If you long for the familiar and comforting tastes of home baking, the best idea is not to search for somewhere to buy a freshly-baked cake, but to rediscover the pleasures of doing it yourself. By embarking on baking you will be continuing an honourable tradition which stretches back to grandmothers and great-grandmothers and great-great grandmothers who filled countless plates with tempting treats for afternoon teas and suppers all across the land. For these busy women baking at home was not only sensible but also thrifty, enjoyable, an outlet for creative energies, a source of pride, and a way of showing love and affection for others. Baking can still be all those things today.

  • Larger Cakes

    Larger Cakes

    A large, layered, decorated cake is almost a prerequisite as the centrepiece of a birthday afternoon tea, an anniversary or a farewell to a friend or colleague - and plainer cakes are perfect for everyday. Many older cookery books describe them as 'good cutting cakes' because they keep well in the tins and cut into neat, non-crumbly slices for ease of serving and eating with your fingers. Whether plain or ...

  • Squares and Slices

    Squares and Slices

    A very speedy kind of baking made in shallow rectangular tins and then cut up before serving. They can be anything from a crisp and crunchy biscuit to a luscious, caramel-filled chocolate shortcake. Use them to adorn a tea table or to fill the tins for a week of enjoyable snacking.

  • Biscuits


    Pretty, iced biscuits will always be popular, but don't forget the plainer kinds. They are good for filling the tins at home and they'll still taste and look good after a week - sometimes even two. Biscuits are small, simple treats, they don't require expensive ingredients and they don't take long to make. Ignore those rows of packaged biscuits in the supermarket and make your own - they'll taste much ...

  • Small Cakes

    Small Cakes

    The dainty leading lights of any afternoon tea spread, these small 'fancies' look pretty on the cake stand and are less intimidating than a large slice of cake. Since this sort of baking can make your reputation as a home cook it is worth practising your favourites regularly until you achieve perfection - and remember that even your less-than-perfect efforts will still taste very good indeed.

  • Items to be Buttered

    Items to be Buttered

    These are the sorts of unsophisticated, family-type foods which are welcome at morning tea time, or on a cold winter's afternoon or for a late supper, and which can temper the sweet lightness of an afternoon tea menu with their honest wholesomeness. They are the stuff of thrifty baking, of rapid response to an emergency, or to the arrival of an unexpected visitor, and they create a very relaxed and ...

  • Festive


    Festivals are extraordinary times of the year and so we naturally associate them with eating out-of-the-ordinary foods. This may be the only time that you want to bake something really special, so try making one of these treats to enhance your celebratory feasting - your efforts are sure to be appreciated.

  • Jams and Preserves

    Jams and Preserves

    Home-made jam or jelly is the perfect accompaniment for scones and pikelets; pickles and chutneys add savour to simple meals; and preserves always make welcome gifts to other households. The community cook books I have include literally hundreds of favourite recipes from home kitchens all over New Zealand. With just a few of them in the cupboard or fridge you'll feel a warm glow of satisfaction - not to say ...

  • Sweets


    In my memories of childhood school fairs, two images loom large. The first is of trestle tables covered with white newsprint bearing long rows of floral sand-saucers, all labelled with the names and classrooms of their young creators, and with notices of the prizes awarded in each age group. I was always a keen entrant - but I don't think I ever won anything. My second image is of the ...

  • Savouries


    The savoury 'course' is the genteel opening to any afternoon tea or supper. We know we should eat a small sandwich or a cheese pastry before we dive into the sponge kisses or lamingtons - and if they are delicious enough we are likely to go back for more at the end. These are the kind of recipes that appear in the 'Some Cheese Notions' chapter of the Women's Institutes' ...

  • Puddings


    By pudding I don't just mean a rich and heavy steamed pudding, although in some weathers such a creation may be just what you feel like, I mean anything sweet or fruity served at the end of a meal. Puddings, like all baking, are not about survival, or even good nutrition - I think puddings are really about love. After all, if a person takes the trouble to make you ...

  • Bread


    When I was growing up we bought our daily bread at the corner dairy, but for a school holiday treat my mother would often make a plaited loaf. The whole process fascinated me with its range of delightful smells and sensory experiences. The yeast had a penetrating savoury aroma and the rising bread dough was lively, springy and sweet smelling. I loved watching my mother plait the long rolls of dough ...