her in the directors’ box when Norwich City are playing, her culinary career has gone in a different direction online where her cookery school at www.deliaonline.com has opened for business. In fact, while it is a business, it is also free, offering advice on everything from making classic sponge cakes to storing and freezing brownies as well as putting forward numerous recipes with easy-to-follow aids. That said, Delia has not gone completely virtual, as this ‘newish’ particular cookery book attests.

First published in 1977, such has been its staying power that it has never been out of print during those 36 years. Nevertheless, someone somewhere has come up with the idea of a revamp and this is the result. After a short introduction, Delia gives her views on ‘the tyranny of baking tins’ (apparently the tin sizes she originally used in her 1977 production are no longer available ); baking equipment from scales to trays; how best to store cakes; and what are the perfect ingredients. After that she divides the recipes into those for sponge cakes, loaf cakes, family cakes, little cakes, muffins, biscuits, chocolate cakes, celebration cakes and dessert cakes.

Most of what she offers is classic Delia from yesteryear with the added promise that 90 per cent of the recipes are gluten-free. The best of the recipes include those for sponge cake; Swiss roll; coffee and walnut cake; coffee and cardamom cake with pistachios; very fruity Irish tea cake; marmalade cake; old-fashioned cherry cake; damp gingerbread; Dundee cake; ‘winters’ cup cakes’; plain scones; Eccles cakes; blueberry and pecan muffin cake; semolina shortbread; almond tuiles; Florentines; Garibaldi biscuits; chocolate beer cake with Guinness or Murphy’s; Brazil nut brownies; ultimate carrot cake; simnel cake; squidgy chocolate cake; classic Christmas cake; and Venetian Zabaglione cake. Overall, a hearty enthusiastic slice of Delia that is very easy to follow with the added luxury that some of the recipes can be followed online with accompanying video clips.

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