I’ve always dreamt of being one of those people who always has cake on the counter (in a beautiful glass-domed cake stand, of course) “just in case anyone stops by.” The pandemic may have put all of that on hold, but even if you’ve never had that fantasy, the latest book from Australia’s Monday Morning Cooking Club, Now for Something Sweet, is likely to awaken it in you, too.
Fifteen years ago, a group of Sydney-based women started gathering on Mondays to cook and document their community’s recipes (hence their name). Those recipes became their first cookbook, Monday Morning Cooking Club: The food, the stories, the sisterhood, published in 2011. In 2014, they released their second, a collection of recipes from communities across Australia.
For their third, out in 2017, they traveled the globe, bringing together recipes from the Jewish diaspora (including a few from members of our very own Jewish Food Experience® Advisory Council and community). The books aren’t just beautiful, thoughtful and meticulous (and celebrated by foodies like Nigella Lawson and Yotam Ottolenghi)—every single cent of their profits is donated to myriad charities around the world.
And now, MMCC is back with a fourth book, recently named the 2020 National Jewish Book Award winner: Food Writing and Cookbooks. This time: it’s all sugar and spice.
“There’s something about the Jewish community and cake,” the book begins. Indeed, most of us hold fond memories of mothers and grandmothers donning aprons to whip up signature cakes, “something-from-nothing” Passover cakes that are nothing short of magic, light-as-air (or dense) Shavuot cheesecakes, European-style coffee breaks—always with cake, of course.
You can find all of that, and more, in Now for Something Sweet. Beyond the Everyday Cake, Chocolate Cake, Occasion Cake and Chiffon Cake (as each chapter is titled), the book covers biscuits (cookies, in American), squares and bars, pastries and tarts and more (including a small savory section). As with their previous books, the ladies of the MMCC don’t take recipe searching lightly. For each chapter, they scoured their networks, sleuthing out (and testing, repeatedly) the most beloved recipes and—just as important—the heartwarming stories behind them.
When Now for Something Sweet came out in Australia in February 2020, none of us could have imagined that one month later, the teatimes with friends, the birthdays, the Passover meals that frame the book’s recipes would be put on hold for over a year. In a way, though, the pandemic makes the book more relevant than ever. After all, how many of us have spent weeks over the past year grasping at apron strings, searching for some semblance of normalcy between the lines of banana bread recipes?
We may not have dinner parties, but we can still enjoy something sweet (and use it to mix up those mishloach manot, too!). And when the pandemic is over, Now for Something Sweet will be the first book to pull out for that cake when someone stops by.
Photos courtesy of the Monday Morning Cooking Club (Photo credit: Alan Benson)