Books

First Catch Your Gingerbread

Gingerbread is a lovely, squidgy treat which has played a part in almost everyone’s childhood. Sam’s first book charts the history of gingerbread from its mysterious honey ‘cake’ origins in the ancient world to the sticky treacle laden confections we love today. As well as covering this confection’s heritage the book contains over 50 sweet and savoury recipes from Britain and further afield including classics like Ginger Snaps, Parkin and Carbonnade of Beef.

First Catch Your Gingerbread was published by Prospect Books in November 2020.

Fool’s Gold: The History of British Saffron

Saffron has allured us with its golden hues throughout time. It was the darling of the Medieval kitchen, the saviour of the apothecary’s chest and gave cloth a regal glow. Unlike many spices, such as cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, saffron can be successfully grown in England. From the middle ages through to the eighteenth century there was a thriving saffron industry in this country. Some people even claimed English saffron was the best to be found in the world. So renowned was the town of Chipping Walden for saffron production that it adopted the spice’s name at some point during the fifteenth century (it is now known as Saffron Walden). Despite its expense, saffron was used extensively in British cookery particularly during the medieval era. It was also valued for its medicinal properties and was said to cure everything from melancholy to the plague. However, as tastes change our ardour for saffron waned and so with it the need and desire to farm it. By the end of the nineteenth century saffron production in England had all but disappeared, although there is a current day revival. Saffron is now a spice more commonly associated with ‘exotic’ dishes from distant climes. Given its lavish reputation (saffron is the most expensive spice in the world) it is no wonder that most people do not have it in their spice cupboard. Sam Bilton will show you how a few saffron fronds can make your repast a thing of great beauty and wonder to your dinner guests.

Fool’s Gold released July 2022

Sam BiltonBooks