The book is available here
Louise Johncox says: My life has been shaped by cakes.
Not just the odd one or two but hundreds and thousands plus all the sprinkles.
The Baker’s Daughter Timeless Recipes from Four Generations of Bakers -
is the story of one family of bakers, tracing my pastry chef ancestors
from an alpine village on the Swiss Italian border, through France and
to England where my grandparents set up and ran two shops, and my father
ran his own shop for over 40 years. This is a story about cakes, about
family traditions and about my journey to discover what truly makes a great
I grew up in a bake house, Peter’s, in Weybridge, Surrey, just like my father and grandmother. Home was just one mile away but life revolved around the family tea shop. My father, Peter, was the baker and chocolatier while my mother, Frankie, married into this pastry making tradition and was a natural with the customers. She trained as a nurse but didn’t leave this profession far behind. Instead of looking after sick people in a ward she cared for the well being of her customers who shared their problems with her over a ‘cup of tea and a cake’.
I started working at Peter’s on Saturdays when I was eleven and although I watched my father bake, make chocolates and decorate cakes I never learned the art of baking and cake making. I saw how hard my parents worked and had no desire to follow the family pastry tradition so I left home to go to University to study English and train as a journalist. As my father’s retirement approached in 2000 the big question remained: who, if any of my three siblings, would carry on this tradition? Why did it matter to me if the pastry line ended with the closure of the shop?
The story begins in Poschiavo, an alpine village on the Swiss Italian border, where my pastry chef ancestors came from. We follow their journey from Poschiavo to France and to England where my grandparents ran two tea shops: Beti’s in the Isle of White and Lane’s in Westcliff. My father continued the pastry making tradition at Peter’s from 1958 to 2000. My book evokes the atmosphere of Peter’s and describes what lies behind the service and tea shop traditions. My story is informed and enlivened by food to explore relationships and reveal the pressures of running a family business.
While writing The Baker’s Daughter I realised that it was time I learned to bake so I asked my father, to come out of retirement to teach me some of the most popular traditional recipes from the shop plus I also asked him for his baker’s tips. In 2010, I was introduced to the chef Albert Roux who invited me to learn to make petit fours in the pastry section of Le Gavroche. I discovered a love of baking in my mid-40s and went on my own journey in cakes.
The Baker’s Daughter is a memoir in cakes, pastries and savouries which appeals to readers who enjoy engaging family stories with recipes. My personal story has a universal appeal given the nation’s appetite for baking and cakes. My book includes recipes for the most popular cakes plus my father’s old fashioned tips which he learned from his forebears. This personal story has a wider appeal given the sharp decline in family bakery business; membership of the National Association of Master Bakers has dropped by more than 50 per cent in two years. I reflect on the popular cakes spanning 100 years and five generations up to the present day. My children, Lara and Joe possess a passion and instinct for baking. Who knows, maybe they will carry on the family pastry chef tradition.