A review of Daisy Kristiansen & Leah Garwood-Gowers’ of The Hardihood cookbook Raw Cake. Outlining the authors’ culinary influence, navigational clarity, and quality of recipes.
The story behind the creation of The Hardihood and its book baby Raw Cake is a serendipitous one. Daisy Kristiansen and Leah Garwood-Gowers are two best friends and business partners based in London. They met more than a decade ago before a dinner party and soon after, moved in together. They made a pact to quit refined sugar together in 2014 and as a result The Hardihood was born. They were disappointed by the healthy sweet options available, especially in London so they bought a cheap mixer and some basic natural ingredients and started experimenting with making their own cakes. Initially for themselves, then they started getting requests from friends, and soon they had created a platform on Instagram through which they had garnered attention worldwide.
A few pages at the beginning of the book are dedicated to giving credit to their sources of inspiration and influence. Among other things and places, Tokyo was one of the prime influences in their branding style and packaging design. Simple, minimalistic, yet loud, and clear.
The pages of Raw Cake are beautifully curated, easy on the eyes, and clear to read. The recipes are separated into Chapters which read; Making Your Own Ingredients, Raw Breakfasts, Raw Treats, From the Freezer, Raw Cheesecakes, and finally Tarts, Pies, and Pudding Pots.
The recipe ingredients are listed in Metric measurements as well as US Standard (cup) measurements so it’s friendly for all kinds of ‘bakers’. Although some of the ingredients, in particular the superfood powders like lucuma, chaga, schisandra, etc. might not be as easy to come by nor easy on the wallet, you’ll see the same core ingredients appear in many of the recipes, such as dates, cashews, cacao, etc. These superfood powders definitely add a nutritional boost to the recipe, but they aren’t integral to the texture so can be omitted or substituted with simple ingredients, say vanilla.
The recipe instructions are written in paragraph format, in a clear manner. The portions each recipe yields are mentioned and storage tips can be found at the bottom of every cake recipe.
As an introduction, prior to the Chapters they recommend which equipment to use to successfully follow the recipes, and which Pre-cake Prep you can undertake to ascertain you get the most out of every recipe; in terms of nutrition, taste, and aesthetic. In Conclusion of the Chapters they offer Notes on Decorating and Styling and a Glossary of Ingredients.
All the recipes are simple to follow, and don’t take a lot of hands-on time due to their raw nature. All the ingredients listed are whole foods, pronounceable (except for some of the superfoods hihi), and nutritious. Although it’s very nut heavy, the end products vary from lighter, fresher flavors to more indulgent, creamy ones. I had a go at the Banana Lucuma pies, adjusting the recipe to my liking and they were very easy to experiment with, as are the rest of the recipes. Since there’s no baking involved, you are in charge of the recipe from start to finish without having to rely on the iffy oven temperatures, rising times, flour to egg ratio, etc. The only recipes that require a little more precision are the cheesecakes and pies since they will take some time in the fridge to set. In order for such a recipe to firm up properly you’re going to need the correct ratio of coconut or cacao oil/butter to nuts so that you get that perfect lightly aerated, creamy end product.
Do I recommend this book?
I very much enjoyed reviewing the Hardihood’s Raw Cake cookbook and I think the book is a great entry level introduction to raw ‘baking’ as the recipes are easy to follow, easy to adapt, and pretty much fail-proof. I would definitely recommend it to anyone that is interested in being more conscious of what they’re putting into their bodies. All the recipes use nutritious ingredients, without impairing on taste in any way. In fact, I believe that once you grow accustomed to the taste of natural ingredients, you’ll find them to be much more complex and vibrant than the flour, sugar, butter based sweets you were eating before.
…we rediscovered alchemy – in the form of healing herbs, elixirs, and tonics. We’ve learned to balance our bodies’ needs by supplementing our diets with herbs and superfoods that add flavour, colour, depth, and healing to our meals.
Daisy Kristiansen & Leah Garwood-Gowers
Raw Cake by Daisy Kristiansen & Leah Garwood-Gowers of The Hardihood
Beautiful, nutritious, and indulgent raw desserts, treats, smoothies, and elixirs.