book review: how to be a domestic goddess

If you notice the right navibar, I’ve included a section called The Week’s Read, featuring cookbook(s) I’ve purchased or borrowed from the library. As a new resolution to push myself to try out more recipes in the books, and to ease the guilt of cookbook purchase, I will occasionally post a review on a book I’ve gotten hold of, or share any of my personal favourites.

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I must be honest in that I almost always judge a book by its cover, and with the hundreds of new cookbooks in the market every year, it is no surprise that I am lured in by beautiful photography. Domestic Goddess boasts a clean style with minimal props and styling, primarily with a light background and centralised subject. The plain fairy cake adorned simply with a pastel sugar rose on the cover is as enticing as its title, and definitely appeals to the modern woman seeking recognition in the kitchen.

The book is divided into categories: cakes, biscuits, pies, puddings, chocolate, children, Christmas, bread and yeast, and what she calls The Domestic Goddess’s Larder.

The recipes sound fairly simple, even with the occasional uncommon ingredients like Italian 00 flour;– which Nigella seems to have a fascination with;– but what really sets this cookbook apart from others for me would be her little personal anecdotes before each recipe, and the informal tone she opts for in the instructions. One can’t help but feel as though she was literally guiding you throughout the process, recommending variations for each recipe. As she mentions in the preface, it is not about “being a domestic goddess exactly, but feeling like one”.

But how far does feeling like a domestic goddess go, in terms of reality check?

Most of her cake recipes call for ingredients you’d probably already have in your pantry. They are generally easy beginner recipes that result in either homely comfort food you’ve grown up loving, or a new twist to a classic tradition. The best part about them is that you’ll notice how some recipes, like the fairy cakes, involve dumping all the ingredients into a food processor while other recipes like her banana bread, only require a wooden spoon and a bowl.

Given how seemingly simple the instructions are, you can’t help but expect either one of two: the resulting dishes would be somewhat lackluster; or there must be a fair bit of read-between-the-lines required for you to bring the dish from page to plate.

For some, the road to being a domestic goddess may not be all that smooth-sailing. As easy as the recipes may sound, it presumes a prior knowledge of your oven’s temperament, as well as a fair bit of baking knowledge. A common sentiment of many who have tried some of the recipes is that many a time the recipe requires a longer baking time, or that Nigella’s style of instructions are not as precise as the typical numerically-indexed cookbook steps. As mentioned by Nigella throughout the book, the recipes may be altered according to your own preference (particularly in terms of sweetness), and that there may be differences in altitude and temperature baking.

Having said that, How To Be A Domestic Goddess is a definite must-have that bakers and bakers-to-be will constantly revisit. It is a treasure trove filled with recipes simple enough to entice new bakers wanting to contribute for the next potluck party, while the more time-consuming excuisite recipes serve to add to the repertoire of experienced bakers. At the end of the day, from the easy food-processor recipes to the more lengthy and intricate ego-stroking recipes, the result, if not the journey itself, will be nothing short of making you feel like a domestic goddess yourself.

Featured Recipes from HTBADG:-
Rainbow Cupcakes
Banana Nut Bread
Granny Boyd’s Biscuits

17 thoughts on “book review: how to be a domestic goddess

  1. is

    tis is more of a baking book from her? think i have another one “How to Eat: The Pleasures and Principles of Good Food …” good too..but shall check this ‘Domestic Goddess” book of hers🙂

    Reply
  2. ingrid

    Thanks for the review. I’ve picked up and put down that book on may an occasion. I like details so this one leaves too much in the air for me.

    Happy Friday!
    ~ingrid

    Reply
  3. ovenhaven Post author

    bie: Big Ovenhaven stamp of approval, most def!

    is: Ah yes, I just realised that I love to use the term cookbook to refer to any recipe book; should definitely specify that. Another book of hers that I’d recommend is Feasts; it incorporates both baking and cooking!

    VeggieGirl: It definitely is, in my opinion!

    ingrid: Ah, I can see why you wouldn’t like this as much😛 Have a great weekend, sweetie!

    bluestocking: You should give this or ‘Feasts’ by her a go. If there’s anything, you’d be enamoured by her writing style🙂

    Tasteofbeirut: I agree! Hoping to share more reviews of books soon🙂

    Reply
  4. felicia

    mmm. wanting to buy this book since last year.
    thanks for the review dear.
    might just get it the next time i go bakebook shopping!🙂

    Reply
  5. ovenhaven Post author

    felicia: I think you should! Maybe you can add it to your Christmas wishlist😛

    The Little Teochew: Are you kidding me? You bake AND you cook, and on top of it all, you’ve got lil ones to take care of too! You’re definitely a domestic goddess in my books🙂

    Reply
  6. jean-marie

    Ive heard so much about Nigella, and watched some of the episodes. She makes everything look delicious! Maybe I should get this book😀

    Reply
  7. ovenhaven Post author

    thecoffeesnob: I’ve borrowed Feast twice I think, and I keep coming back to it so often that I really think I should just buy it😛

    jean-marie: Haha, she does, doesn’t she?😛 Yup, you should definitely give it a try🙂

    Reply
  8. Little Fire

    I’m a huge Nigella fan but still haven’t bought this particular book. The title, however, and the photos have always fascinated me…I do love to bake and would love to be a domestic goddess🙂 Thanks for the review, I found it really helpful…

    Reply

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