This gorgeous, whimsical gift hardback celebrates beloved works of literature in the shape of beautiful iced biscuits. Feast your eyes on 60 mouth-watering classics in full colour from Jane Austen and Mary Shelley to Tolkien and F. Scott Fitzgerald, modern masterpieces by Margaret Atwood, Neil Gaiman, Geraldine Brooks and Melissa Ashley, and beloved children's tales by Dr Seuss and J.K. Rowling.
With all the tender love and care of a true book lover, author and baker extraordinaire Lauren Chater shows you how to translate your favourite books to the plate – and start making your very own sweet morsels of edible art. Filled with beautiful photographs and insider tips on achieving cookie nirvana, now you can have your books and eat them too.
Lauren Chater is the founder of the popular blog, The Well-Read Cookie, and author of the acclaimed historical novel The Lace Weaver.
Lauren Chater writes historical fiction with a particular focus on women's stories. After working in the media sector for many years, she turned her passion for reading and research into a professional pursuit. In 2014, she was the successful recipient of the Fiona McIntosh Commercial Fiction scholarship. In addition to writing fiction, she established The Well Read Cookie, a blog which celebrates her love of baking and literature. She lives in Sydney with her husband and two children. The Lace Weaver is her first novel, and she is currently working on her second, Gulliver's Wife.
Well Read Cookies
Simon and Schuster
Author: Lauren Chater
Makes around 16
250g unsalted butter, softened
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
6 cups flour, plus extra for rolling out
1/2 tsp baking powder
Place softened butter and caster sugar in a large bowl and mix until smooth and light in colour (about four minutes).
Add in vanilla essence and beat in egg, until combined.
Slowly beat in the baking powder and flour, one cup at a time. After two minutes or so of beating the dough should start pulling away from the edge of the bowl and form a lump. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead it on a lightly floured surface.
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and place in fridge for at least four hours.
Preheat oven to 180°C (355°F). Roll out the dough on a floured surface and cut out desired shapes. Place them on flat baking trays and put in freezer or the fridge for at least 20 minutes before baking to preserve shape.
Bake each tray for 18 minutes, turning halfway to ensure consistency.
Allow to cool completely before decorating.
Why are children so obsessed with books about food? From Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to Possum Magic, food and literature continues to be an utterly magical combination. What is it that makes us go gaga for Suessian green eggs and ham and dreamy Sendak-style aeroplane doughnuts? Psychologists suggest food is associated with memory, so perhaps when parents read to children from picture books which feature fantastical feasts and pleasant picnics, a love of food is absorbed along with the language.
Nowhere is this combination of edibles and idioms more apparent than in Eric Carle's classic tale of gluttony and greed, The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Brimful of fruit, condiments and sweets, it's the ultimate guide to a week's worth of overeating, but it's also a lesson in growth and transformation.
The compulsion of the caterpillar to consume everything in sight is an instantly recognisable childish trait. The mere whiff of a pickle takes me straight back to my school days, and whenever the words 'chocolate' and 'cake' are mentioned together, I find myself reaching for the fridge – because, as everyone knows, the perfect accompaniment to a Matilda-style Bruce Bogtrotter chocolate cake (thank you Roald Dahl) is a slice of Swiss cheese.
When I was making these hungry caterpillar cookies, my children offered very helpfully to cut the holes out of the 'fruits' instead of what they usually do, which is squirt the icing straight into their mouths. I recommend using the bottom of an icing tip to get a good-sized hole and piping an outline around the hole first before you flood so that the icing doesn't drip down inside. You'll need a 1.5 mm tip for the caterpillar's details.
Ever since the release of J. K. Rowling's first Harry Potter book, publishers all over the world have been trying to pinpoint its success. What is the secret ingredient in that first book that keeps readers of all ages coming back for more? Well, I'm here to tell you, right now, as well as the delicious idea that kids can use magic to roam outside the control of adults, doing whatever the hell they like (illicit broomstick flying, third-floor corridor trespass), for me it's the flying keys.
Magically enchanted, the winged keys are part of Harry's final trial before he faces off against his arch nemesis, the evil (and, at this time, incorporeal) Voldemort. For me, these keys capture the charm and whimsy that lies at the heart of Rowling's story. I had the cookie cutter for these winged keys custom-made by a friend who uses a 3D printer to create whatever fantastical cookies I come up with. You can always cut them out by hand, but it can be a tiring process if you've got more than, say, a dozen to make in one go. If you do decide to hand cut them, use the following tips to ensure success:
Draw your design in pen on a sheet of semi-stiff cardboard and then cut it out with scissors. Paper is okay, too, but the butter tends to bleed and by the time you've reached your last cookie, the paper may be so flimsy it's in danger of ripping.
Place the cardboard on your rolled-out dough and using a scalpel or sharp blade (non-serrated, if possible), cut carefully around the shape.
Rub your thumb along bumps or jagged edges to smooth the dough, then arrange as usual on a flat tray and bake as normal.
Well Read Cookies
Simon and Schuster
Author: Lauren Chater
Photography © Lauren Chater