Bake the Book: Levi Roots' Sweet


[Photograph: Chris Terry]

If you aren't from the UK, you may not have heard of Levi Roots. Roots was born in Clarendon, Jamaica, and later relocated to Brixton, London. He made his name from a bottled sauce he sold out of his home kitchen. Its popularity grew, spawning more products, a Caribbean cooking television series, and several successful cookbooks, highlighting the intersection of Caribbean and British influences in his food.

Sweet is the latest book in the Roots enterprise. It's punchy and vibrant, filled to the gills with images of island life that weave together Levi's personal history and his path through the unification of Jamaican and British culture. Rather than wax on via prose, his story is told through food, with recipes showcasing how two very different parts of the world can come together to create something delicious.

There are cakes, ice creams, cocktails, and puddings, all with a distinctive twist. Where you'd normally expect lemon and berries, for example, there's lime and mango. The names are recognizable, but the flavors are unexpected; a steamed cake might call for passionfruit and ground almonds, and cocktails are spiked with elderflower. Speaking of, there's enough rum in these recipes to warrant buying a fresh bottle.

We've chosen recipes with the specific intent of breaking you out of the winter doldrums. Expect a healthy dose of citrus and fruit, balanced with booze and dense, nutty flavors. First, the Caribbean Bakewell Tart, a twist on the British classic. Tropical Florentines use dried mango to tart up the lacy, crispy-chewy cookies. Lime Bars are a straightforward recipe for citrus success, and lastly, there's Vanilla Rice Pudding with Cherry & Rum Syrup, prepared in a baking dish and finished with a bit of brown liquor.

We've also modified the recipes in the book to suit American kitchens; oven temperatures have been converted to Farenheit, and ingredient weights in ounces have been provided. There was no need to modify the steps, however, as they're all a joy to make and take very little time to come together. Island, ho!

Win A Copy!

Thanks to the generous folks over at Mitchell Beazley, we are giving away five (5) copies of Sweet this week. All you have to do is tell us the one dessert you'd take with you to a desert island.

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