Dissatisfied with the lack of truly good coffee in London, Tonia George, Nicholas Scott, and Emma Scott decided to do something about it. After much debating, planning, and scouting, Ginger & White café opened in Hampstead, London, in a space previously occupied by a chai wallah, whose practice of serving spiced tea in terracotta cups simply hadn't appealed to the neighborhood. Luckily, Ginger & White did. Their slogan, "We Don't Do Grande," is a nod to the milky, bland coffee that left George and the Scotts wanting. Serving small, strong cups of the good stuff was their key to success, and succeed they did—enough to release The Ginger & White Cookbook.
The book itself features carbon copies of recipes as they appear in the café, which is to say completely casual, hearty and homey, and rife with elements of classic British dishes. Ginger & White is a place where the boiled eggs are served with tiny knitted hats and a plate of "soldiers," where the meat and veg come from nearby farms, and where most everything can be served on toast—and often is.
Both Tonia George and the Scotts have children of their own, and so Ginger & White was designed to be a place where families can gather, with special attention paid to ensure that each person would find a dish they could enjoy. It's no easy feat feeding kids and adults at the same table, and the recipes in The Ginger & White Cookbook reflect that effort. Grown-up meals like fried duck eggs and corned beef potato salad are complemented by kid-friendly fare, like smoked peanut butter and macaroni and cheese. There are chapters devoted to breakfast, brunch, and lunch, but the recipes all run together in an appealing smorgasbord. Almost anything in the book can be made at any time, and fairly easily at that.
The kind of playfulness that goes into devising foods children like to eat translates well into their desserts, too. The first recipe we tried, Lemon Curd Layer Cake, was based on one of the Scotts' favorite snacks, lemon curd spread on white bread. It's pleasantly tangy, and the thin layers of sponge cake add structure and maturity without taking away its charm. Another aspect of the Ginger & White ethos is simplicity, working with what you have to make something even better. Like taking stale croissants, cutting them up and pouring caramel over them to make individual Caramel Croissant Bread & Butter Puddings. Voila, breakfast. Or dessert. And, much like their commitment to sourcing local, sustainable ingredients for meals served at the café, Ginger & White prides itself on going the extra mile to make something delicious. Enter Gluten-Free Almond & Pistachio Cake, which came to be after Tonia George's daughter was diagnosed with celiac disease. It uses Middle Eastern flavors of rosewater and pistachio, in an entirely traditional loaf cake shape. Not every cake they make is gluten-free, however—the Orange and Almond Tray Bake is a kind of sheet cake soaking in citrus, cut into small squares and served at teatime.
The Ginger & White Cookbook brims with usefulness and completely lacks pretension. It's full of the meals and sweets you'd make for someone you love, ideally a very hungry someone you love. Bake with us and try out some of these café classics at home.
Win A Copy!
Thanks to the generous folks over at Mitchell Beazley, we are giving away five (5) copies of The Ginger & White Cookbook this week. All you have to do is tell us the name of your best friends' favorite dessert.